The future government of president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) is showing signs that it will resist an undertaking defended by the United States: a new international mission in Haiti. The theme is viewed with reservations by PT staff and brazilian military who headed the stabilization mission in the Caribbean country from 2004 to 2017.
The subject is part of the preparatory material that Lula received from assistants for the meeting with the secretary general of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, with whom he will meet this Thursday, the 17th, during COP-27 in Egypt. Guterres has been an advocate of the idea of a “multinational force” in Haiti.
The proposal gained traction in October and was made public by the Americans during a meeting of the UN Security Council🇧🇷 The US is trying to link up with allies the potential mission, which would be endorsed by the body under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which deals with “actions relating to peace treaties, breaches of peace and acts of aggression”.
Responsible for leading the military arm of the mission that spent 13 years in Haiti and the largest country in South America, Brazil is considered a relevant support for foreign diplomats in discussions on the subject and Washington’s attention is therefore turned to the position within the future Lula government.
“These conversations (with other countries) are in progress. Several countries have shown interest in learning more about this effort, potentially participating in it,” said Ned Pricespokesperson for the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, told journalists last Friday. Lula had a meeting, on Tuesday, 15, with John Kerry, the climate envoy of the Joe Biden government. It was the president-elect’s first high-level meeting with an American official.
The issue may mark the new government’s relationship, once it takes office, not only with Washington, but also with the Brazilian military, a group of state bureaucracy that remained loyal to the Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government, even during the president’s questioning. to the electoral process.
The United States and Mexico said they would present a proposal for a resolution to the Security Council to authorize an international peacekeeping force in Haiti, under the terms defended by Guterres. The resolution was never presented, in part because no country was willing to take the lead in the process. The possible establishment of a closer relationship between the USA and Brazil, with the election of Lula, fueled the rumors that the country could take on this role.
Brazil occupies one of the rotating seats of the Security Council since the beginning of this year and will remain with a vote in the collegiate until the end of 2023. People involved in the transition see participation in a multinational force as inopportune, mainly because it is outside the UN. The American proposal would face resistance from Russia, due to the strained relations between the two countries because of the war in Ukraine.
There is still a fear among PT members that a return to Haiti will serve to strengthen the military politically. Former deputy José Genoino told the Opera Mundi website that, in the past, the PT should have defended, instead of a military solution for Haiti, the adoption of public policies. The PT’s line of reasoning is that the Haitian experience would have strengthened the Law and Order Guarantee Operations (GLO) in Brazil, which led to federal intervention in public security in Rio, which would have helped Bolsonaro’s candidacy, in 2018 .
The American survey regarding Brazil’s position is known to Brazilian officials, who point to the costs of a mission outside the UN as a problem. One way out would be via the Organization of American States (OAS), but, in this case, resistance would come from the PT, which criticizes the body’s position in relation to Bolivia and Venezuela.
“Haiti’s problem is not military, but political,” said Gen. Carlos Alberto Santos Cruz🇧🇷 According to him, US$ 10 billion was spent on MINUSTAH, the 2004 mission, and the situation has changed little. The general, who headed the operation for two and a half years, said he was aware of the American position. “The Americans want another country to be at the head of the force so that it is not considered an intervention,” he said. For him, the Lula government should analyze the suitability of the case.
Chapter 7 of the UN Charter authorizes the use of force, which is considered a problem by countries – and also by Lula’s interlocutors in the area of foreign affairs -, since it could mean the use of armed force against civilians who make up the Haitian gangs. The Americans’ argument is that the topic was brought up by the Haitian authorities, who asked for international help, and by the UN secretary general. “Brazil is still very interested in the subject, but we are waiting for a text to be presented for examination by the other members of the Security Council”, stated the Brazilian ambassador to the UN, Ronaldo Costa Filho🇧🇷
International concern over Haiti escalated in September when a coalition of gangs seized control of the Varreux port terminal, which supplies most of the country’s fuel, and exacerbated the local humanitarian and economic meltdown. Ten days ago, the Haitian police said they had regained control of the port, which made the issue lose urgency at the UN although, according to diplomats from different countries, it remains on the agenda.
Asked if the matter had already been raised with Lula, a State Department spokesperson responded that the US will “continue to work with partners in the region and around the world to support Haiti in overcoming its multifaceted set of challenges.”
To remember: Brazil no longer has a peacekeeping force in 2020
It was on Jair Bolsonaro government, in December 2020, that Brazil no longer has its own contingents in United Nations peacekeeping forces. This occurred when the frigate Independência left Unifil – the only UN maritime peacekeeping force responsible for patrolling Lebanese territorial waters.
The Navy exercised command of the mission, which passed to Germany. This has not happened since 1994.
That year, two hundred Brazilian paratroopers were sent to Onumoz, the force sent to Mozambique. Then, Brazil had military contingents in Angola and East Timor to finally arrive in Haiti, in 2004. The mission in the Caribbean country lasted until 2017. Brazil was later asked to send troops to the Central African Republic , but the plan did not go ahead.
The desire of military personnel and diplomats to maintain troops abroad has come up against expenses. From 2004 to 2017, troops in Haiti cost R$2.6 billion to public coffers. From 2011 to 2018, the government invested BRL 483.5 million in Unifil to maintain a frigate, a helicopter and crews on patrol in Lebanon. In the last two years of the naval mission, BRL 80 million to BRL 100 million were spent per year.
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