A Rape in Haiti

The video is profoundly disturbing.  It shows four men, identified as Uruguayan troops from the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), apparently raping an 18-year old Haitian youth.  Two of them have the victim pinned down on a mattress, with his hands twisted high up his back so that he cannot move.  Perhaps the most unnerving part of the video is the constant chorus of laughter from the perpetrators; it’s just a big drunken party to them.

ABC News reports  that Uruguayan Navy Lieutenant Nicolas Casariego confirmed the authenticity of the video. A medical certificate filed with the court in Port Salut, a southern coastal town where the incident took place, says that the victim was beaten and had injuries consistent with a sexual assault.

The incident is likely to pour more gasoline on the fire of resentment that Haitians have for the UN troops that have occupied their country for more than seven years.  There has been a terrible pattern of abuses:  in December 2007, more than 100 UN soldiers from Sri Lanka were deported under charges of sexual abuse of under-age girls.  In 2005, UN troops invaded Cité Soleil, one of the poorest areas in Port-au-Prince,killing as many as 23 people, including children, according to witnesses.   After the raid, the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders reported: “On that day we treated 27 people for gunshot wounds. Of them, around 20 were women under the age of 18.”

Wikileaks cables released in the last week reveal that the Timothy Carney, representing the United States government as the top-ranking diplomat in Haiti in 2006, warned that such raids would “inevitably cause unintended civilian casualties given the crowded conditions and flimsy construction of tightly packed housing in Cité Soleil”.   But Washington – showing its lack of respect for human life in Haiti – offered no objections to further raids, which continued into 2006.

And make no mistake about it: the UN occupation of Haiti is really a U.S. occupation – it is no more a multilateral force than George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” that invaded Iraq.  And it is hardly more legitimate, either:  it was sent there in 2004 after a U.S.-led effort toppled Haiti’s democratically elected government.  Far from providing security for Haitians in the aftermath of the coup, MINUSTAH stood by while thousands of Haitians who had supported the elected government were killed, and officials of the constitutional government jailed.  Recent Wikileaks cables also confirm that the U.S. government sees MINUSTAH as an instrument of its policy there.

This latest incident could shed some light on the nature of its mission, just as the photos from Abu Ghraib made plain for most of the world the brutality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Images cannot be so easily dismissed or buried as words. And the images from this video are symbolic of what the “international community” has been doing to Haiti since the country won its independence from France in the world’s first successful slave-led revolution.

There is no legitimate reason for a military mission of the United Nations in Haiti. The country has no civil war, and is not the subject of a peace-keeping or post-conflict agreement.  And the fact that UN troops are immune from prosecution or legal action in Haiti encourages abuses.  The occupying troops don’t speak the language either, which severely limits their capacity for any positive security role;  can you imagine how effective a Washington D.C. police force would be if it spoke only Japanese?

To make things even worse, it is now virtually certain that MINUSTAH brought the cholera bacteria to Haiti that has killed more than 6000 Haitians and infected more than 400,000 in the last 10 months. This was an act of gross negligence:  there should have been supervision to make sure that fecal waste from UN troops was not dumped into the water supply, given the risks of such a deadly contamination and the known incapacity of Haiti’s water, sanitation, and public health system.

How long can MINUSTAH continue to occupy and abuse Haiti?

Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: the Phony Crisis.

This column was originally published by the Guardian.

More articles by:

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of  Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes