Brazil Honors Lt. Gen. Keen For Haiti Efforts
By Dialogo May 28, 2010Brazil awarded its distinguished Order of Rio de Branco to U.S. Southern Command’s deputy commander, Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, for his efforts in leading U.S. military support to Haiti relief operations earlier this year as commander of Joint Task Force-Haiti. During a brief ceremony at SOUTHCOM headquarters, Brazilian Deputy Consul General Roberto Parente and Brazilian Army Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto awarded the medal to Keen and said that Brazilian leaders see him not just as a partner, but someone who spearheaded and facilitated many of the major efforts to help Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation Jan. 12. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil awards the Order of Rio de Branco to both Brazilian and foreign nationals and is mainly an award for diplomatic service, though it is also awarded for service and meritorious achievement in other civil and government fields. “Lt. Gen. Keen proved to be a great diplomat who was capable of providing great recommendations,” said Peixoto, who served alongside Keen in Haiti as force commander for the United Nations stabilization mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). “This is a very humbling experience and a surprise to receive this,” said Keen. “This represents all those who served with us in Haiti and it represents all United Nations’ forces who served there. We [responded] to save lives and to do everything we could to help Haiti.” The award is named after José Maria da Silva Paranhos Júnior, Baron of Rio Branco (1845-1912), who is considered the patron of the Brazilian foreign service. He was a distinguished diplomat and later Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1902 to 1912. Keen, who was in Port au Prince when the earthquake struck, led U.S. military support to the massive multinational Haiti relief effort until April 18. At the height of initial response following the earthquake, Keen commanded more than 20,000 U.S. troops, 20 ships and 130 aircraft in Haiti.