Casariego, the base commander, called the apparent abuse in the video "a game" and said it wasn't sexual in nature. "It's a young guy who is normally around here, like these people," he said, pointing to a Haitian family sitting outside their home twenty yards away. He said the soldiers engaged in "some kind of bullying, but nothing more."
The alleged assault is just the latest in a series of incidents that have frayed relations between Haitians and the 12,000 foreign troops who have been stationed in Haiti under the U.N. banner now for several years. Anti-U.N. riots shut down major cities and thoroughfares after an outbreak of cholera last October. Rumors circulated that a U.N. base had introduced the disease to Haiti. Scientific studies by the Centers for Disease Control and others have since confirmed the source of the outbreak was a Nepalese peacekeeping base in central Haiti.
Sinal Bertrand, a Haitian parliamentary deputy from the Port Salut area, said he began talks with U.N. officials last week about other allegations against the soldiers by residents of Port Salut, ranging from sexually exploiting young women to environmentally polluting the area.
Andre Jean, a local mechanic, summed up those tensions, saying he does not believe the peacekeepers make him any more secure.
"They aren't useful to us at all," he said. "They just go back and forth to the beach, nothing more here in Port Salut. They just check out the young girls. If something happens to you and you go to them to ask for help, they tell you, go to the police."
Bertrand said he is calling on the U.N. to ensure that the alleged assailants in this latest case are punished.
"If they don't collaborate with the justice system, I'll denounce them," he said. "I'm expecting [the U.N.] to respond, until there's justice."
Ansel Herz is a freelance journalist based in Haiti since 2009 who has written for The Nation, Reuters Alertnet, Inter-Press News, Haiti Liberte and other outlets.