Bill Clinton Admits the UN Introduced Cholera to Haiti

Bill Clinton

UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton speaks to hospital staff in Mirebalais.

From my blog entry for the Pulitzer Center in March:

In early March, Bill Clinton showed he is learning the lessons of Haiti’s man-made disasters. Far from natural byproducts of the nation itself, the widespread poverty, misery and deaths among Haitians have an awful lot to do with mistakes made by influential foreigners.

After the January 2010 earthquake, Clinton acknowledged that he was wrong to champion agricultural trade policies during his presidency that benefitted “some of my farmers in Arkansas,” but damaged the livelihoods of Haitian peasant farmers.

Those policies helped drive Haitians out of the countryside into overcrowded, shoddily-built urban slums in Port-au-Prince, where many of them perished in the quake. Earthquakes of that magnitude don’t kill tens of thousands of people in industrialized countries.

“I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else,” Clinton said in testimony before the U.S. Senate.

On March 7, Clinton candidly admitted to having learned another lesson from another man-made tragedy in Haiti—the October 2010 cholera outbreak which has killed more than 7,000 and made sick at least 500,000 Haitians.

At a press conference at a new hospital in Mirebalais, with United Nations troops standing guard outside, I asked him whether he agreed with recent comments by the American ambassador to the UN that those responsible for the cholera’s introduction to Haiti should be “held accountable.”

Cholera was alien to Haiti and the Caribbean prior to the outbreak. Multiple scientific studies have pinpointed UN peacekeeping troops as the definitive or most likely source of imported cholera bacteria from Nepal to central Haiti.

Clinton sidestepped the question, at one point calling that decision “above his pay grade.” He receives a symbolic $1 per year salary from the UN as its special envoy to Haiti.

But he also became the first UN representative to acknowledge the truth that’s long been in plain sight, ever since reporters captured shocking images of waste from the Mirebalais UN peacekeeping base flowing into Haiti’s waterways.

“I don’t know that the person who introduced cholera to Haiti, the UN peacekeeping soldier from South Asia, was aware that he was carrying the virus,” Clinton said. (It is a bacterium, not a virus.) Continue Reading…

New Allegations of Sexual Exploitation Against UN Peacekeepers in Haiti

With the news this morning of new sexual exploitation allegations involving minors against UN peacekeeping personnel in Haiti, I wanted to flag this follow-up ABC News piece to the story we broke last September, published earlier this month. The peacekeeping troops accused of sexually abusing the young man in Port Salut have been released from custody. The impunity I described in detail here continues:

The case against five United Nations peacekeepers caught on tape in an alleged sexual assault on a Haitian teenager has apparently stalled and the accused soldiers have been freed, a UN official has confirmed.

The men were sent back to Uruguay last summer to face trial after cell phone video obtained by ABC News appeared to show uniformed soldiers assaulting an 18-year-old Haitian as he is held down on a mattress in a UN compound in Port Salut, Haiti. The video shows soldiers in their UN uniforms, one of them with his pants down. The victim’s mother said her son was taken inside the base by five UN soldiers who accused him of making fun of them.

“They beat and maltreated him,” Rose-Marie Jean told ABC News in an interview. “Two raped him from behind.”

The release of the accused men comes at an unsettling time for the UN in Haiti, two years after a devastating earthquake rocked the struggling island nation, and three months after the grainy video of the alleged assault triggered street protests from those who believe international peacekeepers are able to abuse Haitian citizens with impunity. Since the video surfaced, more UN peacekeepers — this time from Brazil — have been accused of beating Haitian civilians. Read the rest →

Rose Mina deserves better (updated)

It’s a cold Christmas night in Seattle and I’m up at 3 in the morning.  I miss the warmth of Haiti.

Readers, I have a request.  Does anyone remember Rose Mina Joseph?

I wrote about her back in September after breaking the news of abuses by UN soldiers caught on cell phone video in Port Salut, Haiti.  Beyond the incident captured by the video, it turned out that soldiers from the local Uruguayan UN peacekeeper battalion had had children with a number of local Haitian women.  UN regulations strongly advise against this, given the “unequal power” levels inherent in any such relationship.  Some of the women (photos) and their children had been all but abandoned by soldiers who had finished their deployments to Haiti.  But the soldiers are absolutely forbidden from having sex with minors, much less impregnating them.  The country’s legal age for sexual consent is 18.

