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 “Wikileaks, Cablegate and Haiti”