Uruguay Will Withdraw from MINUSTAH, President Says. Beginning of End of UN Occupation of Haiti?

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
Following a visit earlier this month from Haitian Sen. Moïse
Jean-Charles, Uruguay’s President José Mujica told a council of ministers on
Oct. 28 that he would withdraw Uruguayan troops from the United Nations Mission
to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), the 9,000 soldier force which has militarily
occupied Haiti since June 2004.
            “It is a
huge victory,” Sen. Jean-Charles told Haïti
“Uruguay’s bold step to show that it will no longer do
Washington’s bidding in Haiti will hopefully be an example that other nations
from around the world participating in MINUSTAH will follow.”
            Uruguay has
historically provided over 1,100 soldiers to MINUSTAH, the second largest
contingent after the 2,200 provided by Brazil, whose generals have commanded
the force since 2004. As of July, Uruguayans were deployed in Ft. Liberté and
Morne Casse in Haiti’s Northeast, Hinche, Mirebalais, and Belladère on the
Central Plateau, Jacmel in the Southeast, and Les Cayes in the South.
to La Republica (The Republic),
Uruguay’s withdrawal will happen over the next 90 days, and already the country
has begun the gradual withdrawal of its air force and naval troops in Haiti.
There are now about 850 Uruguayan soldiers in Haiti, according to the Uruguayan
daily El Pais (The Country).
Mujica’s decision “comes as Brazil’s steady withdrawal nears completion in
March 2014,” according to the Argentina
            Uruguay, a
nation of 3.4 million, provides more soldiers for UN peacekeeping operations
than any other country per capita, according to Uruguayan daily El Observador (The Observer). Uruguayan
troops are also part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the Congo called
            Of the UN’s
16 peacekeeping operations worldwide, MINUSTAH is the only one in the Western
            Twice, in
September 2011 and May 2013, the Haitian Senate unanimously passed resolutions
demanding that MINUSTAH leave Haiti. The latest deadline senators gave all
foreign troops to be out of Haiti is May 28, 2014. However, in a meeting with
an international delegation on Oct. 10, UN Peacekeeping official William
Gardner said that the UN Security Council is planning to keep troops in Haiti
for at least another three years until 2016.
has a price-tag of about $850 million a year on average over the past nine and
a half years it has been deployed.
Brazil was told that the mission would last only six months,” said Barbara
Corrales of the Brazil-based committee “To Defend Haiti is To Defend
Ourselves,” which has affiliates throughout North America, Europe, Latin
America and the Caribbean. “It is outrageous that the mandate was renewed again
this month for the tenth year in flagrant violation of the Haitian
Constitution, the Haitian Senate resolutions, and the UN Charter itself which
prohibits meddling in UN member states’ internal affairs.”
            Prior to
his trip to Uruguay to meet with President Mujica in the Executive Tower in
downtown Montevideo on Oct. 3, Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles traveled
to Brazil and Argentina
in April where he met with government officials,
parliamentarians, unions, students, and mass meetings.
Argentina, and Uruguay are not the real occupiers of Haiti,” Sen. Moïse told Haïti Liberté, as he has told audiences
around the hemisphere from New York to Brasilia to Buenos Aires to Montevideo.
“The real forces behind Haiti’s military occupation – the powers which are
putting everybody else up to it – are the U.S., France, and Canada, which
colluded in the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’état against President Aristide. It was
then they began trampling Haitian sovereignty.”
            Deployed on
the day of the coup, U.S., French, and Canadian soldiers occupied Haiti from
Mar. 1 to Jun. 1, 2004, when they passed the mission on to MINUSTAH. In
February 2006, the U.S. Government Accountability Office produced a report concluding that “it
would cost the United States about twice as much as the United Nations to
conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the current MINUSTAH.”                                                                                    
            In July
2011, four Uruguayan soldiers in the southern town of Port Salut sexually
Johnny Jean, a Haitian teenager. A cell-phone video of the
assault leaked out a month later, unleashing a firestorm of Haitian and
international outrage. The Uruguayan Marines involved plus their commanding
officer never faced trial in Haiti, as many demanded, but were shipped back to
Uruguay to be judged. Four of the five were
in March 2013 of “private violence,” a much lesser charge than
rape or sexual assault.
September 2011, President Mujica wrote a
to Haitian President Michel Martelly in which he stated: “We
apologize for the abuse that some soldiers of my country perpetrated.”
Uruguay’s rapid departure from MINUSTAH prompt other nations to follow suit and
change the policy of UNASUR, the 12-member South American alliance which has
had a policy of following the UN’s lead and time-table on Haiti?
Uruguayan newspaper La Diaria (The
Diary) reports that Uruguayan Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro was
confident that other countries in UNASUR agreed with Montevideo. “I think there
are countries that have the same opinion as Uruguay,” Huidobro told La Diaria. “This concern is emerging in
other countries too. There are political considerations that I believe that our
country is not alone” in appreciating, he said.

UNASUR nations which provide troops or policemen to MINUSTAH are Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru. At press time,
none of them have yet publicly commented on Uruguay’s plan to accelerate its
withdrawal from MINUSTAH.
Senator Moïse
Jean-Charles (right) with Uruguayan President José Mujica. Henry Boisrolin of
the Haitian Democratic Committee of Argentina, who accompanied Sen.
Jean-Charles during his visit to Uruguay, is on the left.