As one of his first measures in office, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim plans to conclude Brazil’s participation in the notorious United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Various sectors of the Brazilian government, including Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs agree with Mr. Amorim, who says that the important thing now is to formulate an exit strategy.
It is appropriate that the Brazilians should be first to leave Haiti. After all, the insertion of UN troops into the country began as a Brazilian project in the early days of Lula’s presidency. It was part of the campaign by Brazil to prove its worthiness in matters of world security so as to earn a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Mr. Amorim, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, was one of the main architects of Brazil’s participation.
The troops started arriving in June 2004, barely one month after Aristide’s kidnapping, to buttress the illegal administration that followed the coup. The first MINUSTAH commander, a Brazilian, complained of the pressure to use violence and resigned his position by fall 2005. The second commander, another Brazilian, committed suicide by January 2006. The force has continued to grow, with the Brazilian contingent now numbering 2,160 men, although in Brazil this military adventure has been controversial from the start. Mr. Amorim attributes his sudden change of heart to Haiti’s “growing economy and gradual return to democratic normalcy.”