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U.N.'s Annan Praises Latin America for Promoting Peace in Haiti

Uruguay and 8 other Latin American nations supply Haiti with peacekeeping troops

Posted: October 17, 2005

Washington -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has praised the nations of Latin America for helping to promote peace and stability in Haiti.

In an October 14 speech at an Ibero-American summit in Salamanca, Spain, Annan said 9 Latin American countries collectively contribute over 3,500 troops of the 7,640 international troops who serve as a peacekeeping force in Haiti.

The United States maintains a small military staff contingent in Haiti as part of the multinational peacekeeping force, which is known by the acronym MINUSTAH. Besides its support for MINUSTAH, the United States is also providing $15 million to support Haiti's upcoming elections, as part of a $44 million commitment from international donors to promote democracy and stability in the Caribbean nation. In 2004, the United States provided $8.7 million to support Haiti's electoral process.

Two rounds of legislative and presidential elections in Haiti are tentatively scheduled to take place on November 20 and in January of 2006, with local and municipal elections taking place December 11. A new Haitian president is expected to take office February 7, 2006.

The Latin American nations contributing to the MINUSTAH military contingent are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. (See related article.)

Annan told the heads of state of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal that Haiti will need further international aid to break the cycle of violence there, and he appealed to donor countries for timely and sustained financial support for Haiti's recovery and reconstruction.

With all its challenges, dangers and promise, Latin America is a "microcosm" of the world "in which all that the United Nations stands for is put to the test," Annan said.

"When I think of this delicate balance of tremendous promise and urgent perils in the world today, I think particularly of the nations of Latin America," he said. "Because yours is a region that truly hangs in that delicate balance."

Latin America, said Annan, has seen an "astonishing" spread of democratic governance, with increased social spending, improved human development, infant mortality halved by 50 percent, primary education offered to nearly every child, and millions lifted out of poverty.

"But we also see the stubborn persistence of inequality and exclusion, along economic, social and ethnic lines," said Annan. He added that while people in Latin America believe in democracy, "some have begun to doubt whether their governments can respond effectively to the needs of the poor."

Of course, "I do not, for a moment, pretend that there are easy answers to the challenges" faced by Latin America, he said. "But I do believe that the answers will be found in more democracy, not less. Your democracies must become true citizens' democracies, governed by a rule of law that applies to everyone, and willing and able to respond to the needs of all your peoples, including your indigenous citizens."

For information on U.S. policy in the region, see The Americas.

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer




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