Brazil pledges to help Haiti build new army


Xinhua New Service, July 27, 2012

Brazil will help Haiti form a defense force that can eventually take over from the UN peacekeeping mission. Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim announced the decision during a meeting Thursday with his Haitian counterpart Jean Rodolphe Joazile. He said the Brazilian government would send a military mission to determine how Brazil could help the Caribbean country. 

“Haiti’s government requested we cooperate in this manner. We are now trying to work on the ways the help can be given,” Amorim said. He said Brazil only agreed to help on condition the armed forces would not become a personal militia. He said he was assured by Joazile the new army would be a public force. “This is not about restituting the old army, against which these accusations were made, or building a model that works as a personal militia,” he said.

Amorim said Haitian officers might study engineering in Brazil, which would help the new Haitian military build professional and institutional capacity. Military engineering could help with civil defense – an important capacity for a country prone to natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes, he said.

Amorim said that as the new collaboration with Haiti progressed, Brazil’s participation in the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) would be reduced.

The Brazilian contingent in MINUSTAH was more than doubled after the massive earthquake which devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince and surrounding regions in January 2010 and the country now has 2,000 soldiers in Haiti. “I do not know how long this will take, but the process of reducing the contingent in MINUSTAH has already started and will continue. It is not good for Haiti, the UN, or Brazil that the forces stay there in a permanent way,” he said.

But with the reduction of the military contingent, a local force must be formed to take over some of the peacekeeping forces’ tasks, he said. In addition to security work, Haiti would also need to guard its borders and sea, as well as be able to deal with natural disasters, Amorim said.

Brazil has been in command of the military component of MINUSTAH as well as the largest military contingent in the mission since it began in 2004. The mission was supposed to end in late 2010, but was extended by the UN amid concerns about stability in Haiti. Its current mandate extends until October 2012, which is likely to be renewed.

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