Haiti's Former Military Waiting in the Wings

Military training, March 2, 2011.jpg

Volunteers receive military training, March 2, 2011, AP photo

Ex-FAd’H Camp near Port-au-Prince

By Jeb Sprague, March 27, 2011 (See the original posting of this article for extensive photos:

In March of 2011, Isabeau Doucet (a journalist writing for the Guardian & the Christian Science Monitor) and I located the ex-FAd’H (Forces armées d'Haïti--Haiti's former military) camp that was recently covered in an article by the Associated Press. Below I describe some of what I found and related information:

During the years following the 2004 overthrow of Haiti’s elected government, the ex-military has set up a formalized network of training camps around the country.

Thirty to forty minutes from the center of Port-au-Prince, past Carrefour, between the towns of Mariane and Gressier, members of Haiti’s former military (FAd’H) have a hilltop encampment that they call ‘Lambi 12 Grande Saline’. The camp is made up of between a dozen and twenty tents, with a few small wooden and corrugated tin structures.

Leading the troops is Nestor Appolon, who the ex-FAd’H say was a Lieutenant in Haiti’s army. Second in command of the camp is Jeune Aduen Moniteur, described as a former Captain of the FAd’H (pictured above). An older organizer of the men, Eugene Joseph, an ex-FAd’H and “counseilleur” at the camp, speaks fluent English, is a U.S. citizen, and smiles but refuses to answer when asked if the U.S. military trained him early in his career.

Some important points:
1. This group of ex-FAd’H and their new recruits claim to have been based at this location for the last 1 ½ to 2 years.
2. They openly claim to be Duvalierists. A Red and Black flag of the Duvalier era hangs in their main HQ tent.
3. Security companies send recruiters often to this ex-FAd’H camp. According to one ex-FAd’H NCO: “They hire many of our men for their [security] companies, so we must always look for others [to join].” My belief is that the leadership of the camp have some benefactors among the business elite and get some sort of kick back payment from security companies after they train and vet new recruits.
4. The Second in Command of the camp asked if we would like to hire a security detachment and that we could have many well-trained men, each with a weapon, for 500 US dollars per man per month.
5. The ex-FAd’H say that similar or smaller camps are also located near Cap-Haïtien (rumoured to be headed by a family member or son of Dany Toussaint), near Jérémie (headed by Guy Philippe), near Croix-des-Bouquets, and half a dozen other locations around the country. Ex FAd’H at ‘Lambi 12 Grande Saline’ say that the leaders of the camps communicate and coordinate with each other regularly.
6. They claim that Haiti’s Ministry of Justice provided them with USAID and sky blue UN tents (the UN tents at ‘Lambi 12’ are from the Chinese contingent of MINUSTAH). See photos.
7. The ex-FAd’H at the 'Lambi 12' camp say that Haiti’s police chief Mario Andersol will do nothing to hinder their activities.
8. Allegedly, according to well-placed sources, the DEA has “cut deals” with some of the leadership of these camps, as some have been implicated in narco-trafficking (not to mention: numerous killings, armed assaults, etc).
9. The ex-FAd’H at the camp are strongly anti-Aristide/Lavalas but a few said [in response to a question about Aristide’s recent return] that “all Haitians should return to the country,” a widely held sentiment. The ex-FAd’H are strongly supportive of Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly who has for many years held close ties with members of the military and paramilitaries.
10. According to some of the ex-FAd’H at the camp, Martelly, in a campaign stop, visited them. A worker at the nearby Lambi hotel also told us that Martelly visited the ex-FAd’H camp. This has not been independently confirmed by anyone from the Martelly campaign.
11. While some in the camp appear to live in Port-au-Prince or the nearby area, it appears some live with their families full time at the camp. New recruits undergo military training, including martial arts classes provided by a Haitian-American who has trained police and military personnel in the United States. He was present during our visit.

Conclusion: The camps appear to have three core functions: (A) they serve as a chain of recruitment centers for security companies, (B) they keep up the rhetoric and campaign of the right wing in promoting the return of the Duvalierist military, and (C) they provide a useful site for maintaining a reserve pool of armed and trained men to crush any future attempts by the country’s poor majority to organize democratically.

It appeared to me that some among the ex-military are looking to improve their image in the media, as they hope Haiti’s next government will reinstitute the armed forces.

For background on the brutality of Haiti’s military, ex-military, and paramilitary forces (which have often functioned symbiotically) see Tom Griffin’s “Haiti Human Rights Investigation” published by the University of Miami in 2004:
http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/haiti-human-rights-investigatio…. As recently as 2007, Griffin and other human rights investigators found that "Army and various well-known Haitian elites meet on a weekly basis to discuss such matters, often joined by high-level narco-traffickers."