Haiti Has Gone 20 Years Without an Army. No Longer
Critics are wary about soldiers, meant to respond to natural disasters, being politicized
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2017 10:17 AM CDT
Members of Haiti's new national military force march during training at a former UN base in Gressier, Haiti, on April 11.   (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

(Newser) – After more than 20 years without an army, Haiti is recruiting for a new one. Disbanded in 1995 following a violent period of military rule, the army was afterward replaced by United Nations security forces. Those forces, however, are now preparing to leave Haiti in October. To fill the gap, the Haitian government is looking to recruit 500 male and female soldiers between the ages of 18 and 25 to form its first army in two decades. The stated purpose of the army is to respond to natural disasters and keep tabs on the country's borders, reports the BBC. But critics are uneasy, fearing the army could fall under the control of political leaders, teleSUR reports.

After all, "for much of Haiti's history, the army has been used to crack down on political dissent by a series of authoritarian presidents," reports the BBC. With fresh memories of the 4,000 or so killings that followed the army deposing President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a 1991 coup, critics say military funding would be better spent on Haiti's national police force, which includes some 15,000 officers. Politicians and other supporters of the plan counter that the army will handle duties outside of police jurisdiction and provide jobs for young people.

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