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Let Haiti decide what it needs

August 06, 2007

Re "Haiti debates having a homegrown army," July 30

The Haitian army was not homegrown. It was formed by an act of the U.S. Congress. Its most memorable officers were only distinguished by their bloody history of disenfranchising and suppressing the interests of Haiti's masses on behalf of the economic elite they protected and the U.S. interests they were created to secure. The people of Haiti suffered unimaginable torture, arbitrariness and death under the former Haitian army, which never defended the interests of Haiti, but only those of its creator, the U.S.

Marguerite Laurent

Stamford, Conn.

The writer is the founder of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network.

In response to your article on a Haitian army, I can only ask, why would Haiti choose to fund an army when it cannot fund a national infrastructure? Haiti lacks schools, hospitals, roads, potable water and sewage systems, and adequate electric power, not to mention jobs.

Haiti is very unlikely to enter into international combat with a 2,000-member force and, if attacked with modern weapons systems, would have fragile defenses specifically because it lacks the items mentioned.

Lacking roads, power and an educated and literate public sector workforce, Haiti is unlikely to be able to staff an efficient and ready armed force of any strength sufficient to ward off an attack either from without or within.

You refer to a study commissioned with a New York City firm under Haiti's previous administration that recommends an army. I rather think that President Rene Preval is in a better position to determine the needs of his country.

Joan W. Drake

Washington

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