The Haitian army is seeking to rebuild itself, 22 years after it was disbanded during the period where soldiers and private militiamen killed thousands during the violence of the ‘90s. There was a power vacuum after the Duvalier family that ruled with an iron hand for many decades and was replaced by a freely elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990 and then prompted military leaders to a coup ousting Aristide eight months later.
That led to the UN coming in for a stabilization mission that has been on-going for the past 13 years. The army troops, training under the auspices of the UN, have been training in Ecuador for the past several months but don’t have a mission…yet.
“We’re proud Haitians and we want to make the nation stronger,” said Lt. Ted Tesnor Wolsby, a base commander in the brigade that has received months of military training in Ecuador but has only intermittent duties fixing irrigation ditches or roads back in Haiti for salaries starting at $318 a month.
While it’s easy to find citizens who strongly support reconstituting a Haitian army, particularly jobless young people, the idea alarms those who vividly remember times darkened by military coups and oppression.