San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Oscar Arias to Haiti president: Plan to build army an ‘error’

Haitian President Michel Martelly received a letter Monday from two-time former president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias calling it an “error” to reinstate the Haitian army that was dismantled in 1995 after a long history of abuse, according to The Associated Press.

Arias used Costa Rica and its 63 years without an army as an example saying health care and education have benefited from resources that would have otherwise been spent on a military.

“In Latin America, most armies are enemies of development, enemies of peace and enemies of freedom,” Arias’ letter stated.

Martelly acknowledged Arias’ input but has maintained his position and announced in November he would create a committee to focus on the army’s future.

The United States and Canada agreed with Arias and added that money should be spent expanding Haiti’s police force, which employs 8,000 officers to protect 10 million people.

As part of his 2010 presidential campaign, Martelly promised he would restore the army and focus on fortifying the border with the Dominican Republic. Arias pointed out that Costa Rica and Panama have shared “the most peaceful border in the world’ since 1995 when Panama also disbanded its army.”

“It is not by chance that these two countries also have the most successful economies in Central America, because the money we once spent on our armies is (now) invested in the education of our children and the health of our citizens,” Arias wrote.

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