Uruguayan Troops will Remain in Haiti Until April 2017

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Source: Sputnik News / The Dawn News / December 23, 2016

Photo credit: Sputnik Mundo
Photo credit: Sputnik Mundo

The Uruguayan Senate approved the extension of the permanence of the country’s troops in Haiti until April 2017. After April 15, Uruguay’s mission will end. The decision to not remove the troops immediately is rejected by those who see the blue helmets as an occupation army, and supported by those who defend the country’s foreign policy strategy.

“This is a political decision made by the Broad Front [the ruling party] that is coherent with Uruguay’s line in the United Nations”, said opposition Senator Javier García, who is also a member of the National Defense Commission.

To him, solidarity with the Haitian government mustn’t be influenced by the Government’s decisions on internal policy.

Last Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill that prolongs the mission of the Armed Forces in the United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti (MINUSTAH), as reported by the Chamber in a communiqué.

On April 15, 2017 the UN will re-evaluate Haiti’s case and decide whether to continue the military occupation called MINUSTAH or end it. But Uruguay has decided that on that date, no matter what the UN decides, it will remove its troops from the country.

Chancellor Rodolfo Nin Novoa explained, last Monday, at the National Defense Commission, that the decision of prolonging the mission until April 15 is unrelated to the fact that Uruguay is a part of the UN Security Council.

The reason behind this, as pro-government Senator Rubén Martínez Huelmo pointed out last Wednesday, in a statement given to La Diaria, is “an issue of costs”, referring to the fact that Uruguay would have to pay the expenses of the dismantling of the mission and transport if it decides to remove its troops from Haiti before the scheduled date.

But García argues that “this excuse is very poor, because to base foreign policy decisions on freight costs is beneath Uruguay’s rich history of foreign policy”.

The South American country is removing its troops from the Caribbean island in order to respect their national sovereignty. “Uruguay’s position is that the actions of the MINUSTAH and the mission of special evaluation of the Haitian elections should be unrelated to each other; that is, the electoral and the military processes should be independent. I say this because, to us, the electoral process is of an internal nature and its relation to security should only be handled by Haitians themselves”, Nin Novoa said.

But Uruguay’s decision doesn’t seem to be a problem for the UN. 50% of the international troops that are currently in Haiti are expected to leave in 2017, according to Nigel Fisher, who is the new head of the MINUSTAH and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. They do foresee a future without the MINUSTAH, but only after arranging the political structure of Haiti in accordance to their interests.

Although Uruguay has only 3.2 million inhabitants, it’s one of the main contributors of troops, with nearly 20% of its active forces deployed in peace missions, which are located mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.

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