One says the drug traffic has intensified, the other says it has slowed. One would think they’d get their stories straight. In any case, both agree that what Haiti needs is more weapons and militarized police, despite the country’s exceptionally low crime rate: one of the lowest in the Caribbean. This plan to furnish Haiti with weapons and train its “police” sounds awfully like a plan to build a “gendarmerie” loyal to the U.S., as was done during the first American occupation of the country.
Dady Chery, Editor
U.S. to Lift Its Embargo on Arms Sales to Haiti
By Staff (gp)
English | French
Translated from the French by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery
Port-au-Prince — Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield, announced on December 1, 2011 that the United States government intends to lift the embargo on arms sales that it had imposed on Haiti in 1993 during the period of the military coup against former President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
“The United States is now open to the idea of providing weapons to the Haitian National Police,”
said the senior official at a joint press conference with the Director General of the Haitian police, Mario Andresol.
This will be done “under the conditions established by the two governments,” he said, revealing that the U.S. has initiated “dialogue with the Government of Haiti” on the subject.
For Brownfield, the first step toward lifting the blockade is the establishment of a professional and well-trained police force.
“The Haitian police has reached this level,” he said.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, who had just started a working visit to Haiti, claimed to have found “significant progress” in the police, which has in its ranks a “very professional staff.”
For his part, Mario Andresol submitted to the government the announcement of a five-year plan for the expansion of the police force from 10,000 to 16,000 members by 2016.
“The strengthening of the police is a key point… and we expect a lot from our partners, including the U.S.,” said Andresol.
The Director General believes that strengthening the police force is needed to enhance the fight against drug trafficking, which intensified in the country after the 2010 earthquake.
The most affected areas are the South, Northwest and Central regions, where, in addition to the traffic, there is a high level of consumption, according to Andrésol, who highlighted the danger that this poses to young people.
He added that the number of officers in the brigade for the fight against drug trafficking (BLTS) will soon grow from 200 to 300 agents.
United States Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield noted, for his part, that there was a slow down of drug traffic in the Caribbean, but he warned that the networks could again establish bases of operations.
Sources: Haiti Chery (English) | AlterPresse (French) | Featured image: SWAT team of the Police Nationale d’Haiti in 2014; cartoon by Andy Singer
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