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New police force rolled out

From This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 13, no. 11, 7-13 June 1995

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher returned to Haiti this week to help President Aristide inaugurate the first batch of 408 mostly US-trained Haitian police officers.

The ceremony took place June 4 at the National Palace with forced fanfare. Christopher also announced -- such tramplings of national protocol are now normal in occupied Haiti -- that the new police force would not number 3,300 officers, but 6,000.

Christopher did not explain that the US also plans to train the Haitian police officers in Alabama instead of Haiti, supposedly so that instruction can accelerate. In fact, the US simply wants to better indoctrinate the future Haitian force, just as it has done to graduates of the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia.

By doubling its size, Haiti's new repressive force will be approximately the same size as its predecessor, the 7,000-man Forces Armees d'Haiti. Much ado is made that the new corps will be a police force and not an army, but this is semantics. Haiti never really had an army i.e. a force which defended the national boundaries against an invader. The army has always been a repressive force for policing the Haitian masses, so perhaps the new label of police is better suited.

Of course, the FBI and Secret Service agents which run the US Justice Department's Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) which trained 360 of the officers -- another 49 were trained in Canada -- have taught the new police force to be apolitical.

Every day, every day, we were told, Do not meddle in politics! one graduating trainee told Reuters. However, the Reuters correspondent noted Aristide slipped into the partisan rhetoric that the new officers have been warned against... Aristide instructed the new officers to repeat; Alone we are weak, together we are strong, together together we are Lavalas!

In fact, the force is primarily being trained to respect the authority of the US government, banks, and business. Washington is trying to set in place a new Garde d'Haiti, the force which the US Marines left behind when they ended their first occupation of Haiti in 1934.