Haitian grassroots groups and their allies across Latin America are calling for the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission (known as MINUSTAH) from Haiti. They elaborate this demand in a recent open letter which describes MINUSTAH as a form of "domination and popular control." Their letter calling for dignity and self-determination has been signed by hundreds around the world; you can add your support by signing onto their words which form the petition text you will see in the next tab over.
If you also want to sign on your organization, send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more background, read below.
MINUSTAH in Haiti: The context
Haitian groups and their allies argue that the multilateral mission constitutes a real military and police occupation of the country, undermining the very sovereignty and self-determination it claims to protect. Furthermore, MINUSTAH's seven years in Haiti have been plagued by human rights violations and a suppression of democratic processes in the country.
Human rights violations & protests
Over the past year, protests have risen sharply in Haiti and throughout Latin America - from where more than half the MINUSTAH troops are drawn - calling for the withdrawal of MINUSTAH, for accountability from the UN for its criminal responsibilities, and for a new paradigm of international cooperation and solidarity in its place. Fueling the recent wave of opposition is MINUSTAH's introduction of cholera into the country, spurring an outbreak that has killed more than 6,000 people and led to nearly half a million cases of illness, and the UN’s failure to take responsibility for it. Human rights violations have also included rape and sexual assault, violent repression of peaceful protests, and failure to investigate charges of murder by MINUSTAH members. Due to the immunity troops enjoy as part of a UN peacekeeping mission, their crimes can only be prosecuted in their home countries and Haitian victims have virtually no way of achieving justice.
Illegitimacy & imperialist politics
MINUSTAH first entered the country in 2004, accepted by an unconstitutional interim government in Haiti after a US-backed coup led to the dissolution of the previous administration. Recent US State Department cables released by WikiLeaks have revealed that many MINUSTAH member countries only reluctantly contributed troops to the force, under pressure from the United States government. These issues underscore the basic illegitimacy of the MINUSTAH presence - authorized annually by the UN Security Council on the grounds that Haiti is a threat to global peace and security.
As scrutiny of MINUSTAH increasingly reaches diplomatic circles, the movement to support Haitian people by helping them to rid their country of the MINUSTAH military occupation is gaining steam. Join the call from the Haitian grassroots by taking a moment to sign their open letter.
Thus far, the letter has already been signed by 3 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, two Mothers of the Argentine May Square, and literally hundreds of organizations, networks, movements and persons from throughout Latin America and the world.
To see the full list of signers around the world, visit Jubilee South's website.
To read more about MINUSTAH: "MINUSTAH: Keeping the peace, or conspiring against it?" A review of the human rights record of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, 2010-2011. By HealthRoots at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Photo credit: Ansel Herz.
Photo depicts an anti-MINUSTAH protest in September, with a sign that reads:
Another Haiti is Possible
OPEN LETTER FROM HAITIAN MOVEMENTS AND ALLIES
To the Secretary General of the UN, Dr. Ban Ki-moon; To the Governments of States members of the Security Council and the MINUSTAH;
To the Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. José Miguel Insulza To the international community and public at large
Receive our greetings.
It is surprising and humiliating to certify that "Haiti is a threat to world peace and security", as the UN Security Council does, year after year, in order to ratify the presence there of a military-police mission said to be for the purposes of stabilization: the MINUSTAH.
It is a statement that hides the impunity of the major powers and the hypocrisy that allows them to intervene militarily, politically, and economically in Haiti, drawing as well on the services of others.
The real threat is that intervention itself, a laboratory as well for new forms of domination and popular control.
The intervention of foreign troops over years, whether from the United States, France, other powers, or now the MINUSTAH, has not improved the lives of the Haitian people. Rather, their presence undermines the sovereignty and dignity of that people and ensures the process of economic recolonization that is directed now by a virtual parallel government - the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti - whose plans are more responsive to the lenders and entrepreneurs than to the rights of Haitians. The Haitian Senate recently voted unanimously for the withdrawal of this occupation force.
As if this were not enough, the MINUSTAH directly usurps some USD 800 million per year (equivalent to nearly half of Haiti's annual budget) of resources needed by the people for their health, education, housing, water and sanitation, food sovereignty and job creation. Worse still, the MINUSTAH troops have built-up a real criminal record: they abuse and rape women and youth, and they kill. They kill with bullets when people stand up to hunger and low wages, and they kill with cholera: some 6,000 Haitian women and men have been killed by the disease introduced by the MINUSTAH. Enough!
We demand the immediate withdrawal of troops and non-renewal of the MINUSTAH mandate. The Security Council will vote on the renewal of the MINUSTAH before October 15, and some governments have begun to pose the need for changes. According to the Haitian organizations with which we are in permanent contact, the defense of Haitian people, of world peace and security, demands an indepth, structural decision in this regard. In addition to the MINUSTAH withdrawal, the non-intervention of any foreign military or police presence must be ensured, including in particular the total rejection of the permanence there of any U.S. troops. It is also vital that the crimes committed be sanctioned and reparations made.
We further urge the States and organisms involved to urgently review their policies of regional and international cooperation with Haiti. It is not a question of responding to the problems that do affect the social peace and security of that people with short-term, assistencialist measures that sharpen their dependency. The country needs changes whereby the Haitian people are the protagonists of their own life and builder of their own history. The Cuban medical presence is irrefutable proof that another cooperation is possible.
Haiti, predecessor and benefactor of antislavery and anticolonial struggles throughout the region, renowned for the creativity of its artists and the organizational strength of his people, has endured throughout its life enormous depredation and calamities. But the Haitian people have also demonstrated their persistence and solidarity in the struggle to build alternatives in the face of injustice and adversity. It is essential that their right to sovereignty and self-determination be respected: ridding them of occupations and illegitimate debts; supporting them in their struggle against impunity; acknowledging their abilities; and restoring to them the resources that have unjustly been taken from them - the historical, social, ecological, and financial debt due to the Haitian people - and that they need for life and dignity.