Brazilian congress approves dispatch of 1,300 military to Haiti

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The Brazilian Congress approved on Monday afternoon a bill which allows the dispatch of 1, 300 of the country's military to Haiti, which was devastated by a massive earthquake on Jan. 12.

Out of the 1,300 men, 900 will be sent to the Caribbean country immediately and 400 will stay on the reserve, to be shipped to Haiti when necessary. According to Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, the Brazilian Army will give priority to the officers who have already been in Haiti and know the country.

Brazil currently has 1,300 men in Haiti; all of whom are part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah), which Brazil heads since 2004. After the earthquake, Brazil sent more officers in order to help with the reconstruction works. Military health professionals and rescue workers were sent as well.

The request to increase the Brazilian contingent in Haiti was made last week by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The bill which allowed the increase in the number of soldiers was sent to the Congress by the defense and foreign relations ministries.

Out of the 21 Brazilian citizens who died in the Haitian earthquake, 18 were military from the Minustah. Last week, they were paid homage at a ceremony in Brasilia, in which President Lula praised their courage.

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