Miami Company Employing Ex-Marines for Training Members of the Haitian Forces

September 25, 2007

A Miami-based company that
Is reported to have a link with
Haiti's National Defense and
Interior Minister is employing
a group of former American
marines to train the Haitian
armed forces, and the United
States Government is investigat-
ing the legality of the arrange-
This was disclosed by State Department officials, who said today in reply to inquiries that they had asked the Bureau of Customs last month to look into the training operations of the company, Aerotrade, Inc. In the last 18 months, under licenses granted by the depart- ment's own Office of Munitions Control, Aerotrade has exported to Haiti about $200,000 in
anns, ncluding armored per- sonnel carriers. All were said to have been purchased from private dealers in the United States.
However, officials said, Aero- trade failed to obtain a State Department license for its mili- tary-training activities and thus may have violated the provi- sions of the code of Federal regulations prohibiting unau- thorized technical military as- sistance by Americans to for- eign Governments in connection with American-made weapons.
6 Patrol Vessels Sold
The officials also disclosed that last month, through an- other United States concern, the State Department licensed the sale of six 65-foot patrol vessels, valued at $1.2-million, to Haiti for her Coast Guard. The craft were unarmed.
The ban was ordered because o? mounting political terrorism by the Government of the late President Francois Duvalier and charges of misused aid funds. At that time the United States removed a 70-man Marine training mission from Haiti.
In January, the State Depart- ment, In a then-unpubllcized move, acknowledged to a Con- gressional committee that the licensing of arms for Haiti had been resumed and, at the same time, offered the information that a private company was training Haitians in the use of United States weapons. State Department officials
said today that they had asked
the Bureau of Customs to in- vestigate Aerotrad's training
program after it was called
to our attention that the law
may be violated." Aerotrade, according to the
officials, is linked through Air
Haiti, an unscheduled airline, to the Haitian Minister of Na-
tional Defense and Interior, Luckner Cambronne, who is
widely considered to be Haiti's most powerful leader and young President Duvaller's foremost adviser. He had also played a key role in the elder Duvalier's Cabinet Colonel Cambronne, who in effect heads the Haitian militia known as the Leopards, is the majority stockholder in Air Haiti, which flies between Miami and Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. The line's sta- tion chief In Miami, officials said is James 0. Byers, who also is a vice president of Aerotrade.
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Letter Sent to Committee
The officials said, in response to questions, that most of the military equipment purchased here was given to the Leopards, who have replaced the Tonton Macoute militia- that served under the elder Duvalier as a private security police force. The Leopards are being trained by a group that the State Department said consisted 'of "a half dozen" foremen Marine Corps noncommissioned
officers on the payroll of Aero- in response to questions from proves them (or disapproves trade. Representative Moorhead that them) under munitions control
The Congressionalpanael was the United States was provid- regulations," it added. 'In the informed about this training ing no military assistance to case of Hiti, we have ap- program in a letter dated Jan. proved modest sales aa 19 from the Assistant Secre- 1t, it aid,"theHaitianGov ments by these private dealers tary of State for Congressional ernment has privately contract- over the past year." Relations, David M. Ashire, to ed with a United States cm- State Department officials Representative William S. pany for training of its armed said the "U.S. company" men- Moorhead, Democrat of Penn- forces and has been purchasing tioned in Mr. Abshire's letter arms, ammunition and military :was Aerotrade. They said the sylvania and chairman of the matrel, in limited quantities, Haitian Government last year House Subcommittee on For- from private dealers in the' delivered a formal communica-
eign. Operations. and Govel United States." tion to the State Department ment Information. "The Department of State re- designating Aerotrade as its
The letter, a copy of which views these purchases on purchasing agent for arms in,
has now been made available
to The New York Times, said
case-by-case b.iss prd and the United States.

Tags: Haiti, military aid, military training, Aerotrade

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