Brazil must leave Haiti (Mark Weisbrot)

Brazilian soldiers in Haiti: Until when? Photo: fenapef.org.br

Brazilian soldiers in Haiti: Until when? Photo: fenapef.org.br

Brazil is not an empire like the U.S.; remaining in the country affects Brazilian potential to exert moral leadership in the world. By Mark Weisbrot (*), Folha de S. Paulo, 20 July 2011.

U.S. diplomatic telegrams released by WikiLeaks make it clear that foreign troops that occupy Haiti for more than seven years have no legitimate reason for being in the country and that this is an American occupation, as are those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They also show that it is part of a U.S. strategy for decades to deny Haitians the right to self-determination and democracy and that Latin American governments that provide troops – among them, the Brazilian – are getting tired to participate.

A leaked U.S. document shows how the U.S. tried to force Haiti to reject US$ 100 million in aid annually (equivalent to R$ 50 billion in the Brazilian economy) because it came from Venezuela.

As the Haitian President, René Préval, refused to do so, the U.S. Government turned against him. Consequently, Washington reversed the results of the first round of the presidential election in November 2010, to eliminate in the second round the candidate supported by Préval.

This was done through manipulating the Organization of American States (OAS) and open threats to cut off aid after the earthquake provided to the desperately poor country, if he did not accept the change. All this is well documented. The UN troops were taken to Haiti to occupy the country after the U.S. had organized the overthrow of the democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 2004.

About 4,000 Haitians have been persecuted and killed in the period that followed the coup, and constitutional government authorities detained while UN troops “kept the order”.

Another leaked document shows how Edmund Mulet, then the Head of the UN mission (MINUSTAH), feared that Aristide could regain its influence and recommended that criminal charges were registered against him.

Mulet is being openly biased in their interference in Haitian politics and he branded as “enemies” the Haitians who rioted over the fact that the Mission has brought cholera to Haiti. Today 380,000 Haitians were infected by the disease that has killed 5,800.

If MINUSTAH were a private entity, it would be facing lawsuits asking for repairs to many billions of dollars, plus a possible criminal action for their hideous negligence to pollute water sources in Haiti with this deadly bacterium.

Ironically, the annual cost of MINUSTAH, US$ 850 million, is more than nine times what the UN has raised to fight the epidemic. Brazil is not an empire like the U.S., and has no reason to be a junior partner, especially in a venture so brutal and objectionable. This goes against all that represent Lula, Dilma and the PT [the political party of both of them].

This eviscerates Brazil’s potential to exercise moral leadership in the world – something the country has demonstrated during many areas, from the historical changes initiated under Lula’s administration. The time has past for Brazil to withdraw its troops from Haiti.

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(*) Mark Weisbrot, Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington (www.cepr.net), and President of Just Foreign Policy (www.justforeignpolicy.org), is writing twice a month, on Wednesdays. Published in 20. July 2011 in Folha de S. Paulo.

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