Social and human rights organizations in Haiti are denouncing the planned remobilization of the Haitian armed forces on Saturday, November 18. Critics are afraid that President Jovenel Moïse may use the military to consolidate power and repress peasants and low-wage workers from protesting continued low standards of living, as the current military restructuring plans lack an adequate institutional structure or legal framework. The Haitian Ministry of Defense asserted that the military, which has been demobilized since 1995, will augment the security operations of the National Police of Haiti and focus on the country's infrastructure development. Potentially violent protests against the military remobilization and other issues (e.g. 2017-2018 budget and PetroCaribe's alleged misuse of funds), and consequent traffic disruptions, are expected in the coming days in Haiti, including in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding suburbs of Pétion-Ville, Delmas, and Carrefour.
Haiti's armed forces were demobilized in 1995 due to numerous coups and counter-coups staged by the army and other branches of the military in preceding decades. Some opponents fear that the remobilized army will again be used to interfere in politics. However, supporters argue that Haiti needs its defense forces in order to reduce the country's reliance on international peacekeepers to maintain security. Moïse's government has continually stressed that the new army will primarily be a "Corps of Engineers" focused on improving infrastructure throughout the country. As of November 15, only 500 people have been recruited for the army, but there are plans in place to increase the number of soldiers to 2000 in 2018.
The military restructuring announcement comes amid strikes and protests that have broken out in Haiti in recent months over the adoption of the 2017-2018 budget, and PetroCaribe's alleged misuse of funds. Opposition groups previously called for various protests to take place on Friday, November 10, and Tuesday, November 14, and have planned another for Saturday, November 18, to demand greater transparency in ongoing corruption investigations and to denounce President Moïse's government and its 2017-2018 national budget.
Individuals in Haiti are advised to strictly avoid all protests and rallies due to the high likelihood of violence.
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