Haiti news

Agência Brasil
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February 15, 2006

Organizations mount campaign against UN mission in Haiti
   by Thaís Leitão, Reporter - Agência Brasil

Rio - Organizations and social movements that participated in the World Social Forum in Venezuela last month have launched a Haitian Solidarity Campaign. The activists demand the withdrawal of international troops from that country, cancellation of its foreign debt, and nonrenewal of the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which the UN Security Council extended, yesterday (14), for another six months.

"The MINUSTAH is a complete failure. It has been unable to achieve its goals, which are to train the police, disarm the population, and guarantee the election. In 18 months of activity, only 265 arms were picked up, the police isn't being trained, and the troops that operate in the country don't even speak the local language. Moreover, the election is beset by confusion," declared Sandra Quintela, one of the coordinators of the campaign.

In her opinion, what is needed in Haiti is professional help from doctors and social workers, for example, not the armed presence of military troops. "They have intellectuals and organized social movements and can put together a structure without losing their national sovereignty. History shows that the Haitian people are capable of struggling," she said.

The MINUSTAH was established on April 30, 2004, by Security Council Resolution 1542. The military mission, which is commanded by Brazil, is in Haiti to provide security to the country under the provisional government. Argentina, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Uruguay, and Peru are the other countries besides Brazil that are contributing troops to the mission.

According to João Luís Pinaud, a lawyer and member of the Brazilian Bar Association's (OAB) Human Rights Council, the presence of the mission represents an act of cruelty against Haiti and the Brazilian troops who are there. In his view, the troops "are lost."

The Brazilian Army's press office stated that troops are maintained in Haiti by determination of the UN. It also denied that the 1200 Brazilian soldiers stationed there are facing such problems as being abandoned by Haitian government officials. The MINUSTAH press adviser, David Wimhurst, said that the mission has fulfilled its role and is striving to ensure the safety of the population and the transition to an elected government.

Translation: David Silberstein

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