Brazil Rejects U.S. Call for Haiti Crackdown
By Andrew Hay
BRASILIA, Brazil, (Reuters) - U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti will not respond to international pressure to "use violence" against armed gangs and will rebuild the country as a "peacekeeping force, not an occupying force," the mission's Brazilian commander said on Thursday.
His comments and those of Brazil's foreign minister came a day after Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) demanded U.N troops crack down on street gangs after gunfights broke out near him when he visited Haiti's interim leader at the presidential palace.
"We are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence," General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro told a congressional commission in Brazil. "I command a peacekeeping force, not an occupation fo
rce ... we are not there to carry out violence, this will not happen for as long as I'm in charge of the force."
He cited the United States, France and Canada among countries pressing for the use of force against armed groups.
"To do this would require a force of 100,000 men prepared to seek and kill in large numbers and this is not our role, nor do we want it," Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Brazilian legislators.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent his nation's biggest ever U.N peacekeeping force to Haiti in June as Brazil sought a role as a regional crisis mediator and support for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
The mission took over from a 3,773-strong U.S.-led force that entered Haiti for two months after a February revolt forced former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to flee.
The mission has tried to use Brazilian football stars to disarm gang members and has been criticized for being reluctant to intervene direct
ly in the violence that has gripped Haiti since Aristide left. More than 200 people have been killed in the last three months in gang and political violence.
Brazil is demanding U.N. donor nations deliver $1.2 billion in aid they have promised to rebuild Haiti.