The Legacy of the Minustah in Haití: Rapes, Cholera and 30.000 Fatalities

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The deployment of the Brazilian army in Haiti ended on Friday, and are now deployed in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

By: Vanessa Martina Silva / Source: Brasil de Fato / The Dawn News / October 6, 2017

Last Brazilian contingent in action in the Minustah, in Cité Soleil (Photo credit: Tereza Sobreira, Brasil de Fato)

Brazilian soldiers landed on Haiti in 2004 to lead different nation troops in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). On September 1, the soldiers returned to Brazil, and by October, all foreign militaries must be out of the Caribbean territory.

The action of the Minustah left for the country a legacy of over 30.000 deaths for cholera, and more than 2.000 rape victims, among other violations. In an informal interview with Brasil de Fato, Guerchang Bastia, of the Socialist Encounter for a New National Initiative Party, considered the Minustah as an occupation force:

“The Minustah generated a lot of violence against students and poor people who live in the favelas. Soldiers raped women and men. A lot of violence was perpetrated against the people in the country and brought a cholera epidemic. It was a huge disaster caused by the UN”, reports Bastia.

The cholera epidemic hit Haiti after the earthquake of 2010, which left more than 200.000 deaths in the country. Despite the evidence that proves the irruption of cholera by the hands of the Minustah troops, it took 6 years for the UN to recognize the mistake. For Bastia, the treatment is inhuman: “We are human beings, we have family, friends, children, spouses. I can not understand the things they say. People accept, forgive, but it doesn’t mean anything for us”.

The Brazilian soldiers invaded a favela populated by 200.000 people in Cité Soleil, and committed what the Haitians consider as a massacre. During the action, which is really criticized, at least 27 civilians died, 20 women under 18 years old among them.

Bastia tells that the episode is considered as a rehearsal for the actions commanded by the Brazilian army in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil: “Brazilian soldiers killed a lot of people in the Haitian favelas. Which is understandable, because Brazil has so many favelas, and the army is preparing to fight the poor while experimenting new tactics in the Haitian favelas

The relation between the actions of the Brazilian army in the Caribbean country and in hte favelas of Rio de Janeiro were recently commented by General Ajax Porto Pinheiro in an interview with the Brazilian radio CBN. When the journalist asked about the possibility of applying the knowledge obtained by the militaries in the Minustah, the general replied that the UN troops have “more freedom than when operating in Brazil”. He meant the possibility to shoot to kill.

In Haiti, these violations will be denounced in the Popular Court which organizes the actions in the whole country to denounce the occupation, as Bastia explains: “Normal courts are based on the law, and the law is created by the ruling class. Laws do not speak about the most important matters. For example, United States has destroyed Haiti’s environment and there is no law that speaks about it. The Popular Court s for the judgement of the themes that aren’t treated in a common court”.

The Popular Court, which began its activities on July, will realize activities throughout Haiti until 2018. The denounces are important to measure how much people has died by the hand of the Minustah troops, since there is no effective report made by the UN regarding this information.

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