Rose Mina became pregnant five days after turning 17 last January.  The father was Uruguayan peacekeeper Julio Posse, seen in the photo below of her birthday celebration.  Posse was sent back to Uruguay last summer for what the UN later admitted was a “very serious breach of the Code of Conduct.”  The UN mission said:

As a disciplinary measure, the soldier was repatriated and banned from serving in other UN missions. He is required by his hierarchy in Uruguay to assist the young girl and her to be born baby. We are following up on whether he was sanctioned, what was the sanction, and whether he has executed it, as well as on the continuation of assistance to the girl and the baby.

According to Rose Mina, her son’s father sent a small amount of money once since her story was covered in the press.  A flurry of journalists visited her in those days at the tiny ramshackle home she shares with her mother and uncle.  They cook under a thatched roof covering behind the house.

Apparently I’m the only one who gave her a phone number before leaving.  We’ve kept in touch since then.  Normally Rose Mina is reserved and soft-spoken. She doesn’t say a whole lot.  But on Friday she called me and was upset that I hadn’t called her sooner.  I called her back.

She immediately launched into a long, flowing tirade against “Julio.” He told her he would send money again, but has not.  Recently she called him and he claimed he couldn’t talk because he’d been in an accident.  He picked up again when she called another day, sounding perfectly normal, then abruptly hung up on her.

Rose Mina is infuriated that he hasn’t followed through on his promises and has lied to her.  She’s decided to name her son Anderson Joseph, instead of naming the boy after his father, as she had planned. For good measure, she called all the other journalists who interviewed her “thieves.”

Here are the text messages she sent me after we talked.  She’s always had a funny way of writing.  A translation:

“Hi, how are you?  Where are you?  I’m not doing well at all because the father doesn’t ever call me, he doesn’t send money for me and the child.  Merry Christmas. . .Ansel hello, it’s Rose Mina.  The foreigners in MINUSTAH never sent any small amount of money for the baby.  Try to call them for me so they can send it for me.  Merry Christmas.”

What happened that to the “continuation of assistance to the girl and the baby” pledged by the UN in the statement above?  Hasn’t one of the UN’s many humanitarian agencies partnered with its peacekeeping mission to provide Rose Mina a minimal level of support?

No.  When I first wrote the story, I pleaded with the woman who sent me that statement, the UN mission’s public information officer, to follow through on the helping Rose Mina and her child.   The baby hadn’t been born yet.  Rose Mina worried about not having enough money to pay the only hospital in the town.

A few weeks later, not long before she gave birth, I called the the PIO back.  Once again, she brushed me off, assuring me someone was following up.   Rose Mina said nothing happened.  So from Port-au-Prince, I wired Rose Mina some money myself.

Here finally is the request.  I’d like to wire Rose Mina some money again.  But I’m barely keeping up with my work in Seattle.  Just last week, I wired a friend in Cite Soleil $70 USD, in part because his mom died and the morgue was about to throw her body out (here’s a photo of the transfer).   For Rose Mina, I’d like to encourage you to make a donation to this PayPal link.   If y’all hit $50, I’ll throw in $50 myself and we’ll send her an even $100.  Maybe we can do even more than that. If anyone needs more documentation to feel comfortable about donating, let me know.  The dollars that you donate to my PayPal account will simply reimburse me for $50 of the wire transfer, which I’ll send using my credit card and Western Union at a local Vietnamese market. I’ll update this post with a photo of the the transfer receipt and again when I get word that Rose Mina has received it.

That’s pretty much it.  I don’t like asking for money, nobody does.  But I’m just a little too upset and not quite rich enough to not try this. Especially with all the buying stuff and gift giving going on around these parts.  Rose Mina deserves better.

As does another close friend, who was promised assistance from two large, well-known international aid organizations. They removed her (and by extension her five children) from a beneficiary list without informing her or apologizing. But that, like so much of what goes in Haiti, is another story – yet it’s really the same at its core. Haitians and their nation are treated as less than sovereign with rights.

Update: Wow!  This worked quickly. In the seven hours since I posted this, two readers have donated $75 between them.  I was expecting more of a series of smaller donations.  I’ll chip in $25, save my other $25 for someone else or a future remittance to Rose Mina, and send out the wire transfer as soon as I can (photo forthcoming). Thank you Nathan Yaffe and Kathleen O’Flynn. (If you’d still like to make a donation to Rose Mina, just label it “for Rose Mina” in the purpose line in PayPal checkout.)

