|Picture Credit: flickr.com/UNDP
In February 2004, opposition forces staged an armed rebellion against the elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The US, France and Canada supported this coup. Since early 2001, Washington had blocked important economic and humanitarian aid to the country. Earlier, it had reneged on police training and on funding for UN human rights and election monitors. The February 2004 rebellion, launched from training camps in the Dominican Republic, joined together the right-wing Convergence for Democracy, the pro-business Group of 184 and thuggish militia commanders close to former dictators. The rebel military force was small, but the Aristide government had no army and only weak police units. When the rebels captured provincial capitals, regional organizations sought a political solution to the crisis. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) urged the UN Security Council to send a multinational force to restore order, but a contingent of 50 US Marines as well as Canadian commandoes had by then arrived in the capital, and efforts were already under way, led by Washington, to press the president to step down.
On February 29 2004, the day Aristide left the country and went into exile, the US and France finally agreed to UN action. The Security Council unanimously voted a resolution establishing a peacekeeping force in Haiti (MINUSTAH.) On March 9, the US hastily formed a handpicked “Conseil des Sages” that appointed Gérard Latortue, a wealthy Haitian-American businessman, as Prime Minister of the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH). The newly formed police, incorporating members of the rebel militia, attacked ousted President Aristide’s supporters - mainly Haiti’s urban and rural poor. MINUSTAH also played a role in this repression, failing to prevent police and right-wing violence. As the 2006 presidential election was approaching, the conservative Haitian elite pressed the police and peacekeepers to “get tough” in the slum of Cité Soleil. Shortly after, the head of MINUSTAH, Brazilian General Urano Bacellar, took his own life under unexplained circumstances. Human rights investigations by Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, and the University of Miami Law School have documented illegal arrests and detentions of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas (FL) political party leaders and activists, including Gérard Jean-Juste, one of the most charismatic and well-known figures in Haiti.
On February 7 2006, Haiti held its first elections since former President Aristide was overthrown. After four postponements of polling days and more than a week of counting votes, Aristide protégé René Préval was declared the winner of the presidential vote. He attracted more than four times as many votes as his closest rival. However, it remains to be seen if the international community - the US, the UN, the EU and those countries with most influence within Haiti – will accept Préval as the popular choice and will not attempt to undermine him from without or within, as happened with his predecessor and ally Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
GPF organized this event with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti to discuss the cholera epidemic in Haiti, and the the larger role of MINUSTAH, the UN's Peacekeeping force that brought cholera to the region. The discussion featured Brian Concannon (IJDH), Abby Goldberg (New Media Advocacy Project), Mario Joseph (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux), Dr. Evan Lyon, and Brian Concannon (Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti).
While the world focuses on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, a recently released documentary is a welcome reminder that Haiti's history didn't start in 2010. Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits offers an uncompromising perspective on the years 2004-2005, when Haiti went through a coup that ousted democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and a subsequent occupation by foreign troops under a UN Security Council mandate. The director, Kevin Pina, a Creole-speaking American journalist who has lived in Haiti on and off for 15 years, tells a story that has so far largely been outshone by the official narrative. (Global Policy Forum)
The Security Council in Resolution 1840, extended the mandate of MINUSTAH, the UN stabilization mission in Haiti, until October 15, 2009. MINUSTAH consists of 7,060 soldiers and 2,091 police officers, but its composition will change after the training of the Haitian National Police forces. The resolution calls upon the peacekeeping troops to support Haiti's political process and to assist in the reconstruction of its institutions.
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to establish a peacekeeping force for Haiti (MINUSTAH) for an initial period of six months.
On the same day as Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile, the Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing the immediate deployment of a Multinational Interim Force in the country for an initial period of three months.
