UN Peacekeeping Paramilitarism
by Stephen Lendman, February 2007
The world community calls them "Blue
Helmets" or "peacekeepers," and the UN defines
their mission as "a way to help countries torn by conflict
create conditions for sustainable peace" by implementing
and monitoring post-conflict peace processes former combatants
have agreed to under provisions of the UN Charter. The Charter
empowers the Security Council to take collective action to maintain
international peace and security that includes authorizing peacekeeping
operations provided a host country agrees to have them under
Rules of Engagement developed and approved by all parties. At
that point, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations enlists
member nations to provide force contingents to be deployed once
the Security Council gives final approval.
Once in place, Blue Helmets are supposed
to help in various ways including monitoring the withdrawal of
combatants, building confidence, enforcing power-sharing agreements,
providing electoral support, aiding reconstruction, upholding
the rule of law, maintaining order, and helping efforts toward
economic and social development. Above all, "peacekeeping"
missions are supposed to be benevolent interventions. They're
sent to conflict areas to restore order, maintain peace and security
and provide for the needs of people during a transitional period
until a local government takes over on its own.
Far too often, however, things don't turn
out that way, and Blue Helmets end up either creating more conflict
than its resolution or being counterproductive or ineffective.
In the first instance, peacekeepers become paramilitary enforcers
for an outside authority. In the second, they do more harm than
good because they've done nothing to ameliorate conditions or
improve the situation on the ground and end up more a hindrance
than a help. This article focuses mostly on the former using
Haiti as the primary case study example after reviewing peacekeeping
operations briefly in six other countries. In each case, the
examples chosen show people on the ground as helpless victims
of imperial exploitation (usually US-directed) with UN Blue Helmets
used by outside powers for social control and domination, not
keeping the peace.
First, a brief account of other failed
"peacekeeping" missions is reviewed after an overview
of the UN, its founding purpose and how the US dominates and undermines
the world body for its own interests.
The UN - Its Founding Purpose and Mission
The UN was established in 1945 after WW
II when 50 original member countries signed its Charter in San
Francisco. Today 192 nations are member states. Its founding
Charter states its purpose and mandate is: "to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war....reaffirm faith in fundamental
human rights....(support) equal rights of men and women....of
nations large and small....establish conditions under which justice....can
be maintained....promote social progress....practice tolerance
and live in peace (and promote) economic and social advancement
of all peoples." From its founding date till now, the world
body failed on all counts even though some of its agencies (like
UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR and UNESCO) have a history of providing important
services in areas of health, education, food assistance, aiding
refugees, social development and more.
Nonetheless, the UN is hamstrung by a
serious obstacle. Its dominant member is the US that undermines
the world body's authority and effectiveness for its own imperial
interests. It does it through its Security Council veto power,
by withholding dues, disengaging from UN activities or just muscling
or bribing member states to get its way. It gets away with it
by being the world's leading economic, political and military
superpower beholden to no interests but its own. It takes full
advantage, and for over half a century used the UN as its foreign
policy instrument or rendered it ineffective by inaction or obstruction.
If allowed to be a voice for all member states, the UN could
be a powerful one for global democratic governance and promotion
of social equity and equal justice. Instead one dominant nation's
veto power trumped the will of all others causing a shameful history
of UN failure and ineffectiveness. As long as a single nation's
monkey wrench can jam its works, the UN will never fulfill its
It's apparent in its Charter-mandated
peacekeeping role. If the UN functioned as a neutral international
body pursuing its founding mission, it would always act to establish
and maintain peace in every conflict area. It doesn't because
its dominant member won't let it. So it failed to act when Indonesia
invaded East Timor in 1975 slaughtering hundreds of thousands
in a secretly US-authorized aggression including the arming and
supporting of Indonesian military TNI forces. It stood by again
after the East Timorese voted by referendum for independence in
1999 after which TNI forces attacked and slaughtered thousands
The UN did nothing during South Africa's
border wars and invasion of Namibia in the 1960s and 70s and allowed
a 36 year civil war to go on in Guatemala following the CIA fomented
coup in 1954 ousting the country's democratically elected leader
Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. It ignored a succession of oppressive military
and civilian governments still ruling the country. It allowed
them to compile the hemisphere's worst human rights record even
after the UN brokered a Peace Accord formally ending the civil
conflict mainly against the country's indigenous Mayan majority
slaughtering 200,000 of them. It still ignores the government's
shameless human rights abuses in a country Amnesty International
calls a "land of injustice." But it happens to be one
the US considers a close ally, and that's all that counts as Washington
has the final say on most everything at the UN.
