Undaunted and unbowed, President Martelly is pressing forward with his plan to re-mobilize the army that former president Jean Bertrand Aristide justifiably disbanded upon his return from exile in 1994 – despite the opposition of the international community and, more important, despite a lack of debate on this crucial issue.
The president has announced the formation of a 7-member commission charged to prepare, among other things, a calendar for the return of the army and identify potential sources of funding. (Didn’t Martelly tell us that he had already lined up the money for his army?) It was another bone-headed thought as the country is still laboring under the Préval budget which had not allocated any funding for an army.
Were it not for the international community some of us would not have been aware of this document which reveals in all its ugliness the right wing, fascist sentiments of the Martelly team. This timely release was supposed to torpedo the whole idea but Martelly and friends seemingly are clinging to it.
This half-cooked document supposedly authored by a “defense and national security commission” that no one knew about and until now no one knows the members, starts with a bold contradiction: “Not having any hegemonic aims or declared enemies in its immediate geographical environment, the goal is to “guarantee the national sovereignty and defend the territorial integrity of the country”.
The document went on to detail other functions of this new force: gathering information on “media, unions, and extremist organizations”, fighting “terrorism and external threats”, and serving as a “tool for development” since “many studies show Haiti can’t develop on its local resources”. This army will “protect all direct foreign investment”. Finally, Haiti needs a new force because unlike other countries in Latin America “Haiti did not redefine the missions of its army”. Rubbish!
As Martelly and his friends talk about “pride” and “sovereignty” and “the biological link between the army and the people” due to the fact the “Haitian army has created this nation”, there is no escaping the fact that these petty individuals and amateurish historians look for the international community for “its technical formation, its training and its equipment” and, worse, injects a lot of words in this document (fighting drugs, terrorism, illegal immigration) just to get the consent of the United States.
You get my point: This document is littered with an abundant supply of “intellectual” dishonesty and historical revisionism. Well, to put it simply: a lot of nonsense or, if you want, garbage in, garbage out. However, the country and its progressive-minded individuals need to take these “bad guys” seriously.
Now, the truth!
First, the Haitian army from the middle of the 18th century until 1915 has been a rag tag band of bandits always ready to storm Port au Prince at the behest of a local “general” and from 1915 until 1994 an institution whose expertise is to repress, involve in corruption and serve the anti-national interests of the local oligarchy.
Second, the country needs to fight this idea because of the goals clearly expressed in this document but also for the reasons not mentioned: a way for Michel Martelly to “legally” use his rogue friends and through the “intelligence national service” an effective corruption tool.
Last, when you see who is tasked to lead this army, you need to worry: Serge Baguidy, a former colonel known for his notoriously brutal past and a few former members of the police who were thrown out because of their illegal activities. As the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is fond of saying: “common sense has left the building”. The same can be said about the Martelly government but that was – all along- expected.
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