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posted 28 May 2013, 14:26 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 May 2013, 14:27 ]
The OWTU joins in solidarity with workers, sisters and brothers in Haiti in their just call for the removal of the MINUSTAH.

Exactly 9 years ago, on 1 June 2004, military troops of the MINUSTAH, (the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) invaded Haiti under the pretext of restoring 'stability'. Quite the opposite!

Instead of improving the situation created by the 2004 coup, MINUSTAH managed to increase the level of violence inflicted on a people deprived of all its rights, protecting an oppressive system resting on semi-slavery work relations, where unemployment blights 70% of the economically active population and wages are at inhuman levels.

Far from promoting peace, the UN troops are committing systematic violations of the most basic human rights and introduced the scourge of cholera, which has already killed more than 8,000 and sickened over 600,000.

We want to express our outrage at the United Nation's attitude on this matter, as they chose to invoke immunity for their troops in order to refuse to provide any compensation for the families of the direct victims or any reparations for the immense harm caused to the country.

Whichever way you look at it, it is untenable to continue to argue that MINUSTAH - soldiers and police officers mainly from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador - should remain in Haiti.

In 2010, the Haitian Senate voted unanimously for the withdrawal of MINUSTAH troops by 2012. The Defence Ministers of the UNASUR countries noted the need to reduce the troop presence and put in place a withdrawal mechanism in June 2012, although this has remained mere words.

Haitian organisations have carried out countless mass demonstrations against the MINUSTAH presence, including symbolic funerals in Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite and Port-au-Prince in October 2011. Legal proceedings are underway against the United Nations over the issue of cholera and a grouping of organisations called 'Kolektif òganizasyon pou dedomaje viktim kolera yo' is working tirelessly on this.

MINUSTAH has failed miserably to achieve the goals set out by the United Nations Security Council; the only objective accomplished being the military occupation of the country on behalf of interests that are not those of the Haitian people. Its presence is part of a policy that deprives the Haitian people of their citizenship, their public services, their land and their natural resources.

It is also clear that MINUSTAH has only remained in place through the military and diplomatic support of Canada, the United States and France, at the service of their transnational businesses and the free trade and investment agreements that benefit them. The Haitian Senate had courageously voted against two American and Canadian mining companies entering the country, companies that are now plundering rich deposits of gold, copper and silver in the 'poorest country', under MINUSTAH's protection.

Haiti must cease to be the laboratory for neo-liberal economic and 'security' policies, which, allied with the debt, have become an extra weapon against the peoples, as we are witnessing on the American continent, in all countries of the global south and now in Europe.

Haiti does not need military troops, or MINUSTAH, or any other country. Haiti needs recognition and its dignity, its potential and its right to self-determination, as do all other nations. Haiti needs to get rid of the hands and boots that dominate it. Haiti needs doctors, sanitation workers, educators, engineers, technicians, all at the service of the reconstruction demanded by the Haitian people, a people who have been decimated over the course of history, but who keep the dignity of being the first free and anti-slavery nation in the world.

For those reasons, on 1 June 2013, we're calling for mobilizations for the following demands:

- The immediate withdrawal of MINUSTAH and all foreign troops from Haitian soil;

- The end of the economic occupation and the plunder, including the repeal of free-trade agreements;

- Recognition of the crimes committed by MINUSTAH, in particular the introduction of cholera, punishment for those responsible and compensation for the country's victims;

- The repayment of the historical, financial, social and environmental debt that is owed to the Haitian people:

- A genuine policy of international cooperation that is respectful of the rights, sovereignty and self-determination of the Haitian people.