Minustah: Stabalizing Haiti Essay

864 words - 3 pages

For years, Haiti has been a country in turmoil. This is due to the country’s extreme levels of poverty and corrupt, unstable government. For nearly 30 years, the country was ruled by a family of dictators, the Duvaliers, who ruled with force and terror. François Duvalier, like most dictators, revised the constitution to solidify his power and replaced the army with a more powerful militia known as the Tonton Macoutes, which is creole for boogeymen. The Tonton Macoutes were responsible for many human rights violations, such as the murders of men, women, and children. However, many Haitians rejoiced in 1991 when the country elected its first democratic president, Jean- Bertrand Aristide. This election signaled a new, promising era for the citizens of Haiti. He attempted to rebuild Haiti by back taxing the country’s elite and punishing the former generals who were responsible for crimes against citizens of Haiti. Aristide also disbanded the Haitian military to rid the country of the corrupt thugs and restore justice. This is believed to be the roots of the 2004 conflict. Many of the former militia members fled to the neighboring Dominican Republic to avoid punishment, where they organized attacks.
Rebel groups were responsible for fighting and attacking government institutions throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. But, in 2002, the government finally began arresting and convicting former militia members. One key leader, Jean Pierre Baptiste was convicted of "voluntary, premeditated homicide". But, he was freed from prison, along with 160 other inmates, by a heavily armed gang known as the Cannibal Army. The Cannibal Army later became known as the Gonaïves Resistance Front. After mounting international pressure, Haitian officials arrested Amiot Métayer, a leader of the Gonaïves Resistance Front. This achievement was short- lived though. The rebels called for the release of Métayer. They set fire to the local city hall and courthouses, in addition to threatening local judges and prosecutors. All charges against Métayer were dropped as a result. Nevertheless, conflict erupted again after Métayer was assassinated. Rebel forces accused President Aristide and his followers of the murder. And, violent protests persisted until February 2004, when the group gained control of the city of Gonaïves. Once in power, they continued to spread chaos by overpowering the weak police force, torching police stations, and releasing over one hundred prisoners. Government leaders tried to regain control by mobilizing police forces from the capital, Port- au- Prince. The Gonaïves Resistance Front, however, confiscated their weapons and killed the officers. The group eventually took control of the northern part of the country. Consequently, President Aristide was exiled with the help of the United States (UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency).
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