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Operation Uphold Democracy

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Operation Uphold Democracy (September 19, 1994 – March 31, 1995) was an intervention that removed the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d'état. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was returned to power after the operation, and after the US was satisfied he would comply with their demands. Aristide was instructed to return Haiti's trade policy to that of his US-backed former opponent Marc Bazin,[1] against whom he had run and won in elections in 1990.[1] The US wanted him to, among other things, privatize nationalized infrastructure, reduce the civil service, and restructure trade tariffs in favor of the US.[1] The airborne assault, as planned, was to be the largest airborne assault in history since Wikipedia:Operation Market Garden in World War II. Operation Uphold Democracy officially ended on March 31, 1995; afterwards, forces in the area defaulted to the ongoing US operations in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, Operation New Horizons.[2]

Soldiers of C Company, 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry, 10th Mountain Division securing Port-au-Prince Airport on the first day of Operation Uphold Democracy

This was about the same time that the Central Intelligence Agency began being directly involved in overt military operations, so it is possible that Special Activities Division or Special Operations Group forces were involved, but they were not declared.

Aristide was again ousted in a second coup, by which, he claimed, the US was retaliating for his refusal to privatize Haitian government-owned infrastructure.[3][4][5] Forced into exile,[5] he has attempted to return to office many times,[6] but the US continues to block his return, renewing its commitment to preventing him from taking office in Haiti even as Baby Doc Duvalier returned to Haiti in the wake of the chaos of 2010's earthquake and cholera epidemic.[7]


The operation began with the alert of United States and Allied forces for a forced entry into the island nation of Haiti. U.S. Navy and Air Force elements staged to Puerto Rico and southern Florida to prepare to support the airborne invasion, spearheaded by elements of U.S. SOCOM and the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. As these forces prepared to invade, including elements of the 82nd Airborne already in the air, a diplomatic element led by former President Jimmy Carter, retired U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell persuaded the leaders of Haiti to step down and allow the elected officials to return to power.

This effort was successful due in part because the U.S. delegation was able to point to the massed forces poised to enter the country. The military mission changed from a combat operation to a peace-keeping and nation-building operation at that point with the deployment of the U.S. led multinational force in Haiti. This force was made up primarily of members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, but also included members of Marine Forces Caribbean. Teams were deployed throughout the country to establish order and humanitarian services. Regular Army forces consisting of units from the 10th Mountain Division occupied Port-au-Prince and provided logistical support. The U.S. Coast Guard played a significant role in the operation, providing command, control and communications services from 378' cutters anchored in Port-Au-Prince Harbor. The 10th Mountain Division was relieved in place by units of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) under command of Major General George Fisher. The 25th Infantry Division deployed on January 4, 1995 from their home station of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and officially assumed command authority from the 10th Division on January 9, 1995. General Fisher and the 25th Infantry Division were the headquarters element of what is officially known as the Multinational Forces, Combined Task Force 190, Republic of Haiti.

The US Army Reserve unit, 458th Transportation Detachment (ATMCT), Belleville, IL, was activated and reported to Ft. Bragg, NC within 48 hours of notification. This was the fastest a Reserve unit has ever been deployed. The 458th manned the 18th Corps Joint Movement Control Center (JMCC) in support of the mission.

Operation Uphold Democracy officially ended on March 31, 1995. From March 1995 until March 1996, 2,400 US personnel from the original Operation Uphold Democracy remained as a support group commanded by UNMIH under a new operation called Operation New Horizons.[2] A large contingent of U.S. troops (USFORHAITI) participated as peacekeepers in the UNMIH until 1996 (and the U.S. forces commander was also the commander of the UN forces). During the operation, one U.S. service member was killed by hostile fire. He was a US Special Forces Staff Sergeant shot during a roadside check.

Three Argentine Navy corvettes of the Drummond class joined the mission to force the commercial embargo of Haiti. [8].

Other factions, and aftermath[edit]

The operation was effectively authorized by the 31 July 1994 United Nations Security Council Resolution 940. The UN was not to know that Aristide would soon be deposed again.

By contrast, U.S. President Bill Clinton attended the change of authority ceremony over which Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide presided.

After the operation, the United Nations began its Wikipedia:United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). UN forces under various mission names were in Haiti from 1995 through 2000.

In exchange for returning the democratically elected President to power, the US demanded many economic changes, including slashing the civil service, reducing tariffs, and the privatization of state monopolies. Aristide had no choice but to accept the demands, although he did resist the forced privatization which he claimed would "increasing the riches of Haiti’s elite and stripping the poor of their national wealth".[4]

Aristide was again ousted in the February 2004 rebellion, in which former soldiers participated.[3] He said the US had orchestrated a coup d'état against him because he had refused to privatize state-owned infrastructure,[4] and received support from, among others, several members of the US Congress and Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson.[5] Aristide was forced into exile, being flown directly out of Haiti to the Central African Republic,[5] eventually settling in South Africa.

Aristide has attempted to return to office many times over the years.[6] The US continues to block his return, renewing its commitment to preventing him from taking office in Haiti on January 20, 2011, even as Baby Doc Duvalier returned to Haiti in the wake of the chaos of 2010's earthquake and cholera epidemic.[7]


External links[edit]

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