Brazil & Co. Sold Their Souls to Bush in Haiti for a Few Pieces of Silver Dollar

Brazilian troops in Haiti Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez found a hero's welcome when he visited Haiti on March 12. People from Port-au-Prince's poor neighborhoods lined the streets of the capitol to cheer, chant, dance, and sing, with all the infectious enthusiasm of Haitian celebrations. President Chávez returned the affection. He jumped from his motorcade and joined the party, marching, even running with the crowd.

At the National Palace, Chávez climbed up on the perimeter fence to slap hands like he had just scored a World Cup goal. He publicly thanked the Haitian people for their hospitality and enthusiasm, and for their historic support for liberty in the world.

President Chávez and the Haitian people hit it off so well for reasons of principle and of practice. Haitians consider Chávez a leader in the fight against the global inequalities that keep people in Haiti, Venezuela, and the rest of Latin America poor, hungry, and uneducated.

They admire him for standing up to the most powerful leader in the world, George Bush (whose name was frequently invoked that day, not charitably), and to the World Bank and other powerbrokers. Even better, unlike their former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (whose name was frequently, and charitably, invoked), Chávez keeps getting away with it.

In turn, Chávez knows that the Haitian people have been standing up to inequality and oppression for more than 200 years. He knows that Haitians won their independence in 1804 by beating Napoleon – the most powerful leader of his day – and that Haiti became the first country to abolish slavery.

Chávez knows, and acknowledged at the National Palace, that Haiti played a critical role in his own country's independence. He also understands that the Haitian people are still fighting for their sovereignty, and will keep fighting as long as necessary.

President Chávez was also welcomed because he came bearing much-needed gifts. At the Palace, he signed a US$ 100 million agreement with Haiti's President Préval to provide Venezuelan oil, development assistance, and financial aid for the Cuba/Haiti partnership that supports Cuban medical professionals in Haiti's poorest areas and trains Haitian healthworkers in Cuban medical schools (Fidel Castro joined the Chávez-Préval meeting by phone).

These gifts are particularly welcome because unlike the North American and European donors, Venezuela and Cuba do not condition their largesse on Haiti decreasing social spending or restructuring its economy to benefit multi-national corporations.

This public display of mutual affection contrasts sharply with the Haitian poor's relationship with other Latin Americans in Haiti, a relationship that is increasingly hostile. A few days before Chávez' visit, Edmond Mulet of Guatemala, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, told Brazil's Folha newspaper that "a photo of Haiti today would reveal a horrible situation: poverty, the absence of institutions, debility, and the absence of the State."

Brazil's Ambassador to Haiti, Paulo Cordeiro Andrade Pinto, told the newspaper that President Préval was "passive" and "sluggish."

Ambassadors Mulet and Andrade Pinto do not jump from their motorcades to join Port-au-Prince's street celebrations. They travel as quickly as possible between their homes in wealthy neighborhoods and their offices in wealthy neighborhoods, with armed escorts in large cars, windows tinted and rolled up, air-conditioning on.

Their employees, the soldiers of MINUSTAH, the United Nations (UN) "peacekeeping" mission that Mulet directs and Brazil leads, do go to poor neighborhoods, but when they do they stay in armored personnel vehicles, their automatic weapons, rather than their hands, extended to the Haitian people.

A Different Definition of Peace

MINUSTAH troops sometimes do more with their guns than just point. In December, January, and February, they conducted repeated assaults on the crowded, poor neighborhood of Cité Soleil. MINUSTAH spokespeople claimed the troops were pursuing gang members, but their automatic rifles shot enough high-powered bullets into Cité Soleil's thin-walled houses (MINUSTAH estimates it shot 22,000 bullets in one 2005 raid) to kill dozens of people – women, children, the elderly – with no connection to gang activity.

Mulet diplomatically refers to the civilians as "collateral damage." They are collateral enough that MINUSTAH did not transport any of the civilians wounded in the December and January raids to hospitals. UN ambulances were on the scene, but for soldiers only.

The neighborhoods that MINUSTAH hits hardest – Cité Soleil, but also Bel-Air and others – supplied the crowds that greeted President Chávez with such enthusiasm. They are also the urban base of Haiti's Lavalas movement, which supplied the votes that gave landslide victories to Presidents Aristide and Préval in 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2006.