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A cholera outbreak in Haiti has killed over 8,000 people, and many more are infected with the disease. The disease was eradicated from Haiti over 100 years ago, but returned shortly after the 2010 earthquake and the arrival of UN peacekeepers. It is widely accepted that the strain of cholera in Haiti is traceable to a UN Nepalese peacekeeping camp. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), a group of Boston based lawyers, filed a law suit seeking compensation from the UN on behalf of 5,000 Haitians. The UN has refused to accept or deny the allegations and insists that the source of the disease is unclear, and was caused by a “confluence of circumstances.” In response to the case, the UN has made clear that it is invoking its own immunity from such legal disputes, as established by its founding Charter in 1946. (The Guardian)
The UN needs to take responsibility for the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. In December, the UN Secretary General launched the 10-year “Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti.” This announcement is a good step forward, but the UN still refrains from acknowledging liability. In order to battle the epidemic, which is still spreading, Haiti is in dire need of improved clean water and sanitation infrastructure. International civil society movements and Haitian grassroots organizations are already lobbying for the UN to clean up its mess and make amends. (Al Jazeera)
Hurricane Sandy has resulted in an increased number of cholera cases in Haiti. The country did not have a single case of cholera until the outbreak of an epidemic in 2010, allegedly brought to Mirebalais by Nepalese UN peacekeepers. Treatment measures, such as control centers, are effective, but not sufficient to halt the epidemic. Unsanitary living conditions due to poverty –including a lack of access to soap and drinkable water – are exacerbating the crisis. Haiti is now requesting $2bn from the international community to control and eliminate the disease over the next few years. Activists and victims urge the UN to take more political and financial responsibility as it brought cholera to Haiti in the first place. (Guardian)
A recent report by Dr. Daniele Lantagne, US cholera specialist, concludes that UN soldiers from Nepal have most likely caused the cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2010. Although an initial report by the UN Panel of Experts investigating the source of the disease claimed that no individual or group was at fault, Lantagne’s new data links the Nepalese UN Mirabalais camp to the outbreak. The UN is facing billions of dollars in claims from the family of victims who died or fell sick from the epidemic that has killed 7,500 people. (BBC)
This article from Haitian weekly Haïti Liberté details the US governments’ ongoing efforts to neutralize Jean-Bertrand Aristide as a political force. The diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks seem to confirm this analysis of events, as they repeatedly make oblique reference to the various tactics used to undermine Haitian democracy. The most recent of these tactics is an attempt to arrest Aristide on charges of corruption, at once providing an excuse to detain him, and an opportunity to smear his name. However, this legal attack on Aristide has been foreshadowed in the Wikileaks cables, and the attack could have the opposite effect - further confirming the US government’s fundamentally imperial approach to Haiti in the eyes of Haitians and informed observers. (Haïti Liberté)
Since October 2010, more than 7000 Haitians have died from cholera, a disease last found on the island over a hundred years ago. An UN-convened Independent Panel has conceded that cholera was brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers and spread due to poor waste disposal protocol. Yet, despite this malfeasance, the UN blames the spread of cholera on the conditions in Haiti, and has failed to take responsibility for the introduction of the cholera epidemic in the country. (openDemocracy)
For the third time in five years, Haiti is trying to deal with the sexual abuse of minors by UN peacekeepers. Despite a “zero tolerance” policy towards sexual abuse, a training course focusing on sexual conduct, and repeated UN-issued public statements condemning the acts, there has been no effective deterrence in the sexual abuse of women and minors by peacekeepers across the globe. (IPS Terraviva)
A group of Haitians has submitted a petition claiming that MINUSTAH acted negligently and recklessly by failing to provide redress after UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to the country, infecting over 450,000 people. This petition raises the possibility of enforcing a mandated, but rarely implemented, judicial procedure for civilians living in countries with UN missions. If the UN fails to establish a standing claims commission and pay compensation to the petitioners, they have threatened to bring a legal case in the US. However, by treaty the UN is immune from lawsuits. This petition has far-reaching implications. It may establish a new precedent of institutional accountability for knowledgeable wrongdoing. (World Politics Review)
