I have been contacted by so many people over my thoughts of the security needs in Haiti, I figured its easier to post here.
I think companies have a lot of wishful thinking and a lot of agents do as well when it comes to Haiti. I have gotten a huge amount of calls over Haiti and everyone is shocked that it is not open to security companies in general and then, even more shocked that weapons are not allowed. Many people have said this is just another Katrina..
It is very, very far from both of those instances. Let’s look at Katrina first. Katrina was in the United States, US allows weapons if you have permits. Louisiana allowed companies to obtain licensing very easily within a few days. Katrina was simple, bring in RV’s, bring in food, fuel, water etc with you from neighboring states, fly in to a airport not very far from the destruction rent a car and drive into New Orleans. If you were licensed you could carry a handgun, shotgun or M4. You had areas of responsibility of where to protect such as banks, relief areas, hotels etc. No one was given permission to patrol streets, yes a lot of companies did that in camo gear and sniper rifles but that was not the mission. It was private companies needing security for their people and property. Later contracts for patrol etc came about through viable channels, state, local and federal contracts. Unlike Haiti there was a working government in place, laws were still being upheld. It was slow for sure but there was never complete breakdown on a basic level as in Haiti.
Haiti is a nation with laws. The hierarchy for policing is still the Haitian Government agencies, such as police. They may be decimated but that is still the action. Everything I have read or spoken to at the consulates and embassy is the hierarchy is Haiti Police first, then UN Security then possibly the US. Why would companies think they can fly in and go to work without Visas, licensing and permits? It is being reported now from US State Department that you are not going to DR or Haiti without Visas, and you will be arrested for carrying weapons. Why do companies think they can get around this?
I have seen a thousand postings that companies are saying they are ready to land in 48 hours and are awaiting permission to carry weapons, where is the permission coming from, Haiti? From UN? One company said you could bring your own weapons and they would supply the ammo, ok great, tell me how you transport your weapons back, you might want to make sure you have the paperwork and permission to do so, but that isn’t being told to people. I talked to a few companies and they aren’t offering any type of medical to the teams, when I mentioned that agents should have International SOS or something like that for emergencies they thought I was crazy.
A company is advertising in Craigslist for security officers for a Haiti detail, seriously?
Here is exactly the advice I have given to everyone that has called about working in Haiti, get everything in writing, check it against sources in State Department and Haitian Consulates, because at the end of the day it’s your ass that will be in lockup, not the president of the company sitting warm and dry in the US.
Just my two cents.