The neighborhoods never accepted the February 2004 overthrow of their constitutional government, sponsored by the United States, Canada, and France, or Aristide's forced exile to Africa on a U.S. government plane. Nor have they accepted MINUSTAH, the only peacekeeping mission in UN history deployed without a peace agreement.

MINUSTAH's mission was to consolidate George Bush's coup d'état. It originally supported the brutal and unconstitutional Interim Government of Haiti (IGH), led by Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, a Bush supporter and television host flown in from Boca Raton, Florida.

The mission backed up the IGH police force's campaign of terror against Lavalas, and included MINUSTAH attacks in the poor neighborhoods. After Haiti's return to democracy in May 2006, the Haitian police stopped their murderous raids in places like Cité Soleil. But MINUSTAH, under pressure from the Bush administration and Haitian elites to take a "hard line" against the poor neighborhoods, keeps shooting.

People in Cité Soleil do not minimize gang violence – like the poor everywhere else, they bear the largest burden of street crime. But they believe that the violence will never be defeated by violence and that the situation can only be successfully remedied with healthcare, jobs, and dignified living conditions.

Those are the weapons deployed by President Chávez, and by former President Aristide, who provided jobs to Cité Soleil's youth. Week after week, Haitians take to the streets, to call for MINUSTAH to leave and for President Aristide to come back. On March 12, along with "Vive Chávez, Vive Aristide," they chanted "Aba Bush, Aba MINUSTAH."

MINUSTAH at least understands the appeal of President Chávez' generosity. After negative publicity following the December and January raids in Cité Soleil, the mission's communications department started stressing its efforts to win the hearts and minds of Cité Soleil by providing healthcare, water, and food in areas where they dislodged gang members.

In March, Cité Soleil residents brought me to a basketball court, near a suspected gang headquarters. That same day, glowing press reports, complete with photos of MINUSTAH's humanitarian work, were posted on the Internet.

Brazilian Colonel Afonso Pedrosa bragged that MINUSTAH had provided 200 bottles of water and 1,000 plates of food to the people, to show that things had really changed with the gangs' departure.

MINUSTAH converted the basketball court into a showcase of change in Cité Soleil. The day the peacekeepers took over, the court was quickly transformed into a busy humanitarian center, with water and food distribution centers and a field hospital.

But the Cité Soleil residents told me the humanitarian center lasted only a day. After the photographers, reporters, and PR specialists had documented MINUSTAH's largesse, the whole operation was taken down.

The humanitarian center quickly reverted to what I saw: a hot, dusty, basketball court. MINUSTAH soldiers reverted to patrolling Cité Soleil from armored personnel carriers, guns pointed out.

The Haitians I spoke with felt that MINUSTAH's "hearts and minds" campaign targeted the hearts and minds of people that read newspapers and watch television in South America and the United States; the messages to Cité Soleil continue to be delivered by automatic rifle. The residents mock the cynicism of Ambassadors Mulet and Andrade Pinto and MINUSTAH by calling the mission "TOURISTAH."

The Bolivarian Alternative

President Chávez and MINUSTAH are taking two different paths of solidarity in Haiti, both pioneered by Simon Bolivar, South America's Libertador. After a setback in his liberation work, Bolivar and his followers arrived in Haiti on Christmas Eve 1815, having been expelled from Venezuela, then pushed out of Jamaica.

Haiti's President Pétion welcomed the freedom fighters, providing them shelter, guns, ammunition, and a printing press. Before departing to lead an uprising in Venezuela in April 1816, Bolivar asked how he could repay Haiti's generosity. Pétion replied the best thanks Haiti could receive would be the liberation of all the slaves in the Spanish colonies.

Once in Venezuela, Bolivar the idealist freed the 1,500 slaves his family owned, and on July 6 printed a proclamation, on Pétion's printing press, abolishing slavery in Spanish America. Presidents Chávez and Préval commemorated this cooperation by placing flowers at Port-au-Prince's monuments to Pétion and Bolivar.

But Bolivar suffered another setback, and by September he was back in Haiti. Pétion again provided shelter and supplies, and Bolivar launched another attack in December 1816. This time he was successful, liberating a wide swath of territory from Venezuela to Bolivia.