*Rose Mina gave me permission to share all this with you. Additionally, you or I could both try contacting the UN mission’s PIO Sylvie van den Wildenberg at 011 509 3702 9042 or vandenwildenberg@un.org, but that’s likely to go nowhere. And please let me know if you have an idea for how to help Rose Mina in a non-financial way, such as linking her with effective legal counsel or a women’s group with a presence in Port Salut. Finally, I want to note that while I try to act in such a way that doesn’t lead someone consider me as an exploitative person or a thief, I have never given nor offered a source or interviewee money before publishing an article. On occasion, it’s something I’ve volunteered well after whatever journalistic work I’ve done involving them has been completed.

I penned a new WikiLeaks article, did some interviews, and got tear-gassed.

Anti-MINUSTAH protesters peacefully marching.

Here’s a round-up of some of odds and ends that I haven’t gotten around to posting until now.

First, there’s this piece for Haiti Liberte: WikiLeaks Reveal: Expecting Civilian Deaths, US Embassy Approved of Deadly Attack on Crowded Haitian Slum. The article describes how a top Embassy official agreed with private sector leaders like Reginald Boulos, who now holds influence over Haiti’s reconstruction, that MINUSTAH should attack Cite Soleil knowing full well that innocent Haitians would be killed by the “peacekeepers” during the operation.

For more on the Port Salut abuses, there are these interviews I did with Democracy Now!, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and if you speak Spanish, this Uruguayan media outlet. The five soldiers accused of abusing Johnny Jean in the video are reported to have been jailed in Uruguay pending sentencing. 17-year-old Rose Mina Joseph, who was pregnant with a Uruguayan soldier’s child when this was published, gave birth to a healthy boy a few days ago. She told me yesterday she hasn’t been able to reach the father in Uruguay to tell him yet, but that when they last talked he said he’d seen an article about her.

Amnesty International issued an action alert that you can participate in about the eviction threat to Camp Mosaic, which I reported on a few weeks ago. And this interview with Dr. Renaud Piarroux about cholera and its origins in Haiti is well worth reading.

Finally, I’d like to shout out this heartfelt and insightful reflection from Sebastian Walker, Al Jazeera’s post-quake Haiti correspondent (check out his new film, produced in part by Haitian journalist Yvon Vilius), especially this part: “I would have liked to stay in Haiti forever. If you spend any significant time there, you will believe, as I did, that Haiti deserves to be on the front page of every newspaper, every single day. It is a permanent, urgent and unjustified humanitarian tragedy.”

I feel the same way.  To me, it’s not just the humanitarian tragedy that makes Haiti worthy of front page coverage every day, but the extraordinary way that tragedy is politically and internationally maintained.  There are stark political choices (some examples) that keep Haiti mired in this state which implicate a wide range of powerful groups in Haiti and across the globe.  Sebastian’s team did a great job of exposing many of them while listening to and projecting the voices of ordinary Haitians.

This contrasts with some recently sloppy reporting by the Associated Press.  An anti-MINUSTAH protest march last Wednesday was completely peaceful from the start, when it was confronted by MINUSTAH soldiers in a jeep, very nearly until it reached its destination in Chanmas. When the march arrived near the palace, Haitian police immediately began launching tear gas canisters, to which the protesters responded by throwing rocks.  This can be observed in a video I produced.

The Associated Press team was not present at that time, to my knowledge.  I saw them walking down towards the protests hours later, after many of the demonstrators had left and only a small band of rock-throwers remained.  But the AP wrote that protesters had “fled into” the camps in Chanmas (they may have since improved the language from the original article), which I did not observe (one resident of the tent camp told me he did not blame the protesters for the tear gas).  The AP did not even mention the peaceful march.  And today, another AP article reduces all recent anti-UN protests in Haiti to “rock-throwing.”  I already pointed out some serious flaws in their initial reporting on the Port Salut abuses.

They should do better. Update: One of the AP’s photographers may have been present as the march itself reached Chanmas.

Does this only become a big deal if it causes an outbreak of deadly disease?


View on YouTube: Haitians Upset With UN Base Runoff into Foul-Smelling Pool

Or is living with swarms of mosquitoes and an overpowering stench in the area an acceptable level of suffering for Haitians? They’re resilient people, after all.

