HomeNewsBriefHaiti Cracks Down on Pro-Army March
BRIEF

Haiti Cracks Down on Pro-Army March

CARIBBEAN / 21 MAY 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Haitian authorities arrested some 59 people, including two US citizens, after a march calling for the reinstatement of the military turned violent, raising doubts over whether an army backed by these groups would be the best choice to combat organized crime in the country.

Hundreds of former and aspiring soldiers took to the streets of Port-au-Prince on May 18 to demand that President Michel Martelly follow through on his pledge to re-establish the army. The demonstrations began peacefully but later deteriorated, with marchers throwing rocks at the UN peacekeeping force and exchanging gunfire with police outside an old military base, reported the Associated Press.

Many of the 59 arrested were charged with possession of illegal firearms and forming a rogue army, officials told Reuters. The two US citizens, Jason Willian Petrie and Steven Parker Shaw, are accused of training the soldiers and providing logistical support for the march. They were reportedly seen walking alongside the marchers, one of wearing a T-shirt with the acronym FADH, the French acronym for the Armed Forces of Haiti, according to the Miami Herald. Both men claimed they were simply helping friends.

Haiti's army was disbanded in 1995 by President Jean-Bertrand Artistide, after it took part in a coup against him in 1991. On the campaign trail, Martelly promised to reinstate the force, but has since stalled amid international criticism of the idea.

Since Martelly came to power, illicit groups have emerged in Haiti, using old military bases to train and carry out exercises, and agitating for the revival of the army. The government closed two of these 10 bases in the wake of the march, but there could be 3,000 so-called rogue soldiers operating in the country, according to a May 1 report by the Guardian.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is not clear where these groups get their funding, and there have been suggestions that the president might find it convenient to create an army that would be loyal to him. The arrest of the two US nationals clouds the issue further, raising the questions of whether there is foreign involvement in the campaign.

The latest clashes add to doubts over whether Haiti should reconstitute its army. Martelly has said that the force would combat drug trafficking, arguing that the country's police are underfunded and have corrupt elements. Organized crime is a serious issue for Haiti; according to the US State Department, it is a crucial transhipment point for cocaine traveling from South America to the US, Europe and the Caribbean.

However, many onlookers including InSight Crime have argued that reforming the police should be the priority. Using the army to the fight against organized crime has its own problems, such as increased human rights abuse, as seen in countries like Mexico.

The groups agitating for the revival of the army seem to be prepared to operate on the margins of the law, besieging and disrupting a Congress session in April and threatening violence if their camps are broken up, which suggests that they would not be the best choice to combat organized crime.

Many Haitians seem to back the idea of police reform over a new army; a recent study by Brazilian think tank Instituto Igarape and Canadian thinktank the International Development Research Center found that 60 percent of Haitians believed the police should be the primary enforcers of security.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 13 SEP 2021

The dismantling of a drug trafficking and money laundering network implicating government officials in the Dominican Republic has presented a…

HAITI / 6 JUL 2022

UN staff and diplomats may be being targeted for kidnapping in Haiti, specifically so police can use international outcry to…

CARIBBEAN / 3 JUN 2022

Gangs in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince are rounding up homeless and at-risk teens, who are increasingly being used as…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…