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
Liberté. "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
According 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
President Mujica’s decision "comes as Brazil’s steady
withdrawal nears completion in March 2014," according to the
Uruguay, a nation of 3.4 million, provides more soldiers for
UN peacekeeping operations than any other country per capita,
according to the Uruguayan daily El Observador (The
Observer). Uruguayan troops are also part of the UN’s
peacekeeping mission in the Congo called MONUSCO.
Of the UN’s 16 peacekeeping operations worldwide, MINUSTAH is
the only one in the Western Hemisphere.
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
MINUSTAH has a price-tag of about $850 million a year on
average over the past nine and a half years it has been
"Originally, 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’
Prior to his trip to Uruguay to meet with President Mujica in
the Executive Tower in downtown Montevideo on Oct. 3, Sen. Moïse
traveled to Brazil and Argentina
in April where he met with government officials,
parliamentarians, unions, students, and mass meetings.
"Brazil, 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
[Jean-Bertrand] Aristide. It was then they began trampling
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
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 convicted in March
2013 of "private violence," a much lesser charge than rape or
In September 2011, President Mujica wrote
a letter to Haitian
President Michel Martelly in which he stated: "We apologize for
the abuse that some soldiers of my country perpetrated."
Will 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?
The 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 make me believe that our country is not
alone" in appreciating, he said.
Other 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.