Brazilian Battalion Enforces Security Amid Crisis
By Dialogo April 01, 2010Hello, when the imagination is projected taking into account the reconstruction of the planet, in a few places in one way, in others in another way, and in some others in every way, we must start with the staff willing to do the best for their own value as a person, educating others and helping them move in that direction, not forced, not by trickery or promises, but with a decision to improve their current lifestyle. We have to discuss several points that are branching in the growth, the methods applied to counteract, the pests which depend on the natural stations in the biological cycle, so it is like springing, and if not caught early, they can devour, as we have seen, and in this way, you lose the crop. Then, what should you do? What do you like doing? Seeing that the authorities do not perform the job as they should, often because they are busy doing other things.
Before the January 12, 2010, earthquake, the U.N.’s permanent military
contingent in Haiti consisted of 7,000 men. After the tragedy, the U.N. Security
Council authorized the deployment of another 2,000 military personnel to assist with
humanitarian aid and rescue efforts. The Brazilian Battalion, or BRABATT, has been
the largest in the country since the creation of MINUSTAH in 2004, with
approximately 1,300 military personnel. After the earthquake, another contingent of
900 men, who make up BRABATT II, was sent to Haiti. Diálogo magazine went to
BRABATT’s headquarters to talk to the battalion’s thencommander, Col. Ajax Pinheiro,
about the new challenges the troops have faced since the disaster.
DIÁLOGO: What changed in the activities of the Brazilian
Battalion after the earthquake?
Col. Ajax Pinheiro: Everything. There are four classic
decisionmaking factors: mission, enemy, terrain and means. Here there are no
enemies; there are adverse forces, which are organized crime, gangs, and groups of
criminals. Before the earthquake, the most dangerous criminals were behind bars, and
those who were free were a small and disorganized contingent. With the collapse of
the prisons during the earthquake, approximately 4,500 [prisoners] escaped. In other
words, the category of adverse forces changed. The terrain also changed. Bel Air is
a classic example, where there are streets that we used to patrol and don’t anymore,
because we can’t get through due to the debris or because it doesn’t interest us
since nobody lives there anymore. With the new military personnel arriving from
other countries, especially the U.S. and Canada, we had to review our strategies and
make new plans. Along with all that, our mission also changed. We used to focus
principally on security. Nowadays, half of the troops are involved with humanitarian
aid — which always existed — and the other half work on security.
DIÁLOGO: Was there a problem regarding security?
Col. Ajax: We were very concerned that security issues would
turn into a serious problem. When we had our first gang confrontation, which
happened five weeks after the earthquake, we had to send a strong response so that
the bandits would understand that they could not confront us. So when they pointed
pistols and AK rifles at us, we shot to hit the walls close to them and arrested
three of them. This happened in Cité Soleil. We immediately sent 350 men there, with
eight armored vehicles, and we closed off the area. We searched the area and
arrested two more thugs. It was a way to send a strong response so that they would
not threaten us anymore.
DIÁLOGO: Is there somewhere to put these prisoners, since the
majority of the jails in Port-au-Prince collapsed?
Col. Ajax: The plan is to rebuild the jails rapidly. For
instance, I know that Canada is investing in the construction of new prisons. Our
role is to do the intelligence work, to arrest the criminals and turn them over to
the Haitian police and to the UNIPOL, the U.N. police. From that point on, it’s a
problem for the Haitian judicial system. We are not involved with it. In sum, the
security problem is under control, and I can guarantee that the level of security in
Port-au-Prince is better than in many capitals and large cities of the world.
DIÁLOGO: Isn’t there a negative reaction from the Haitian
population when they see foreigners arresting their compatriots?
Col. Ajax: At least in the Brazilian Battalion, we’ve never had
that problem. Besides the fact that they know we’re arresting criminals, we’ve
always provided humanitarian aid, so we are seen favorably by the Haitians.
DIÁLOGO: Besides the intelligence service and patrols, how do
the military personnel become aware of the criminals’ activities?
Col. Ajax: We have a hot line that works very well and that is
already very popular among the Haitians. Besides this, the people themselves
approach our Soldiers to denounce possible criminal acts, confidentially. This shows
great confidence in us.