The new commander of the Brazilian troops in Haiti, General João Carlos Vilela, took charge December 15 in a ceremony that marked the general replacement of the UN peace mission contingent.
Most of the soldiers were replaced at the end of November, and the new group will spend another half year in the poorest American country, which has been experiencing a crisis since the downfall of President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
The troop substitution operation represents the conclusion of the replacement of the 1,200 Brazilians that make up the peace mission.
Vilela substituted General Américo Salvador, chief of the Brazilian brigade since the arrival of the first soldiers in June.
The ceremony counted on the participation of the head of the UN forces, General Augusto Heleno.
General João Carlos Vilela arrived in Haiti December 15. He was the commander of the Twelfth Light (Air Mobile) Infantry Brigade, headquartered in Caçapava, in the interior of the state of São Paulo.
His brigade composes the majority of the new soldiers dispatched to Haiti.
Brazil is part of the peace mission created by a United Nations Security Council resolution. At the end of November, the Council voted to extend the peace mission for another six months.
In his closing address at the 3rd Meeting of South American Presidents, in Cuzco, December 9, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called for greater South American involvement in the fight to rebuild Haiti.
“Haiti’s extreme suffering is not an act of fate but, rather, of a perverse union of spurious interests and collective disinterest,” he affirmed.
According to the Brazilian President, this is the first time that the countries of Latin America have demonstrated a willingness to help the Haitian people.
“In Haiti, we are not bearing stabilization on bayonet points. We are collaborating in the reconstruction of a country in which everything remains to be done,” he added.
He stressed the importance of making the United Nations and its Security Council more representative and efficacious in this battle.
During the 3rd Meeting of South American Presidents, the creation of the South American Community of Nations was announced officially.
The Community is a free trade zone to integrate the countries on the South American continent.
The war on poverty is one of the main reasons for its foundation. The intention of the Community’s members is to promote income distribution through the region’s economic development.
Translator: David Silberstein