Brazil has had a long stand in taking part in Haiti’s mission, guaranteeing thousands of troops and culminating in President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s exile. This was supposed to be the Brazil-United Nations peacekeeping role after the 2004 coup d’état. It was part of the campaign by Brazil to prove its worthiness in matters of world security thereby earning it a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
The MINUSTAH, The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti failed. Mr. Ricardo Seitenfus, who lost his post as the Brazilian Representative to the OAS in Haiti, said it made “Haitians into prisoners of their own land.“ The high maintenance costs of these troops and the spread of violence and lost lives crumbled in the peacekeeping strategy. The Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim worked on a very slow exit.
Years passed and Brazil continued to play a military role after the catastrophic magnitude of Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 where an estimated 3 million were affected according to Haitian government figures. In 2010, during Lula’s administration, Brazil opened “its doors”, and the hope of a new life attracted thousands of Haitians. With Brazil’s economic boom at the time, it made very good sense and at last provided safety.
Given Brazil’s own African population challenges, this was more complicated than a simple open-arms welcome. Black Haitians in Southern Brazil, new to the language and customs, encountered aggression, racism and poor living conditions. A “better” plan on how to receive the new immigrants was poorly designed. Without accurate media reports, the government does not know where to find the funds to accommodate the newly arrived hopeful Haitians.
The situation reported today is tense. People find themselves asking, “if we cannot take care of our own how are we going to take care of more?” We believe we are challenged in giving and in learning about this new culture. We are looking to leaders, in the Haitian journey, and to a population that will bridge. We are adding to our society because Brazil can. Because there were others just like them; Italians, Polish, Arabs, Germans, Portuguese, African, and many more. These men too were hopeful, stateless, refugees and citizens. They are today’s Brazil taking part on our country. They created an economic upturn, built homes, raised families and spread their language and customs. They are organizations and government who came together. They are you and me.
The Haitian route: Leaving Port au Prince immigrants take the Bus to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Then a Flight to Panama en route to Ecuador. When they get to Peru they head to Acre. As of today the Humanitarian rights reports that 90% are in Santa Catarina, Paraná and São Paulo.