Interview with Mario Andresol, Director General, Haitian National Police
By Dialogo February 02, 2012
Since the January 2010 earthquake devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, the main focus in the country has been humanitarian aid. But, little by little, former gangs are reuniting and drug trafficking is increasing. To talk about the main concerns regarding security issues in Haiti, Diálogo spoke with Mario Andresol, Director General, Haitian National Police, during the 2012 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC). The event was sponsored jointly by the United States Southern Command and St. Kitts and Nevis in December 2011.
Diálogo: What are the main security or defense issues concerning Haiti now?
Director General Mario Andresol: Our emphasis is still on humanitarian disaster relief. But at the same time, we have kidnappings ruining this country and also criminality due to the poverty situation, and this has created a level of fear among the people, which is very difficult to deal with because of the political situation, instability, social turmoil…this is our main concern right now.
Diálogo: How important is it to work with other countries around Haiti, and especially the United States?
Dir. Gen. Andresol: Information sharing and experiences from the international community and from the U.S. Military, U.S. Coast Guard and other entities is very helpful to us because we are a very young force of police and lack experience in this domain. In particular this situation made us rely on our partners in the Caribbean, in the U.S., especially. At this level, the U.S. helped build, helped develop, the Police Force that we are trying to professionalize right now.
Diálogo: So you are trying to strengthen the Police?
Dir. Gen. Andresol: Yes, we are now [a force of] 10,000 people and we hope to reach 15,000 by 2015.
Diálogo: What is the Brigade for Struggle against Drug Trafficking?
Dir. Gen. Andresol: This is a brigade that we just began to enforce because the drug traffic issue is very important for Haiti. You might know this, our country is a transit country generally used by the traffickers, and right now we are on the verge of reinforcing the unit. We will soon have more than 200 people. We only had 52 people in its inception, and right now we have 152. Soon we expect to add 50 more.
Diálogo: Is that similar to a SWAT team?
Dir. Gen. Andresol: It is like a SWAT team, yes, and most of them receive training in the U.S. We are also working with the DEA all the time. We will spread this unit all around Haiti so that we can block the routes the traffickers use to deal their drugs. We can identify some spots where we plan to establish periodic checkpoints 24-hours a day, seven days a week to block the traffickers’ routes. But right now this force is only centralized in Port-au-Prince, and I want to reinforce it by adding people in order to have many units all over Haiti.