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  • Writer's pictureFrantz Alcema,

Haiti's Army Reborn

Lined up in two long columns at the Leogane military base, hundreds of young men and a few women await interviews to join Haiti's national army. There is an opening for 500 recruits between the ages of 18 and 25 years.

"Many young people after the last year of high school can't find much to do ... so for them this is a chance to find work and to serve their country," said Captain Louicin Dieudonné, in charge of recruitment.

"The army that we build today will be a professional army that will protect our future, if the state takes it seriously," said John Felix, a 25-year-old from the southern city of Les Cayes, as he waited to enlist.

The new army's job will be to patrol the seas and the border with the Dominican Republic and to help rebuild after natural disasters in a country that has suffered death and destruction from a catastrophic earthquake and a fierce hurricane in recent years.

Captain Dieudonné swears that this dark page of Haitian history will not repeat itself with the new army.

"If we have a stable society where people respect the principles of democracy and the renewal of authorities every five years, there will not be these problems," Dieudonné said.

Minister of Defense Hervé Denis said the army would also fight terrorism and he envisions a force of around 500 compared to the15,000-member police force.

Carl Sandy Alcema

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