Haitian Police Armed with Guns and Language Skills Sent to Protect Tourists
Tourism police agents salute during the inauguration ceremony of the newly formed special police force, at the National Police Academy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Dieu Nalio / AP Photo
Haiti’s government is introducing several initiatives to attract tourists and revive its struggling travel sector. However, armed policemen seem to send a more foreboding message than intended.
Haiti has formed a special police force to protect the legions of tourists the government hopes to bring to the troubled Caribbean nation.
Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin said at a Friday ceremony that 53 agents will patrol the country’s tourist resorts. Each has received 340 hours of classroom time to brush up on Haitian history and geography. They have also studied Spanish and English to better help tourists.
The agents will carry 9 mm handguns and will report both to the tourism and justice ministries.
The two-year-old government of President Michel Martelly has sought to make tourism a priority. His government has doubled its tourism budget and is hoping that $27 million from Venezuela will help revive the once-thriving industry.
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