These are a few of the many examples of
UN failures to address injustice throughout the world on every
continent. It belies discredited former UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan's standing up for the Security Council claiming it
has primary responsibility for maintaining international peace
and security. It can't even prevent human rights abuses because
it's mostly a talking shop, and the world body overall is a wholly
owned subsidiary of the nation where its headquartered. It uses
it to pursue its imperial agenda knowing no nation will dare try
stopping it most often. And when the threat arises, Washington
ignores it to do what it pleases like attacking Iraq without required
Security Council approval and threatening now to extend the conflict
to Iran on blatantly false cooked up charges that smell as bad
as the WMD ones about its occupied neighbor.
UN Peacekeeping Operations
UN peacekeeping operations began in 1948
with its first one ever UNTSO mission to monitor the Arab-Israeli
first of two brief failed truces in Israel's "War of Independence"
beginning in June, 1948. The operation is still ongoing, peace
was never achieved, the UN plays no active role, and UNTSO wastes
money and takes up space observing and reporting what it wishes
selectively while Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have total control
of everything on the ground. UNTSO ineffectiveness shows in the
way the IDF continues repressing and assaulting defenseless Palestinians
while the UN gets out of their way functioning as little more
than worthless window dressing. In 2006 it had a meager staff
of 371 military and civilian observers and a budget of $30 million,
all of which could have been better spent elsewhere on a real
mission for a real purpose if there are any.
That inauspicious start was symbolic of
what lay ahead in 61 total peacekeeping missions undertaken to
date ignoring all the other conflicts it should have intervened
in but didn't. Currently 16 missions are ongoing as of year end
2006 plus two other small special political and/or peacebuilding
ones with 113 countries contributing 99,817 military troops, observers,
police and civilians budgeted for the 12 months through June,
2007 at $4.75 billion under names like UNIFIL in Lebanon created
in 1978 for the same purpose it's still there for and now enlarged
following Israel's withdrawal from the country last summer after
its horrific invasion and assault weeks earlier.
UNIFIL Blue Helmets in Lebanon
Israel attacked and invaded Lebanon last
July 12 following Hezbollah's cross-border incursion that was
used as a pretext to ignite pre-planned aggression against the
country and its people. The result was mass killing, crippling
destruction, and a huge refugee problem all without Israel achieving
its planned aim - to destroy Hezbollah resistance in South Lebanon.
It proved too much for the world's fifth most powerful military
equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry courtesy of the most powerful
UNIFIL was established to restore and
maintain peace in South Lebanon one week after Israel's invasion
of the country in March, 1978. It's been there since including
throughout the period from 1982 when Israel again invaded and
remained until withdrawing its forces in May, 2000. Despite its
mandate, UNIFIL never established peace and security and did little
more than take up space allowing the IDF free reign to control
everything on the ground along with its proxy Christian South
Lebanon Army acting as paramilitary enforcer thugs of a largely
Shia Muslim population.
"Proxy" describes UNIFIL's current
role in Lebanon that has little to do with keeping peace and everything
to do with being NATO's Israel enforcer. In that role, it can
engage Hezbollah in confrontation if it chooses and do Israel's
fighting and dying for it. It also represents a continuation
of nearly three decades of "peacekeeping" failure in
South Lebanon. The current one won't work any better than all
efforts preceding it because UNIFIL is beholden to Israel, the
US and NATO and will follow their mandate having nothing to do
with peace and stability and everything to do with imperial control
and dominance. The people of South Lebanon know all about UNIFIL's
"benefits," but you won't hear them say thank you.
