By: Kim Ives – Haiti Liberte
First, President Michel Martelly got rid of Prime Minister Garry
Conille in February. Now, he is trying to fire the Director General of the Haitian National Police (HNP) Mario Andresol. But the police chief is refusing to step down.
The showdown for control of Haiti’s only official armed force, and the crux of state power, is part of a larger, complex class struggle
between three sectors: Washington, Martelly’s neo-Duvalierists, and the Haitian masses.
Andresol is a key pawn of Washington on Haiti’s political chessboard, as was Conille (see “Class Analysis of a Crisis: What Lies Behind PM Conille’s Resignation?” in Haiti Liberte, Vol. 5, No. 33, 2/29/2012). Since becoming Haiti’s police chief in 2005, he has been viewed by Washington as “trustworthy,” according to numerous secret U.S. State Department cables obtained by the media organization WikiLeaks and provided to Haiti Liberte.
Martelly’s sector, which came to power in an illegal March 2011
election, is not considered trustworthy. The new president borrows
inspiration, officials, and tactics from the dictatorships of
Presidents “for life” Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier (1957-1986).
Martelly’s principal gambit today is to reconstitute a repressive
force similar to the Duvalier’s Volunteers for National Security
(VSN), better known as the Tontons Macoutes. Toward this end, he has
tolerated (and some reports say organized) the re-arming of former and
would-be soldiers and paramilitaries now occupying several former
Haitian Army bases around Haiti. Remobilization of the Haitian Army,
disbanded by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995, was one
of Martelly’s campaign promises.
On street corners and radio shows, Haitians now express their
apprehension about Martelly’s embryonic but still unofficial “Pink
Army” (lame woz), a reference to the color of Martelly’s campaign
Washington, along with its junior partners France and Canada, also
opposes reestablishment of the Haitian Army (Forces Armees d’Haiti or
FAdH), because the force would not be under its control as are the HNP
and the 9,000 foreign military occupation troops known as the United
Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti or MINUSTAH.
Following Conille’s forced resignation on Feb. 24, Andresol, 51, is
the last high-ranking Haitian official who is loyal to Washington’s
agenda of making Haiti a thoroughly obedient neocolony. He began his
career as a Haitian Army captain with posts in the Traffic corps and
at the Port-au-Prince airport. After the FAdH’s dissolution, he joined
the Interim Police Force, becoming close to its chief Dany Toussaint,
and later he became an HNP police chief in Petionville.
Under the first administration of former President Rene Preval
(1996-2001), Andresol became a protege of Robert “Bob” Manuel, the
Secretary of State for Public Security, and was soon promoted to the
chief of the Central Direction of the Judiciary Police (DCPJ), the
third most powerful police post. There, he worked closely with U.S.
officials, particularly those of the U.S. Embassy’s Narcotics Affairs
Aristide took office for a second time in February 2001. In August
2001, Aristide’s government arrested Andresol, alleging that he was
involved in a deadly Jul. 28, 2001 attack on Haiti’s Police Academy
and two police stations, in which at least eight cadets and policemen
were killed. It was the first incursion by the so-called “rebel”
force based in the Dominican Republic and headed by Guy Philippe,
another former soldier and police chief whom Andresol worked with
closely under Bob Manuel.
But the U.S. government intervened after Andresol was detained. The
Los Angeles Times wrote a Aug. 24, 2001 piece that decried Andresol’s
arrest, calling him “a super-cop” and “a rare Haitian hybrid of
Frank Serpico and Eliot Ness.” Soon, Andresol was freed, going into
exile in Miami.
He would soon be recalled to service. After Philippe and his “rebels”
succeeded, with the help of U.S. Special Forces, in overthrowing
Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004, Washington installed the government of de
facto Prime Minister Gerard Latortue. In mid-2005, Latortue brought
Andresol back to Haiti as the HNP’s Director General (DG) to whip into
shape the force, which had been ineffective and faltering in the face
of stiff popular resistance to the 2004 coup d’etat. WikiLeaked U.S.
