Wikileaks: UN Response to Gangs “Not Sufficiently Robust,” US tells Brazil; Blocking Aristide A Priority

Excerpts below from a June 2005 cable posted by the Brazilian newspaper Folha, in which the State Department, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, impresses upon Brazil the need to keep former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti, prevent him exercising any political influence, and for MINUSTAH to “robustly” deal with gangs (hat tip to lo-de-alla’s David Holmes Morris).

The discussion took place six months after MINUSTAH commander General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro told a congressional commission in Brazil, “We are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence,” the day after Rice’s predecessor, Colin Powell, publicly demanded MINUSTAH crack down on gangs.

In the discussions, the GOB officials made clear continued Brazilian resolve to keep Aristide from returning to the country or exerting political influence, and reiterated Brazil’s strategy that security, assistance and political dialogue should move in tandem as priorities in the international effort. The GOB officials registered USG points on the need to curb spiraling violence and reinforce MINUSTAH credibility vice the gangs, but did not clearly share the same degree of urgency on this point…

They noted the meeting between Secretary Rice and FM Amorim in Florida on the margins of the OAS General Assembly in which the Secretary cited the need for firm MINUSTAH action and the possibility that the U.S. may be asked to send troops at some point (to which FM Amorim reportedly replied U.S. forces would be welcome under UN authorities). Ambassador and PolCouns also stressed continued USG insistence that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process, and asked whether the GOB also remains firm on that point.

Using ref c points, Fisk emphasized that the USG is grateful for Brazil’s leadership in MINUSTAH, but expressed USG concern about growing violence, saying that the gangs are “losing their fear” of international PKO forces, creating violent instability and conditions for Aristide to exert his influence.

On Aristide, Patriota said that the mere fact of Aristide’s existence will always be problematic in terms of his influence on some elements of Haitian society, however much the international community works to isolate him. That said, the GOB had been encouraged by recent South African Government commitments to Brazil that the GSA would not allow Aristide to use his exile there to undertake political efforts (NFI).

From a cable two months later, which also notes that Brazilian President Lula’s thinking on Haiti was strongly influenced by a documentary he watched about the Rwanda genocide:

Brazil and other MINUSTAH contingents had launched successful “robust operations” in areas of Port-au-Prince over the past several weeks, Amorim said. In that context, he asked about USG funds for civil affairs and humanitarian projects that he had been led to understand would follow immediately on forceful MINUSTAH suppression actions against gangs and violent groups.

Another newly-released cable from November of 2004 discusses a Brazilian high-level advisor’s strong views of Aristide as a “criminal” who must be “exorcised” from Haiti after his fact-finding mission to the country.

Read up on the other Haiti-related disclosures in Wikileaks cables here.

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