UNAMIR in Rwanda
UNAMIR was set up to help implement the
Arusha Accords in 1993 to ease tensions, secure the capital, and
monitor a ceasefire and security agreement prior to the outbreak
of ethnic slaughter that began after CIA surface-to-air missiles
shot down the aircraft carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana
and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira in April, 1994. That
"unfortunate" plane accident made way for US-trained
Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) Major-General Paul Kagame to take
power so Washington could use the country as a base to pursue
its greater prize in resource-rich Congo (DRC). It didn't matter
that hundreds of thousands died and millions in Congo where war
subsided, but instability remains because warring sides and Western
interests still contest for control of the country's immense resources.
Canadian General Romeo Dallaire led a
UN 400 troop contingent in Rwanda, got no additional force help,
mostly stood aside as thousands were slaughtered, and was only
authorized to act in self-defense meaning his orders were do nothing.
He left the country in August, 1994 followed by the departure
of his replacements when UNAMIR's mandate ended in 1996 long after
the damage was done. The result - a dismal mission failure in
UN peacekeeping with hundreds of thousands dead because Blue Helmets
were told to ignore it.
UNIMIK in Kosovo
UNMIK was created in 1999 for war-torn
Kosovo as an interim civilian administration to remain in place
until the Serbian province's fate is decided. Its stated mission
includes maintaining the rule of law, protecting human rights,
coordinating humanitarian and disaster relief, supporting reconstruction
efforts, and assuring refugees and displaced persons can return
to their homes. As always, stated goals are noble, but results
shameful - another mission failure staying longer will just exacerbate,
The mission language hides the grim history
of the 1990s Balkan wars. They destroyed a nation making its
new pieces easy pickings for US and Western imperial exploitation
and control. It had nothing to do with removing a "bad guy"
Serbian leader and everything to do with installing new leadership
more responsive to Western interests - meaning unconditional surrender
to imperial authority. The US-led 1999 NATO assault was called
an humanitarian intervention. It's real aim was to finish breaking
one nation into six more easily handled ones plus deciding the
fate of Serbia's Kosovo province to be dealt with later.
In Kosovo, Washington and NATO collaborated
with Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) paramilitary thugs ignoring
their connection to organized crime. They got free reign to commit
terrorist attacks including ethnic cleansing of Serbs and other
minorities in the province. The US-led war caused massive population
displacement, not the other way around as news reports claimed.
Nor did the war bring Kosovo peace and stability. Far from
it. The province is part of Serbia, and Serbs want to keep it
that way. But it looks like they won't as Albanians in the majority
have other ideas with assurance their US ally will help them.
After the war, the former Serbian province
got semi-autonomy as a UN protectorate with its final status nearly
decided by the world body intending to make Kosovo semi-independent
because the US wants it that way. It doesn't matter what Serbs
want for territory they're about to lose. The scheme was unveiled
on January 26 to the six-member contact group of major powers
including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Russia all of
whom approve except Russia that remains skeptical enough to try
to scuttle the plan. It supports Serbia that rejects the deal
but has little power to stop it unless Russia vetoes it in the
Security Council with final say on the matter.
That verdict isn't in yet, but some things
are clear. Whatever Kosovo's nominal disposition, Serbs will
be losers and US and Western imperial control will continue by
virtue of a proxy repressive UNIMIK/NATO Blue Helmet contingent
remaining in place for an indefinite time likely to be lengthy.
It's how imperial management works. People lose out so hegemons
can win, and when it involves the US the price paid is big and
MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo
MONUC began its operations in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1999 and is the largest peacekeeping
force now in place but one hardly adequate (if it mattered) for
a country the size of Western Europe. MONUC was authorized to
monitor a ceasefire agreement between waring sides as well as
be involved in the usual kinds of things peacekeeping entails.
After years of unresolved conflict, few places anywhere need
peace and stability more than DRC in the wake of the country's
long-running war taking 4 million or more lives causing immeasurable
human misery and harm.
All along, the UN was inept, counterproductive
and out of the loop. It was more part of the problem than its
solution. It knew all about legal and illegal arms trading fueling
conflict but didn't stop it because its controlling members did
the selling like they always do in war zones everywhere. In addition,
Blue Helmets weren't where most needed and didn't help when able
because direct orders said not to. Kofi Annan was part of the
problem as he was as UN head of peacekeeping in 1994 allowing
Rwandans to be slaughtered when his efforts at least might have
ameliorated conditions. Instead, he kept his mouth shut and head
down, refusing to act as he later did as Secretary-General serving
imperial interests he was beholden to. That meant ignoring desperate
people in Congo and all other warring regions.
