Michel Martelly’s Push to Revive Haitian Army Raises Questions

first_img MINUSTAH’s annual budget is close to $800 million — up from $570 million before the January 2010 earthquake — and the mission currently has more than 12,000 uniformed personnel, nearly double the 6,940 it had back in October 2009. That includes some 8,700 troops and 3,500 police officers. Peacekeeping operations alone cost $120 million to $130 million a year, according to MINUSTAH officials. In mid-October, the UN Security Council ordered MINUSTAH to be slashed in size by 2,750 to about 10,500 soldiers over the next 12 months. Asked how long he expects UN peacekeepers to remain in Haiti, Lamothe responded: “As long as they’re needed to keep the country safe.” By Dialogo December 12, 2011 An enormous price tag Under the Duvalier regime which ended in 1986 and until 1994, Haiti’s police comprised a unit of the Haitian Army. That year, Aristide established Haiti’s first civilian police force, which now numbers 10,000. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) hopes to boost that to 14,000 by 2014. Denis O’Brien, CEO of Digicel Group and a member of Haiti’s influential Presidential Advisory Council for Economic Growth and Investment, said government’s intentions have been misunderstood by some non-Haitians. Amidst chaos, Haiti is relatively safe Lamothe added that Haiti’s crime rate has fallen dramatically. “So have the number of violent attacks. Gang members have been disarmed, so the general security situation has greatly improved,” he said. “We want it to improve even more. That’s why we want to strengthen the police force, increase the number of police officers on the streets and boost the amount of information coming to the police.” “If you look at the way the United States has mobilized its National Guard, that’s what President Martelly is really looking to do,” he said. “Also, with the development of a national guard in Haiti, sooner or later the UN mission will end. That mission already has shrunk, and the UN has done a lot of good work here. But the government has to take over and run its own affairs.” Laurent Lamothe, Haiti’s newly appointed foreign minister, told Diálogo that a national army is crucial in order to attract the foreign investment Haiti so desperately needs. “MINUSTAH has an annual mandate that expires every year. In order to create long-term stability, you need to have a force that can replace MINUSTAH when their term ends,” said Lamothe, interviewed on the sidelines of a Nov. 29-30 investment conference in Port-au-Prince that was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank. “Businessmen want to feel secure, and their physical buildings need to be secure. In order for them to feel safe, you must have the manpower to safeguard them,” Lamothe said. “Nobody will invest in this country if they cannot drive down the street. We want to keep the Haitian people safe against all types of destabilizing factors. We are working to find the right formula to have a force in place when MINUSTAH leaves.” “The United States is now open to the idea of providing weapons to the Haitian National Police … under the conditions established by the two governments,” said Assistant U.S. Secretary of State William Brownfield, speaking alongside Mario Andresol, director-general of the Haitian National Police. PORT-AU-PRINCE — Nearly two years after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, Haitian President Michel Martelly wants to reinstate his country’s armed forces at a cost of $95 million. “Haiti must ensure the integrity of its territory and its national security,” Martelly said in late November in a public plaza fronting the quake-ravaged presidential palace, as he announced the formation of a commission to consider the matter. “My decision to establish the Armed Forces of Haiti is the result of a long and deep reflection that long preceded the statement of an emotional election promise.” Martelly announced on Dec. 6 the commission’s members: Defense Minister Richard Morasse; Public Security Minister Reginald Delva; Vice President Bergerac Jean Barette; prominent lawyer and former presidential candidate Gerard Gourgue; former Col. Jean Thomas Cyprien, and historian George Michel, who served on a similar commission regarding the question of reconstituting the Haitian Army under Martelly’s predecessor, President René Préval. The panel’s findings are to be released Jan. 1. The same week Martelly appointed his commission, the United States announced it would lift its 18-year-old arms embargo against Haiti, which was enacted following the 1991 coup d’etat against former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Haiti has one of the lowest homicide rates in the Caribbean. In 2010, the country recorded 689 murders, which translates into a homicide rate of 6.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to a report issued in early October by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. By contrast, in 2004 and 2005, about 1,800 homicides occurred in Haiti, according to human rights groups. Throughout the Caribbean, only Anguilla, Antigua, Cuba and Martinique recorded lower homicide rates — and Haiti was safer than the Bahamas (28.0 murders per 100,000 inhabitants), Dominican Republic (24.9); Puerto Rico (26.2); St. Kitts-Nevis (38.2), St. Lucia (25.2); St. Vincent and the Grenadines (22.0), Trinidad & Tobago (35.2); U.S. Virgin Islands (39.2) and Jamaica (52.1), according to the UNODC study. Both U.S. and Canadian officials have issued statements opposing the revival of Haiti’s army, and in early December, former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias warned Martelly that doing so would be a mistake of historic proportions. Johanna Mendelson Forman, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agrees that the Martelly government should build up its police force before thinking about reviving the army. “Martelly is trying to fulfill a campaign promise he made, but it still has a legislature to go through, and that legislature is divided. He might be able to force it through, but the point is, who’s going to pay for it?” she said. MINUSTAH hopes to boost police force last_img read more

