By Marty Goodman
The supposedly “left” former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva—his first presidential term was 2003-2010–narrowly beat his rightist rival Jair Bolsonaro 50.9% to 49.1% in Brazil’s presidential election last Sunday. But before we start cheering Lula’s win, we should know that the people of Haiti may not be so happy.
Under Lula’s presidency, Brazilian soldiers landed in Haiti as the force in charge the UN mission there known as MINUSTAH (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, 2004-2017). The background to the mission was a CIA-backed coup in 2004 against the popularly elected liberal President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. 2004 was the second successful CIA overthrow of Aristide since the bloody September 1991 coup.
In order to consolidate the 2004 coup, led by brutal army and paramilitary forces, Washington shipped off the elected president on a US air force plane to his final location in the Central African Republic.
According to high-level World Bank memos, “thousands” died following the CIA-backed coup.
The next step in this choreographed plot, Washington leaned on its surrogate the UN, as it had during the 1994 military operation that returned Aristide, with a multi-national political/military cover for yet another imperialist occupation.
The US, at that was more preoccupied with its slaughter in Iraq and the rich bounty of oil there, promised Lula a coveted permanent seat on the UN Security Council in exchange for leading a UN military operation—Haitian sovereignty be damned.
Since 2004, as many as 13,000 troops were sent to Haiti from around the world—2,200 from Brazil alone.
But, see this in context. Brazilian police are notorious for racist violence toward the poor in the largely Black neighborhoods of Sao Paulo known as ‘favelas,’ regardless of who happens to be the Brazilian president (see “The Anti-Black City,” Jaime Amparo Alves, University of Minnesota Press, 2018). I can’t imagine that Brazilian troops are any different than its racist cops.
There were many instances of MINUSTAH troops killing civilians. One such notorious incident involved going after “gang leader” Dread Wilme on June 6, 2005 in the poor neighborhood of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince. UN forces, with the Haitian National Police as back-up, sprayed the shanty homes with bullets, killing as many as 80.
UN troops, including Brazilians, were notorious for offering food for sex or simply threatening violence to obtain sexual favors. It is thought that hundreds of children were born from UN troops.
In January, 2006, the Brazilian Lieutenant General Urano Bacellar, who led 7,600 U.N. forces in Haiti was found dead with a bullet in his head in Port-au-Prince, most reports believing it was a suicide. However, no spent cartridge was found.
Although Lula was in league with the US imperialist goal of preventing Aristide’s return, Urano Bacellar resisted US insistence on using more force to suppress pro-Aristide Haitians.
Illusions in Lula and reformist socialists continue to plague the US Left. Lula has run with bankers and conservative politicians. His disgraceful record in Haiti should provide Leftists with a clue of what to expect from him.