But it seems the Israeli involvement in the nation was not always so positive. On Dec. 27, 1982, the US newspaper Christian Science Monitor reported that since 1968 Israel had sold weapons to two Haitian dictators-Francois Duvalier, who became president in 1957; and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier, who succeeded him in 1971. The two, known as "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc," controlled and terrorized the country with a private army. On March 27, 1983, the New York Times reported that Israel was among the few countries that had agreed to sell weapons to Baby Doc, and provided him with the long-term payment arrangement that he requested.
Paul Farmer, who would serve as President Bill Clinton’s deputy UN representative to Haiti, previously reported that Gen. Prosper Avril, the head of the military junta that took power in Haiti in 1988, received temporary asylum in Israel in 1990. Avril was the head of Baby Doc’s notorious "Presidential Guard," and a US court ruled that he was responsible for "scandalous human rights violations." He would later serve prison time in Haiti for his crimes.
In 1990, four years after Baby Doc was ousted from power, the popular priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president of Haiti-in the first democratic elections the nation had seen. But in 1991 he was deposed in a military coup. Britain’s The Independent newspaper reported Oct. 14, 1991 that about 2,000 Uzi and Galil machine-guns from Israel were sent to Haiti in the weeks prior to the coup-with diplomats claiming the weapons went to military units especially loyal to the coup-plotters.
According to an Aug. 1, 2005 report in Jane’s Intelligence Review, weapons of Israeli origin were being smuggled through Florida and ending up with armed gangs in Port-au-Prince in this period-some in collaboration with the junta, and some opposed.
The Israeli Defense Ministry did not issue any reaction by publication time.
Now, as Israeli doctors and nurses work around the clock at the hospital that was established in Haiti, one can only hope that Israel’s contribution to the suffering nation will now focus on saving lives, and not on weapons shipments.