Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Sao Paulo, Brazil: International Conference Launches Campagin to End Military Occupation in Haiti (Haiti Liberte)

By, Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte
Nov 9, 2011

On Nov. 5, some 600 people gathered in Brazil’s Sao Paulo City Hall auditorium for a four-hour “Continental Act for the Immediate Withdrawal of UN Troops from Haiti.”

Delegates from Haiti, the United States, France, Bolivia, Argentina, and Uruguay attended, as did hundreds of unionists, students, activists, and politicians from around Brazil.

The conference – organized by the Committee to Defend Haiti is to Defend Ourselves – was led by the dissident O Trabalho (The Work) current of the ruling Brazilian Workers Party (PT). Numerous PT legislative representatives from other political currents around Brazil participated in the gathering.

With some 2,200 soldiers and policemen deployed in Haiti, Brazil leads and has the largest contingent in the armed force of 12,300 armed men and women known as UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti or MINUSTAH.

Fignole St. Cyr of the Autonomous Central of Haitian Workers (CATH) addressed the gathering, as did Henry Boisrolin of the Haitian Democratic Committee in Argentina. Other speakers included Markus Sokol, a member of the PT’s National Direction, Milton Barbosa, founder of Brazil’s Unified Black Movement, Joaquin Piñero of the PT-affiliated Landless Peasant’s Movement (MST), Jean Marquiset of France’s Independent Workers’ Party (POI), Nelson Guevara Aranda of Bolivia’s Miners Union of Huanuni, and Hugo Dominguez of Uruguay’s Metallurgical Workers Union (UNTMRA).

Below we reproduce the declaration to the conference by the U.S. delegation as well as the final document produced by the conference entitled “The Pledge of Sao Paulo.”

*Statement of the United States delegation to the “Ato Continental Pela Retirada Imediata das Tropas da ONU do Haiti”*

We salute the initiative of the Committee to Defend Haiti is to Defend Ourselves. Indeed, the fight against the illegal military occupation of Haiti is in the interests of all the world’s people.

The United States delegation to this historic event includes Colia Clark of the International Commission of Inquiry on Haiti, Kim Ives of the Haitian weekly newspaper Haiti Liberte, and journalist Dan Coughlin of The Nation.

We urge the immediate closure of the 25 foreign military bases in Haiti and the withdrawal of all international forces. By any measure, the eight-year Brazilian-led occupation has been an unmitigated disaster for human rights and democratic rule in Haiti.

  • Under the occupation, thousands of Haitians, most of them poor who were seen as supporters of the Lavalas political movement and former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, have been killed or jailed.
  • Under the occupation, staged elections have excluded the vast majority of Haitians and the most important political party from the democratic process. This has led to the neo-Duvalierist regime of President Michel Martelly taking power with the promise that he will resurrect Haiti’s despised army – a force that was used only to kill and repress Haitians, to deny them their democratic rights.
  • Under the occupation, the polluting practices of UN troops led to the introduction of a raging cholera epidemic that has now killed more than 6,600 Haitians and infected half a million.
  • Under the occupation, UN troops have been used as a partisan political force, primarily to suppress the legitimate demonstrations of Haitians against the 2004 coup and UN occupation. UN troops have also tried to stop Haitians – already the lowest paid workers in the hemisphere – from demonstrating for a living minimum wage.

This disastrous and anti-democratic occupation has stained the reputation of all the countries that are involved. But it is
Washington that is leading this effort. As US State Department cables revealed by Wikileaks shows, the UN mission in Haiti fulfills a “core” US foreign policy objective at half the cost to Washington and at a time when US troops have been tied up in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Neither the UN, nor the armies and police forces of more than 45 countries from around the world, should be used as Washington’s weapon to create a low wage sweatshop country with no democratic or human
rights.

As many Haitian leaders have said, there must be Haitian solutions for Haitian problems. If the UN wants to send doctors, engineers or other specialists to assist Haitians, as the Cubans and Venezuelans do, we have no problem with that. But the UN should never have sent soldiers, tanks and guns to Haiti, weapons which have only been used to enforce the neoliberal agenda of Washington, Paris, and Ottawa. It is past time for the UN’s swords to be turned into ploughshares.

The Pledge of Sao Paulo –
“Aba Okipasyon, Aba Minustah” – UN Troops Out of Haiti!

Gathered at a public rally at the City Hall of Sao Paulo, coming from seven countries whose governments are involved in the occupation of Haiti and from 12 different states in Brazil, we have signed a pledge of militant solidarity with the sovereign black nation of Haiti!

