Haiti: ex-soldiers are taking over old bases

Former soldiers of the disbanded Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H) had reportedly been occupying old military bases and training camps for several weeks as of Feb. 9. They took over a base in the Lamentin section of Carrefour, a city just southwest of Port-au-Prince in the West department, according to Carrefour mayor Yvon Jérômel, and occupations were also reported in the northwestern city of Gonaïves, Artibonite department, and at Cerca-la-Source in the Central Plateau, Center department. The former soldiers were said to be wearing uniforms and carrying out exercises; it isn’t clear who their leaders are or who has been financing their actions.

The Fad’H was abolished on Jan. 6, 1995 by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004). Growing out of a military and police force created by the US during its 1915-1934 military occupation, the Haitian army carried out several military coups during its 60-year history and gained a reputation for massacres and other atrocities against the civilian population.

Right-wing president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) is considering plans for reviving the FAd’H. An ad hoc commission was set up in November to study the possibilities; it is scheduled to issue its recommendations in May. But Interior Minister Thierry Mayard-Paul told the AlterPresse internet news service that the base occupations were not carried out “with the government’s blessing.” “We’re inviting [the ex-soldiers] to stay calm,” he said. “The rehabilitation process for the armed forces is very complicated and should be conducted in a rational, progressive and profound manner.”

“[O]ur patience has its limits, we can’t wait forever,” a spokesperson for the Coalition of Demobilized Soldiers (CONAMID), former sergeant David Dormé, said when asked about the occupations. “[T]he demobilized soldiers are determined to protect their bases… We’re not afraid, and we won’t give in to pressure.” (Haïti Libre, Haiti, Feb. 9; AlterPresse, Feb. 10)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 12.

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“Sweet Micky”