It has been over twenty years since the Haitian armed forces were dissolved, and replaced by a continuous United Nations security force presence on the island, but now the Haitian government has initiated the process to reform its armed forces as the UN mission is scheduled to leave the country later this year.
The government is looking to recruit approximately 500 soldiers to serve as border patrol, security, and natural disaster relief, in addition to supplementing the civilian police force of 15,000 officers.
The United Nations Security Council announced in April that it would be withdrawing its “blue helmet” security forces from the island, leaving a group of Brazilian army soldiers in Haiti until October, when UN security operations in Haiti are set to end officially.
Some politicians have hoped the move will also provide jobs for young Haitians. The positions are open to both men and women between the ages of 18 and 25. Others, however, are more wary of the move, fearing the potential for politicization.
The Haitian military has its origins in the Haitian Revolution that overthrew French colonial rule, but the revolutionary army was dissolved shortly after by mandate of the occupying United States Marine Corp forces. Since then, the army has come in and out of existence, often being heavily politicized during oppressive governments such as that of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier who sidelined the army in favor of private militias.
The most recent iteration of the Haitian armed forces was disbanded in 1995 following several years of military-junta rule after a U.S.-backed military coup removed popular democratically elected President Aristide, a priest, and liberation theologian.
According to Harvard University academic and writer Paul Farmer, "Declassified records now make it clear that the CIA and other US groups helped to create and fund a paramilitary group called FRAPH, which rose to prominence after a military coup that ousted Aristide in September 1991... For the next three years, Haiti was run by military-civilian juntas as ruthless as the Duvaliers."
Over 4,000 people are beleived to have been killed in the few years following 1991.