Peru In Haiti: Arms For Peace
By Dialogo December 23, 2010Congratulations on the written article, to only add that Peru has always been a country that loves peace and has always demonstrated this in its peace missions participation that have been internationally recognized for its excellent professionalism, high ability and acknowledgement on behalf of its participants. I believe that Peru with the experience gained will continue contributing with global Peace. The article on Juan Sebastian Verastegui Marchena is excellent, the Peruvian forces have always had a outstanding professionalism and efficiency in spite of few economic resources compared to other armed forces in the region; for the experience gained fighting internal subversion they are in line with the UN peacekeeping mission and international security. I had the opportunity to meet Peruvians serving in Haiti; like Minustah, who visited my country which is the Republic that borders Haiti on the same island. I can say without fear of misspeaking that they are a proper military, educated and full of humane values. Its work in our sister Haiti has been excellent and I congratulate the Peruvian Armed Forces for the preparedness of its soldiers. It was from our native island that Francisco Pizarro departed from in his conquest of Peru and we are united by a brotherly bond. I would hope that all of the other countries could count on such an Armed Force as prepared.
More than six years have passed since MINUSTAH was established to replace the initial Multinational Interim Force that acted in response to the desperation of a Haiti exhausted by poverty, AIDS, political instability, corruption, and many uncontrollable ills that forced Jean Bertrand Aristide’s resignation from the presidency of the Caribbean nation.
Since then, Latin America has done justice to its reputation as a region of peace by keeping the threat of a conventional war at a distance and at the same time, through the political agreement of its governments, contributing to the reconstruction of Haiti as a viable nation.
This great challenge tested the capacity of the region’s countries to meet the demands of operations of this kind. South America responded well, with Brazil at the head of the mission, excellently complemented by the participation of Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile as well.
The case of Peru is particularly significant, since it is the country in the region that spends least on arms, and in a true demonstration of its foreign policy, maintains a significant military contingent in Haiti as a message of cooperation and interest in promoting the peace and development of the peoples of the world.
The Andean country’s participation in peacekeeping operations dates from 1958 in Lebanon (June to December). Afterward came Iraq (August 1988 – September 1989), Namibia (1989), Western Sahara (September 1991 – October 1992 and then 1998), the Democratic Republic of Congo (2000), Sierra Leone (2000), Eritrea and Ethiopia (2001-2002, 2003), and Cyprus (2003), in addition to innumerable exercises held in the United States, Argentina, and Chile.
There are two kinds of peace operations, those known as observer missions and those known as peacekeeping forces. In the latter, Peru has been a pioneer in sending troops to carry out so noble a mission. A clear example of those is found in the fact that already in 1973, the Inca nation sent a numerous group of officers, cadets, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted personnel to the Middle East to form the UN Emergency Force, established by the Security Council during the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Peruvians made up the “Peru Battalion” and were part of the international contingent, which had Peruvian Gen. Gastón Ibáñez O’Brien as its General Commander of the UNEF II Sinai Sector until the middle of 1974. Later, another Peruvian, Gen. Luis Block Urban, would serve as General Commander of the MINURSO peacekeeping forces (referendum in Western Sahara).
Starting in the 1970s, more than fourteen peace operations missions have been able to count on Peru’s valuable participation, from that celebrated “Peru Battalion” to the current missions in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and of course Haiti.
Peruvian Women For Peace
The efficiency demonstrated by the Peruvian Armed Forces in peace operations has made it possible to detect new needs for support in operations of this kind, such as, for example, the protection of children at risk, of women, and of the most vulnerable.
The Peruvian government already has women serving as observers on its different peace missions sent to various parts of the world; nevertheless, deeply identified with the new needs observed in the course of its vast experience with operations of this kind, it has seen fit, starting in 2011, to send mixed military contingents to carry out the peace missions ordered by the international community.
Capt. José Luis Delgado, head of peace operations at the Armed Forces Joint Command, estimates that at the end of this year or the beginning of 2011, women from the three branches that make up the Peruvian Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) will have completed preparations, adding that the training given to this contingent will guarantee their excellent preparation for taking part in any kind of peace mission ordered by the United Nations.
An Ongoing Commitment
For more than fifty years, Peru has deeply identified with the UN mission of maintaining international peace and security. Throughout that period, it has deployed its best human and material resources toward obtaining that end, showing itself to be the global entity’s most immediate collaborator in defending the peace and resolving conflicts through peaceful means.
As we have already detailed, not even the treacherous attack of Shining Path interrupted Peruvian participation in peace operations, as the country continued sending military observers to Iraq, Namibia, and Western Sahara.
Following the defeat of this terrorist group, Peru considered itself ready to increase its participation in peace operations. Two factors were fundamental in this regard: its excellent professional experience and its pacifist vocation.
The experience of defeating the world’s third-bloodiest terrorist movement and the impeccable participation of Peru’s Armed Forces in Operation “Chavin de Huantar” justified the prestige of Peruvian arms in the region, and it was necessary to contribute those experiences to the regional community.
For their part, Peru’s pacifist vocation, its continuous rejection of the regional arms race, and its demonstrated international solidarity precipitated the government decision to increase the Peruvian presence in peace operations.
This excellent decision has enabled its uninterrupted participation in MINUSTAH, to which it recently sent a new detachment of 216 military personnel, who will be stationed in Port-au-Prince.
Familiar with the efficiency of the country’s contingents, the UN increased the number of Peruvian military personnel it needs in order to carry out aid work and provide border security in Haiti. For that purpose, the Peruvian Armed Forces maintain military contingents of two hundred men that are sent every six months to the four military bases they operate in Haiti. Three of the four military bases are located on the border with the Dominican Republic, and the fourth is in Port-au-Prince.
In all four, the Peruvians carry out security tasks, border control, and highway and lake patrols and support the police in controlling smuggling and migration, in addition to working on social and humanitarian aid projects to improve the Haitian population’s quality of life.
Through these effective actions, Peru demonstrates to the international community that the arms that the nation places in the hands of her favored sons and daughters are not only for conflict, but rather, fundamentally, for preserving and keeping peace in the world.