From the Committee For the Withdrawal of Troops from Haiti
During the meeting on July 10 at the Ministerial Defense Cabinet in Brasilia, Markus Sokol presented to the Minister the campaign for the withdrawal of troops decided last November at the Continental Rally, where representatives from seven countries were present at the Municipal Hall in Sao Paulo; it was from that hall that the Appeal for a Continental Day of Action this past June 1st was launched to demand the withdrawal of troops. And this was at the origin of the request for a meeting with the Defense Minister.
Sokol questioned the presence of the Minustah forces, which after 8 years have neither brought stability nor relieved the misery of the people, creating a situation of successive frauds in the Presidential elections, without the international aid that was announced ever arriving, and he asked:
"What are we doing in Haiti ? A former Minister (Jobim) has said that we were training to fight in the "favelas" of Rio. This is not acceptable! Demonstrations in Haiti continue demanding the restoration of national sovereignty and the withdrawal of troops. The situation has got even worse, with the recent invasion of the Human Science Faculty (FASCH) by Brazilian troops, in spite of the protests of the University Rector himself. The government cannot support this, this is the behavior associated with governments such as that of Alckmin and Serra (of the PSDB, pro-Imperialist parties in the Sao Paulo government that invaded the local University)".
Ferro, a Member of Parliament, underlined this point: "Eight years ago I understood that the presence of troops would be for a limited period, but today, I do not find in the facts, any justification for maintaining them."
Adriano, a Member of Parliament, recalled the withdrawal from the Army of Morr do Aemao (RJ), noting that, " troops cannot solve social conflict. We are against the idea of the intervention of the army spread by the School of the Americas (of the USA). We want to banish that from our history." He ended by asking the Minister "what is the calendar for withdrawal?"
Alexandre Conceiçao declared: "The position of the MST is for withdrawal of the troops. For many years now, we have had a Brigade in that country, in a cooperation project with peasant movements, exchanging experience while we receive here in Brazil, Haitian delegations for training courses. That is what the model of cooperation of Brazil with Haiti should be."
Fignolé Saint Cyr had come to Brazil at the invitation of the CUT. Brazil's main trade union federation (which supports the withdrawal of troops and whose leaders were that day in Congress in Sao Paulo), explained that he had come "to ask for Brazilian solidarity to rebuild Haiti, to rebuild it not only physically but also to rebuild its sovereignty, which is incompatible with the presence of troops decided by Western powers." He considered that " after eight years, the so-called stabilisation forces are really occupation forces, that have brought the cholera epidemic to our country and are violating our sovereignty. Brazil could help in giving the example by withdrawing its troops. I went to the UN last year, but they put forward no prospect, they gave no date. But what the Haitian people want, and what organisations in the union and popular movements demand is the the withdrawal of troops."
Minister Celso Amorim justified the sending of troops ("to avoid chaos") and denied that they were an instrument "of the colonialism of big powers" -- but he said "that today our intention is to leave, but that must be decided with other Ministers and other countries, in particular from South America and the UN because we can do nothing unilaterally. The presence of troops was asked for by the government of Haiti and the UN Security Council, which is the only body that legitimizes this type of intervention. I think it has already lasted longer than one would have wished, which could have created this or that conflict but any incident has been investigated. We have to plan a progressive withdrawal and I repeat, decided on through dialogue with our partners in the Unasul, whose countries have troops there."
The Minister recognised that "the demand for compensation for the cholera merits to be examined by the UN" and he said "he was not informed of the University Faculty affair."
"We can have different points of view, which is why I insist on dialogue", he concluded, "as a citizen, I have always said what I think, we should withdraw the troops. But as Minister, I say withdraw, Yes, investigate the incidents, Yes, but not a sudden disorderly withdrawal, the progressive withdrawal is reasonable; for my part, I would leave a battalion and the rest of the engineers and technicians, but the UN does not see things in this way."
The Minister received from Barbara Corrales records with the account of the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti (ICI-H) on the abuses and crimes committed by the Minustah troops, including records of the recent invasion of the FASCH by Brazilian troops.
Finally questioned on the calendar for withdrawal, the Minister accepted a new interview three months from now, "including before the discussion on the renewal of the UN troops' mandate the 15th of October."