Haiti: UN mission reduced; opposition grows

United Nations (UN) secretary general Ban Ki-moon plans to continue the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) one more year but wishes to cut it significantly, according to a report that the military and police mission's current head, the Trinidadian diplomat Sandra Honoré, presented to the UN Security Council on Sept. 11. Secretary General Ban recommended extending MINUSTAH for another year when its mandate ends on Oct. 15. However, the military component would be reduced to 2,370 soldiers by June 2015; currently the mission has 5,021 soldiers and 2,601 police agents, along with nearly 2,000 civilian employees and volunteers. Honoré said the Haitian National Police (PNH), which now has 10,963 agents, would be able to take over many of MINUSTAH's functions. She admitted that "[t[he reinforcement of the national police needs to be accompanied by measures for accelerating the reform of the justice system to support the construction of institutions and to improve local governance." (AlterPresse, Haiti, Sept. 12)

Opposition to MINUSTAH continues to grow in several of the Latin American countries that contribute most of the troops. In June Jubilee South/Americas, a Latin American network focusing on international debt, marked 10 years since the mission's start by launching a campaign to end it. On Sept. 8 some 100 social movements and well-known activists sent Argentina's Chamber of Deputies a letter calling on the National Congress to end the authorization for the country's participation; Argentina has 566 soldiers in Haiti. The letter also asked the legislature to demand that the left-leaning government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner use its current position on the UN Security Council to vote no when MINUSTAH's mandate comes up for renewal on Oct. 15.

MINUSTAH opponents held a press conference at the Chamber of Deputies on Sept. 10 with Nora Cortiñas from the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; 1980 Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel; Pablo Micheli, general secretary of the Federation of Argentine Workers (CTA); journalist and human rights defender Herman Schiller; and Jubilee South's Beverly Keene. "Argentina ought to take into consideration the example of Bolivia and Uruguay, which are discussing the withdrawal of their troops," Micheli said in his remarks, "and, even more so, the example of Cuba and Venezuela, which, far from sending occupation forces, are guaranteeing the presence of doctors and teachers, which is what the Haitian people need." (AlterPresse, Sept. 11; Adital, Brazil, Sept. 12)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, September 14.