For more than seven years, the troops from the “UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti,” or MINUSTAH, have been responsible for the violation of Haiti’s sovereignty and for attacks on their human rights – the “collateral” effects of a permanent state of war – along with repression of democratic, union, student and popular demonstrations.

The MINUSTAH troops introduced the cholera bacteria into the country that has already killed 6,600 Haitians and contaminated more than 475,000. Accusations of sexual violence and rape of young people hang over their heads; these are crimes for which they have impunity given their legal immunity.

This past October 15, the UN Security Council, indifferent to the demands expressed by various sectors in many countries, and by the Haitian people themselves, renewed the MINUSTAH mandate for another year (previously reduced before the earthquake) “until 15 October 2012, with the intention of further renewal”!

We establish this pledge, and call upon all peoples, together with their organizations, not to leave the streets until this military
operation is ended, thereby uniting fraternally with the Haitian people who are demanding respect for their sovereignty through
continued demonstrations against the occupation – which should not be replaced with mercenary troops.

We have a historic debt to the Haitian people. Haiti was a pioneer in the abolition of slavery: 208 years ago they expelled Napoleon’s colonial troops and established the first black republic in the world.

But they were obliged to pay “reparations” for losses of French-owned land and slaves, at the cost of a huge drain of resources throughout their history.

Haiti suffered several military occupations, the last in 2004, decided by U.S. imperialism along with France and Canada, which overthrew then elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Since then, it has been subjected to the occupation by troops and police from 40 countries, controlled by the Brazilian army, and masked by the UN as a “stabilization mission.”

The Brazilian government has taken responsibility, not in our name, for the military command of MINUSTAH troops, which encapsulates imperialist interests. Indeed, this occupation renders even easier the vile exploitation of the local work force by multinationals in “free zones” with no rights or social protections, with savage repression of workers that is denounced by their organizations. This happens under the de-facto tutelage of the CIRH, the so-called Interim Commission
for the Reconstruction of Haiti, whose head is no less than Bill Clinton.

We establish the pledge, and demand of the governments of our countries – Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, USA, France … – to immediately cease their participation in this shameful operation. The presence of UN troops did not even help those affected by the earthquake, as the powers-that-be preferred to bail out the rich neighborhoods. Almost two years after this catastrophe, more than one million Haitians remain homeless. Neither did it serve to establish democracy, nor could it. The troops were the guarantors, for example, of the last sham election, where only 25% of the Haitian electorate voted.

Starting today, we constitute ourselves into a Continental Committee for the Immediate Withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti – supported by similar actions taking place this day in Canada, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador.

We call for the creation of Committees for the Immediate Withdrawal in all countries on the continent. And we propose, in particular to the Caribbean Conference in Cap Haitien, Haiti (November 16-18), a Continental Day of Action for the Withdrawal of Troops from Haiti on the 8th anniversary of the most recent occupation of Haiti — that is,
June 1, 2012 with actions and demonstrations aimed at their governments.

We therefore affirm and call for:

  • Haiti needs doctors, engineers, teachers and technicians — not occupation troops!
  • Cancellation of Haiti’s foreign debt! Reparations for the value of the compensation paid to the immoral debt following Haiti’s independence!
  • Reparation for the families of victims of cholera and human rights violations!
  • Immediate withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti! This is our pledge; because defending Haiti means defending ourselves!

HAITI: Fignole St Cyr, Autonomous Central of Haitian Workers (CATH);

UNITED STATES: Colia Clark, civil rights movement activist in the 1960s (NAACP militant in Mississippi); Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte newspaper; Dan Coughlin, The Nation magazine;

BOLIVIA: Nelson Guevara Aranda, Miners Union of Huanuni;

URUGUAY: Hugo Dominguez, Metallurgical Union of PIT-CNT; Andres Uriostes, coordinator of the Uruguayan Committee to Withdraw the Troops;

ARGENTINA: Natalia Saralegui, Argentine Committee to Withdraw the Troops; Prof. Henry Boisrolin, Haitian Democratic Committee of Argentina; FRANCE: Jean Marquiset, Independent Workers Party (POI);

BRAZIL: Julio Turra, CUT; Joaquin Piñero, MST; Joelson Souza, Juventude Revolução; Milton Barbosa, MNU; Rosi Wansetto, Jubileu Sul; Markus Sokol, Corrente O Trabalho of the PT; Deputy Adriano Diogo (PT/SP), Deputy Jose Candido (PT/SP); Claudinho Silva, SOS Racismo/Secr Estadual Combate Racismo PT; Lucia Skromov, Pro Haiti Committee; Barbara Corrales, Committee to Defend Haiti and Defend Ourselves.

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