The UN Security Council has extended MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year, despite widespread Haitian opposition protests calling for withdrawal of the seven-year-old force. Deepa Panchang’s Other Worlds paper enumerates MINUSTAH’s post-earthquake human rights abuses, contextualizing the force as part of a larger geopolitical strategy rather than a humanitarian mission. An unconstitutional Haitian government granted the permission for MINUSTAH’s presence after democratically-elected President Aristide was ousted in an internationally-backed coup. Occupying MINUSTAH troops have destabilized the country, engaging in rape and violent retaliations against peaceful protests, supporting fraudulent elections, and introducing a deadly cholera epidemic. (Women’s International Perspective
Leaked US diplomatic cables reveal the “extraordinary litany of failures and political polarizations” of UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). MINUSTAH, the third-largest UN military force, has been serving in Haiti since 2004 yet the leaked cables reveal that MINUSTAH has recklessly killed hundreds of unarmed civilians and mishandled elections. (The Nation)
Documents released by WikiLeaks expose US, UN and OAS policy in Haiti after the military coup that overthrew Aristide’s government in 2004. They reveal that these actors closely monitored the formation of the new Haitian national police force and oversaw the integration of ex-paramilitaries involved in the coup. The US and the UN adopted this strategy as part of the effort to demobilize paramilitary forces in the country. On the other hand, member of the police force who remained loyal to the former president were tracked down and fired. This questions the credibility of the UN nation building policies. (Toward Freedom)
The author of this article suggests that the instability in Haiti is a direct result of the implementation of neo-liberal policies. For the majority of Haitians, the impact of structural adjustment programs has been so damaging that the government has resorted to violence in order to maintain control over the disenfranchised population. According to the author, the UN has been complicit in this violent form of social control. Following the 2004 coup against President Aristide, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, was deployed to support the transitional government. The mission was deployed under Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter, even though the situation in Haiti was neither “a threat to peace,” “a breach of peace,” nor “an act of aggression,” which usually justify Chapter 7 peacekeeping missions. As such, Haiti is the only country not in the midst of war to have a UN peacekeeping force. (Open Democracy)
Files recently made public reveal American efforts to maintain political and economic control over Haiti. New revelations from WikiLeaks show that the US micromanaged Haiti's economy and politics to align it to US interests. According to the cables, the US President’s administration sought to limit the minimum wage for Haitian textile workers. They also show that the US government backed Haiti's presidential poll despite reservations over a ban on the country's largest political party. (Al Jazeera)
According to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks, the US, European Union and United Nations decided to support Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections despite believing that the country’s electoral body had emasculated the opposition by excluding the country’s largest party. Haiti’s electoral body, the Provisional Electoral Council, banned Fanmi Lavalas (FL) from participating in the polls on a technicality. FL is the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown on February 29, 2004, and flown to Africa as part of a coup d’état that was supported by France, Canada, and the US. Former President Aristide, who returned to Haiti from exile in March, said; “The problem is exclusion, the solution is inclusion.” (The Nation)
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in temporary shelters in Delmas (a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti) face violent eviction (without compensation) as a result of their mayor’s efforts to “clean” public spaces following the earthquake last year. In a ruling last November, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights directed the Haitian government to stop evicting IDPs unless it provided them safe alternative shelter. Activists state that the right to housing is a debt the government has toward the poor. The toll from the earthquake, an estimated 225,000 to 300,000, was in large part this high because so many inferior quality houses collapsed. The president, Michel Martelly, must address the lack of available decent and affordable housing. (Other Worlds)
The UN independent panel released a report on the origin of cholera in Haiti. No cases of cholera had been documented in Haiti for decades but an outbreak was confirmed on October 21, 2010. Although the ultimate conclusion of the UN’s panel was that the outbreak was caused by a confluence of circumstances and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual, the report is a serious indictment of MINUSTAH (the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti). The report suggests that UN personnel coming from cholera-endemic regions should first be screened for the disease, UN personnel should be given antibiotics or vaccines before deployment, and UN bases should treat fecal waste using on-site systems to avoid cross-contamination. (Center for Economic and Policy Research)