The DRC is a major one even though things
are mostly quieted down - for now. The country's cursed by being
the likely most resource-rich piece of real estate in the world
(except for not having large oil reserves). That makes it a key
target for imperial exploitation and control with Congo's people
suffering just by being there. Sending Blue Helmets to keep peace
is just a fig leaf hiding the dark side of the conflict and who
stands to gain with US interests always topping the list and acting
as guarantor nothing interferes with what Washington has in mind.
So all parties ignore the situation on
the ground, and Blue Helmets just make it worse. The evidence
shows UN forces engaged in sex trafficking, using children as
prostitutes. They abused young girls and got away with it because
MONUC officials took no preventive action in spite of pious claims
decrying it. What's common in Congo happens everywhere with so-called
"peacekeepers" acting as thuggish enforcers for imperial
powers. Their mission is "keeping the rabble in line"
with free reign to do it harshly as long as it's kept under wraps.
What happens in Congo goes on in Kosovo, Liberia, Sudan (discussed
below) and Haiti also discussed in detail shortly. It's an ugly
story of crackdown, repression or indifference hidden under the
cover of "peacekeeping."
UNMIS in Sudan
UNMIS was established in 2005 to implement
the January, 2005 Comprehensive Peace Treaty between the Sudanese
government and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army. It ended
the protracted North-South 22 year civil war killing and uprooting
millions in one of the continent's most costly wars, but not freeing
the nation from conflict still ongoing in Darfur. UNMIS has authority
to administer there once hostilities subside, waring sides allow
them entry and agree to cooperate, and Sudanese President Omar
al-Bashir decides if he's willing to risk a regional occupying
force hostile to his interests. Currently a 7,000 force African
Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) operates in Darfur that's pathetically
slim for an area the size of France in a country the size of Western
The Sudanese government is justifiably
reluctant for Blue Helmets to come knowing how they behave elsewhere.
It also knows what fuels the conflict and what interests the
US and West in the area. Like most everywhere, it's about valuable
resources, and in Darfur it's mainly oil as it is in Somalia where
Washington is involved in another proxy war with US supportive
air and ground involvement this time using an Ethiopian force
to be supplemented or replaced by other regional country contingent
The Darfur conflict is falsely portrayed
in Western media reports as atrocities committed by Arab Jan jawid
militias supported by the Khartoum government against black African
people. The truth is all parties involved are indigenous Arabic-speaking
black Sunni Muslims involved in intertribal fighting over increasingly
scare water and grazing rights in an area hard hit by draught
and famine. If Blue Helmets come in, they'll make things worse
because they'll be sent for imperial control further harming the
people enduring more than they can already handle.
MINUSTAH in Haiti - Our Main Focus
Since European settlers first arrived
in Haiti 500 years ago, this nation experienced an almost unparalleled
legacy of colonial violence and exploitation. Even when the country
gained freedom from France on January 1, 1804, it lay in ruins.
Its plantations and sugar works were burned and large parts of
its cities were rubble from many years of conflict. It cost the
nation half its population of former slaves on top of its indigenous
population nearly exterminated by Spanish Conquistadors beginning
with the arrival of Columbus.
Things got no better when Spain kept the
Eastern two-thirds of the island in what's now the Dominican Republic
leaving the Western third for French colonization beginning in
the early 1600s. France brought over black African slaves controlling
it till after the 1789 French Revolution that inspired Haitians
to wage theirs for the same freedoms French people got briefly.
Led by Toussaint L'Overture, they prevailed establishing the
first free independent black republic anywhere on their New Years
liberation day in 1804.
It was short-lived as France regained
control holding it till America took over later solidifying its
regional lock when Woodrow Wilson sent in Marines in 1915 to protect
US investments, doing it in typical US fashion - at the barrel
of a gun. Nineteen years of brutal exploitation followed with
massacres like the kinds seen in Haiti today. The worst of them
was in 1929 when US Marines slaughtered 264 protesting peasants
in Les Cayes. There were also smaller incursions, forced labor,
and aerial bombing years before the Nazis' infamous attack on
Spain's Republican government at Guernica supporting opposition
fascist dictator, Francisco Franco.
