Haiti: UN extends mission

The 15-member United Nations Security Council voted unanimously in New York on Feb. 15 to approve Resolution 1743, which extends the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until Oct. 15. The eight-month period was a compromise. A number of countries, including Brazil, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the US, recommended a one-year extension. But China—which has no diplomatic ties with Haiti because of Haiti’s links to Taiwan—had argued for a six-month renewal so the council could have better oversight. Resolution 1743 asked the MINUSTAH “continue the increased tempo of operations in support of the HNP [Haitian National Police] against armed gangs as deemed necessary to restore security, notably in Port-au-Prince.” (AlterPresse, Feb. 15; Haiti Support Group News Briefs, Feb. 14 from Reuters; Security Council press release, Feb. 15) MINUSTAH’s anti-crime operations have been widely criticized for indiscriminate violence in impoverished Port-au-Prince neighborhoods, with reports of deaths and injuries to local residents who had no connection to crime.

According to Agence Haitienne de Presse (AHP), a news service that generally supports the Lavalas Family (FL) party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide), foreign forces killed 74 people from February 2004 to December 2006; the foreign forces in the period were mostly MINUSTAH, although French and US troops were also involved. After MINUSTAH operations the week of Feb. 5 in the Cite Soleil neighborhood, some residents charged that the real goal was to clear the area to convert it into an industrial park. “If they were looking for the kidnappers’ bosses, they’d know where to go, and they’d carry out raids in [upscale] residential neighborhoods too, where there are also hiding places for kidnapping victims,” said one resident, Leonord Pierre. (AHP, Feb. 12, Feb. 15)

Aristide supporters demonstrated in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 7 to demand Aristide’s return and the removal of MINUSTAH. AHP reported that tens of thousands participated; Associated Press put the number at hundreds. (AHP, Feb. 7; HSG, Feb. 7 from AP]

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 18

See our last post on Haiti.