A grassroots campaign for the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, has been launched. It is asserted that the budget for MINUSTAH ($865.31 million) is five times that available to fight the cholera epidemic in Haiti while no real threat of violence exists. Further, Executive Director of the Platform to Advocate for an Alternative Development, Camille Chalmers, contends that the presence of the mission deployed in Haiti under Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter is illegal. This Chapter provides for the deployment of troops to maintain peace only where there is a threat to peace, breach of peace, or an act of aggression. (Noise Travels, News Spreads)
Jean-Claude Duvalier, former dictator of Haiti, has returned after 25 years in exile. Human rights groups have called on Haiti to arrest him for crimes against humanity. Duvalier is accused of commanding members of the Tonton Macoutes, a secret police force, which killed and tortured thousands of political opponents during his rule. News reports say he has been arrested, but will he eventually face his accusers in a court of law? (Reuters)
Four Haitian presidential candidates appealed for a postponement of the elections set for November 30th as the country suffers from a cholera epidemic that has claimed 1,200 lives. Authorities have stated that the election will be held on time in order to avoid further political instability. However, with the current riots and violence against Nepalese UN peacekeepers - the same peacekeepers scheduled to preside over the elections - the election is on shaky ground. Some Haitians are blaming those peacekeepers for the cholera epidemic, and there is anger that the country's largest party has been banned from electoral participation. (France 24)
Haiti votes in less than one month's time, on 28 November 2010, for a new president and an almost entirely new legislature. The election will be the most important in Haiti's history as the country struggles to recover from the worst disaster ever in the Western Hemisphere - the earthquake on January 12 that killed a quarter of a million people and left 1.5 million people internally displaced. Credible and legitimate elections are necessary for Haiti to have a stable future, but there is a perpetual crisis of confidence shared by locals and international actors in the electoral process and the body organizing the balloting. This report explores the election crisis in detail. (International Crisis Group
A cholera outbreak in Haiti has spread from the rural Artibonite region, into Port-au-Prince. The UN Peacekeeping Mission has argued that the recent cases in the capital are not evidence of a spreading epidemic, but locals are not as confident. Cholera is spread through contaminated water and food, and with 1.3 million Haitians still living in temporary settlements, as well as the existence of slums like Cite Soleil, conditions are ripe for a rapid spread of disease. Haiti is facing many challenges in the near future, not least of which is having a fair and inclusive election in November. (Caribbean 360)
A group of US lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging the US to support the November elections in Haiti only if they include all eligible political parties. Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council has excluded candidates from more than a dozen parties, including the country's largest party, Fanmi Lavalas, which maintains allegiance to exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The after-effects of the earthquake which displaced 1.5 million people will mean Haiti's next government will have many difficult decisions to make concerning long-term reconstruction. Conferring those decisions on a government that is perceived as illegitimate, say the authors, is "a recipe for disaster." (Reuters)
The 1.3 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake on January 12, 2010 still live in 1300 temporary settlement sites. Amidst reconstruction efforts, Port-au-Prince faces the challenging task of organizing presidential and legislative elections for the end of November 2010. The UN has called for a credible and legitimate poll, but can this be achieved when the country's largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, has been banned from the election? With slow reconstruction efforts and legitimacy issues concerning the upcoming elections, Haiti's future is uncertain. (Kansas City)
The US House of Representatives has approved a major trade bill to boost US investment in Haiti's textile and clothing industry. The bill, if approved by the Senate, will permit Haiti to triple the amount of fabric it can export to the US duty-free. The bill, though welcomed in general, must be carefully monitored to prevent Haiti becoming a sweatshop of the Americas. (IPS)
Naomi Klein's book, the ‘Shock Doctrine', refers to imperial nations capitalizing on the misfortune of other countries. In Haiti, the near total exclusion of Haitians in the reconstruction and humanitarian effort strongly suggests that foreign powers wish to profit - both politically and economically - from their supposedly humanitarian interventions. Haiti's reconstruction must come from within because, as history has soon repeatedly, foreign intervention has been disastrous for this poor Caribbean country. (Toward Freedom)
On March 31st, foreign nations and other international institutions pledged $5.3 billion toward Haiti over the next 18 months. The question is: where will all this money go? A recent conference held by twenty-two Haitian organizations stated: "[T]he process is characterized by a near-total exclusion of Haitian social actors." On the topic of where the funds are going, an estimated forty-percent of the $1.5 billion pledged by the US goes to the US military, a mere one-percent of total funds is going to the Haitian government and a worryingly large amount is being given to private security contractors.