Except for a decade of relief under Jean-Bertand
Aristide and Rene Preval, nothing improved for Haitians after
US occupiers left in 1934. Aristide and Preval brought hope in
spite of great Western constraint imposed on them. It didn't last
courtesy of US Marines again ending a brief grace period of relief
and deliverance for people having precious little of it for 500
In its wake, MINUSTAH was established
by UN Security Council vote on April 30, 2004 two months after
the US-led coup ousted President Aristide now in forced exile
in South Africa. From inception, it's mission was flawed as it
had no right being there in the first place. Blue Helmets, in
principle, are deployed for peace and stability even though they
seldom bring it. In this case, peacekeepers have may been illegally
sent for the first time ever supporting and enforcing a coup d'etat
against a democratically elected president instead of staying
out of it or coming to back his right to office.
The US runs everything in Haiti, and MINUSTAH
became its repressive arm against Haitian people wanting their
President back and their freedoms under him restored. The result
is no surprise. MINUSTAH's mission is disastrous, disgraceful
and in violation of the rule of law including UN's own Charter
as explained below.
Before it began, the UN lied claiming
Aristide was less than democratically reelected in 2000 with under
10% of Haitians participating. UN officials further implied his
Fanmi Lavalas party manipulated results allowing him to win.
The truth was otherwise showing Aristide won with a 92% majority
and a turnout of around 62% of eligible voters or a figure exceeding
that in most US elections. The International Foundation for Election
Systems (IFES) suggested turnout was even higher, but mainstream
reporting never lets facts conflict with official US government
versions of truth that hide it when it isn't the kind it wants.
The line on Haiti came from the US State
Department's affiliated Agency for International Development (USAID)
claiming the opposition boycotted the election and Aristide won
by default with a low voter turnout. This got reported as anti-Aristide
black propaganda contradicting mass-Haitian support for a beloved
leader twice elected the country's President. Haitians demand
his return but won't get it as long as the US remains in charge.
Washington will ignite a firestorm if he tries coming setting
off the kind of ugliness leading to what happened in February,
2004 that repeated similar events in September, 1991 after Aristide's
first election. The result for Haitians is nightmarish courtesy
of the Bush administration with complicit Security Council support
in the form of Blue Helmet "peacekeepers" enforcing
their kind of peace.
They're on the ground along with mobilized
death squads, otherwise known as the hated Haitian National Police
(PNH), acting as a main duel proxy force serving their masters
in Washington. They've done it by destroying all democratic freedoms
in a country subjugated for 500 years under outside authority
or one imposed on them from within. In 1990, Haitians hoped it
ended when they elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide President with
67% of the vote. He took office in February, 1991, but his tenure
was short-lived. It ended in September by the first of two US-instigated
coups removing him from office for a more compliant military ruler
beholden to Washington and its capital interests.
Aristide returned to Haiti in 1994 regaining
nominal power through a deal Clinton officials arranged. It included
a largely US-led UN peacekeeping force remaining until 1999 to
assure political and economic continuity by IMF-imposed neoliberal
structural adjustment policy diktats of privatizations, debt serving
and cuts in vitally needed social services. Under these conditions
and with little financial support when he tried going around them,
Aristide governed like a social democrat compiling an impressive
record given the constraints on him. Under Haitian law, he was
unable to succeed himself in 1996, but his ally Rene Preval ran
for President and won with an 88% majority. Aristide then ran
again in 2000 winning big as explained above.
From then until 2004, Aristide instituted
a host of important programs in areas of health, education, justice
and human rights. He did it by maneuvering around the kinds of
harsh dictates imposed on him out of Washington. It led to his
second ouster reinstituting a US-directed reign of terror with
MINUSTAH Blue Helmet proxies in the lead implementing harsh repression
still ongoing and unaddressed by a world community mindful of
conditions but turning a blind eye or playing a supportive role.
Blue Helmets do this everywhere, but it gets no worse than in
Haiti. It's the poorest country in the hemisphere, conditions
continue getting worse, people are suffering, and MINUSTAH is
there to keep it that way, not bring peace, security, stability
or freedom to people desperately needing it.