Interviewed in the video is Dantes Eseck, whose house is directly across from the UN peacekeeping base (there are two different bases) in Port Salut. His house is visible on the left at the 16 second mark. He’s a painter and his wife is a teacher. I wasn’t able to show in the video, but the manhole seen at the beginning is one of several spaced out evenly with connecting pipes along a dirt road leading to the base, and not further.

Check out this photo gallery to get a better view.

I had to look up anophele and filariasis. And please forgive my rough translation of Dantes, though it’s essentially accurate.

Below is a MINUSTAH spokeswoman’s official response. Here is the UN’s response in New York.

II. WASTE MANAGMENT SYSTEM

Whenever there is a technical problem related to sanitation and waste management issues, being in Port Salut or in other areas of Haiti, MINUSTAH discusses them with the local authorities, with whom it coordinates all necessary efforts in order to solve it and keep improving the sanitation and waste management system. Important surveillance measures also exist and inspection teams are regularly dispatched to the field to monitor/test the waste and sanitation systems.

MINUSTAH is not the only player in this chain of waste management. There are several other actors, including the companies in charge of garbage, waste collection, the local authorities, the state of infrastructures in the country as well as the riverine population.

MINUSTAH is currently in the process of installing water treatment plants in its bases, in order to be fully independent in the whole chain of waste management and be able to control the process for A to Z.

“I Like That Song. Put It On My Phone.” How They Got the Video From the Soldiers In Port Salut

I’ve been asked a number of times how I obtained the cell phone of the apparent assault by Uruguayan UN troops on Johnny Jean. The answer is simple: The video is circulating on cell phones in Port Salut. On Wednesday, after speaking with the family at the courthouse, they allowed me to make a copy off the victim’s cousin’s phone.

More interesting is how the video was initially obtained, through what local activist Ernso Valentin called, “the strategy of the population.” Yesterday evening I found the two young men who, by all accounts, swiped the video from a soldier’s phone. They explained to me what happened – about a week after July 18, they said, the date of the assault. It all started with an upbeat, pulsating Spanish song (which I stupidly mistook for Konpas at first).

21-year-old Viaud Fegens on the right, with his 18-year-old friend Leveille Jean-Michel, whose phone swiped the video.

Viaud Fegens: “Me and Jean-Michel were passing by the base. A soldier named Leo called out to us. I went and sat down and he to put the music on his telephone.”

Leveille Jean-Michel: “We were listening to some music and he liked it.”

VF: “We’ve passed by the base before playing Spanish music. This time, he liked it. He asked me to put it on his phone and he gave me his phone. So I went into his phone to see if it had cool things or nice videos on it. I took his phone, and I’m looking inside to see what it has on it. Then, I came upon the video! When I saw the video, I said [to Jean Michel], ‘Hey look at this!’ The soldier went to sit down. So we’re looking at the phone, and we see the video. I said, ‘Look, that’s my cousin. My cousin, Johnny.’ I’m looking at it and I see what they did. I said, ‘Oh mezami [roughly translates to holy crap]!’ I transmitted the video via Bluetooth onto this phone. I said, ‘Go give him his phone.’ So then I have the video, I’m watching it again, and it’s dominating me. It’s giving me problems [in my head]. So then later, we had a meeting across from the Commiseriat. MINUSTAH was there. We talked about everything bad that MINUSTAH does in Port Salut. They’re dumping their trash in aviation… Now when we come to the subject of what they did to Johnny, they said they don’t believe it happened. Then we showed them the proof. The MINUSTAH chief saw the video, and he’s shocked! He sweats!”

LJM: “He’s afraid. He’s afraid.”

VF: “There were three of them. The deputy was there too. He asked us to transmit it by Bluetooth for him. We did it. He looks again, he watches again, and he’s shocked, sweating.”

LJM: “It was weighing on me since I saw that. I was shocked when I was seeing it, it made me feel terrible. They committed the act but they didn’t want people outside to know about it. Yes, I thought it was rape. Because he’s yelling, ‘Help!'””

VF: “He’s saying, “Problem, problem, that he’s in a problem.” And they pulled down his pants. The video is proof. Because when they saw it, they could see what the soldiers did. Everyone who sees this video can see what happens. I heard about the protest tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll attend. But MINUSTAH represents a force in the country. It’s MINUSTAH that helped created a situation where we don’t have war or gunfire. They gave us some calm. But they violated a young man, they’re dumping trash, [AH: didn’t understand this part]… this isn’t good. We didn’t have these things in our country. It’s them who gave us cholera. We never had these things before.”