The chronic suffering unleashed by Haiti's earthquake was exacerbated by the country's environmental degradation. Deforestation has destabilized Haiti's ecosystem, making it unsuitable for farming and vulnerable to natural disasters. (Global Post)
Ambassador, Claude Heller, of Mexico asserts that UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti must do "much more...in order to deal with this disaster." Mr. Heller's comments follow the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12. He recommends that the "United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti" (MINUSTAH) re-examine its mandate because it is not addressing the most pressing need of the Haitian people: to establish a secure and stable environment.(UN Security Council Letter)
The exiled former-president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has been excluded from his country's upcoming elections. Thousands of Aristide's supporters marched to protest the decision. The current government, under President Rene Preval, is accused of planning a "fraudulent legislative ballot". (Reuters)
On October 13, the Security Council decided to renew the mandate of MINUSTAH (the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) for a year. In anticipation of the debate, two human rights NGOs published an open letter calling for an uncompromising evaluation of the mission's work. They argue that, although MINUSTAH has fulfilled part of its mandate, it has failed in three significant areas of its mission: securing Haiti's borders, addressing prison overcrowding, and prosecuting peacekeepers responsible for sexual exploitation and abuse. (FIDH & RNDDH
UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon has appointed former US President Bill Clinton as the UN special envoy to Haiti, to help resolve the country's political and economic crisis. Clinton is very familiar with Haiti as his administration helped destabilize the country. Clinton favored neoliberal economic policies that profited Haiti's elite, the IMF and big western corporations. Unfortunately, Clinton's resume displays the US role in the removal of President Aristide, the postponement of his return and the use of Guantanamo to hold Haitian prisoners without trial. This makes him a poor candidate for the post. (Common Dreams)
Throughout 2008 and 2009, Haiti suffered a hurricane, riots and a financial and food crisis, worsening the already dire economic situation. This report by the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for MINUSTAH, Hédi Annabi, recommends that the international community assist Haiti by supporting MINUSTAH's border patrol with the help of other neighboring countries and by strengthening administrative capacities of governing institutions at all levels. More importantly, other countries should contribute to Haiti's economic recovery because increased poverty in Haiti fuels more violence. (UN Secretary-General
Haitians criticize the UN stabilization force MINUSTAH for harming civilians, but also give credit to the force for ending the gang violence. MINUSTAH started its work in Haiti in 2004, after the US forced president Aristide into exile and with the support of France and Canada, brought unelected Gerard Latortue to power. Haiti's president Rene Preval supports MINUSTAH's work, but stresses that the abuse by peacekeepers must stop. (Counterpunch)
MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, has a mandate to provide stability and security in Haiti and to assist the Haitian government in strengthening state institutions. This openDemocracy article argues that MINUSTAH is too understaffed to fulfill its tasks and therefore has mainly a symbolic function. The article also argues that MINUSTAH weakens Haiti's own state building capacity because the UN mandate is too broad.
Food riots in Haiti expose Canada's "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) doctrine as a self-serving political reason for military intervention in the Caribbean nation. Canada, together with the US and France, used R2P to forcibly remove democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the name of human rights. However, economic development and food availability have actually decreased since the occupation. Jooneed Khan argues against the use of R2P as a justification for military intervention and, instead, recommends the cancellation of Haiti's foreign debt in order to bolster national economic development. (Rabble News)
Rioters attack UN peacekeepers (MINUSTAH) in Haiti, as a majority of the population believes the force represents US national interests, according to the Centre for International Policy. MINUSTAH entered Haiti in 2004, following a US supported coup against the elected leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Rather than renewing the mandate for MINUSTAH, the author suggests that UN member states cancel Haiti's outstanding national debt and increase financial aid to the government.
The increase in world food prices undermines the progress of the UN stabilization force in Haiti (MINUSTAH), states openDemocracy. Food prices have increased by 40 percent in Haiti since 2007, causing riots and the removal of Prime Minister Jacques-í‰douard Alexis. The author argues that neo-liberal policies are to blame for the food price rise, and suggests that Haiti invests in domestic agriculture as a long-term solution to the food crisis, rather than importing food from the US.
In October 2007 the UN Security Council extended the mandate of MINUSTAH in Haiti. This Centre for International Policy
paper critically analyzes the UN mission, stating that it acts as a multilateral cover for US interests in the region and has committed wide-spread human rights violations. Illustrating the suppression of peaceful protests and the killing of innocent women and children, the report notes that the "violent" and "repressive" mission "cannot be characterized as a humanitarian action."
The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), have been training the national police to respond to violent groups in the capital, Port-au-Prince. The recruits will form a motorized brigade to combat troubled areas of the Haitian capital. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said that the Police Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) demonstrates the UN's new approach to peacekeeping post-conflict countries should reform their own security sectors. (UN News)
UN forces crackdown on armed groups loyal to former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide as violence rates fall in Haiti. But many Haitians denounce the heavy-handed approach and want the UN to create jobs and development in the country. Support for the UN peacekeeping force diminishes as residents claim they suffer, but Haitian President Rene Preval relies on international support. (Voice of America)
Cité Soleil residents increasingly oppose the presence of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) due to its "military style tactics" in heavily populated areas. Haitians blame MINUSTAH for "collateral damage" to property and infrastructure, and causing or allowing 8,000 civilian deaths. In a July 2005 undertaking, MINUSTAH fired 22,000 bullets in hours. And an eyewitness described the December 22, 2006 MINUSTAH operation as "a true massacre." (Inter Press Service) An Interview with Jean-Bertrand Aristide (February 22, 2007)
Peter Hallward interviews the former Haitian Head of State, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who gives his interpretation of events leading to his fall from power. Aristide describes the birth of Fanmi Lavalas and the campaign set up to undermine it, involving economic destabilization as well as propaganda portraying the party as corrupt and responsible for the violence in the country. The former leader says that he had been willing to listen to anti-Lavalas opinion and tolerated demonstrations against him because true democracy necessitated this. (London Review Bookshop)
Ahead of the UN Security Council's renewal of the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Ohmynews discusses the controversial role the peacekeeping operation has played in the country. The article recalls that, while cracking down on gangs in Cite-Soleil, MINUSTAH has been tolerating right-wing paramilitary groups that participated in the US -backed 2004 coup, and have since been terrorizing the region
The head of the UN Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH) has acknowledged that international peacekeepers must improve the way they carry out their missions , in order to reduce the number of civilian casualties. Ambassador Edmond Mulet, head of MINUSTAH, admitted to the Independent that collateral damage definitely occurred during the December 22, 2006 UN operation in Cite Soleil. The ambassador's comments follow eyewitness claims that UN troops fired indiscriminately from helicopters on civilian housing.