It's all about the rules of imperial management
Washington forces on all nations but especially ones with strategically
important resources, markets or in the case of Haiti cheap labor.
Haiti has lots of it, and it's some of the cheapest in the world.
It's an offshore US manufacturer's paradise where many garment
and other workers earn as little as 12 cents an hour or near-slave
wages. It's far below the poverty level even in Haiti, and after
transportation and other expenses an average Haitian worker earns
around $6 a week for those able to get any work in a country plagued
by high unemployment running as high as 50% and at times much
higher. During his tenure, President Aristide alleviated this
and much more in spite of great constraints on him. He did it
with scant outside help in spite of overwhelming pressures from
Washington not to do anything affecting capital interests.
With him gone and reelected President
Rene Preval hamstrung under foreign occupation masquerading as
"peacekeepers," Haitians have lost everything. Conditions
have never been worse, and it goes on daily in Haiti's bloodstained
streets patrolled by MINUSTAH, PNH and militarized gangs of enforcers
with license to kill and brutalize freely. The Western media
ignore it in a country the US controls as a de facto colony using
violence for social control just like in Iraq with its own and
proxy Iraqi forces.
Guatemalan UN Special Envoy Edmond Mulet
calls it needing to "liberate" neighborhoods from "thugs,
criminals, gangs (and) drug dealers." He characterizes indiscriminate
killing of unarmed civilians as "collateral damage"
with UN forces coming "under attack (from gangs in Cite Soleil)."
What he won't address is MINUSTAH'S role as enforcer to make
Haiti safe for predatory capitalism with harsh repression the
method of choice to do it. It's aim is to destroy all vestiges
of democratic Lavalas and Jean-Bertrand Aristide's influence,
but it resulted in mass-people resistance on the streets protesting
their plight and demanding restitution of their rights as free
people. Their answer is armed attacks and regular assaults.
It goes on daily with punishing effects
against helpless people. They're led by Blue Helmet thugs attacking
Haitians in impoverished areas like Cite Soleil, Bel Air, Solino
and elsewhere indiscriminately killing men, women and children.
They work with PNH enforcers incarcerating or murdering Aristide
supporters and advocates for freedom and justice, forcing many
others underground or to flee the country even after Aristide's
Fanmi Lavalas party was effectively destroyed.
Before Preval's reelection last February,
MINUSTAH helped reinstitute Haiti's brutal and hated former military
that Aristide disbanded and put Haiti again at the mercy of predatory
international lending agencies. It also worked with the so-called
Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) under US-installed puppet prime
minister Gerard Latortue ending Aristide's social programs and
returning the country to capital interests with lots of infused
cash ending up in the pockets of the interim government Transparency
International (TI) called the most corrupt in the world, but not
enough to bother its US boss looking the other way and ignoring
it. The IGH even locked up dissenters and emptied prisons of
real criminals for service in the PNH. It also reconstituted
Haiti's military and allowed private paramilitary gangs to operate
as brutish enforcers of their own defenseless people.
It's gone on since the 2004 coup in splendid
fashion through bloody street crackdowns including massacres against
people protesting their plight in a country returned to serfdom
under repressive overlords. Haiti is short on law, order, justice
and freedom and long on paramilitary thuggishness keeping things
that way including the private paramilitary ones like the Little
Machete Army that was implicated in the July 6, 2006 Grand Ravine
massacre of more than 20 people along with burning scores of houses
in an act of pure savagery. It was after the August 21, 2005
slaughter in a Grand Ravine soccer field in front of 5000 fans
when as many as 50 people were shot or hacked to death with machetes
by PNH thugs and red-shirted killers.
