Few debate the need for more security. For the whole nation of 9 million people, there are just 8,400 poorly equipped police officers – about 40 percent of the number actually needed, says Police Chief Mario Andresol.
Parts of the country go unpatrolled, and some divisions such as an airport security force or environmental protection unit exist only on paper, he said. While he hopes the next president will fully develop the police forces before allocating money for an army, Andresol said a military force is needed to patrol Haiti’s coastline and remote regions where smugglers receive South American drug shipments bound for the United States.
Laurent Dubois, a Haitian historian and professor at Duke University, said the key is to determine what role a new military would have.
The presidential candidates must have “an open and clear discussion,” he said. “Precisely what kind of army will it be and what will its role in Haitian civil society be? What will it be trained and deployed to do?”