Photographic evidence and survivor reports confirm accusations from human rights organizations that MINUSTAH carried out long and intense military operations in Cite Soleil, with heavy artillery and weapons that caused the death of innocent civilians on July 6, 2005. Documents obtained by Haiti Information Project acknowledge the UN excessive use of force during operations, and reveal that the US and UN were well aware that the military operation killed many more than the official toll. This report comes amid claims of a second massacre by UN troops on December 22 that has not yet been verified.
Haiti Action Committee describes MINUSTAH's operations in Cite Soleil on December 22, 2006. According to eyewitness testimony, UN troops indiscriminately fired into houses from helicopters and armored vehicles, killed and injured civilians, and blocked the Haitian Red Cross access during the assault.
While UN peacekeepers struggle to maintain security in parts of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince some slums have benefited from their presence to reopen schools and stores. Yet this Inter Press Service piece warns that the efforts of gang disarmament will not succeed without offering gang members to trade guns for employment opportunity. The article also echoes warning from UN peacekeeping officials that Haiti's insecurity stems largely from economic problems and "must be addressed as such."
While Ottawa has invoked the principle of "responsibility to protect" individuals from gross human rights violations to justify Canada's intervention in Haiti, this Znet piece argues that removing Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power has "exacerbated, rather than improved Haiti's human rights situation." This article critically comments on the conclusions of a Lancet study in light of Canadian involvement in Haiti, and questions the very arguments of the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine.
A Lancet survey reveals that 8,000 individuals have been murdered and 35,000 women sexually abused in Haiti between February 2004 and December 2005. The survey identifies the perpetrators as mostly criminals, but also members of the Haitian police, UN peacekeepers and anti-Lavalas gangs. Such conclusions raise questions about the effectiveness of UN Mission in Haiti and the responsibility of UN forces. The report urges the UN to investigate the allegations and calls for stronger actions to punish human rights abusers.
The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial has taken the US Treasury Department to court in a bid to discover what role the Treasury played in the decision of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to suspend crucial development loans to Haiti. While in July 1998 the IDB earmarked US$145.9 million in infrastructure loans to Haiti, an intervention in 2001 by the US Executive Director to the IDB, Lawrence Harrington, resulted in the IDB taking the unprecedented step of suspending the loans. Many Haitians have since died of disease and lack of water – two problems the loans were designed to tackle.
Although it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been left out of the World Bank's debt relief initiative. But soon the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank may cancel some of Haiti's debt. Author Dan Beeton examines critically the history of these bank's activities in the country. He argues that debt relief should not be subject to restrictive bank conditions and instead the needs of Haiti's people should come first.
While international financiers meet with Haitian President Rene Preval to discuss international development aid to Port-au-Prince, Brian Concannon points to the huge sum that France extorted from its former colony in 1825 as the root cause of poverty in Haiti today. France forced its former slaves to pay "compensation" for the loss of French "property" - the former slaves themselves. In today's terms, the compensation France extorted illegally represents US$ 21 billion, and "dwarfs the aid packages being debated in Port-au-Prince." Concannon argues that France's repayment of the independence debt would diminish Haiti's reliance on foreign aid and would allow Haitians to rebuild their country as they see fit. (Sun-Sentinel)
Brian Concannon compares the question of the return to Haiti of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the wider issue of the return of full democracy and sovereignty to Port-au-Prince. Despite Haiti's constitution guaranteeing the freedom of all Haitian citizens to leave and return to the country, the same foreign powers that drove Aristide from power and threw Haiti into chaos are determined to prevent his return. Washington's opposition to President Aristide's homecoming bars the way for a "broader return of Haiti to a complete democracy, and to a sovereignty respected by the rest of the world." (Counterpunch)
This Caribseek Caribbean News article sees great wisdom in President Rene Preval's leadership of Haiti since returning to power, especially in including in his new cabinet members of various parties that competed in the last election. Preval sees integration and reconciliation among Haiti's communities as necessary for stability and peace, and the author believes that the eclectic nature of the cabinet can help achieve these minimal goals.