Viaud’s mother is worried. “Are they going to be ok? I’m scared. Will something happen to them?” she kept asking me. I left my number and tried to assure her that nothing bad would happen.

Update 9/16/11: After removing the photo and the boys names on the advice of some commenters, I’ve just restored them. I’m in touch with the boys and they want recognition for what they did. Viaud specifically asked that his photo and name be included. His mother never objected.

Wikileaks: US Embassy Makes Its Case for MINUSTAH

An October 2008 cable just released by Wikileaks called “Why We Need A Continuing MINUSTAH Presence in Haiti” recommends MINUSTAH’s presence continue until at least 2013. The US pays one fourth of its budget. Some notable passages:

A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the Preval government or his successor vulnerable to resurgent kidnapping and international drug trafficking, revived gangs, greater political violence, an exodus of seaborne migrants, a sharp drop in foreign and domestic investment, and resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces – reversing gains of the last two years.

The fundamental USG policy goal in Haiti is to make it a viable state that does not post a threat to the region through domestic political turmoil or an exodus of illegal migrants. To reach that point, Haiti must be able to assure its own domestic security, govern itself with stable democratic institutions, and create a business climate that will get the economy moving. Haiti has made progress but is still a long way from these goals. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is the largest and most effective external institution pursuing them.

We must be sensitive to Latin fears that any Haitian opposition to the UN presence undermines their domestic support for deployments in Haiti. During the April riots, the Brazilian MINUSTAH Force Commander told Ambassador and others that his greatest fear was that his troops would be forced to fire on demonstrators. He understood that this could ignite opposition in Haiti, Brazil, and other contributing countries to his troops’ presence in Haiti.

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

Wikileaks: DR President Believes Brazilian MINUSTAH Commander Assassinated, Suspects Cover-Up

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez told State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Patrick Duddy in January of 2006, according to a cable released by Norway’s largest newspaper, that he suspects Brazilian MINUSTAH military commander Urano Bacellar was assassinated by a paramilitary-type group, possibly led by Guy Phillippe. Fernandez said he believes Bacellar did not commit suicide and there had been a cover-up.

Fernandez inquired about the circumstances surrounding the death of Brazilian Army General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar. DAS Duddy confirmed that all indications pointed to suicide. Fernandez expressed skepticism. He had met General Bacellar; to him, suicide seemed unlikely for a professional of Bacellar´s caliber. Fernandez said he believes that there is a small group in Haiti dedicated to disrupting the elections and creating chaos; that this group had killed MINUSTAH members in the past (a Canadian and a Jordanian, and now the Brazilian General); and that there would be more violence against MINUSTAH forces as the election date approaches. The President said he knew of a case in which a Brazilian MINUSTAH member had killed a sniper. Although he allowed that Bacellar´s death might be due to an accidentally self-inflicted wound, he believes that the Brazilian government is calling the death a suicide in order to protect the mission from domestic criticism. A confirmed assassination would result in calls from the Brazilian populace for withdrawal from Haiti. Success in this mission is vital for President Lula of Brazil, because it is part of his master plan to obtain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

(SBU) DAS Duddy restated his understanding that the evidence pointed to suicide and that the specific circumstances of the other assassinations in all likelihood ruled out a conspiracy. (S) Fernandez elaborated further on his hypothesis: there was a cover-up of an assassination and that more attacks would occur. He was firm in this view and repeated the warning. (S) The Ambassador asked who might be behind such an attack. Fernandez said he did not know. He commented that in the case of the demonstrations against his visit to Port au Prince in December 2005, Haitian activist Guy Philippe had organized the effort. Fernandez said that Philippe had people working for him inside the National Palace.

Fernandez´s Visit to Haiti
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

(U) DAS Duddy praised Fernandez on his handling of the aftermath of the Port au Prince demonstrations. (SBU) Fernandez retrieved from his desk a book of photos from the visit. He described his visit to the National Palace in Port au Prince: the growing crowd, his uneasiness, the lack of security, the “ambush” of his motorcade as they were leaving, machine gun fire, and the role of Dominican helicopters and MINUSTAH troops in rescuing the motorcade. (S) He said that entities within Haiti had killed MINUSTAH troops via sniper attack on previous occasions, and he believed they would do so again. Their goal was chaos. “Imagine,” he said, “the chaos that would have resulted if they had killed me in Haiti. There would have been wholesale persecution of Haitians in the Dominican Republic.” For this reason he had downplayed the incident to the press, but the truth was that it had been very serious.

