PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- During a brief ceremony here March 15, the Combined Joint Task Force – Haiti was officially activated and Marine Brig. Gen. Ronald S. Coleman assumed command of the Multi-national Interim Force.
The Task Force, which consists of the Air Contingency Marine Air Ground Task Force as well as French, Canadian and Chilean forces, is here to assist in bringing about a stable environment for the people of Haiti.
“I am truly honored to be the commander of this great Multi-national Interim Command,” Coleman stated during the ceremony.
Turning to address the Haitian President, Prime Minister, Ambassador Foley, other ambassadors and members of the Multi-national Force as well as local and national media attending the ceremony, Coleman laid out his plan for the Task Force.
“Interim government and proud citizens of Haiti, our mission is clear: to bring about stability, to calm your fears and to facilitate the arrival of the UN peacekeeping forces. You have my personal word that all law-abiding citizens will be treated with dignity and respect. Make no mistake: My Marines and multi-national partners will not stand idly by while thugs and rebels kill and maim innocent citizens.
“Finally, we have no hidden agenda,” he continued. “This is not an occupational force. I repeat this is not an occupational force, but simply a stabilization force.”
Prime Minister Gerard Latortue reiterated the fact that the Multi-national Interim Force is not an occupational force, but instead a force here to assist the Haitian National Police.
“Let me tell you honestly that they are not here to occupy us, they are here to give us assistance,” he said. “They are here to deal with the problems that we could not deal with ourselves because we were unable to talk to one another honestly and openly.”
Thanking the Multi-national Interim Force for their quick response to their request for assistance, President Boniface Alexandre emphasized the Haitian National Police’s need for assistance to stabilize the country.
“We are gathered here today to welcome the Multi-national forces that quickly came to our aid to help the Haitian police force in its humble endeavor of protecting the population,” he explained.
“Our purpose here, is to thank the international community in the name of not only ourselves but in the name of the Haitian people for the deployment of this security force with the mission to help the Haitian police establish peace in this country at our request.”
He continued to say, “We are aware, that our National Police force, despite her good intentions, does not have the resources (technical, material and manpower) necessary to fulfill the expectation of the Haitian populace.
“Security is the essential element needed for Haiti to propel herself once and for all in a strong economic and social path of development.”
Addressing this hope for a bright future for Haiti, Coleman quoted Frederick Douglass.
“I would like to take an additional minute to quote Frederick Douglass. ‘It may be said of the history of Haiti as a free state that her liberty was born in blood, cradled in misfortune and has lived more or less in a storm of revolutionary turbulence. It is important to know how she behaved in these storms. As I view it, there is one great fundamental and soul-cheering fact concerning her. It is this: Despite all the trying vicissitudes of her history, despite all the machinations of her enemies at home, in spite of all temptations from abroad, despite all her many destructive revolutions, she has remained true to herself, true to her autonomy and still remains a free and independent state.’
“In view of Haiti’s historical importance, I will not, I cannot believe that her star is to go out in darkness,” he continued. “I believe in my heart, with our combined efforts, that peace will triumph here and her star will continue to shine.”
According to President Alexandre, this combined effort is essential to Haiti’s success.
“The support of our foreign friends is indispensable to us right now and we hope that the Haitian police benefits from this invaluable international support,” he said. “I am convinced that this multinational force is going to contribute to make our police more effective, and when she will have to leave the country, our police will be better equipped to assure the security of the people.”