Brazil’s Defense Minister Defends Brazilian Military Presence in Haiti

Brazil’s Vice President and Minister of Defense, José Alencar, rebutted criticism by members of Congress who are calling for a review of the decision to send Brazilian troops to Haiti as part of the UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) in that country.

The calls for a new look at the situation comes on the heels of the death of the Brazilian commander of MINUSTAH, general Urano Bacellar, last Saturday, January 7.

"We will remain in Haiti. We will continue to command MINUSTAH. That is what we want," said Alencar.

At the beginning of its 2006 legislative session, Congress is scheduled to reexamine the Brazilian presence in Haiti. According to Alencar,

"If there is lucidity in Congress, they will understand that this is an important moment in the effort by Brazil to play a significant role in international affairs."

Meanwhile, the commander of the Brazilian Army, general Francisco Albuquerque, declared that the Haiti mission was a risk, but went on to say that "The Army is a risky profession. And in spite of the risks this is the time for Brazil to fulfill its commitment. We have participated in many other peace missions – 34 all together – and we intend to do our duty now as we have done in the past."

General Albuquerque is scheduled to travel to the UN this weekend to work out the details of the transfer of the command of MINUSTAH to another Brazilian general.

The UN has asked Brasilia to submit two names to substitute general Urano Bacellar, the former commander of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

On Monday, January 9, the Brazilian government nominated general José Elito Carvalho de Siqueira, a three-star general who commands Brazil’s 6th Military Region in Salvador, Bahia, to be Bacellar’s substitute.

"Our idea was to submit a single name, but the UN has requested a second. So we are going to send in another name," Defense Minister José Alencar.

According to general Francisco Albuquerque, the Brazilian Army commander, the problem in Haiti is not just military. "It is social and economic, as well," he declared.

Agência Brasil

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