But this time the freedom he sought was more limited. El Libertador had become a "realist," willing to compromise his fundamental ideals to satisfy his allies. This time he did not print an emancipation proclamation, and Venezuela retained slavery and its horrors almost as long as the United States did – until 1854.

Bolivar also passed up other opportunities to thank Haiti for making his revolution possible. He did not recognize Haiti (Venezuela did not send an ambassador until 1874). When in 1826 the new Republic of Colombia organized the Congress of American States to bring together all the newly independent countries of the Americas, the "realists" acquiesced to the United States' request that Haiti, the country that had sheltered their freedom fighters, be excluded.

Some of Haiti's neighbors have taken the path of Bolivar the idealist. Cuba does not have Venezuela's oil and money, but it has trained doctors. For the last decade it has supported a team of over 800 Cuban medical professionals, deployed to Haiti's poorest and most remote areas. About the same number of Haitian students, many of them from poor families that could never afford medical school, are studying under scholarships in Cuba.

The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) stood up for Haiti's democracy when it was under attack in 2004, calling for international support for the democracy and refusing to recognize the illegal replacement. CARICOM gave the rest of the world a civics lesson, by sticking to its democratic principles while the United States, Europe, and most of Central and South America (but not Venezuela) embraced the dictatorship.

But many of Haiti's other neighbors – generally the more powerful ones – have followed the path of Bolivar the realist and compromised their principles to satisfy potential allies. The Organization of American States (OAS) is a successor to the Congress of American States in more ways than one.

In principle the OAS has stronger democracy requirements than CARICOM, but in practice the organization accepted Haiti's 2004 unconstitutional regime change without flinching. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay have sent soldiers to join Brazil in MINUSTAH.

MINUSTAH's participants do know what they are doing, and it does trouble them. Lieutenant General Urano Bacellar, the Brazilian Commander of MINUSTAH, committed suicide in January 2006, apparently because he was unable to reconcile his duty to fulfill his "mission" of taking a hard line in poor neighborhoods with his moral convictions.

His predecessor, General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, complained to a Brazilian congressional commission that "we are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence" in Haiti's poor neighborhoods.

A year ago, Brazil's Folha interviewed returning Brazilian soldiers. One said "the name 'Peace Mission' is just to pacify the people. In reality no day goes by without the troops killing a Haitian in a shootout. I personally killed at least two …"

But General Ribeiro's concern did not extend to poor Haitians who did not deserve to live, as determined from his Armored Personnel Carrier. He told Haiti's Radio Metropole in October 2004 that "we must kill the bandits but it will have to be the bandits only, not everybody."

So far Latin America's realists have been able to live with their consciences, confident that the advantages of participating in George Bush's idea of a peacekeeping force will yield benefits to compensate for what they are doing to the Haitian people.

For Brazil the benefits include an improved chance of a permanent seat on a potentially-expanded UN Security Council. For other countries, it is money for cash-strapped government budgets (the UN reimburses the countries several times a poor soldier's salary), or a chance to appease the Bush administration without compromising on trade issues or opposition to the Iraq War.

But the realists should see that the winds in Latin America are changing. The Bush administration's global focus on military control, which is also embodied by MINUSTAH, is losing credibility and failing – and not just in Iraq. While President Chávez was basking in the crowds' energy in Port-au-Prince and other Latin American cities, President Bush met with national leaders in remote or heavily guarded locations to avoid the large protests held in every single country he visited.

In the last two months, citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru have taken to the streets to protest their countries' complicity in MINUSTAH's brutality. The MINUSTAH countries may soon find that in pursuing George Bush's Haiti policy, they have tied their destiny to a sinking ship.

Human Rights Lawyer Mario Joseph manages the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti, Brian Concannon Jr. is the Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti,, and an analyst for the International Relations Center's Americas Program. He was a Human Rights Observer for the United Nations in Haiti in 1995 and 1996.


  • Show Comments (10)

  • Forrest Allen Brown


    last time i was in haiti i spent the better half of a month diving with the Army pulling boides off a well overloaded boat that sank the US Army was there with boats , along with the US Coast Guard and the roamdeep

    we never ask for pay just people trying to do something for other people whom lost loved ones , but had to stay on the boats as civil unrest for lack of govermental help on Haitis part

    So much for these Israeli Necons embedded in the Bush Administration that are running the US vis a vis AIPAC. FXXX them. They are assholes.

