Brazilian troops may remain in Haiti another year, until the presidential elections in December, 2005. The United Nations (UN) Security Council is scheduled to vote on extending the duration of the peace mission on November 30.
According to Brazil’s Federal Deputy Maria José Maninha, vice-president of the Foreign Relations Commission in the Chamber of Deputies and president of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (Copa), the proposal has already been submitted to the Chamber and should be voted on by the end of the year.
The Deputy, who is back from a trip to Haiti, thinks that the Brazilian government needs to promote public policies for basic systems in that country.
In her view the situation there is “extremely dramatic, with generalized poverty,” and the presence of military forces alone will not resolve the country’s problems.
“The troops inspire a sense of security, but the Haitian population needs a lot more than just this,” she insisted.
The Deputy, who was interviewed by National Radio, said that the Haitian population wants the troops to remain in the country but hopes for the development of an effort involving health and education professionals to help organize society. Besides the creation of a fund for the country to create jobs and aid in social development.
Even though only a few weeks remain for the peace mission to complete its original mandate, the mission has still not reached full strength.
Vice-President José Alencar recalled that the mission will only reach 80% of its projected military strength in early December, and only 70% of the police contingent authorized by the Security Council will be on hand.
Haiti has been in a state of crisis since the beginning of the year, when rebels attacked the capital, Port-au-Prince, and prompted the resignation of the President, Jean Bertrand Aristide. For the time being, Haiti has an interim government.
Even though presidential elections are planned for 2005, no trustworthy roll of voters exists. According to information furnished by the UN command, most of the population doesn’t even have an ID document, and the illiteracy rate is very high.
In July, an International Conference of Contributors to Haiti was held in Washington, and various countries and international organizations pledged funds. But bureaucratic obstacles are impeding the disbursement of the more than US$ 1 billion agreed upon by the donors.
At the request of the UN, Brazil sent 1,200 soldiers to join the UN Peace Force in Haiti.
For Deputy Maninha, improvement in Haiti at present “does not only depend on political action in institutional terms with the holding of general elections; there must be outside investments to recover the social fabric and generate employment.”
Translator: David Silberstein