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6760: Subj: 6747 Haitian Army, Dorce to JAAllen (fwd)
Subj: 6747: Haitian Army, Dorce to JAAllen
From: Joseph A. Allen DDS
I like Kathy Dorce's posting because it gives me the opportunity to
address certain myths and misconceptions that often come back in this
important discussion group. I will also answer some of her questions.
I would like Ms. Dorce to define "minority classes" for me. Is she
talking about the professionals, the rich Haitians, the light skinned
Haitians, the landowners, the business owners or the politicians? Until I
get her definition, I will assume that the minority is composed of the
educated Haitians. Between us, it would bother me greatly to realize that I
will not get to be in the majority in any country!
Misconception I. All Haitians in the "minority classes" are right
wingers, nostalgic about the defunct Army, and in favor of suppressing a
people that are democratic by nature.
Reality: A lot of the 'minorities" have suffered more under the
dictatorial regimes than the people. The massacres of 1915 perpetrated by
Vilbrun Guillaume Sam killed 94 members of the "minority". Under Francois
Duvalier it got much worse and over a longer period of time. You may need to
know that on a nice, warm summer night in Jeremie, in 1964 I lost 19 members
of my family and more than 80 relatives and close friends of the family. The
army and the paramilitary savagely killed them all. The next day, the
democratic people looted all houses and Duvalier cronies seized all
properties. We grew up hating "the" army, the macoutes and of course
Duvalier. It has taken me a long time to get rid of my anti-army,
anti-Duvalier biases and to learn to analyze things in a different way. I
don't really remember Duvalier and his henchmen targeting the "Lumpen
Proletariat". After Duvalier left in 1986, a march was organized to remember
the victims of the repressive regime. The march surprisingly was made mostly
of "minorities" who came with pictures of the victims and marched towards
Fort Dimanche in a peaceful demonstration (I was there). In front of Fort
Dimanche soldiers fired at the crowd and the demonstration ended on a very
sad note. We knew that nothing had changed.
Misconception II. Costa Rica is a defenseless, harmless country without
organized armed men.
Reality: In the 80's Costa Rica was one of the principal countries in
the region responsible for the destabilization of The Sandinistas. The Costa
Rican Civil Guards and Rural Guards were an 8,000 men military force that was
trained by the Green Berets to attack Nicaragua; that in addition to the
Police Force. Most incursions into Nicaraguan territory came from Costa Rica
where the contras led by Eden Pastora were using military bases. President
Monge was at the time accused of militarism, but professed to support a
"policy of neutrality".
One interesting fact: After the revolution of 1948, Costa Rica eliminated
its army; however, between 1950 and 1965, The "School of the Americas" that
trained Latin American officers and did not have a School of Police,
graduated more Costa Rican "police" officers than any of the other
hemispheric nation except Nicaragua. What do you think those 1,639 officers
learned in that military school?
Today Costa Rica with a population of just over three million has more
than 15,000 men in different police services ranging from Coast guards to
police force. It is important to note that The Civil Guards were integrated
in a special section of the Police force when they were no longer needed.
The point I am trying to make is that although the name army is not used, the
current force can be reorganized quickly into an offensive-minded force. The
dislike between Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans was too great for them to take a
chance with their security.
By the way, Costa Rica never had a succession of bloody coups. It has
remained one of the most stable countries in the area since 1840. Two
observations may be made: 1) The Costa Rican forces were always and remain
much more potent than the Haitian Forces could ever be and more able to
defend the motherland. 2) With or without an army Costa Rica has always been
a well-organized country with a good labor force, long life expectancy and
high literacy rate. This is a very responsible society.
My support is for the establishment of a Haitian Force capable of some
deterrence if the Haitian nation is imperiled, whether you call it Army,
Police plus or Civil Guard. I have not made a case for "the" (definite
article) Haitian Army but for "a"(indefinite article) Haitian Army. No, I am
not nostalgic of those military guys who left, I could not be. Next time you
refer to victims of repression in Haiti, please don't limit your scope to the
1991-1994 period and stop thinking that only the masses suffered from the
army and paramilitary because it is simply not true.