Haiti: April 29, 2005


It appears that some supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide have been in contact with the Hugo Chavez government of Venezuela. This is in keeping with the political objectives of both the Aristide supporters and the Chavez regime, which include reducing U.S. influence in the region. Chavez can provide money for guns, and a payroll. What keeps the armed groups in Haiti together is the ability of the warlord to provide to cash flow, and spread it around. A suitcase from Venezuela, full of hundred dollar bills, can put a lot of gunmen on the street. 

The continuing disorder in Haiti apparently has been good for Colombia's FARC rebels. Recent UN operations have uncovered several caches of arms that were apparently intended to be shipped to Colombia. FARC is using the disorder in Haiti to use the country as a waystation for shipments of weapons and drugs. 

An increasingly aggressive approach by MINUSTAH, the UN mission in Haiti, has been effective in reducing armed opposition to the interim Haitian government. Armed opposition has fallen to an estimated 2,500 men, mostly former Aristide regime soldiers and police, but with some free-lance thugs involved as well, from a high of perhaps as many as 7,000 just a year or so ago. But the high tempo of operations and the difficult operating environment have led to sagging morale among some of the UNs 6,000 troops and 1,400 civilian police. Fortunately, the troops, who come from Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka, the United States, & Uruguay, were of relatively high quality to begin with. There have been no incidents of abuse of civilians as has occurred on some peacekeeping missions elsewhere. 


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