Brazil is expected to help Haiti train engineers, enabling them to prepare and implement projects aiming to contribute to the development of their country. The offer by Defense Minister Celso Amorim was made on May 20 to Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe, during a meeting at the Ministry of Defense in Brasília.
According to Amorim, the Brazilian aid will not only consist of sending teachers to Haiti and structuring the training course for engineers, but will also include building the physical infrastructure needed to accommodate students in the Haitian territory and the acquisition of equipment and materials for use in the classes.
Professors from the Brazilian Army Corps of Engineers will teach the course. According to Amorim, the idea is to train approximately 500 Haitian students in Brazil and 1,000 others in Haiti itself. These trained professionals will not only teach the specific skills of the profession, but also learn how to deal with civil defense actions and responses to natural disasters, very common situations in the Caribbean island.
The Brazilian offer was well received by the Haitian Prime Minister, who said that his country is ready to receive support in professional training in engineering. He noted that in the last three years the country has suffered three disasters, including the tragic 2010 earthquake and hurricanes.
Training engineers is part of a set of initiatives authorized by President Dilma Rousseff to mark a new phase in cooperation between Brazil and Haiti. At this time, the minister explained, Brazil should prioritize actions of a structural nature that can help the Caribbean country create effective conditions for socioeconomic development. “Initiatives such as these are part of the heritage that Brazil wants to leave in Haiti,” said Amorim.
According to the Defense leader, Brazil has no intention to withdraw their troops from the country carelessly, but acknowledged that the Brazilian troops must not remain there indefinitely because it will create what he referred to as a “comfort zone” for all parties. “We wish to gradually transfer the responsibility over security and maintenance of law and order to Haiti,” he stated.
According to Defense Minister Amorim, part of the financial resources to be invested in the training of Haitian engineers is expected to come from the savings resulting from the demobilization of military forces in the country. Brazil began reducing its contingent, which should soon return to around 1,200 men, similar in size to what it was before the 2010 earthquake.
As examples of structural-type aid, Amorim cited the possibility of Brazil providing assistance to train the Haitian National Police and enabling financing to build the Artibonite hydroelectric plant in the northern part of the country, which will solve the power issue.
Lamothe emphasized that security is one of his main concerns. He asked for support to train and equip a rapid response force – a military elite corps capable of acting in case the regular police force fails. According to the Haitian representative, this force would consist of 600 troops. Amorim stated his commitment to assist Lamothe.
Prior to arriving at the meeting, Lamothe and his entourage were welcomed with military honors by the Brazilian minister. Air Force commander, Brigadier Juniti Saito; Navy Chief of Staff, Admiral Eduardo Monteiro Lopes; Army Chief of Staff, General Joaquim Silva e Luna; chief of the Armed Forces Joint Staff, General José Carlos De Nardi; and General Secretary of Defense, Ari Matos Cardoso were there to greet the Prime Minister.