Given the arrival of President Lula in Haiti, it’s obvious that Lucia Newman’s assignment was to do a story on how much Haitians love and admire the UN “peacekeepers,” especially the Brazilians since they head the peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAH. In 2004, when MINUSTAH was deployed to Haiti, it had one important job — make the February 2004 coup against President Aristide “stick.” This was necessary because the coup had no popular support and the people of Haiti continue to call for the return of Aristide. For commanding MINUSTAH, the US, it was rumored, dangled a seat in front of Brazil to become a permanent member of an “enlarged” UN Security Council. That was six years ago.
And what has Brazil been doing over the last six years? If you ask Haitians, you will hear two things: “nothing, they go to the beach a lot” and “they kill a lot of people, especially in poor neighborhoods.”
The Haitian National Police (HNP) initiated MINUSTAH when it arrived in June 2004. First, UN “peacekeepers” served as lookouts for the HNP as its officers committed summary executions in the streets, then MINUSTAH began making summary arrests in poor neighborhoods apprehending as many as 100-200 young men (and many boys) often delivering them into the hands of the death squads. Finally, MINUSTAH graduated to conducting full-scale massacres in poor neighborhoods, especially Cite Soleil where President Aristide enjoys his greatest support. MINUSTAH began targeting young men, many of whom had become leaders in their neighborhoods and were organizing to resist the murderous forays of the HNP and MINUSTAH. Invariably, the young men would be labelled as “bandits.” The word “bandit” has a very special meaning for Haitians. During the US Marine occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934, many Haitians were called “bandits” and killing them was a defensible act.
And so it was, in the wee hours of the morning of July 6, 2005, when MINUSTAH came to get the “bandits.” MINUSTAH attacked with 400 “peacekeepers” packing hire-powered weaponry including tank fire. As the helicopters shot down on the tin roofs of homes, tanks blasted at houses, and soldiers walked down the streets shooting indiscriminately through doors killing residents as they slept. In some instances, the “peacekeepers” opened doors and shot people, including women and children, at point-black range. Around 45-50 people were killed that day and of the 26 wounded that went to a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic, 23 were women and children. But, MINUSTAH got and killed their man, Dred Wilme, a young leader in his neighborhood and five others. MINUSTAH claimed that those were the only people they killed that day. But, the evidence tells the real story. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, MINUSTAH’s After Action Report shows that the attack went on for SEVEN HOURS and a total of 22,ooo rounds were expended. 22,000.
Below is a video of Lucia Newman’s report. The only interaction between Brazilian “peacekeepers” and Haitians is a little boy doing a high five with a soldier. If Newman interviewed anyone older, the “beach” or “killing people” stuff or both would come up and the interview would have to be left on the editing room floor.
Finally, note how Newman ties together drug trafficking, prisoners who escaped after the earthquake, and MINUSTAH’s beefed-up security in Cite Soleil. She might as well have pointed to Cite Soleil and said “bandits.”
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, has arrived in Haiti to see for himself the damage last month’s earthquake caused.
He will meet Rene Preval, his Haitian counterpart, and visit Brazilian troops at the UN’s new logistical base there.
Even before the earthquake, Brazil had a “special relationship” with Haiti, as Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports.