SECRET: WHY WE NEED CONTINUING MINUSTAH PRESENCE IN HAITI

VZCZCXRO6232
OO RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #1381/01 2751548
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011548Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8914
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 2071
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0242
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1844
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2426
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0332
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC 1267
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PORT AU PRINCE 001381

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, DRL, S/CRS, INR/IAA
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL HA
SUBJECT: WHY WE NEED CONTINUING MINUSTAH PRESENCE IN HAITI

PORT AU PR 00001381 001.2 OF 004

Classified By: Ambassador Janet A. Sanderson. Reason: E.O. 12958 1.4
(b), (d)

1. (U) This report responds to recommendation number 2 of the
Embassy Port au Prince OIG inspection report.

Summary
--------

2. (C) The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti is an
indispensable tool in realizing core USG policy interests in
Haiti. Security vulnerabilities and fundamental
institutional weaknesses mean that Haiti will require a
continuing - albeit eventually shrinking - MINUSTAH presence
for at least three and more likely five years. Haiti needs
the UN presence to fill the security gap caused by Haiti's
fledgling police force's lack of numbers and capabilities.
It needs MINUSTAH to partner with the USG and other donors in
institution-building. A premature departure of MINUSTAH
would leave the Preval government or his successor vulnerable
to resurgent kidnapping and international drug trafficking,
revived gangs, greater political violence, an exodus of
seaborne migrants, a sharp drop in foreign and domestic
investment, and resurgent populist and anti-market economy
political forces - reversing gains of the last two years.

3. (C) Summary Continued: MINUSTAH is a remarkable product
and symbol of hemispheric cooperation in a country with
little going for it. There is no feasible substitute for
this UN presence. It is a financial and regional security
bargain for the USG. USG civilian and military assistance
under current domestic and international conditions, alone or
in combination with our closest partners, could never fill
the gap left by a premature MINUSTAH pullout. The U.S. will
reap benefits from this hemispheric security cooperation for
years to come - but only if its success is not endangered by
early withdrawal. We must work to preserve MINUSTAH by
continuing to partner with it at all levels in coordination
with other major donor and MINUSTAH contributor countries
from the hemisphere. That partnering will also help counter
perceptions in Latin contributing countries that Haitians see
their presence in Haiti as unwanted. The Department and
Embassies in Latin countries contributing troops should work
to ensure th
ese countries' continuing support for MINUSTAH. End summary.

Haiti Needs MINUSTAH to Become Viable State
-------------------------------------------

4. (C) The fundamental USG policy goal in Haiti is to make
it a viable state that does not post a threat to the region
through domestic political turmoil or an exodus of illegal
migrants. To reach that point, Haiti must be able to assure
its own domestic security, govern itself with stable
democratic institutions, and create a business climate that
will get the economy moving. Haiti has made progress but is
still a long way from these goals. The United Nations
Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is the largest and
most effective external institution pursuing them. Haiti's
progress toward viability hinges on a large international
security presence and continued injections of assistance to
consolidate its institutions and ease human misery. MINUSTAH
is the implementing instrument of the security goal, and
MINUSTAH elements are key players in the goal of
consolidating institutions and providing critical disaster
relief.

MINUSTAH a Security Linchpin
----------------------------

5. (C) MINUSTAH's core stabilization function is security:
filling the gap left by inadequate force levels and
capabilities of the Haitian National Police (HNP). The HNP
currently has approximately 9,000 officers. MINUSTAH in 2006
set a five-year target of training and fielding 14,000
officers - although the police reform report to the UN
Security Council says 20,000 are needed to adequately police
the country. At current training and vetting rates, Haiti

PORT AU PR 00001381 002.2 OF 004

will reach this goal by 2012 at the earliest, provided the
GOH is willing to fund and staff this level. (Note: This
projection rests on HNP plans to expand the capacity of the
Police Academy beginning with the summer class of 2008. End
note.) This gain in force will be reduced if the HNP acts
on the results of the ongoing UN vetting process and weeds
out officers found to be linked to crime, corruption, and
other misconduct. Normal attrition will also push the 2012
target date further out. Deficient capabilities - in
experience, investigative skills, and management, all
exacerbated by corruption -- limit the HNP's security clout.

6. (C) Given HNP's lack of capability, MINUSTAH's backup
security and police training functions are needed to fill the
resulting gap in security. MINUSTAH troops continue to
provide security in areas such as the Cite Soleil slum,
liberated from overt gang rule in early 2007. They are also
the country's ultimate riot control force which in times of
unrest protects strategic government installations, including
the National Palace and the airport. In MINUSTAH's UN police
operations pillar, Formed Police Units (FPU -
gendarmerie-type police units from individual contributor
countries) aid the HNP with security operations, such as
helping put down the mutiny at the national penitentiary last
November, and performing riot control during the April
disturbances. UNPOL officers provide support to HNP
operations, down to helping the anti-kidnapping unit and
beginning to assist the HNP's counter narcotics unit. The
UNPOL development pillar works with the HNP to develop its
capabilities. UNPOL officers guide and monitor the training
of the HNP at the Police Academy and in the field. The
MINUSTAH apparatus is also conducting the vetting of the
entire HNP, an essential aspect of HNP reform.

7. (C) The April food riots threw into stark relief
MINUSTAH's role as a security force of last resort. MIUSTAH
troops, FPU's and UNPOL provided the criticl extra security
capability that prevented riotes from overrunning the
Presidential Palace and pobably chasing President Preval
from office.

INUSTAH Role in Institution Building
------------------------------------

8. (C) MINUSTAH contibutes to building up Haiti's
political and judiial institutions and supporting them
day-to-day n the ground. It has a civilian presence
througout the country: its civil affairs division has tams
of advisers deployed in larger towns in all tn departments.
These units advise and train oficials at a level of
government that is just getting off the ground. At the
national level, MINUSTAH is a key partner of the U.S. and
other donor countries in building up and reforming Haiti's
judicial system. The dimensions of the UN's civilian
technical assistance and training for Haiti's national and
local institutions exceed that of all other diplomatic
missions in Haiti put together.

MINUSTAH Post-Hurricane Role
----------------------------

9. (C) The August-September series of hurricanes and floods
have put MINUSTAH's disaster relief role in the spotlight.
Cut roads and fallen bridges meant that Prime Minister
Michele Pierre-Louis' visits to flooded regions were possible
only in MINUSTAH helicopters. Their rotary wing aircraft
have also flown emergency aid to areas cut off from ground
transport, supplementing the air assets of the USS Kearsarge
and the World Food Program. MINUSTAH troops rescued flood
victims trapped in their homes, and continue to provide
security for food convoys and distribution points, assuring
that emergency aid commodities reach their destination and
are distributed in an orderly manner. MINUSTAH serves as the
coordinating body among donors and between donors and the
Government of Haiti.

Bottom Line on Continuing MINUSTAH Presence
-------------------------------------------

PORT AU PR 00001381 003.2 OF 004

10. (C) The U.S. has a strong interest in maintaining
MINUSTAH's presence in Haiti until Haiti's security, judicial
and political institutions are can maintain a minimal level
of domestic security and political stability on their own.
Embassy therefore believes that MINUSTAH's presence here is
needed until the HNP reaches at least 14,000 officers and
Haiti has installed a new President after the 2011
Presidential transition. A UN civilian advisory presence
will be needed for an additional period after the MINUSTAH
military and police are drawn down to help along Haiti's
institution-building. MINUSTAH already envisions gradually
transitioning the current force structure from predominantly
infantry to more military police and engineering units,
provided the UNSC agrees. It will reduce its civilian
presence as Haiti's institutions become more solid. However,
a significant withdrawal of the MINUSTAH security forces and
civilian advisers is not advisable for a minimum of three
years, and we believe that a fu
ll withdrawal of MINUSTAH should not be considered before
five years.

Scenario of a Premature MINUSTAH Departure
------------------------------------------

11. (C) A precipitous withdrawal of or premature drawdown
of MINUSTAH's security component could open the door to
elements that threaten Haiti's political stability and the
consolidation of its democratic institutions. These are
goals which we and our hemispheric and European allies since
2004 have devoted over two billion USD in resources to
achieve. Increased security and other assistance from the
U.S. and other large donors individually could not
immediately make up for the loss of MINUSTAH boots on the
ground.

