Haiti: WikiLeaks shows why UN occupation should end

Protest in Port au Prince against the UN occupation, May 25, 2010. Photo from HaitiLiberte.com.

United States diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks make it clearer than ever that foreign troops occupying Haiti for more than seven years, under the banner of the United Nations, have no legitimate reason to be there.

They show that this a US occupation, as much as in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it is part of a decades-long US strategy to deny Haitians the right to democracy and self-determination.

They also show that Latin American governments supplying troops ― including Brazil ― are getting tired of taking part.

One leaked document shows how the US tried to force Haiti to reject US$100 million in aid a year ― because it came from Venezuela.

Because Haiti's then-president, Rene Preval, understandably refused to do this, the US government turned against him.

As a result, Washington reversed the results of Haiti's first-round presidential election in November 2010, to eliminate Preval'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 USorganised the overthrow of Haiti's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for the second time, in 2004.

About 4000 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 perished after the earthquake because Haiti's public infrastructure was crippled during the four-year international aid cutoff that Washington organised 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 of cholera to Haiti, which has now infected 380,000 Haitians and killed 5800.

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 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 US and has no reason to be a junior partner to one, especially in such an ugly and brutal venture. It goes against everything that former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President Dilma Rousseff, and the ruling 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. This article was first published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.]

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