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Brazil Needs to Quit Haiti
by Mark Weisbrot
U.S. diplomatic cables now released from Wikileaks make it clearer than ever before that foreign troops occupying Haiti for more than seven years have no legitimate reason to be there; that this a U.S. occupation, as much as in Iraq or Afghanistan; that it is part of a decades-long U.S. strategy to deny Haitians the right to democracy and self-determination; and that the Latin American governments supplying troops -- including Brazil -- are getting tired of participating.
One leaked U.S. document shows how the United States tried to force Haiti to reject $100 million in aid per year -- the equivalent of 50 billion reais in Brazil's economy -- because it came from Venezuela. Because Haiti's president, Préval, understandably refused to do this, the U.S. government turned against him. As a result, Washington reversed the results of Haiti's first-round presidential election in November 2010, to eliminate Préval's favored candidate from the second round. This was done through manipulation of the Organization of American States (OAS), and through open threats to cut off post-earthquake aid to the desperately poor country if they did not accept the change of results. All of this is well documented.
The UN troops were brought to Haiti to occupy the country after the United States organized the overthrow of Haiti's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for the second time, in 2004. Some 4,000 Haitians were targeted and killed in the aftermath of the coup, and officials of the constitutional government jailed while the UN troops "kept order." Many more would perish after the earthquake because Haiti's public infrastructure was crippled during the four-year international aid cutoff that Washington organized to topple the elected government.
Another leaked document shows how Edmond Mulet, then head of the UN mission (MINUSTAH), worried that Aristide might regain his influence, and recommended that criminal charges be filed against him. Mulet has been openly partisan in interfering in Haiti's politics and dismissed Haitians who protested the UN mission as "enemies." This is an incredibly arrogant posture considering that Haitians were angry about the mission's bringing cholera to Haiti, which has now infected 380,000 Haitians and killed 5,800. If MINUSTAH were a private entity, it would be facing multi-billion dollar lawsuits and possibly criminal prosecution for its horrific negligence in polluting Haiti's water supply with this deadly bacteria. Ironically, the $850 million dollar annual cost of MINUSTAH is more than nine times what the UN has raised to fight the cholera epidemic.
Brazil is not an empire like the United States and has no reason to be a junior partner to one, especially in such an ugly and brutal venture. It goes against everything that Lula, Dilma, and the Workers' Party stand for. It eviscerates Brazil's potential for moral leadership in the world -- which Brazil has shown in many areas, since the historic changes initiated under Lula's administration. It is long past time for Brazil to get its troops out of Haiti.
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy. This article was first published by CEPR on 21 July 2011 under a Creative Commons license. Em Português.