A recent horrific incident happened in
the early morning hours of December 22, 2006 in Cite Soleil when
UN Blue Helmets assaulted the community killing more than 30 people
with some reports claiming much higher numbers. It happened in
random mass shooting striking people everywhere including in their
homes with bullets easily penetrating paper-thin walls. The UN
claimed it was after a young man named Belony, supposedly the
head of a kidnapping gang, but the story is pure "baloney"
like all other MINUSTAH ones. It's UN's way to justify repression
and killings saying it's targeting bandits that are really ordinary
Haitians protesting their misery or who happen to be in the line
of fire that's deliberately indiscriminate as an added form of
Disturbingly, President Rene Preval apparently
approved the December 22 operation and now has blood on his hands
to answer for. He likely knew it's purpose was to punish an impoverished
community that put 10,000 people on the streets a few days earlier
demonstrating for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and condemning
a US-directed militarized occupation of their country. Video
footage and eye witnesses captured and verified the retaliatory
response on the streets with unarmed civilians shot by random
gunfire including from helicopter gunships. At first the UN denied
it but finally admitted what video footage and digital photos
showed conclusively. They also showed wounded and dying with
no medical help on the scene and people left to bleed to death
on the streets or in their homes.
This assault was like an earlier one against
Cite Soleil on July 6, 2005 when UN forces attacked the city with
hundreds of heavily armed troops using M-50s and 60s mounted on
armored personnel vehicles. It also used high-powered telescopic
rifles for accuracy in singling out targeted dissenters for assassination
and a type of gattling gun firing armor-piercing bullets believed
to be depleted uranium tipped to slice through metal like butter.
This time about 70 people were shot indiscriminately from thousands
of rounds of ammunition fired. Again those hit were left to bleed
to death unattended on the streets or in their homes.
A more recent documented incident happened
in Cite Soleil on January 23, 2007 with MINUSTAH forces again
randomly shooting for hours including from helicopters while people
ran for their lives or were gunned down indiscriminately as they
did. No accurate count of casualties is known so far, and the
number killed may never be known as Blue Helmets often remove
bodies to conceal the extent of their handiwork. Another attack
followed on January 24 with MINUSTAH acknowledging it killed six
people and wounded others in the same targeted community. Haitians
won't ever be free of this until peacekeepers leave, Blue Helmet
terrorism ends and people can choose their own leaders, free from
outside control, or not live under ones imposed on them.
For now, that seems light years away,
and all reports out of Haiti are grim including a January 23 one
by the National Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission (JILAP),
a human rights commission of Haiti's Roman Catholic church. It
reported at least 539 people died violently in Port-au-Prince
alone in the three month period ending December 31, 2006 with
the true number likely higher as it only counted dead bodies on
the streets. Most of the victims were in impoverished communities
like Cite Soleil, Grand Ravine, Martissant and Bolosse, and the
main cause of death was from gunshot wounds. JILAP also attributed
most of the violence to MINUSTAH and PNH with most deaths just
local residents in targeted areas. Other violence was blamed
on street gangs like the one led by the Little Machete Army that
may have murdered Haitian independent journalist Jean Remy Badiau
in Martissant because he "dared practice journalism in a
country where the press (today) is never free."
Sadly, Haitians have no freedom because
the extent of occupation-led terror is greater than Haiti's ever
had in its 200 year history as a sovereign state. It amounts
to collective punishment of an impoverished people living under
US-imposed police state type daily killings, massacres, rapes,
arbitrary arrests, mass incarcerations, beatings and horrific
immiseration of millions of people defenseless against it. It
also includes human trafficking of women and children for forced
prostitution and men and women for forced labor amounting to chattel
slavery. Additional thousands of men have been forcibly taken
to the Dominican Republic and other regional countries to work
for wages so low they're called "sugar slaves."
Still more abuse came out in the September,
2006 Lancet reported study conducted by Wayne State University,
School of Social Work researchers Athena Kolbe and Dr. Royce Hutson.
They exposed and documented massive human rights violations in
Haiti under the puppet Latortue government using random Global
Positioning System (GPS) coordinate sampling of 1260 households
and 5720 individuals. 90.7% of them were interviewed using a
structured questionnaire by trained interviewers to learn about
their experiences since Aristide's ouster.
The study findings estimated 8,000 people
were murdered and about 35,000 women (over half under 18)sexually
assaulted in the greater Port-au-Prince area between February,
2004 and December, 2005. 21% of killings were attributed to the
PNH, 13% to the demobilized army and another 13% to anti-Aristide
paramilitary gangs like the Little Machete Army. Known criminals
were the worst sex offenders, but officers from the HNP accounted
for 13.8% of assaults and armed anti-Lavalas groups another 10.6%.
The report also documented kidnappings, extrajudicial detentions,
physical assaults other than rape, death threats, physical threats
and threats of sexual violence against helpless people.
