Brazil in Haiti: In front of its master’s house

The United Nations tribunal in Arusha has convicted three former media executives of being key figures in the media campaign to incite ethnic Hutus to kill Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. It is widely believed that so-called hate media had a significant part to play in the genocide, during which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died. There is also little doubt that its legacy continues to exert a strong influence on the country.

The most prominent hate media outlet was the private radio station, Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines. […] After President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, the radio called for a “final war” to “exterminate the cockroaches.”

During the genocide that followed it broadcast lists of people to be killed and instructed killers on where to find them.

BBC News, 3 Dec. 2003

Since the February 29 ouster of democratically-elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the UN has repeatedly stood by while the U.S.-backed regime detains, arrests, and even murders members of Aristide’s Lavalas party. At odds with its reputation as a “progressive” government, Brazil has been one of the key players in UN complicity with the de facto government.

In an interview broadcast October 8 on Haiti’s Radio Metropole, UN Commander General Augusto Heleno Ribero Pereira of Brazil showed his true colors. Discussing police raids in poor neighborhoods, he declared, “we must kill the bandits [i.e. Aristide supporters] but it will have to be the bandits only, not everybody.” The general ignored the killers and thugs freed by anti-Aristide paramilitaries who broke open jails as they took over a number of towns in the winter of 2004. UN forces cooperate with these paramilitaries, many of whom helped overthrow Aristide in 1991. The Haiti Accompaniment Project cited “numerous reports that the UN military command in the North coordinates its activities with Guy Philippe, the rebel leader who is responsible for major human rights violations ­ including assassinations ­ in the period preceding the coup.”

Ben Terrall, CounterPunch, 17 Nov. 2004

These extremely poor sections of Port-au-Prince, where several hundred thousand people live, differ from Cité Soleil in [that] the police routinely enter to conduct operations which are often murderous attacks, often with firepower support from the UN Civil Police and Peacekeeping forces. […] Hardly any young men (from pre-adolescent youngsters to men in their thirties) leave the neighborhood for fear of being arrested as a chimère, the derogatory label given to them by the pro-government media.

Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law, Haiti Human Rights Investigation, 2005

Numerous allegations of severe human rights abuses by the Haitian National Police (“HNP”) remain uninvestigated. These violations span a gory spectrum, from arbitrary arrest and detention, to disappearances and summary executions, to killing of scores of hospitalized patients and the subsequent disposal of their bodies at mass graves. As this report details, MINUSTAH [the UN occupation force in Haiti] has effectively provided cover for the police to wage a campaign of terror in Port-au-Prince’s slums. Even more distressing than MINUSTAH’s complicity in HNP abuses are credible allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by MINUSTAH itself, as documented in this report. MINUSTAH, however, has virtually ignored these allegations as well, relegating them to obscurity and thus guaranteeing that abuses go uncorrected. In short, instead of following the specific prescription of its mandate by putting an end to impunity in Haiti, MINUSTAH’s failures have ensured its continuation.

Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights, Keeping the Peace In Haiti?, 2005

[Brazilian President Lula da Silva] had recently viewed a documentary on the Rwanda genocide which had left a strong impression, and the president had told [the Foreign Minister] that Brazil must remain committed in Haiti and do everything it can to assure the country does not face a violent meltdown.

John Danilovich, US Embassy in Brazil, 19 Aug. 2005

Ti chen gen fos devan kay met li

A little dog is really brave in front of his master’s house

Haitian proverb


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