[Marxism] Lula's Troops in Haiti (Fwd from IRSP's Seven Stars)
Octob1917 at aol.com
Octob1917 at aol.com
Wed Dec 1 09:00:54 MST 2004
"We Must Kill the Bandits!"
Lula's Troops in Haiti
By BEN TERRALL
Since the February 29 ouster of democratically-elected Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the UN has repeatedly stood by while the
U.S.-backed regime detains, arrests, and even murders members of
Aristide's Lavalas party. At odds with its reputation as a "progressive"
government, Brazil has been one of the key players in UN complicity with
the de facto government.
On June 1, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH),
began placing troops from Brazil, Chile, Argentina and other nations on
the ground as "peacekeepers." (They took over this role from U.S.,
Canadian and French troops.) A July report by a Haiti Accompaniment
Project delegation described "a multilateral occupation of Haiti under the
aegis of the United Nations." The report notes, "While [the UN presence]
does nothing to change the illegality of the occupation, it gives it an
aura of legitimacy. From all reports we have received, the UN Military
Command works in close coordination with the Haitian National Police,
which has already integrated many former military into their ranks. While
sending thousands of troops to Haiti, the United Nations has so far sent
only one human rights officer to Haiti; he must receive permission from
the post-coup Justice Minister, Bernard Gousse, before he is able to visit
In an interview broadcast October 8 on Haiti's Radio Metropole, UN
Commander General Augusto Heleno Ribero Pereira of Brazil showed his true
colors. Discussing police raids in poor neighborhoods, he declared, "we
must kill the bandits [i.e. Aristide supporters] but it will have to be
the bandits only, not everybody." The general ignored the killers and
thugs freed by anti-Aristide paramilitaries who broke open jails as they
took over a number of towns in the winter of 2004. UN forces cooperate
with these paramilitaries, many of whom helped overthrow Aristide in 1991.
The Haiti Accompaniment Project cited "numerous reports that the UN
military command in the North coordinates its activities with Guy
Philippe, the rebel leader who is responsible for major human rights
violations - including assassinations - in the period preceding the coup."
UN troops have done nothing to stop shootings of unarmed demonstrators.
One salient example is the September 30 demonstration in the pro-Aristide
neighborhood Bel Air, described by the Oregon-based Institute for Justice
and Democracy in Haiti: "Police interrupted a legal demonstration
commemorating the anniversary of Haiti's September 30, 1991 coup d'etat.
Human rights observers accompanying the demonstration reported that police
fired on the march, after several attempts to disperse it failed." The
commander of the Jordanian riot police present refused to comment when
asked why the UN did not intervene to stop Haitian police from firing on
On an October 1 radio interview, interim Prime Minister Latortue conceded
that police had shot and killed protesters, and indicated authorities
would continue to attack dissidents. Nonetheless, UN Special
Representative Juan Gabriel Valdèès reiterated, "the U.S.-backed UN
Stabilization Mission in Haiti will continue to work in support of the
Haitian police in maintaining public order, thereby helping to ensure the
security of Haiti's citizens and respect for the rule of law."
In early October, UN forces using Armored Personnel Vehicles (APVs) and
attack dogs took up positions around Bel Air, alongside heavily armed
units of the Haitian police. Independent journalist Kevin Pina reported
that soon after, members of the former military were openly patrolling
with Chilean forces assigned to the United Nations.
On October 18, international human rights attorney Brian Concannon
condemned the UN role in arresting nonviolent Lavalas figures, noting that
international peacekeepers "do not have the stomach to confront the rebels
or anybody with a gun, but are very courageous in surrounding radio
stations to help the arrest of three unarmed legislators."
Concannon further blasted the UN for backing up police actions in poor
neighborhoods: "They're very courageous about going into poor
neighborhoods and shooting people. And this is obviously an illegal
situation for the UN to be in. This is an illegal situation for the
Haitian police to be doing this. The UN involvement in this is not merely
allowing things to happen; they are affirmatively supporting it; they are
providing back-up to people when they go into these poor neighborhoods,
they secured the perimeter of the radio station when they made that
[October 2] arrest. They're much more than negligently letting these
things happen. They are playing an active role."
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva recently commented, "Our
solidarity is being tested by the Caribbean crisis in Haiti." In truth, it
is the solidarity of international activists with Lula's government that
is being tested. As Brazil angles for a permanent seat on the UN Security
Council, many progressives around the world cannot help but wonder how
much complicity with brutal repression Lula will countenance in order to
look "credible" to Washington.
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