Brazil OKs doubling its Haiti force to 2,600 troops
Brazil's Congress approved a government request to send as many as 1,300 additional troops to quake-stricken Haiti.
Brazil's Congress approved a government request on Monday to send as many as 1,300 additional troops to quake-stricken Haiti as part of a U.N. peacekeeping force in the Caribbean country.
A special congressional committee authorized the government to immediately deploy 900 troops and create a reserve of 400 soldiers to participate in the Brazil-commanded U.N. mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH.
Brazil already has 1,300 troops in Haiti.
The deployment follows a decision by the U.N. Security Council last week to increase the MINUSTAH force by 3,500 troops to 12,651 troops to boost security and reconstruction.
A Jan. 12 earthquake killed as many as 200,000 people and devastated homes, schools, and hospitals.
"Brazil cannot fail to heed that call," Deputy Mauro Benevides said during a televised hearing.
Brazil took over the command of the U.N. mission in Haiti in 2004 in an effort to show that it is taking on international responsibilities in line with its growing economic and diplomatic clout.
Latin America's largest country is also seeking a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Brazilian public opinion has largely stood behind its military's presence in Haiti, even though 17 soldiers died in the earthquake there.
But a few critics have said the government should instead do more at home to fight poverty and violence.
"We are in a condition to receive not give aid," said Senator Epitacio Cafeteira.
"Haiti is here," he said in reference to poor, violence-plagued shantytowns in many of Brazil's cities.
Reuters Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2010, 01:22