Welcoming the restoration of democratic processes in Haiti, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has opted for Port-au-Prince's return to the regional grouping. CARICOM had refused to recognize the US-backed interim government put in place after the ousting of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As he struggles to achieve reconciliation and stability at home, Haitian President Rene Preval will be under additional pressure from his regional colleagues to join the process of regional integration toward a CARICOM Single Market. (Inter Press Service)
New Haitian President Rene Preval faces a huge challenge as he assumes leadership of his troubled country for the second time. With "every possible characteristic of an undeveloped, failed state" present in Haiti, Preval has sought to forge links with opposition groups in the bitterly divided parliament, to harness the slum-based mass support his predecessor enjoyed, and he has sought help from neighbors in the region. (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
Amnesty International's 2006 report outlines the abuses of power perpetrated by the interim government that was installed in March 2005 following the forced exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It highlights the imprisonment without trial of scores of political prisoners, the attack on the independence of the judiciary and the excessive, unlawful use of force by the Haitian police. It also refers to the responsibility of the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for the killing of civilians.
This two-part article discusses the extent of Canada's participation in the US-led 2004 coup that ousted Haiti's democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Publicly, Ottawa denies any involvement in the coup and maintains that Canada was seeking a peaceful settlement to the crisis. However, according to classified memos obtained by the Dominion, Canada was planning the removal of the Aristide government under the "responsibility to protect" doctrine months before the coup. This principle justified the military intervention under the guise of "humanitarian intervention for human protection." But rather than avert a crisis, the "duty to protect" intervention in Haiti became the backdrop for a major escalation of atrocities, with thousands killed and hundreds jailed for their political views, all to serve Canadian, US and European political and economic interests in Haiti.
Following two years of silence on illegal detentions in Haiti, the UN has voiced concern on the Interim Government's illicit holding of people â€˜preventively' behind bars, for months or years, without charge. Calling the practice "unacceptable," UN Human Rights chief in Haiti Thierry Fagart urged the interim authorities - who are due to hand power to President-elect Rene Preval at the end of April 2006 – to comply with the legal procedures of detention. Most detainees were arrested after the February 2004 overthrow of Haiti's constitutional government for supporting ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (Reuters)
offers a bleak assessment of the role the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has played in the Caribbean country. Under pressure from the US, France and Canada to give "uncritical assistance" to the interim government and the Haitian police, MINUSTAH has failed to uphold "either the letter or the spirit" of its mandate. This article maintains that the UN must increase MINUSTAH's authority in key areas such as human rights as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to provide a stable and secure environment for the Haitian population.
This report by the University of Miami Centre for the Study of Human Rights argues that the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) failed to enforce its mandate to "promote and protect human rights" following the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The authors highlight this failure as "one of the major causes of the prolonged suffering of the Haitian people during the interim government's reign between 2004 and 2006."
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti outlines the "array of forces and obstacles" assembled to delay, frustrate and block President Rene Preval from carrying out the progressive social and economic policies he was elected to implement. The International Financial Institutions and the US represent Preval's biggest obstacle, as they will likely make development aid contingent on the implementation of their neoliberal policies. Controlling the highly politicized, corrupt and violent police force will also prove difficult for Preval since under a February 2006 agreement the UN Mission in Haiti holds authority over the police.
According to CounterCurrents, the US and its allies France and Canada extracted various pledges of "good conduct" from the new President René Préval before giving their final approval to the election council declaring him elected. As part of the deal under which Preval was allowed to assume the mantle of president-elect, the Bush administration demanded that Preval drop the issue of who orchestrated the massive electoral fraud, as well as the investigation into the Washington-backed coup that ousted former Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.
