The following two articles report on the current visit of President Martelly to Chile. In his speeches there, the president becomes the latest voice in favor of "transforming" MINUSTAH into a "development mission" for Haiti. He joins a long line of political figures voicing that sentiment, including the president of Colombia, the former head of MINUSTAH (Edmond Mulet of Guatemala), and the new minister of defense of Brazil, Celso Amorim.
The problem with the sentiment is twofold--the powers running MINUSTAH do not share it; and, how is a military/police occupation force to bring "development" to Haiti when it was created (in 2004) as part of an international gang-up intended, precisely, to prevent social progress from taking place?
Implicit in the president's and others' comments is the recognition that MINUSTAH is a failure, or at the very least, not what Haiti needs post-earthquake. The view of MINUSTAH as a failure was stated most clearly by the former OAS reprentative to Haiti, the Swiss Ricardo Seitenfus. Read his damning assessment of MINUSTAH delivered in a December 20, 2010 interview to the Swiss daily Le Temps here. A more realistic and morally sound outlook than the one of Mr. Martelly et al is the one expressed by demonstrators in Port au Prince on July 28 and in New York on August 5: "MINUSTAH Out of Haiti!"--Website editors
Haiti - Chile : Martelly would like MINUSTAH to become a development mission
Haiti Libre, August 11, 2011. This is a revised Google translation. French language original here.
The President of Haiti, Michel Martelly, expressed today in Chile his desire that the United Nations Peacekeeping Force stationed in Haiti be transformed into a mission for development.
Martelly thanked the Government of Chile for its contingent of five hundred soldiers in MINUSTAH, whose lead representative since June, 2011 is the former Foreign Minister of Chile, Mariano Fernández. "One day we would like that the peacekeeping missions become a development mission," President Martelly told Chilean media. He was accompanied by President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.
The Haitian president was received at the presidential palace by his Chilean counterpart after laying a wreath at the monument to the liberator Bernardo O'Higgins (a leader of Chile's sturggle for independence form Spain in the early 1800's--ed). Upon arriving at La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, Sebastián Piñera declared that "Haiti is a country that has had a history of success, it is currently facing many challenges, but has a promising future."
"On assuming office (as president), you have shown courage and commitment to your people that we admire," Piñera said to the Head of State of Haiti.
Martelly took the opportunity to welcome the assistance provided by Chile to Haiti. "Chile was among the first countries to come to our help [after January 12, 2010], and its contribution in the field of education is today fundamental," adding that for Haiti to overcome its problems, "it is necessary to send children and youth in school..."
"Today, there is a system and a democratic regime headed by President Martelly," said Piñera, who stressed that, "the Government of Chile is strongly committed to the recovery of institutions, of the economy and the Haitian people [...] We want to strengthen this commitment, on topics of interest for the Haitian people, and where we have the opportunity to make fruitful contributions [...] as in children, education, rural development and the presence of MINUSTAH."
"Chile will be with you, working side by side, so that your government can be a good government for the people of Haiti, who certainly deserve a better future," added the President of Chile.
Michel Martelly will travel to Rancagua, 90 kilometers south of Santiago, where he will visit a group of buildings that were damaged by the earthquake of February 27, 2010, houses that are under construction and a number of houses are already completed. The Haitian President will be accompanied by Chile's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Moreno, and Minister of Housing, Rodrigo Pérez Mackenna.
Upon his return to Santiago, Martelly will meet Haitians living in the municipality of Quilicura, where the majority of immigrants coming from the Caribbean in recent years are residing. Then he will return to the Presidential Palace to attend a dinner in his honor, before going to Argentina tomorrow.
Martelly wants development mission for Haiti
AFP, August 11, 2011, Published on France 24
SANTIAGO--Haitian President Michel Martelly has said while on a visit to Chile that he would like the UN peacekeeping mission in his country to be converted into an economic development mission.
The 12,000-strong United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is currently under the command of former Chilean foreign minister Mariano Fernandez. Chile has contributed to the force for years, and currently there are 500 Chileans among MINUSTAH's 8,700 soldiers and 3,300 police.
"We would like to transform this mission into a development mission, because today it is (only) tasked with maintaining the peace," Martelly said in a joint press conference with his host, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. Martelly said they would study if this could happen from a technical viewpoint, and look at the equipment the peacekeepers have in Haiti "to see how we can transform this mission," he said.
MINUSTAH was formed in 2004 to help maintain peace in Haiti after a chaos erupted at the end of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's presidency. The UN Security Council periodically renews its mandate. It was last renewed in October 2010 for one year to provide support for the presidential and legislative elections in March. MINUSTAH's presence however has been questioned since late 2010, when Nepalese soldiers within the force were suspected as the possible source of a cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti.
Martelly's visit includes a trip to the areas most affected by the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck central and southern Chile in February 2010, one month after the 7.0 magnitude quake that devastated Haiti. On Friday Martelly will visit Argentina, another step in his regional tour.