The report concluded that "crime
and systematic abuse of human rights were common in Port-au-Prince"
involving criminals but also "political actors and UN (Blue
Helmet) soldiers." It also stressed an overwhelming need
on the ground for attention to "legal, medical, psychological,
and economic consequences of widespread human rights abuses and
The study ended in December, 2005, but
the same abuses go on daily in Haitian communities around Port-au-Prince
and elsewhere in the country. It's a picture of UN failure and
its top officials and Secretary-General corrupted and criminally
complicit with its authorized missions' worst crimes and abuses
going on everywhere. It also shows the world body as a servant
of power, defiling its founding mandate and damning the poor and
weak to pay for its failure to protect them. Nowhere are things
worse than in Haiti, and nowhere are UN representatives more culpable
starting at the top where the buck stops with its former Secretary-General
Kofi Annan. His tenure ended in December as it began - in disgrace
but whose record went unreported because he served power interests
well who'll now reward him in his new endeavors.
Haitians hoped things might not be this
way last February 7 when they reelected Rene Preval their President
in an electoral process orchestrated, controlled and rigged by
the US-installed puppet government but not enough to override
the will of the people. For the first time in two years, desperate
Haitians had reason to celebrate with a leader again in charge
who once served their needs as President. But nothing is ever
simple in Haiti, and long knives in Washington were out to undermine
and destabilize Preval's rule from its outset or simply work around
him and ignore it. The result to date is capital rules the country,
and Rene Preval has little to show for his first year in office.
Haitians continue suffering, and 9,000 repressive Blue Helmets,
PNH and other paramilitaries are on the ground keeping it that
It affects the lives of helpless people
in ways beyond brute force and economic depravation. Blue Helmet
attacks in Cite Soleil severely damaged the community's public
water system as random gunfire hit pipelines and a water tower.
It forced area residents to walk long distances with heavy buckets
for what's unavailable close by while private speculators truck
in drinking water for sale at prices Cite Soleil's half million
residents can't afford. It's one more part of marketplace rule
leaving most Haitians out of it with no resources to participate.
The UN peacekeeping mandate expires on
February 15, but Haitians won't see the end of it. The Security
Council is about to extend the mission with disagreement over
its length that comes up for review every six months. Before
leaving office, Kofi Annan recommended a year's extension, but
unanimity hasn't yet been reached by Security Council members.
When it is, it won't reflect the peoples' will demanding Blue
Helmets leave that's loudly heard on the streets and ignored as
it always is.
Protests and demonstrations are on the
capital's streets all the time, but a major one happened on February
7 as well as in six other Haitian cities and many around the world
in solidarity. They dramatically dispelled the UN's false assertions
that Lavalas is dead. It lives, it's vibrant, and it puts a lie
to UN Envoy Edmond Mulet's claim that "the issue of former
President Aristide is not present anymore....in Haiti....and his
(Fanmi Lavalas) movement is very much divided, weakened."
The date marked the 16th anniversary of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's first inauguration as Haiti's first elected
President in 1991 and 21st anniversary of the end of the hated
Duvalier father-son dictatorship in 1986. Tens of thousands of
Fanmi Lavalas supporters took to the streets peacefully to protest
their occupation and violence from it. They called for the release
of all political prisoners and demanded return of those in forced
exile starting with their former President deposed on February
29, 2004. Protestors joined with them in solidarity in 53 cities
around the world on five continents against Blue Helmet massacres
in an "International Day in Solidarity with the Haitian People."
On the same day, protesters went to Haiti's UN heavily guarded
Port-au-Prince military headquarters demanding Aristide's return
and confronting soldiers with shouts of "Down with the UN."
Hundreds were back the following day repeating their chants and
risking the kind of retaliation they've come to expect before.
They got their answer on February 9 when
hundreds of UN peacekeepers again raided Cite Soleil before dawn
continuing their ritualized crackdown and retaliation against
courageous people resistance. It's made Blue Helmets a hated
symbol of imperial repression and all the terror from it. For
Haitian people, it's just the latest chapter in their 500 year
struggle never losing hope one day they'll be free at last. No
people deserve it more than do Haitians.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.