Brian Concannon from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti argues that Rene Preval's victory in Haiti's presidential elections is bittersweet because of the way the Electoral Council handled problems with vote tabulation. Instead of recounting votes in the open, the negotiators decided to change the rules for calculations of blank votes. This, Concannon argues, provides leverage for those seeking to delegitimize Preval's presidency and block the progressive social and economic policies that he was elected to implement.
In this article, the Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Brian Concannon, describes how the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) engaged in a comprehensive program to suppress supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ally Rene Preval, comprised mainly of Haiti's urban and rural poor. From voter registration through election day, the IGH – with the help of the US, France and Canada – tried to steal the elections: they prevented prominent politicians from participating by jailing them illegally; discouraged poor voters from registering and voting by putting too few registration centers and voting offices in poor neighborhoods; and finally manipulated the votes by discarding Preval votes or declaring them "null."
The UN denied allegations from witnesses that peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Haiti opened fire on a crowd of protesters demanding Rene Preval be declared the winner of the presidential election. Protesters alleged the electoral commission manipulated the vote count to prevent Preval, an ally of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and opposed by the wealthy elite, from winning a first-round victory. Two members of the nine-member commission that oversees the elections called for an investigation, claiming they were denied access to information about the tabulation process. (Associated Press)
The Haiti Information Project (HIP) fears that if Rene Preval, ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's protégé, wins the presidential elections, the political forces that ousted Aristide in February 2004 - namely the US, Canada, and France - will contest the results. Indeed, these so-called "forces of democracy" that overthrew Aristide support Preval's closest rival, Charles Henry Baker, a wealthy sweatshop owner closer to their political views and interests. HIP warns the international community that it must not underestimate the Haitian people's capacity to "get rid of whoever is trying to take advantage of them." (Haiti Action
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, along with Yale Law School, TransAfrica Forum, and the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux filed a landmark petition on behalf of Haitian citizens, whose democratic rights were violated by the February 2004 overthrow of Haiti's constitutional government and subsequent installation of an illegal, unelected regime. The petition asks the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington DC to investigate the involvement of the US, the Dominican Republic and the Interim Government of Haiti in these human rights violations.
The Bush administration's policy of "spreading democracy" worldwide contradicts its actions in Haiti. Washington supported a coup to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected leader on the island after two centuries of military interventions. This New York Times report offers detailed information about the US involvement in the coup including the names of Washington-financed organizations and State Department officials.
In poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) are feared and resented by the very people they were sent to protect. The interim government, headed by unelected Prime Minister Gérard Latortue and supported by Washington, imprisons and kills pro-democracy activists and supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. MINUSTAH has done little to stop this abuse and repression and thereby constitutes an occupational force in Haiti, argues Pambazuka.
Opposition to the peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) mounts in Brazil following the suicide of the head of MINUSTAH, Brazilian General Urano Bacellar. Brasilia newspapers call for the withdrawal of the 1,200 Brazilian troops and accuse President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of keeping the troops in Haiti to win a seat on the UN Security Council. For Brazilian analyst Reginaldo Nasser, "Brazil should solve its own very basic problems" before deploying troops abroad. (Reuters)
The UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for the first time admitted that innocent civilians may have died during a July 6, 2005 raid by peacekeeping forces in the slum of Cité Soleil. Although MINUSTAH claims that the peacekeepers fired only in self-defense, independent witnesses maintain that the troops opened fire on unarmed civilians and suspected supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (Independent)
Haiti's elite accuse the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) of protecting the so-called "bandits" – supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide – in Haiti's poor neighborhoods. The Haiti Information Project wonders if the head of MINUSTAH, Brazilian General Urano Bacellar, took his own life under pressure from the business community to "get tough" in the slum of Cité Soleil. The last pressure campaign mounted by the business community against the UN resulted in a massacre of civilians on July 6, 2005. (Haiti Action)
Haiti's interim government violates basic democratic rules by extending its presidential mandate and keeping opponents off the ballot of the presidential elections. The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti contributes to this "electoral terror campaign" by keeping the poor neighborhoods under siege and imprisoning activists. (International Relations Center)
Irresponsible arms exports still fuel atrocities in Haiti. Armed groups in poor areas – some loyal to former President Aristide, some loyal to rival political factions, and some criminal gangs – battle against the Haitian National Police and UN peacekeepers, and against each other. This Control Arms Campaign report records the voices of some of the Haitian people who bear the cost of the world’s continuing failure to control the arms trade and asks responsible arms exporters and arms-affected states to begin negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty.