Haiti No MINUSTAH!
Hundreds Sign Jubilee South and School of the Americas Watch-Initiated Letters Demanding UN Mission Withdrawal from Haiti
By Canada Haiti Action Network, Oct 9, 2011
Hundreds of personalities and organizations from dozens of countries around the world, in particular from the countries of Latin America, have signed an open letter calling for withdrawal of the UN military forces from Haiti. The letter is addressed to the governments of the countries that compose MINUSTAH; UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council; and the General Secretary of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza. Among the signatories are Nobel Peace Prize laureates Argentinean Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Irish Betty Williams, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, and Brazilian theologians Leonardo Boff and Frei Betto.
The letter is an initiative of the Jubilee South organization and its Haiti No MINUSTAH! campaign. The full text is below.
The open letter was announced at a press conference in Argentina on October 5. Read a report of that press conference here. Participants in the press conference announced preparations for a second International Solidarity and Fact-finding Mission to Haiti, projected for February, 2012 and similar to the one organized by Jubilee South/Americas in 2005 which opened a real window on Haitian reality throughout the region and the launching of numerous people-to-people solidarity initiatives.
The press conference called attention to a complementary Letter to Latin American Presidents concerning MINUSTAH that has been issued by School of the Americas Watch. See that letter below. It also highlighted a presentation in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies of a proposed Declaration for the withdrawal of Argentine troops from Haiti and support for a policy of true regional support and cooperation.
School of the Americas Watch presently has a fact-finding mission in Haiti. The group is organizing a large protest at the gates of the U.S. military base in Fort Bennings, Georgia on Nov 18-20 as part of its ongoing campaign to demand closure of the School of the Americas, the U.S. military school that has trained genrations of torturers and coupmakers in the militaries of the countries of Latin America. The delegation to Haiti will report back to that rally. One guest speaker there will be Attorney Mario Joseph of the Bureau des avocats internationaux in Port au Prince.
Jubille South is a broad-based, pluralistic network of popular organizations, social movements, religious groups and debt campaigns in over 50 countries of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Founded in 1999, the network and global South movement is part of the struggle of peoples everywhere to build a just world, overcoming capitalism and imperialism. Its special contribution is to give voice, leadership, and strength to South peoples in the struggle against debt domination.
Its open letter on Haiti notes that the presence of MINUSTAH has not improved the living conditions of the Haitian people. It also underlines that the Haiti is currently directed by a parallel and virtual government, the Interim Recovery Commission for Haiti, whose plans are more in correspondence with the international interests of moneylenders and businesspeople than with the rights of the Haitian people.
The letter states that Haiti’s problems are not going to be solved by adopting temporary assistance measures that only make it more dependent. Haiti needs changes carried out by its own people who must take the lead of their own lives and their history. The Cuban medical mission is noted as an example that another type of aid can be provided to the Haitian people.
Williams, Perez Esquivel and the rest of the signatories stress the failure of the goals outlined by MINUSTAH since its establishment in 2004. They denounce the ongoing violation of the human rights of the population by UN troops. They ask the Security Council not to renew the mandate of the mission when they meet next October 15th and warned about any military or police intervention by foreign troops, especially from the United States. They also consider it is essential to respect the right to sovereignty and self-determination of Haiti and relieve the country of interventions and unpayable spurious debts.
Haiti No MINUSTAH!
To the Secretary General of the UN, Dr. Ban Ki-moon
To the Governments of States members of the Security Council and the MINUSTAH
To the Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. José Miguel Insulza
To the international community and public at large
(Read the text and signatories of this open letter here.
Receive our greetings.
It is surprising and humiliating to certify that "Haiti is a threat to world peace and security", as the UN Security Council does, year after year, in order to ratify the presence there of a military-police mission said to be for the purposes of stabilization: the MINUSTAH.
It is a statement that hides the impunity of the major powers and the hypocrisy that allows them to intervene militarily, politically, and economically in Haiti, drawing as well on the services of others.
The real threat is that intervention itself, a laboratory as well for new forms of domination and popular control.
The intervention of foreign troops over years, whether from the United States, France, other powers, or now the MINUSTAH, has not improved the lives of the Haitian people. Rather, their presence undermines the sovereignty and dignity of that people and ensures the process of economic recolonization that is directed now by a virtual parallel government - the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti - whose plans are more responsive to the lenders and entrepreneurs than to the rights of Haitians. The Haitian Senate recently voted unanimously for the withdrawal of this occupation force.
As if this were not enough, the MINUSTAH directly usurps some USD 800 million per year (equivalent to nearly half of Haiti's annual budget) of resources needed by the people for their health, education, housing, water and sanitation, food sovereignty and job creation. Worse still, the MINUSTAH troops have built-up a real criminal record: they abuse and rape women and youth, and they kill. They kill with bullets when people stand up to hunger and low wages, and they kill with cholera: some 6,000 Haitian women and men have been killed by the disease introduced by the MINUSTAH. Enough!
We demand the immediate withdrawal of troops and non-renewal of the MINUSTAH mandate. The Security Council will vote on the renewal of the MINUSTAH before October 15, and some governments have begun to pose the need for changes. According to the Haitian organizations with which we are in permanent contact, the defense of Haitian people, of world peace and security, demands an indepth, structural decision in this regard. In addition to the MINUSTAH withdrawal, the non-intervention of any foreign military or police presence must be ensured, including in particular the total rejection of the permanence there of any U.S. troops. It is also vital that the crimes committed be sanctioned and reparations made.
We further urge the States and organisms involved to urgently review their policies of regional and international cooperation with Haiti. It is not a question of responding to the problems that do affect the social peace and security of that people with short-term, assistencialist measures that sharpen their dependency. The country needs changes whereby the Haitian people are the protagonists of their own life and builder of their own history. The Cuban medical presence is irrefutable proof that another cooperation is possible.
Haiti, predecessor and benefactor of antislavery and anticolonial struggles throughout the region, renowned for the creativity of its artists and the organizational strength of his people, has endured throughout its life enormous depredation and calamities. But the Haitian people have also demonstrated their persistence and solidarity in the struggle to build alternatives in the face of injustice and adversity. It is essential that their right to sovereignty and self-determination be respected: ridding them of occupations and illegitimate debts; supporting them in their struggle against impunity; acknowledging their abilities; and restoring to them the resources that have unjustly been taken from them - the historical, social, ecological, and financial debt due to the Haitian people - and that they need for life and dignity.
Full text of letter and signatories here: http://jubileesouth.blogspot.com/2010/09/sign-on-in-support-of-haiti-minustah.html. To add the signature of your organization, send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letter to Latin American presidents: Withdraw from MINUSTAH, Send Meaningful Aid to HAITI!
An initiative of School of the Americas Watch. Read the full text of the letter and signatories here.
To the Presidents of our Latin American nations:
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our rejection of the continued presence in Haiti of the UN Stabilization Mission, known as MINUSTAH, and to call on our respective governments to withdraw all military personnel from this so-called peacekeeping operation.
For over seven years, soldiers from our Latin America countries have participated in an unjustified and immoral military occupation that serves the agenda of foreign powers and continuously violates the sovereignty and dignity of the people of Haiti.
In 2004 MINUSTAH troops arrived in Haiti to buttress a de facto regime. During the ensuing period of intense repression, MINUSTAH itself carried out violent incursions in the poor neighborhood of Cite Soleil, in a clear strategy of construction of the "enemy", focused on the persecution of poor, marginalized communities.
Since the return of limited democracy in 2006, MINUSTAH has contributed to the further violation of Haitians' political rights, namely through its support of flawed elections in which Haiti's most popular political party was excluded.
In recent weeks, a case of rape involving troops from one of our Latin American nations has lifted the veil on a dense pattern of human rights violations - including numerous incidents of rape and sexual exploitation - that have existed for years. As a result of an agreement that provides blanket immunity to UN troops, MINUSTAH soldiers are free to continue to commit abuses in impunity.
MINUSTAH has also greatly aggravated an already massive humanitarian crisis through the introduction of cholera to Haiti. Due to lax screening of soldiers entering Haiti, MINUSTAH troops unleashed an epidemic that has killed over 6400 Haitians and infected hundreds of thousands. Experts predict that cholera will remain endemic in Haiti for the foreseeable future and will lead to thousands of additional deaths.
In recent days, there have been a number of popular protests calling for MINUSTAH to leave and the Vice President of Haiti's senate, Jean Hector Anacacis, stated that "MINUSTAH has done more harm than good to the country." While MINUSTAH is deeply unpopular in Haiti, classified U.S. diplomatic cables made public by Wikileaks reveal that U.S. officials consider that the peacekeeping forces are "an indispensable tool in realizing core USG policy interests in Haiti."
It is unconscionable that Latin American governments, many of which claim to espouse progressive values, are the enforcers of an imperial agenda in Haiti. It is unconscionable that our nations' armies are directly involved in the military occupation of a country which stood as a beacon of hope and liberty to our burgeoning independence movements, and provided essential support to Simon Bolivar's campaign for Latin American freedom. It is unconscionable that our countries, which have all experienced foreign aggression, should be among those to trample the sovereignty of a country that has experienced countless brutal interventions since courageously breaking the chains of slavery and colonialism.
On October 15th, the UN Security Council is set to issue a resolution renewing the annual mandate of MINUSTAH for the seventh time. Our Latin American governments should not sit idly by and acquiesce this decision as they have done in the past. Rather than simply supporting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's recommendation of a decrease of troop numbers to pre-quake levels, our governments should demand that a timeline for a rapid withdrawal of all foreign troops be firmly established. Failing this, our governments should begin removing troops unilaterally and cease to involve our nations in a criminal and imperialist enterprise.
Nearly $800 million is spent yearly on MINUSTAH. We call on our governments to begin pulling their troops from this mission and to work to see these funds reinvested in fighting cholera and contributing to the many other urgent projects to help the Haitian people make it through ongoing humanitarian crisis. It is time for our soldiers to go and for our nations to show true solidarity with this brother nation to which we all owe so much.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (Argentina)
Peace and Justice Service (Servicio Paz y Justicia, SERPAJ América Latina)
Martín Almada, Alternative Nobel Peace Prize (Paraguay)
Juan Gelman, writer (Argentina)
Eduardo Galeano, writer (Uruguay)
Frei Betto, writer (Brasil)
Pedro Casaldaliga, writer (Brasil)
Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Argentina)
Elsie Monge, Executive Director of the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission (Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos) (Ecuador)
School of the Americas Watch
Alicia Lira, President of the Association of Relatives of Executed Politicians of Chile (Chile)
Alejandra Arriaza, human rights defender (Chile)
Hugo Gutiérrez, human rights lawyer, parliamentarian (Chile)
Markus Sokol, member of the Workers' Party (PT), Nacional Directorate (Brazil)
Xavier Albó, researcher for the Center for Peasants' Research and Development (Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado - CIPCA) (Bolivia)
Hugo Blanco Galdós, leader of peasant movement (Perú)
Raul Zibechi, writer and journalist (Uruguay)
Alberto Franco, Executive Secretary of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz)
Víctor Valle, academic; (El Salvador)
Father Roy Bourgeois, Founder of the School of the Americas Watch (U.S.)
Read the full text of the letter and full list of signatories here: