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Military Spending And Foreign Assistance

Budgetary irregularities have impeded assessments of Haiti's expenditures on national defense and the police forces. Throughout much of the Duvalier era, significant portions of the nation's security budget either went unrecorded or disappeared in a maze of interdepartmental transfers directed by officials in the Presidential Palace. Therefore, it was difficult to judge how these payments affected Haiti's economy. Defense expenditures that were recorded were generally modest. Moreover, because of Haiti's convoluted politics, it is impossible to determine whether the money allocated for defense ever benefited the nation's army or police force. Undetermined amounts were undoubtedly siphoned off by corrupt individuals.

Haiti's defense expenditures grew slowly in the 1970s and the 1980s. Some efforts in the late 1970s to modernize the military, especially the air corps, coupled with the Duvalier regime's growing sense of insecurity led to increased expenditures. After that period, however, military spending remained constant at about US$30 million a year. Between 1975 and 1985, military spending averaged about 8 percent of government expenditures, or between 1.2 percent and 1.9 percent of the gross national product (GNP). In the twentieth century, the United States has been the primary source of foreign military support in terms of matriel and financing. Moderate levels of military expenditure and a marginal amount of foreign influence on Haiti's national security reflected the deinstitutionalization of the Haitian armed forces that took place after the 1950s.

The United States occupation resulted in a technically competent and logistically well-equipped Haitian military that was really a national constabulary. United States military missions to Haiti during World War II, the 1950s, and the early 1960s helped to maintain links between the two countries; and, despite Franois Duvalier's displeasure with United States efforts to modernize the Haitian armed forces, he agreed to several purchases of military equipment and services from Washington. Between 1964 and 1970, these purchases included a number of aging aircraft, the overhaul of all five Haitian F-51s, a mix of small arms, and a number of patrol boats. By the early 1970s, the newly created Leopard Corps had become the focus of procurement efforts, and Washington openly approved private arms sales and training programs. Overall, between 1950 and 1977 the United States provided an estimated US$3.4 million in military aid and training for 610 Haitian students in the United States.

During the late 1970s, Haiti acquired small arms from other countries. The aircraft were never put to use because of chronic training deficiencies and maintenance problems; still, when the regime encountered difficulties in the early to mid-1980s, it grounded much of the Air Corps and removed its ordnance to prevent bombing runs on the Presidential Palace.

In the 1980s, the United States intermittently provided aid and assistance in support of Haitian security needs through credits or commercial military sales, a Military Assistance Program (MAP), and an International Military Education and Training Program (IMET). Commercial sales of military goods, primarily crowd-control equipment, increased substantially in the last two years of Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime; they amounted to US$3.2 million in 1985. Earlier in the 1980s, the United States had sustained a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) financing program for Haiti that amounted to about US$300,000 a year. Expenditures on the IMET program ranged from US$150,000 to US$250,000 a year. About 200 Haitian students benefited from the IMET from 1980 to 1985.

Military assistance from the United States came to a halt when the elections of 1987 failed. The United States also cut off resources to upgrade the nation's justice and police system, although some funding for narcotics-control efforts continued. In 1989 only an IMET training program was likely to receive funding from the United States. Washington was also considering, however, some support for efforts to disarm Duvalierist forces.

In late 1999, due to significant political impasses involving elections and abuses by other portions of the Haitian National Police, the US Congress stopped all aid to Haiti in 2000. Because funding stopped, all security assistance personnel were pulled out of Haiti and ongoing training missions were put on hold. Because of growing U.S. concerns about the events surrounding the May 2000 elections, the U.S. government had suspended most of this assistance by September 2000. Only the U.S. Coast Guard and the Drug Enforcement Administration continue to work with and provide some assistance to their counterparts within the Haitian police.

Many of the improvements made possible by U.S. assistance have not been institutionalized because the Haitian government did not assume ownership of most of them.

USAID's Peace and Security Objective is designed to address Haiti's persistent insecurity and instability, which are primary obstacles to the country's progress and pose threats to regional stability. Haiti suffers from weak governance, particularly in volatile conflict-prone neighborhoods in the capital and other key population centers. USAID conflict mitigation programs aim to buttress government presence and diffuse conflict in urban hotspots. These programs will engender stability and empower communities to resist violence. They will also enhance the capacity of local government to work with citizens and provide basic services. USAID transnational crime programs strengthen Haitian capacity to prevent human trafficking and aid victims of trafficking. Other USG agencies bolster Haitian Police and Coast Guard capacity and help to counter drug trafficking and money laundering. In the Peace and Security Objective for FY 2009, the United States Government invested $45.7 million, of which USAID managed $25.4 million.

"Hot spots" - volatile communities in Port-au-Prince, Saint-Marc, Petit Gove, Cap Hatien, Gonaives and Les Cayes - benefited from 496 small-scale projects valued at $20.3 million. Over 211,000 of the most vulnerable citizens in these communities benefited from short-term employment. A total of 1,764 community leaders received leadership, conflict mitigation and community project prioritization training.

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