Wave of Violence in Haiti Is Just Rumor, Says Brazil’s Defense Ministry

Haiti child helped by Brazilian soldiers The security in Haiti is under control, says the Brazilian ministry of Defense in note, adding that the situation is very near what it was before the earthquake that devastated the country on January 12.

According to the ministry, civilian and military authorities who are leading efforts by Brazilian personnel to assist earthquake victims have assured them that news about a wave of violence is nothing but a rumor.

The note from the ministry says that colonel João Batista Carvalho Bernardes, the commander of the Brazilian Battalion (Brabatt), which is part of the UN Stabilization Mission to Haiti (Minustah), has admitted some concern about a group of prisoners who escaped from jail getting organized. But he reports that his men are tracking the criminals down.

Colonel Bernardes reports that acts of violence over the last few days were isolated incidents and that such things occurred even before the earthquake. The only difference now is that the media is all over the place, he says.

The Minustah force commander, major general Floriano Peixoto, a Brazilian, considers the security situation in the capital, Port-au-Prince, his priority and therefore has ordered his men who were stationed outside the city  to return.

Peixoto is reported to have said that he does not think criminal elements will be able to organize themselves into anything that could actually threaten the peace or his forces.

“I have overwhelming military superiority,” is what generak Peixoto said, according to the note from the ministry of Defense, which goes on to point out that the UN has just authorized an increase in its mission forces of  2,000 soldiers and 1,500 policemen.

The most recent development in this story was the announcement that Brazil is considering doubling the number of soldiers it has in Haiti.

Meanwhile, the bodies of 17 out of 18 Brazilian soldiers killed in the Haiti earthquake arrived in Brasilia where a special ceremony was held to honor them at the airbase. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, ministers, military leaders and family members attended.

The dead soldiers were all serving in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah). Brazilian soldiers have been part of this mission since it was established in 2004 following political instability in Haiti.

The bodies were transported aboard a Brazilian Air Force plane from Port-au-Prince to Manaus where military doctors prepared the bodies and embalmed them for funeral services. It was not possible to do this in Haiti.

Meanwhile, according to the Office of Institutional Security (SGI), the ministry of Health is registering healthcare professionals and volunteers who want to work in Haiti.

At the same time, the Crisis Cabinet has set up a group consisting of representatives of the ministries of Foreign Relations, Defense, Health and National Integration to coordinate the shipment of medicine, food and water to Haiti.

ABr

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