Survey shows students support fall break

first_imgUndergraduate Student Government has been making attempts to implement a university-wide fall break for many years and, despite overwhelming student support, it is still unclear when a fall break might be implemented.Last semester, USG Senate sent a proposal to the administration. The proposal for fall break would involve the removal of two academic days in the middle of the semester and the addition of two days to the beginning of the school year in August.USG officials focused on researching student interest for fall break last semester, and their proposal is currently under review by the university’s Academic Scheduling Committee.During the fall 2012 semester, Geragos and his council researched schools with fall breaks looking for more information on schools with similar schedules.Nineteen of the top 25 universities operate on a semester system. Ten of those universities have a two-day or more break in the fall semester. Fifteen of the top 25 universities have a one-day or longer break in their fall semester.Of the top universities in the nation according to the U.S. News and World Report, Princeton, Duke, and Notre Dame all have one-week breaks in the middle of the fall semester.Geragos’ cabinet then took into consideration students, surveying 918 students to gain better insight from the student population. Ninety percent of those surveyed, or 825 students, said the university should add a fall break to the academic calendar. Ten percent of those surveyed, or 89 students, said it was not necessary to implement a fall break.Many students also said they were in support of a fall break, even if it altered the academic calendar. When asked to choose their top reason for fall break, 85 percent of students surveyed said the break provides an opportunity to de-stress from the semester. Improved academic performance and travel opportunities followed, with 64 percent and 61 percent, respectively.The survey showed that students were willing to accept additional academic days in order to receive a short break in the fall. Geragos noted that the focus of a fall break would be different from other breaks.“This shouldn’t be viewed as a spring break in the fall,” Geragos said. “It is a way for students to compose themselves and take a few days off without schoolwork.”Surveyed students were also more willing to start the academic year earlier than they were to end it later: Fifty percent said they were willing to start earlier, while 40 percent said they would want the fall semester to end later.The Academic Scheduling Committee is currently reviewing a proposal from USG Senate. The proposal consists of starting the eighth week of the fall semester on a Wednesday, giving students Monday and Tuesday.Geragos said the proposal is advantageous for both the student body and the administration.“I believe this will be a fair compromise between what the students want and the concerns for instructional days,” Geragos said.Geragos said throughout the process, faculty and school officials have consistently understood the student benefits of a break in the fall, recognizing the need for students to re-evaluate during the given time.Some students, such as Rachel Kohn, a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, said fall break would have academic benefits.“It is a time for students to take a break from the schedule and get back into the swing of things,” Kohn said. “It is a regular thing on the East Coast, and I was surprised when I got out here and there was not one.”And Abi Oseni, a freshman majoring in business administration, said a fall break would simply give students an opportunity to relax during the long fall semester.“A fall break is a great idea,” Oseni said. “It would provide students with a much needed break during the semester. A lot of my friends at other schools have a break during the fall semester, and USC should do the same.”Some students, however, said pre-existing breaks are enough.“Honestly, two days is not that big of a difference for me. I would just do the full week at Thanksgiving,” said Mitchell Diesko, a sophomore majoring in political science and international relations and global business. “I am not going to argue with two days.”Others, including Elizabeth Henry, a junior majoring in philosophy and minoring in linguistics, said squabbling over the exact number of days for a fall break is unnecessary.“I would take any break over no break. A break is a break,” Henry said. “In the spring semester, we get those days off and I can work with that.”Geragos said though the implementation of a fall break has yet to be approved or determined, more information on committee decisions will come in the following weeks. Any final proposal will have to be approved by Provost Elizabeth Garrett.last_img read more

‘Liverpool showed positives, this is only the beginning of Klopp’s work’

first_img1 Liverpool were beaten by Manchester City in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium.It finished 1-1 after extra time, before Manuel Pellegrini’s clinched a 3-1 victory in the penalty shootout, largely thanks to the heroics of Willy Caballero in between the posts.Jurgen Klopp will be devastated having vowed after their semi-final result over Stoke City that he would deliver the trophy to Anfield.Despite failing in his first bid for silverware, though, Reds supporters remain optimistic that the German manager is the man to return glory to Merseyside.Here’s what Liverpool fans have had to say in the wake of their defeat… Jurgen Klopp vowed to lift the League Cup trophy but it wasn’t to be at Wembley Stadium last_img