Brazil, Haiti and the MINUSTAH
By Jean H Charles:
I visited Brazil twenty years ago, as a globe trotter who cherished the joy of travelling, despite my trip to Brazil. I told my travel companion Eddy Harper at the end of our journey, one should not visit a country just because a plane can bring you there. I was warned before my departure that one should be very careful of your belongings, including your own ears or eyes.
They could be taken for sale as fresh organs. My bracelet that I held tightly in my hand to prevent its theft, was stolen anyway. The carnival in Rio, with a public relations machine well oiled all over the world, was for me a deception. It was a fine orchestrated exercise for the tourists (contrary to Trinidad and Tobago) with no personal participation.
I flew to Salvador de Bahia to taste the remnants of the black culture; I was not deceived. Yet my conclusion that one should not travel to a country just because a scheduled airline made the journey there was confirmed in Salvador. In the middle of the night walking around the colonial streets of the city, I was surprised to found the bustling business of the hour was the sale of coffins. An epidemic in the area was killing the citizens by the thousand.
Back in Rio, amidst the splendor of the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, the squalor of the hills surrounding the city was threatening and menacing. The hypocrisy of the slogan: one nation, one people was mining the ethos of the society. A part of Pele, known all over the world for his skills in the sport of football/soccer, amidst the large black population one cannot find a single emerging black star in politics, the arts, science and education in Brazil.
The larger society was not in better shape, I remember my conversation with a young white teacher on the beach of Ipanema, doubling her life as a school teacher with one of a part time prostitute because her salary was not sufficient to provide a decent living.
Things have improved since in Brazil, with the advent of Ignacio Lula, who recognized social integration and upward mobility as a government policy.
Brazil was in an enviable position to help usher into Haiti a climate of hospitality for all, with the big brother holding the hands of the junior one. Passionate about soccer, the Haitian people have adopted Brazil as their idol nation. There were deaths of passion in Haiti following a football match between Argentina and Brazil. (That passion has been transmuted today onto Messi of Barcelona in Spain, revered as a demi-god.)
Brazil, with its size and its limitless resources, had hemispheric hegemonic ambition. Lula planned to use its leadership of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in Haiti, to help his country obtain a seat on the Security Council. That goal has been a complete failure and disappointment. After the questioning suicide of the Brazilian general in Haiti, Brazil could not find another national to succeed at the helm of the mission. The Guatemalan, Edmund Mulet, whose arrogance equals only his excellent command of French, is decried on the walls of Port au Prince with the same intensity as Rene Preval, the despised Haitian president.
The MINUSTAH culture is one of make believe in most of the operations concerning its mission of stabilization of the country. A mammoth military operation in a nation at peace with itself is as out of place as an elephant moving around in a small living room.
Small countries like Nepal are competing and bidding against big ones like China to get the prime risk funding just for parading on the street of Port au Prince, forcing children to wake up at 5.00 am to reach their school destination on time amongst the crowded streets of Port au Prince.
The police as well as the military unit operates a vast cottage industry designed to provide employment to expatriates from forty nations, while providing absolutely no service or at least limited service that impacts the Haitian population in security, police, training and education and development.
The talk around the water cooler at the headquarters in Geneva or in New York is that a tour of duty in Haiti is a plum placement. You will find sun, sand, docile and attractive women, tasty food, strong and exotic culture during combat and prime risk duty while feigning to stabilize the country with words instead of action. An astute anthropologist or sociologist would have a field day studying Haiti at the age of its colonization by the United Nations.
As a detached or interested observer, I am watching the complete disintegration of Haitian society under the watch of the UN Mission of Stabilization. Starting with the women and the young people that represent the fragile segment of the nation, they exhibit coping mechanisms with pathological manifestations that will compromise the foreseeable future of the nation.
The aftermath of the earthquake and the cholera epidemic (brought by the UN into Haiti) should have been an incentive to rebuild a new Haiti hospitable to all, where the security of the environment, public health and public security would be the hallmark of the government.
Haiti is being instead quickly Africanized at its worst, with refugee camps in public places as well as on the golf courses. The indecency in public policy is being plotted, implemented, and applauded by most international institutions.
One hundred fifty years ago (1864) the Vatican stood up as the only entity to support a nation ostracized by the entire world for daring to stand up against the world order of slavery. Haiti needs today one friendly country in the world that would stand up to support with strategies, finance and technical assistance its growing opposition, thirsty for a complete break with the culture of squalor imposed upon the country during the last sixty years.
I have not seen nor heard one nation in the whole world that raises a finger to say that I am ready for the challenge!
February 19, 2011