Embassy cables show that the appointment delighted Washington.
Andresol “has proved himself committed to radical overhaul and reform
of the HNP, and we have no reason to believe he will not continue to
fully support critical aspects of international oversight, especially
vetting and certification of HNP officers,” gushed a Mar. 8, 2006
“Confidential” dispatch from Embassy Charge d’Affaires Douglas
Washington was not just the HNP’s overseer, but its paymaster. “Our
role in supporting the HNP… remains central,” explained Charge
d’Affaires Thomas Tighe in a Nov. 3, 2006 cable. “[O]ur material
support for the HNP, which ranges from arms and ammunition to the
uniforms on their backs and the food their cadets eat at the academy,
is the critical factor enabling the HNP to assume greater
responsibility for basic security and to even contemplate utilizing
MINUSTAH resources in implementing more ambitious reform.”
Above all, Tighe concluded, “we are heartened by the commitment of DG
Andresol… to reform the HNP, attack corruption, and re-establish law
and order throughout Haiti.”
In a Nov. 3, 2006 meeting with President Preval, his Prime Minister,
his Justice Minister, Andresol, and U.S. Embassy officials, Anne W.
Patterson, the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) “highlighted the
importance of the USG [U.S. government] assistance to the police and
praised the leadership of DG Andresol,” reported U.S. Ambassador to
Haiti Janet Sanderson in a Nov. 13, 2006 secret cable.
Andresol earned this praise by working closely with the U.S. and the
MINUSTAH in organizing the crackdown on popular resistance cells to
the coup and occupation (called “gangs” by the Embassy) in Cite
Soleil, particularly the deadly joint MINUSTAH/HNP assault of Dec. 22,
2006. In her Dec. 21, 2006 cable about the operation, Sanderson
concluded: “Decisive action against the gangs will also hopefully,
three years after Aristide’s departure, allow the international
community and the GoH [Haitian government] to make good on promises to
deliver assistance to the most needy of Haiti’s poor.”
Furthermore, “Andresol enthusiastically welcomed” among other things
“the possibility of more U.S. police officers coming to MINUSTAH to
assist the HNP” and said “he needed more assistance from the U.S. for
the special HNP units such as the SWAT team,” Sanderson reported in a
Jan. 25, 2007 cable.
Two of Andresol’s advisors “are funded by [the Embassy’s] NAS
[Narcotics Affairs Section],” noted Tighe in a Jul. 15, 2009 dispatch
approving of Andresol reappointment as police chief. “Post views the
renewal of Andresol’s mandate as the best possible result,” he
concluded. “As DG he has worked well with the USG on reform of the HNP
and no other candidate was viewed by Post as viable or trustworthy.”
“Andresol has not only promoted honesty and integrity within the HNP,
but has undertaken significant initiatives,” Sanderson wrote in
another typical Jun. 16, 2006 cable which reveals Washington’s control
of the HNP. “We look forward to maintaining our own close bi-lateral
cooperation through him and expanding overall multi-lateral
coordination as we intensify our efforts to rebuild the HNP.”
But even President Preval and his Prime Minister Jacques Edouard
Alexis, who kept a friendly front with the U.S. Embassy, were worried
about how the U.S. Embassy was working “through” Andresol. “[P]ost
also learned that the PM [Alexis] privately warned Andresol… of
‘being too close to the Americans,'” Tighe reported in a Dec. 26, 2006
As Martelly has veered from the control of the U.S. officials who
facilitated his rise to power last year, his relations with Andresol
Last year, Martelly asked Andresol to appoint one of his partisans,
Godson Orelus, as the HNP’s Inspector General, the force’s number two
post, a former high-ranking police official told Haiti Liberte. This
would have made Orelus “the next in line to act as the HNP’s chief,”
according to the source. Instead, Andresol appointed Orelus as head of
the DCPJ, the number three post.
