Brazil: activists call for end of Haiti occupation
Brazilian organizations delivered an open letter to the United Nations Information Center in the Itamaraty Palace in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 5 opposing the continued presence of Brazilian troops in Haiti. Afterwards the activists held a solidarity event with hip-hop presentations in the Largo Carioca plaza in downtown Rio. The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate for the Brazilian-led United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), now five years old, sometime before Oct. 15.
Brazilian economist Sandra Quintela, from the Institute of Alternative Policies for the Southern Cone (Pacs), told the Brazilian activist news service Adital that there have been repeated reports of abuses and human rights violations by Brazilian soldiers against Haitians. She called Haiti a "field for experimentation" which provided Brazilian troops with training for actions in impoverished urban neighborhoods like the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. She also noted the connection of the occupation to a Sept. 17 accord between Brazil and the US encouraging Brazilian business operations in Haiti's maquiladora sector. Maintaining UN troops in Haiti costs a total of $600 million a year, the open letter notes. "[T]his amount is more than what would be necessary to resolve the [Haitian] population's fundamental problems: lack of energy, food, housing, education and employment." (Adital, Oct. 2)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 4