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

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.

Wikileaks, Cablegate and Haiti

I’m going to start splitting Haiti/Wikileaks-related content into separate posts.  Updates posted below or you can find them all collected at under the ‘wikileaks’ tag.

The Aftenposten 13: New Wikileaks Cables Show Extent of US Opposition to Aristide

Wikileaks: US Embassy Makes Its Case for MINUSTAH

Wikileaks: DR President Believes Brazilian MINUSTAH Commander Assassinated, Suspects Cover-Up

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


 

Update 12/21: Diplomatic cables continue to paint Brazil as a reluctant participant in MINUSTAH, Haiti’s UN peacekeeping force. A March 2004 cable, just one month after the coup against Aristide, says Brazil communicated to the Bush administration’s Otto Reich that it would participate in the mission only so long as it was invoked under the UN Charter’s Chapter 6, not Chapter 7.

Brazil apparently gave up on that objection, but Haitians haven’t. As Camille Chalmers of PAPDA, one of many Haitian civil society organizations opposed to MINUSTAH’s presence, argued in October when the mission’s mandate was renewed again this year:

The presence of the mission deployed in Haiti under Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter is illegal, he states. This Chapter provides for the deployment of troops to maintain peace during genocides, civil war or crimes against humanity.

“Even if between 2003 and 2004 there was a severe political crisis [in Haiti], there was neither genocide, nor crimes against humanity, nor conflict within the population,” he recalls, maintaining that MINUSTAH enters into the framework of a “new offensive of American imperialism” to militarize the Caribbean region.

A professor described the difference between Chapter 6 and 7 to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs this way:

The basic difference between Chapters VI and VII is that under Chapter VII, the Council may impose measures on states that have obligatory legal force and therefore need not depend on the consent of the states involved. To do this, the Council must determine that the situation constitutes a threat or breach of the peace. In contrast, measures under Chapter VI do not have the same force, and military missions under Chapter VI would rest on consent by the state in question.

By at least as early as May, Brazil had agreed to lead the mission but was insisting Washington do more to reach out to pro-Aristide political elements, according to another cable. Also today, the Guardian released a cable from Hilary Clinton in which she pointedly directs staff to counter “irresponsible” media coverage of US relief efforts in Haiti post-quake.


 

Update 12/12: A 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Rio De Janeiro describes a Brazilian General offering to “occupy and maintain control” of favelas, poor and violent shantytowns in Rio, arguing that his troops were “specifically trained and prepared” for the job because of their experience in Haiti with MINUSTAH.

A June 2007 cable entitled “A Southern Cone Perspective on Countering Chavez and Reasserting US Leadership” describes participation by Latin American countries in peacekeeping operations including MINUSTAH as “an increasingly unifying theme that completely excludes Chavez,” under the “Play to our Mil-Mil Advantage” section.


 

Update 12/6: From a just-released December 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Brasilia: “Less obviously, Brazil remains uncomfortable in its leadership on MINUSTAH. To the constant refrain of ‘we cannot continue this indefinitely,’ Brazil has been increasingly insistent that international efforts to promote security must go hand in hand with commitments to economic and social development-a theme it will take to the UNSC in January.”


 

Update 12/1: From a Jan. 2009 cable analyzing Brazil’s defense forces: “…the Army chapter does not, unlike the other services, raise the possibility of additional peacekeeping operations as a future mission, possibly a reflection of the Army’s frustration with the lack of an exit strategy in Haiti.

The full text of the two classified cables analyzing President Rene Preval, written by former Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson, are now available on the Cablegate site. The Le Monde article barely scratched the surface.

Key points and excerpts from June 2009 memo entitled “Deconstructing Preval”:

- “Managing Preval will remain challenging during the remainder of his term yet doing so is key to our success and that of Haiti. We must continue to find creative ways to work with him, influence him, and encourage him to recapture the activism of his first year in office”

– “He remains skeptical about the international community’s commitment to his government’s goals, for instance telling me that he is suspicious of how the Collier report will be used. He measures success with the international community – and the U.S.- in terms of positive response to his priorities, rather than according to some broader international benchmarks of success.” Continue Reading…