In February, according to another police source, Martelly asked
Andresol to transfer the heavy weapons of units like the Company for
Intervention and Maintenance of Order (CIMO) and SWAT team to the
Palace Guard, which is under the command of former “rebel” leaders
Godwork Noel and Jacky Nau. Andresol refused.
“Relations between the HNP’s Director General and President Martelly
are worsening from day to day,” reported Robenson Geffrard in the
daily Le Nouvelliste. “Mario Andresol practically does not respond to
phone calls from the National Palace nor to those from the Ministry of
Justice and Security, according to a very influential member of the
government. ‘He doesn’t respond to anybody.'”
In a slap to Andresol, President Martelly has made several visits to
various police units like the CIMO and SWAT team, without informing or
including the police chief, as is customary.
Last week, acting Justice Minister Michel Brunache reportedly called
on Andresol to make an “honorable exit” from his post, but Andresol
has vowed to remain in his post until the end of his mandate on Aug.
According to Geffrard’s high-placed anonymous government source,
Andresol “thinks that he has the support of the international
Now Martelly is trying to turn the tables on Andresol. Under pressure
from Washington, the president is pretending that he wants the Pink
Army’s training camps closed and is asking Andresol to do it.
“Paradoxically, the government knows perfectly well that the police
would not be able to dislodge the ‘former soldiers,'” Geffrard
reports. “There is a disproportionate rapport of force. ‘The HNP
cannot do it,’ acknowledged this influential government official.”
But another formerly high-placed police source told Haiti Liberte that
Andresol wouldn’t go after the proto-FAdH’s camps even if he could.
“Andresol sees that Martelly is under pressure from the so-called
international community to shut down the camps and that he is giving
the problem to Andresol, trying to make him look ineffective,” the
source said. “But Andresol is playing smart too, not taking the bait.
In effect he’s telling Martelly: you made this problem, you fix it.”
On Mar. 29, the 25th anniversary of the ratification of Haiti’s 1987
Constitution, Guy Philippe will leave his redoubt in the southern town
of Pestel to lead a march of former soldiers in the northern city of
Cap Haitien demanding reestablishment of the FAdH. This is the
neo-Duvalierist sector flexing its muscle in Andresol’s face.
What will be Andresol’s reaction to his former comrades-in-arms who
are now arrayed against him? Just three years ago, Andresol was
hunting for Guy Philippe, according to the U.S. Embassy. “Two separate
deployments of HNP SWAT officers took place to Pestel, stronghold of
wanted drug trafficker and disqualified Senate candidate Guy
Philippe,” wrote Ambassador Sanderson in a May 22, 2009 secret cable.
“The initial deployment of 15 HNP on April 7 was to ensure that the
polling place, closed by Philippe following his disqualification,
would open on April 19 for the Senate election as scheduled. In
reality, it was also intended to establish a stronger HNP presence in
Pestel to facilitate active efforts to arrest Philippe. 18 additional
SWAT officers were deployed on April 18. HNP DG Andresol has vowed to
keep them there until Philippe is arrested.” Will Andresol (or the DEA
or MINUSTAH) dare to try to arrest Philippe on Mar. 29?
Interestingly, some of the Lavalas base groups which might have once
been the targets of HNP crackdowns a few years ago are now defending
Andresol since they see him as a temporary ally in the fight to stop
the establishment of the Pink Army. They fear Martelly’s new force
could be as savage and deadly as the Tontons Macoutes. Lavalas base
leaders like Franco Camille and Ronald Fareau have gone on the radio
to champion Andresol as an honest and well-meaning cop.
The stakes in this struggle are very high, and the possibility of
bloodshed cannot be ruled out. The HNP chief is as aware of this as
anyone. Andresol was “frank about his status in Haiti after his term
ends,” wrote Sanderson in a Feb. 22, 2007 secret cable, “saying that
he would have to live in exile to stay alive.”
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