June 24, 2005

(Announcer) MINUSTAH (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) Chief Juan Gabriel Valdes appears very confident about the renewal of the mission’s mandate with the possibility of increasing the number of its members to more than 7,400 international soldiers and police before the elections are held. Ambassador Valdes expresses optimism about an improvement in the security climate in the capital. He stresses that MINUSTAH is aware of the problems affecting the metropolitan area. MINUSTAH chief Valdes speaks as follows:

(Valdes) I must say that we have taken a long time and maybe too much time to have more efficient information. I feel more confident now that we have information about the bandits, the gang leaders, about the way they act, their contacts, and the people they communicate with. So, I think that we are going to be able to take action more efficiently in the future.

I believe that, in the coming weeks, people are going to see operations that will allow the people to be more confident about MINUSTAH’s willingness to take action. I respect all the names they have given MINUSTAH. As I always say, we are here to serve, and if they criticize us then we will accept all the criticism. Maybe I should specify that some of the criticism we get is sometimes not right.

I want to make it clear that MINUSTAH often understands the cries, the impatience, and even the tragic way in which Haitians see the current situation here in Port-au-Prince. We are fully determined to enter into confrontation with those who believe that violence can intimidate the Haitian people.

I want to add one more thing about this issue. What the Security Council Resolution also reveals is that the international community is not intimidated by the bandits that wish to spread violence in a country and destroy any possibility for a better future. We are not intimidated by these bandits and we invite the people not to let themselves be intimidated either.

We think that a reaction that casts doubt on the elections is a reaction that shows intimidation. We think that the elections and the national dialogue are reactions that are against violence, and they are measures that show a decision of all the Haitian people and the international community to confront this danger. I believe that we will see an improvement in the situation before long.