Tonton Macoutes Semi-official PGM / Volunteers for National Security (Haiti)

Country: Haiti
Details of Formation: The Tonton Macoutes were formed in July 1958 when a failed coup prompted Haitian President Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) to create a black private security force to serve as a counterweight to the army, dominated by the mulatto class. On his death in 1971 his son Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) inherited the Presidency and the militia, which he renamed the Volunteers for National Security.
Details of Termination: After Jean-Claude Duvalier fled into exile in 1986 the militia was officially disbanded by the provisional government under Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy, but were never disarmed and continued to operate for many years on a more informal basis (see Tonton Macoutes informal).
Purpose: The original reason for establishing the group for Francois Duvalier was to serve as a counterbalance to the army. In addition, the group acted as a political/auxiliary police force for the Duvaliers and was used for intelligence gathering. It operated against a broad range of target groups, e.g. political opponents, reporters, or students.
Organisation: The group was mainly under the control of the Duvaliers (Francois and Jean-Claude). Regarding internal structure, there were two ranks within the group (commanders and volunteers).
Weapons and Training: --
Size: --
Reason for Membership: One incentive to join the group that is reported was avoiding persecution. In addition, members extorted the population, which is another possible motivation for membership. According to one source, some members were paid (those operating in the capital), while others were not (in the interior of the country).
Treatment of Civilians: The group was one of many that abused and exploited the population, e.g. via extortion or expropriations. It intimidated, killed and disappeared civilians, was accused of beating them and has generally been described as brutal. Overall, it is thought to be responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 Haitians.
Other Information: --
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.