"Looter" Killed in Chile, Others Tear Gassed, UN Official Barcena
Claims There's "No Violence"
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 1 -- In the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile,
authorities fired tear gas and water cannons at people seeking to
enter stores and supermarkets. According to the BBC, one
was shot dead and 160 arrested; the items being taken were not only
food but "plasma TVs and other electrical appliances."
does not imply mass criminality, or systematic government repression.
But when long time UN official Alicia Barcena briefed the Press at UN
headquarters by phone at noon on March 1, and Inner City Press asked
her about the government's use of tear gas and water cannons, she
answered, "What is looting?" Video here,
from Minute 15:20.
explained, when people go inside broken open stores, and in this case
get shot at with tear gas and water cannons. Oh no, Ms. Barcena said,
"there has not been any violence... no violence between the army
and the people, none at all."
that to the
man shot and killed, or those fired on with tear gas. It would be one
thing for the UN to say that the level of violence, other than the
death, has been minimal in their view, or proportional. But hours
after a person was shot and killed to providing a briefing that
"there has not been any violence" is something else.
UN has taken
on the role of criticizing the media for reporting on looting, in
Haiti and now Chile. The UN wants the images to be more positive, and
so, in this case, its officials misspeak. This undermine the UN's
duty of reporting on human rights, which include the rights of
alleged looters, killed or gassed by the government.
this case involves ignoring the shooting -- summary execution? -- of a
single "looter," the principle of denying what takes place extends to
the UN in the Congo, in the person of scandal plagued envoy Alan Doss,
denying that civilians are killed by UN-supported troops of the
Armed Chilean soldier patroling, shot "looter" not shown
UN wants and in
some sense needs to get along with governments where it works. But
this can contradict with its role and goal of being a credible human
rights reporter, or being credible more generally.
asked Ms. Barcena about rumors the President Bachelet might stay on
past March 11. Barcena said no, only her emergency coordinator Carmen
Fernandez would stay on.
while still the sitting Chilean
president, Ms. Bachelet has been listed as a UN (or UNIFEM)
representative in Haiti. No matter how much one may like or respect
Ms. Bachelet, it would seem that the UN should not be giving
positions to sitting heads of state. But what do we know?
fact, now Ms.
Bachelet is being tipped for the newly created Under Secretary General
women's affairs post. Could this explain the counter-factual claim
that there's been "no violence" by the Army against
civilians, even "looters," under her watch?
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by Haitian National Police Ascribed to Imposters by UN, No
Anti-Corruption Role, UN's Pro-Government Focus
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 11 -- The UN says it is investigating reports of
summary executions by the Haitian National Police. Video here,
for the second time in ten days asked acting UN chief in Haiti Edmund
Mulet about the killing of alleged thieves, this time citing Haitian
religious leader Max Beauvoir's account of a January 16 meeting of
President Rene Preval, the Prime Minister and police chief at which
"we decided we had to deal with them in an emergency way...
capital punishment, automatically, for all bandits."
that "we are aware of some incidents of shooting [by] private
security guards... perhaps Haitian National Police members involved."
But even this, he tried to convert into imposters, who stole the HNP
February 1, when
Inner City Press asked, Mulet said that the UN Mission MINUSTAH was
"investigating" such claims. Ten days later, there are no
"conclusions," he said.
Alain Le Roy began the February 11 presentation by praising Mulet for
maintaining such good relations with the Haitian government.
Mulet credibly investigate and speak out against Haitian National
Police killings, which Max Beauvoir said were decided on at a meeting
including Rene Preval and the Prime Minister, if he is also tasked
with "getting along well" with these officials?
UN has at least
two conflicting goals: to get along with the government, and to
ensure that at least basic human rights are being respected. Right
now the UN in Haiti appears to be paying only lip service to the
second, human rights goal.
UN need to be
(made to be) much more clear about its role in Haiti. The UN has some
hard working international and national civil servants in Haiti, but
only if the UN admits what it cannot or will not meaningfully do will
the need for others to do it become clear. Lack of clarify ill-serves
the Haitian people.
UN's Ban and Mulet with Rene Preval, HNP not shown
also asked about another ostensible UN role: to try to minimize
corruption, so that needed donations will be made. Inner City Press
asked about documented meetings with President Preval by a
Florida-based business, AshBritt, which is under fire for how it got
Hurricane Katrina contracts -- with Haley Barbour as a lobbyist --
and how it performed under other contracts.
meeting in which
AshBritt pitched for major contracts in Haiti, Mulet said "we
have nothing to do with that." Video here,
from Minute 58:49. So much for an anti-corruption monitoring role for
the UN. But if the
UN is not going to do it, who is? Watch this site.
Footnote: Mulet also
said he had no information about Haitian land owners seeking payment,
now or in the future, for land used for housing, temporary and later
permanent. Since aid funds are involved in this re-housing process, and
the question was squarely raised to Mulet's deputy Kim Bolduc on
February 8, it seemed strange that Mulet had no information three days
later. We will continue to pursue this.
* * *