12. (C) We could see a rollback of stabilization and
security gains made since MINUSTAH began to serious confront
security problems in 2006. Kidnappings, now reduced through
effective police work, might spike upward again. Drug
trafficking networks, a large threat even with the current
MINUSTAH presence, could ramp up shipments through Haiti and
further their penetration of police, the judiciary,
parliament -- where we estimate perhaps a score of deputies
and senators are linked to the drug trade. Gang structures,
weakened but not eliminated from Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien
and Gonaives, could flex their muscles again. If gangs
resurface, we could see the revival of politically-linked
armed groups that during the Aristide era engaged in targeted
violence including murder against regime critics. If these
factors produced greater general instability, larger numbers
of Haitians would likely to take to the boats and attempt to
reach the U.S., as they did in the unstable 1990s. An upward
trend of the above factors would cause a deterioration of the
economic environment and a drop in domestic and foreign
investment.

MINUSTAH a Good Deal for the U.S.
---------------------------------

13. (C) MINUSTAH's presence produces real regional security
dividends for the U.S. Paying one-quarter of MINUSTAH's
budget through our DPKO assessment, the U.S. reaps the
security and stabilization benefits of a 9,000-person
international military and civilian stabilization mission in
the hemisphere's most troubled country. The security
dividend the U.S. reaps from this hemispheric cooperation not
only benefits the immediate Caribbean, but also is developing
habits of security cooperation in the hemisphere that will
serve our interests for years to come. In the current
context of our military commitments elsewhere, the U.S. alone
could not replace this mission. This regionally-coordinated
Latin American commitment to Haiti would not be possible
without the UN umbrella. That same umbrella helps other
major donors -- led by Canada and followed up by the EU,
France, Spain, Japan and others -- justify their bilateral
assistance domestically. Without a UN-sanctioned
peacekeeping and stabilization force, we

PORT AU PR 00001381 004 OF 004

would be getting far less help from our hemispheric and
European partners in managing Haiti.

But We Must Short Up Support
----------------------------

14. (C) The U.S. will continue to reap these security
benefits only if MINUSTAH's mission succeeds and enables
Haiti to carry itself as a country. The USG thus has a
strong interest that contributing countries continue their
commitment until Haiti's stability is self-sustained. The
USG should work to shore up support for MINUSTAH in Haiti and
in hemispheric troop-contributing countries. We should take
emphasize in UN venues and bilaterally to our Latin partners
that the Haitian people and their legitimate government
support MINUSTAH's presence, and that the UN is here at the
express request of the Government of Haiti. We must be
sensitive to Latin fears that any Haitian opposition to the
UN presence undermines their domestic support for deployments
in Haiti. During the April riots, the Brazilian MINUSTAH
Force Commander told Ambassador and others that his greatest
fear was that his troops would be forced to fire on
demonstrators. He understood that this could ignite
opposition in Haiti, Brazil, and other contributing countries
to his troops' presence in Haiti. The Brazilian Embassy's
national day celebration in Port au Prince September 8 was an
exercise aimed at the Brazilian domestic audience. Attended
by several Brazilian senators, it featured slide paels
extolling the humanitarian work of Brazil's army at home and
in Haiti, and a pathos-filled speech by the Ambassador about
the history and culture Brazil shares with Haiti.

15. (C) The Port au Prince embassies of Latin countries
contributing to MINUSTAH look to the strength of the U.S.
commitment to the UN presence as a bellwether. Any slippage
of U.S. commitment would embolden domestic elements who
oppose these countries' participation in in the UN mission
here. We sense that the strong U.S. embrace of the UN
presence in Haiti helps their case at home for continuing
deployments in Haiti. The Embassy uses every opportunity to
partner publicly with and support MINUSTAH. The current
post-hurricane relief effort, however disordered, is proving
an opportunity for U.S., Canadian, and other bilateral donors
to partner with MINUSTAH in disaster assistance and
reconstruction. We sense that the humanitarian focus of
these crisis-response efforts -- in contrast to riot-control
efforts in April -- is helping the case in Latin countries
for continuing their peacekeeping contributions in Haiti.

16. (C) The USG in Washington, New York, and in Latin
capitals must also do their part to buck up support for
MINUSTAH. In UN Security Council discussions of
Haiti-related items, U.S. rhetorical appreciation for the UN
presence here helps reassure contributor countries that their
deployments are justified. Similar expressions of support to
Latin representatives in Washington and Latin capitals are
also helpful.

17. (C) In the end, what will maintain MINISTAH
participants' support for deployments in Haiti is progress
toward Haitian stabilization and state viability. Continuing
the UN presence at projected levels for three to five years
will not guarantee that result, but abruptly downsizing or
prematurely withdrawing it will make more likely a result in
Haiti we do not want, and would make future hemispheric
peacekeeping efforts more difficult to justify.
SANDERSON
Advertisements