Wikileaked Documents Shed More Light on U.S., Brazilian Motives Behind MINUSTAH
|Thursday, 23 December 2010 16:48|
As we’ve described in other posts, U.S. State Department documents made available by Wikileaks demonstrate that international support for MINUSTAH is an important priority for the U.S. government. A new cable recently released by Wikileaks may help explain why: Latin American alliance with a U.S.-objective that “completely excludes [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez” (h/t Ansel Herz):
The cable also suggests that MINUSTAH could be an opening foray into such U.S.-promoted multilateral operations “on a broader scale”:
If these documents accurately reflect U.S. government goals regarding the mission, then Brazilian leadership is perhaps especially desirable, considering the Brazil-Venezuela rivalry that some in the U.S. foreign policy community believe – despite much evidence to the contrary – and perhaps desire, to exist. While other cables reveal that the U.S. sees Brazil’s main motivation in leading the force to be proving its worth for a UN Security Council seat, another cable from September 2009 - just released - describes what could be another motive:
All this does not, however, seem to undermine the likelihood that Brazil may be tiring of leading the never-ending mission. Another cable, from February 2009, provides more evidence that MINUSTAH’s Brazilian leadership may itself be looking for a time table:
Fast forward to post-earthquake Haiti: a cable from January 22 describes a meeting between State Department officials and high level Brazilian defense and foreign relations officials. While much of the document describes Brazilian appreciation for U.S. actions, it does suggest some tensions at the time. Under a section entitled, “COMMENT: DESIRE FOR MORE COORDINATION BEHIND THE SMILES”, it states:
Considering the benefits that have accrued thus far to U.S. contractors from the relief and reconstruction eleven months later, the Brazilian diplomats may have been justifiably concerned that Brazilian companies could get left out, despite the government’s multi-year track record in leading MINUSTAH.
Other cables going back to MINUSTAH’s beginnings demonstrate some disagreement between the U.S. and Brazil in regards to Haitian input over the “peace keeping” force. A newly-made available cable from March 2004 details a meeting between then- White House Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere (and former Iran-Contra figure) Otto Reich, and Brazilian president Lula’s President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva's Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu. Brazil’s position at the time, according to the cable, was that it “would only participate in a UN Chapter 6 (peacekeeping)…mission in Haiti”:
Ultimately the U.S. would win this one, as MINUSTAH was established under Chapter 7, not 6. (The mechanisms by which this occurred, in light of Brazilian opposition, would be interesting to learn – perhaps documents soon to-be-released by Wikileaks will reveal more information.)
Ansel Herz raises questions (also voiced by others in the past) regarding the significance of the UN’s invocation of Chapter 7 in deploying the blue helmets to Haiti back in 2004, rather than Chapter 6:
So Chapter 6 would have required the consent of the Haitian government, while Chapter 7 does not. While MINUSTAH’s presence has always had the stated approval of the Haitian government thus far, it raises a few interesting questions: first, why did the U.S. prefer Chapter 7? What would happen if the Haitian government were to withdraw its consent, and say it was time for MINUSTAH to leave? And does the Obama administration have a different position on this than the Bush administration did?
In regards to the last question, State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley answered a question on this matter in yesterday’s press briefing:
QUESTION: And then the other thing about Haiti has to do with MINUSTAH and an apparent disagreement, not during this Administration but in the Bush Administration when MINUSTAH first went in, whether – on what kind of UN mandate it should operate under, whether it should be Chapter 6 authority or Chapter 7. This was a disagreement that apparently you had with the Government of Brazil.
Do you – are you aware if this disagreement persists, or is everything hunky-dory with the Brazilians now in terms of MINUSTAH?
MR. CROWLEY: We have valued the contribution that Brazil has made to the MINUSTAH operation. I think as I recall – well, in the past year, obviously, MINUSTAH itself also had personnel injured and killed by the earthquake, but I know of no current issues involving MINUSTAH and the United States. We continue to value the important role that it plays.
Another interesting cable written prior to MINUSTAH’s start, but after the 2004 coup against Aristide, reveals Brazilian concern for the “pro-Aristide forces” and Caricom which were being left out of decision-making regarding Haiti’s political situation:
These comments are especially notable considering that the new regime imposed on Haiti was hunting down and killing “pro-Aristide” activists and supporters by the hundreds at the time, while imprisoning others on bogus charges. MINUSTAH, of course, would soon provide support for similar abuses once it began operations.