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Mystery Surrounds Death of U.N. Official in Haiti
Brazilian general found dead in his Port Au Prince apartment
Ana Maria Brambilla (brambilla)     Print Article 
Published 2006-01-09 16:39 (KST)   
Could he have committed suicide? Could he have been killed? Or it was an accident with a gun?

These questions perplex Brazilian authorities about the death of General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar, the head of the United Nations peace forces in Haiti. Bacellar, a 58-year-old Brazilian, had assumed the control of the international mission in August 2005, replacing his colleague, also a Brazilian, General Augusto Heleno Pereira.

General Bacellar was 58.
His body was found in his apartment in Port Au Prince, the Haitian capital, Jan. 7, with a gunshot wound to the head. According to Lieutenant-colonel Fernando da Cunha Matos of the Brazilian Forces in Haiti, Bacellar was the victim of an accident. International news agencies were reporting the next morning that Bacellar committed suicide, though he did not display any signs of depression during his last days.

Damian Onses-Cardona, the spokesman of U.N. forces in Haiti, refused to give any explanation about the circumstances of Bacellar's death.

Signs of depression -- or even a hypothesis of a murder -- can be considered credible because since assuming the leadership of the military troops in Haiti, Bacellar had been uncovering accusations against his forces, who were supposedly responsible for the murders of many civilians in poor regions of Port Au Prince.

In November 2005, reports appeared in the international press of a "systematic model of extra-judicial murders," but Bacellar confessed that he only learned of these accusations through the media.

Bacellar's death happened some days after the elections in Haiti were postponed for the fourth time since president Jean-Bertrand Aristide left the country in Feb. 2004.

According to a press statement by the Foreign Ministry in Brazil, Bacellar was known for his competence and "he has been conducting the difficult task of commanding the international mission in Haiti with excellence and responsibility."

The same night, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva affirmed in a press statement that the Brazilian government would carry on supporting the Haitian people to build peace and to normalize national politics.

Foreign Minister Paulo Celso Amorim expressed the desire of Brazil to stay in command of the operation. He asked U.N. General-Secretary Kofi Annan to immediately conduct an investigation into this case.

A group of Brazilian officials went to Haiti to observe the investigation into the general's death. They will return with Bacellar's body. The Brazilian Army is also observing the case.

The military force of Minustah is an initiative of the U.N. to recuperate democracy and peace in Haiti, a country that suffers constantly from gang violence and political instability. Minustah encompasses more than 7,000 people from 20 countries. Brazil is the biggest contributor to the mission, with 1,050 soldiers.

Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar was born in Rio Grando do Sul, Bage city, in the extreme south of Brazil. He was married and leaves behind two children. He served the army for 39 years. He was parachutist and served missions in Brazil and abroad. He was awarded with several medals from both Brazil and other countries.

Between his most important functions, Bacellar was also chief of many departments in the Brazilian army and a teacher of Geography and of Brazilian Studies in military schools.

When he learned about Bacellar's death, the mayor of Bage, Luiz Fernando Mainardi, decreed official mourning in the region.
Ana Maria Brambilla is Brazilian journalist, citizen reporter and open source journalism researcher.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ana Maria Brambilla

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