The relationship between the Tonton Macoutes and the army between 1991-1994; whether the Tonton Macoutes maintained any independent identity separate from those who became integrated into the army or paramilitary groups; whether any Tonton Macoutes operated in the Macoutes uniform, or only in association with, or on behalf of, other groups [HTI103645.E]
24 November 2010
Haiti: The relationship between the Tonton Macoutes and the army between 1991-1994; whether the Tonton Macoutes maintained any independent identity separate from those who became integrated into the army or paramilitary groups; whether any Tonton Macoutes operated in the Macoutes uniform, or only in association with, or on behalf of, other groups
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
The Tonton Macoutes (also called Macoutes) were the "personal secret police force" of the Duvaliers, who ruled Haiti from 1957 until 1986, when Jean-Claude Duvalier left the country (US 1 Aug. 1993). A social anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley stated in a telephone interview with the Research Directorate that after Duvalier's departure, the Tonton Macoutes were disbanded and some former members of the group became integrated into the military (18 Nov. 2010). The Social Anthropologist, who wrote a book on the military in Haiti, explained that some Macoutes were already members of the military prior to Duvalier's departure; others subsequently joined the military (18 Nov. 2010)
According to the Social Anthropologist, former Macoutes who became integrated into the army, ceased to wear the typical Macoute uniform, which involved wearing blue denim, a neck scarf and sometimes sunglasses (Social Anthropologist 18 Nov. 2010). Instead, they wore only the khaki uniform of a member of the military (ibid.). The Social Anthropologist stated that it is not known exactly how many former Macoutes became part of the military (ibid.).
Similarly, a professor of sociology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, whose research interest includes Haiti and who has published several books on the country, said in a telephone interview with the Research Directorate that many Macoutes became part of the military, although it is hard to know precisely how many (18 Nov. 2010). When asked about the period between 1991 and 1994, the Professor of Sociology stated that the Tonton Macoutes had ceased to operate as a coherent force (18 Nov. 2010). According to the Professor of Sociology, former Macoutes acted only as individuals, or as members of other groups that they had become a part of (18 Nov. 2010). The Social Anthropologist voiced the opinion that the populace did not fear the Tonton Macoutes during this time period (18 Nov. 2010).
Both professors indicated that former members of the Tonton Macoutes also became members of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (Front pour l'Avancement et le Progrès d'Haïti, FRAPH) (Professor of Sociology 18 Nov. 2010; Social Anthropologist 18 Nov. 2010). According to a 1994 Human Rights Watch report, FRAPH was a neo-Duvalierist group that was "ostensibly an independent political organization" but whose activities included "violent thuggery and assassinations" (Human Rights Watch 1 Apr. 1994). Human Rights Watch also reports that these activities were "tolerated and even encouraged" by the military (ibid.). The Professor of Sociology noted that Macoutes who became integrated into FRAPH did not operate as Macoutes, nor were the members of FRAPH referred to as Macoutes in common parlance (18 Nov. 2010). The Professor of Sociology did clarify, however, that Jean-Bertrand Aristide referred to neo-Duvalierists as Macoutes (18 Nov. 2010).
The Social Anthropologist noted that some former Macoutes became police officers or criminals (18 Nov. 2010). He stated that many other Macoutes "went underground" or else went back to the villages from which they came (18 Nov. 2010). He noted that some Macoutes were subject to reprisals from Haitians (Social Anthropologist 18 Nov. 2010).
The Social Anthropologist further stated that some former Macoutes would wear their uniform from time to time (e.g., on Haiti's National Day or Flag Day) to show support for Jean-Claude Duvalier (ibid.). He stated that wearing the uniform was a way of expressing an opinion and noted that anyone involved in any sort of criminal activity would be unlikely to publically wear the Tonton Macoute uniform (ibid.). Corroboration could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Human Rights Watch. 1 April 1994. Terror Prevails in Haiti: Human Rights Violations and Failed Diplomacy. (Refworld) [Accessed 15 Nov. 2010]
Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. 18 November 2010. Telephone interview.
Social Anthropologist, University of California at Berkeley. 18 November 2010. Telephone interview.
United States (US). 1 August 1993. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Haiti: Country Profile. (Refworld) [Accessed 15 Nov. 2010]
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Academics with relevant expertise from Duke University, Florida International University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Virginia were unable to provide information.
Publications, including: Current History, Human Rights Quarterly, The Military and Society in Haiti.
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), Colombia Journalism Review (CJR), Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), Crimes of War Project, Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'Homme (FIDH), Freedom House, Grassroots International, Haiti Democracy Project, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), International Crisis Group, Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT), United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly, WriteNet.