Originally: Spanish peacekeepers to be deployed in Haiti on 15 October

August 11, 2004
The most probable deployment zone for the Spanish-Moroccan peacekeeping force is in the northeast of the country on the border with the Dominican Republic, already supervised by a reconnaissance group sent by the Defence Ministry.

The military force that Spain will send to Haiti to join the UN-led stabilization mission (Minustah) will be deployed “and operating” in its area on  October 15, made up of “a reinforced company formed from the Marine Brigade (Brimar) and a support group”, which in total adds up to “120 troops”. The company will operate alongside another one from Morocco of the same size, as was announced on  August 9 by the Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero government, and both of them will be under the sole command of a group of Spanish officers, who will hold all the top positions in the contingent. Moroccan officers, meanwhile, will carry out coordination tasks.

In parallel, the Brazilian general leading Minustah, Heleno Pereira, has confirmed from Haiti that Spanish troops will sit on the General Staff of the force deployed in the country and will have positions of responsibility that will be defined by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Troops “very prepared”

As Gen Heleno explained to this daily in a phone call from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, this is an area where the presence of “troops of such a high level and with such a high degree of training as the Spanish” is considered of “maximum interest”. Their mission, he added, would be to focus on the control of small groups of former troops from the former Haitian army which “continue to carry out illegal patrols in small areas on the border”.

According to the general, their mission would not, in any case, involve “confrontation” with these groups but it will be “a mission of persuasion, that will be finished off with political moves by the Haitian government aimed at stopping the activities of these groups, who have to be reintegrated into society”.

However the leader of the multinational force emphasized that other options have also been offered to the Spanish, such as deployment in the south on the Caribbean coast.