Mujica Orders Uruguayan Peacekeeping Troops to Withdraw from Haiti

Originally posted at America’s Quarterly Blog.

José MujicaUruguayan President José Mujica announced at the Council of Ministers on Monday his decision to withdraw Uruguayan troops from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Mission was installed by the UN Security Council in 2004 following the coup d’état against former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and was reinforced in early 2010 when a devastating earthquake resulted in more than 220,000 deaths, according to government figures.

The UN has encouraged a progressive reduction of MINUSTAH’s troops as the peacekeeping mission’s mandate is coming to an end in June 2014. The latest Security Council resolution established that troops must be reduced to 5,021 soldiers and 2,601 police agents—down from the 8,690 officials who are currently on the island.

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In the News: Arrest of attorney spearheading government corruption case triggers protests in Haiti

by Jacqueline Charles — The Miami Herald. Originally posted on Anchorage Daily News

MIAMI – The political climate was tense in Haiti’s capital Wednesday as scores of demonstrators and opposition lawmakers protested the arrest of a prominent attorney leading a corruption case against the first family.

Andre MichelProtesters showed up at the downtown Port-au-Prince courthouse where Andre Michel, a lawyer and government critic, was scheduled for an appearance after his arrest Tuesday night. Michel was accused of obstructing justice after refusing to allow police and the district attorney to search his car. His arrest, well after a 6 p.m. constitutionally mandated cutoff for arrests not related to immediate criminal events, triggered protests and accusations that Haiti had re-entered a dictatorial era.

“Once again the executive has continued with its flagrant violation of the Haitian Constitution,” Sen. Francky Exius said.

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In the News: Group Says Haitian Garment Workers Are Shortchanged on Pay

By Randal C. Archibold and Steven Greenhouse. Originally published in The New York Times

Workers in garment shop in Haiti. Photo by Richard Perry/New York Times
Workers in garment shop in Haiti. Photo by Richard Perry/New York Times

MEXICO CITY — Garment factories in Haiti, the backbone of an effort to revive the country’s earthquake-shattered economy, have seriously shortchanged workers of their wages to keep costs of their T-shirts and other export goods low, according to a report to be issued Wednesday by a labor rights group.

The report, prepared by the Worker Rights Consortium, focused on 5 of Haiti’s 24 garment factories and found that “the majority of Haitian garment workers are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally due as a result of the factories’ theft of their income.”

The group said that the factories deprive workers of higher wages they are entitled to under law by setting difficult-to-meet production quotas and neglecting to pay overtime.

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In the News: Stephen Lewis says United Nations must be accountable for cholera in Haiti

by Roger Annis. Originally posted on rabble.ca

Stephen Lewis
Stephen Lewis (photo by Gordon Griffiths, Apr. 2009)

Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations who has also served at the world agency in several other prominent postings, says the international organization must accept responsibility for the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti in October 2010. He says he supports the legal action against the UN that was formally launched in New York City on October 9 on behalf of the victims of the epidemic.

Lewis spelled out strongly-held views in a nine-minute interview on the national, Saturday morning newsmagazine of CBC Radio One, Day 6 on October 12.

The CBC host began the interview by asking Lewis whether he supports the action. He replied, “I do. I think it is unequivocal, the responsibility of the United Nations for the cholera outbreak.”

Lewis dismissed suggestions that definitive proof of the origin of Haiti’s cholera epidemic has not been established. The disease was not present in modern Haiti before October 2010. The epidemic, he said, “has been traced definitively to the Nepalese peacekeeping force” of the UN military mission in Haiti termed MINUSTAH.

Even the UN’s own study on the matter, he said, “came within a hair’s breath of saying ‘we were responsible’, and in fact, the independent investigations by scientists show there is no question of the origin of the cholera”.

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In the News: Haiti recalls envoy, activists plan protests over Dominican court decision

by Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles. Originally posted at The Miami Herald

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Dominican human rights activists Tuesday announced planned demonstrations across the country in coming days to protest a court ruling that effectively strips citizenship rights from Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants.

Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir
Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir

The announcement came as Haiti recalled its ambassador to the country for consultation on what Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir called a worrying decision by Dominican authorities on the fate of up to 300,000 people born in the country since 1929, most of whom are descendants of Haitians. The ruling from the nation’s top court cannot be appealed.

Dominican officials defended the ruling, saying it ends uncertainty for children of immigrants and opens the door for them to apply for residency and eventually citizenship but no plan is currently in place.

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