    Israeli/US dual Citizen – Wolfowitz was most famous as a prominent architect of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration known as the Bush Doctrine, which resulted in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He was sent over to the World Bank… and now he’s getting sacked. But look what he did prior to Ecuador? FXXX man – you have 70 percent of the population living in Poverty. Is this fair?

    Wolfowitz was excused from military service in the Vietnam War through a large number of student deferments in order to pursue his academic studies.

    Chicken-fXXing-hawk. FXX the poor, fXXX the soldiers who die, these people want to Brazilianize the USA – which is exactly what the US constitution was written to get away from… the British Aristocracy. They want to kill the middle class. The hard working men and women like my father and mother (albeit in Canada) who built a country on the backs of their own labour and earned a fair wage for a fair days work.

    Bank freezes loans to Ecuador
    President Wolfowitz recently announced that the World Bank will freeze loans to Ecuador. The move is reportedly in response to the Ecuadorian government’s new law increasing the percentage of oil revenues directed towards social needs and national development in science and technology.

    In August President Wolfowitz announced that the World Bank will freeze loans to Ecuador. Specifically, the Bank suspended the delivery of a $100 million the country expected to receive this year.

    The move is reportedly in response to the Ecuadorian government’s decision to divert a percentage of oil revenues used to repay the country’s debt to social programs. Prior to the passage of the new law, nearly all of the government’s oil revenues were used to repay loans to foreign banks.

    The government of Ecuador has expressed concern over the decision. “This is an offense for Ecuador,” Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s former Finance Minister told the Financial Times. “A loan had been approved and was in place and they are canceling it, completely outside any ethical or legal principle, because we changed a law. We are a sovereign country. Nobody can punish us because we are changing our own laws.”

    Critics of the Bank’s decision claim that the President’s move is not supported by credible economic analysis. They furthermore note that Mr. Wolfowitz has wandered into the traditional territory of the IMF, which traditionally enforces debt repayment.

    Some are also expressing concern about the possible connection between Ecuador’s relationship with Occidental Petroleum and the Bank’s decision to halt new funding. The company and the government have disputed over the company’s operation of oil fields in Ecuador as well as its failure to pay taxes. The government decided to cancel Occidental Petroleum’s contract to work in Ecuador two days prior to Wolfowit’z announcement.


    Bank Staff Asks Wolfowitz to Resign
    Source: Associated Press

    April 12, 2007, 5:23PM

    By JEANNINE AVERSA AP Economics Writer
    À‚© 2007 The Associated Press

    The World Bank Group Staff Association is demanding that Wolfowitz step down.

    “The president must acknowledge that his conduct has compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the World Bank Group and has destroyed the staff’s trust in his leadership,” the association said Thursday. “He must act honorably and resign.”

    Wolfowitz said he met Thursday morning with the World Bank’s board and that members were looking into the matter. He declined to discuss what actions, if any, the board could take. ~snip~

  • u.s.guest

    Brazils mission in Haiti Is Noble
    Perhaps Haiti will now get it right…

  • Ric

    The dynamics that turned the most prosperous country in the region to the poorest were not put in place by the Americans.

  • Magbana

    Haitians Don’t Want Handouts, They Would Like Those Resposible for Gross Injustices to Pay
    Haiti is not looking for handouts and never has. Yet, Haiti wouldnˢ۪t mind others rectifying injustices they have caused and help Haiti in the process.

    For instance, it would help if the US refrained from violating Haitiˢ۪s sovereignty through repeated political and economic destabilizations, including the removal of a democratically-elected president. Also, it would help if the US paid back the gold that the Marines stole from the Haitian treasury during the 1915-1934 US occupation which was deposited in the National City Bank in New York. And, it would be most helpful if France reimbursed Haiti for the money that it extorted, largely at gunpoint in 1825, as insurance against a future French invasion. No wonder France was particularly eager to bid good-bye to President Aristide given that he was making considerable progress in the courts on this issue and the amount sought was approximately $22 billion in todayˢ۪s currency.

    As for MINUSTAH and its Brazilian leadership, their purpose is to anesthetize the massive support for Aristide. Unfortunately, the anesthesia comes in a deadly form and, unless you have seen the pictures and videos of how these poor, black people die, donÀ¢€™t write so confidently about what should be happening to them À¢€“ your racism is showing through.

    Finally, everything must be viewed in context. Without that, understanding is shallow.

  • ch.c.

    FUNNY STATEMENT THAT SHOULD READ …….BRAZIL…..JUST WANT WANTS ANOTHER HAND OUT…..AS USUAL ! They are the ones that get the most…out of the budget….by definition !!!!!! Simply because Brazilians represent 80 % of the MINUSTAH !!!!!! Correct…or Not ????

    1) None or few at best of the junkies in this audience ever read the Haitian news. It happens that the MINUSTAH has killed thousands of innocents citizens. They did nothing to prevent hundreds of children abductions…later killed….in just a few months….in the end of 2006 !
    2) Since the MINUSTAH is around 80 % of Brazilians….feeling innocents and accusing the other 20 % mostly from other LATAM countries, would be a “normal and as usual” Brazilian defense !
    3) The yearly budget is over US$ 500 millions ! Knowing the MINUSTAH has around 7000 Brazilians representing 80 % of the force, the Brazilian share of the cake is thus Us$ 400 millions for 7000 soldiers ! With No heavy artillery, tanks, airplanes needed ….it is not bad on a per soldier basis. Certainly better paid that the Brazilian soldiers in Brazil !!!!!!!!
    4) If you read the Haitian news, many minors had sex with the MINUSTAH soldiers !!!!!! There were many rapes too
    Wether with Brazilians or others, NOT 1 was ever convicted. They were in the worst case…..just sent back home !
    Typically Brazilian (IN)Justice…..and Impunity ! Right ?
    Are you not against sex tourism in Brazil but feel free to have sex tourism while Brazilians are in a foreign country ?????
    Even more so when your army is involved ????
    5) Most Haitians are against the MINUSTAH, and there are regular large street demonstrations to have them leave the country !
    6) Just think about it : HaÀƒ¯ti is a mini Iraq ! Easier to fight Haitians opposition than Iraqi opposition ! This should explain why Brazil accepted to send its army in Haiti and not in Iraq. VERY COURAGEOUS……BRAZIL !!!!

    And finally, once more…….why did the Brazilian general, head of the MINUSTAH, commited suicide early last year ??????
    Did he steal money or did he have sex with minors….on a regular basis ?????? Or both ?????
    Why has the investigation not been made….PUBLIC ????? State secret ? Too shameful ?????

    An army general doesnt commit suicide…for noooo or for a light personal reason !!!!!!

    laugh….laugh….laugh !!!!!!!!

  • u.s.guest

    France what a mess thou has made…
    send them the bill…..

  • Hervé Benoit

    Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon, Jr.. Sold Their Souls to Aristide in Haiti for a Few Pieces of Silver Dollar
    It’s a shame that neither Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon, Jr. don’t admit in this article that they have both been on Aristide’s payroll since the mid 1990s, easily checkable on the internet. They still receive monies to make propaganda for Aristide and to defend the killing of Haitians.

  • born haitian

    The 2 above posters are really ignorant to the real issues. I won’t educate either one of you. Ignorance gives me an arousal.

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    I try to think how many times in my short life time has Haiti needed help and got it .
    only to return to the same poor mis guided place it is .
    brazil for all its qurks is 1000 times better than the hurd of sheep known as the people of Haiti .

    how many world bank loans have they been forgiven
    last time the US went in there it filled a ship full of guns from all the gangs and old military to stop the killing .
    Haiti did not want the US back in there as under military law they could not away whith what they are getting away with the brazilian military there , brazil is trying but before they sent there troops to haiti they sent them to the island of Ilihbela in SP to train for crowd control , not a favela in rio where they needed to go .
    tell the un to get off its duff and fix Haiti it is not Brazil or the US job to do that any more

  • Simpleton

    So now you would have us believe the big bad US is making those Brazillian troops shoot up the poor neighborhoods? They love Chavez and Aristide? Who propped up Aristide’s reign / saved his life from his own people?

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