“HAITI: An Oppressed State” LASC Delegation Report on HR Abuses by UN “Peacekeeping” Mission

Posted on March 23, 2010





Excerpt from introduction:


A delegation of 11 academics, journalists, and
Latin America solidarity leaders from the United States
and Canada visited Haiti prior to the recent earthquake,
from Dec. 28, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010. The delegation
was organized by the U.S. Latin America Solidarity
Coalition (LASC) [www.lasolidarity.org] to investigate
reports of human rights abuses by the UN stabilization
mission, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH.
The delegation met with over 70 individuals
and organizational representatives in Port- au-Prince,
including the two most impoverished neighborhoods,
Cite Soleil and Bel Air. We took recorded testimony
from twelve victims of MINUSTAH violence (people
who themselves were wounded by UN troops), or whose
family members were killed during UN attacks on their
communities. The delegation also spent two days in
Jacmel visiting sustainable development projects.
Five days after our return to the U.S. and
Canada, Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake,
the most powerful to hit the island in two centuries.
Over 200,000 Haitians perished and two million
were made homeless. The enormity of the disaster
raised questions about how and to what purpose
the information gathered during our visit should be
compiled and communicated. In many cases, we do
not know whether the Haitians who gave testimony
or information to us survived the earthquake. This is
especially true in Bel Air, an impoverished community
just uphill from the Presidential Palace. Reports are
that Bel Air was particularly hard hit with hardly any
buildings still standing.
We decided that we owed it to the victims of
UN repression, whether they are today living or dead,
to tell the stories they told us at considerable risk to
their own personal security. In addition, reports since
the earthquake include every criticism of the U.S. and
international community’s relations with Haiti that
we heard before the tragedy. The natural disaster has
exacerbated all the elements of the political disaster that
has been imposed on Haiti since it threw off its French
slave-masters in 1804 and became the first independent
African republic.
Near universal complaints and demands that we
heard include:
The demand for the return of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was removed from office
and flown into exile by the U.S. military
on Feb. 29, 2004.
The charge that MINUSTAH (and now the
U.S. military) has become a force of repression and
criminality rather than stability and that Haiti’s security
and stability would be better guaranteed by expenditures
on schools and human resource development than on
the foreign occupation.
The charge that international aid is not reaching
the poor majority, where it is most urgently needed,
but has instead been spent on building prisons, or for
salaries and vehicles for international NGOs, or has
been siphoned away into the pockets of political cronies
of the current government.
Charges that economic development plans for
Haiti are strictly in line with a failed neoliberal model
of privatization and low wage assembly plants that will
keep Haiti from developing, while driving down wages
in other countries of the hemisphere, including those in
the U.S. and Canada.
Therefore, we decided to publish the information
and conclusions of our delegation’s research, with the
inclusion of a brief history of Haiti’s relations with the
international community, in the hope that it will help
orient U.S. and Canadian citizens who have become
aware of Haiti as a result of the humanitarian crisis
caused by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. We encourage
activists, academics, journalists, and politicians to use
the information in this report to avoid the errors of
the past and to help Haiti build a stable economy and
infrastructure that concentrates on the development of
human resources, jobs, and food security in a sovereign
nation, with peaceful and respectful relations within the
community of nations.