By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – It is time for the United Nations to transform its mission in Haiti, which needs engineers and bulldozers more than soldiers and tanks, outgoing Haitian President Rene Preval said on Wednesday.
In his final speech at the United Nations as the country’s leader, Preval said that more than a decade had passed since he first called on the world body to change its focus in Haiti.
“Tanks, armoured vehicles and soldiers should have given way to bulldozers, engineers, more police instructors, experts in support (of) justice and to the penitentiary system,” he told a meeting of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.
“I hope that after 11 years we will be able to draw conclusions useful for the strengthening of stability in Haiti,” he said.
The U.N. mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, has not had an easy time over the last year. It lost 96 peacekeepers during a January 13, 2010 earthquake that claimed more than 300,000 victims in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
During the charged electoral atmosphere of the last few months, some Haitians have accused the more than 12,000-member peacekeeping force of being more like an “occupation force.”
Anti-U.N. slogans in Creole like “Down with the MINUSTAH occupation” have appeared scrawled on the walls of the earthquake-scarred capital Port-au-Prince.
Discontent in some quarters has also risen following reports — called inconclusive by U.N. officials — that Nepalese peacekeepers brought a cholera outbreak to Haiti that has killed more than 4,500 people since October.
Preval said it was high time for the Security Council to rethink its strategy in Haiti and transform the U.N. mission from a military into a civilian operation.
“I would suggest some thinking on the effectiveness of (the council’s) interventions which have effectively led to 11 years military presence in a country that has no war,” he said.
He said that a potential for violent conflict in 1993 and 2004 did justify a significant military presence at the time, but that had long since ceased to be the case.
“The danger of violent confrontation, once it had passed, peacekeeping operations did not quickly enough adapt to the new situation,” Preval said. “Instability in Haiti is basically due to underdevelopment — in other words, unsatisfied elementary socioeconomic rights.”
At its meeting, the Security Council unanimously adopted a statement that welcomed the electoral process in Haiti while urging it to strengthen its democratic institutions.
According to preliminary results announced this week, Preval’s successor will be Michel Martelly, a shaven-headed singer and political outsider who won Haiti’s presidential election in a landslide victory that tapped into deep popular desire for change.
(Additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Miami; Editing by Laura MacInnis and Eric Walsh)
Once again, everyone sidesteps the obvious, and proven fact that MINUSTAH’s Nepalese battalion brought cholera to Haiti.
Exhaustive studies, by independent medical groups, in France, and elsewhere had traced the DNA to the Nepalese region. The fact that the Nepalese battalion is the only group in Haiti, from the area, coupled with the fact that we have photographs of the Nepalese troops pouring truckloads of raw shit into the Artibonite River System…events followed 5 days later by cholera outbreaks downstream from the dump point….seems to be a pretty good case for the assumption that the Nepalese are the guilty factor.
Instead of admitting the problem, and then moving quickly to deal with the expanding threat, MINUSTAH, and the UN have futzed around with fancy footwork. Now they admit that the epidemic is not under control and about 1,000,000 will be infected before the end of 2011.
THAT IS OVER 10% OF THE POPULATION!!!
Tens of thousands will die.
MINUSTAH has contributed little to Haiti’s stability.
If there is a problem, they are seen standing by – doing nothing.
They take Preval’s side, whenever the Haitians are unhappy with his murderous and incompetent government. Their right to free speech and demonstration is thwarted.
And there was the time, in 2005, when they fired 20,000 rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, into Cite Soleir, during a 7 hour period. They claimed to be dealing with a small gang problem but didn’t manage to hit any gang members. Of course, there was some collateral damage as women and children were shredded.
I witnessed this atrocity and was stunned at the cold indifference of UN troops as they fired indiscriminately into the slum area. To this day, the architecture – for what it is – shows the signs of the bullet strikes.
Preval kept his partner in crime, Edmund Mulet, head of MINUSTAH, in action to protect his presidency from the legitimate reaction of a population that was cheated throughout his years in office. When he stole $198,000,000 from Petro Caraibe Funds, Mulet stood firmly beside, behind and wherever else MINUSTAH might be needed to protect its own nest into which $1,000,000,000 is poured every 12 months.
Haiti has always needed bulldozers instead of tanks, and the people have said this over the past years, only to be ignored. Haitians are a peaceful nation and do not need the presence of 15,000 non French/Creole speaking soldiers.
We don’t need the human rights/democracy oriented police teams from Rwanda to teach us how to act.
Preval has been a cynical pig during both his terms in office.
Haiti is struggling to create a functioning legal system
Perhaps Preval, and his presidency can serve as a teaching school for new lawyers, judges and prison staff.
Arrest Preval, and his team, for their many crimes against the Haitian people.
Preval boasts that he has not gone into exile or prison.
We can change one of those factors.
Reserve a cell for Preval