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Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 06:04:03 GMT
From: Rich Winkel (rich@pencil.cs.missouri.edu) Organization: PACH
Subject: Haiti: Aristide's Hopes for 1995
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L (ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu)

Written 3:53 PM Jan 6, 1995 by newsdesk in cdp:reg.carib.
Copyright 1994 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.
*** 03-Jan-95 ***

Haiti: Aristide's Hopes for 1995

By Ives Marie Chanel, IPS, 6 January 1995

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 3 (IPS) -- Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, seeking to smother disenchantment with the pace of change, has delivered a New Year's message laced with familiar themes of reconciliation and hope.

In the traditional Presidential New Year's budget speech on Tuesday night, Aristide said: The hour has come for us today to build a nation at peace with itself. Through peace we can build a Haiti where human and economic growth will expand throughout the nation.

Haitians should live in peace. They should search for reconciliation. Such exhortations echoed through the speech.

He also asked those in possession of weapons should hand them over to the authorities. And Aristide promised jobs in various ministries to demobilised soldiers tainted by association with the previous regime.

His message, delivered from his private residence, was read in Creole.

Even as he clung to the high ground of reconciliation and hope, the president was forced to come down to earth and face some uncomfortable problems which have made people dissasisfied with the second period of his tenure in office.

Ousted by a military junta in 1991, Aristide was finally returned to office by the U.S. military in September. There were expectations among many people at the time that Aristide's return would lead to jobs and an overall improvement in the economy.

Noting that the cost of farm implements had risen 300 percent since the military insurgency which overthrew him in 1991, Aristide announced the signing of a five-million Canadian dollar agreement with Canada for the purchase of 400,000 agricultural tools.

With that deal comes 250 tonnes of pea seeds, 200 kilos of vegetable seeds. And 240,000 banana plants be distributed to farmers. Aristide said 3.3 million dollars (U.S.) would be appropriated for the repair and maintenance of 12 irrigation systems to permit the irrigation of more than 45,000 hectares of land.

Faced with a growing demand for firewood estimated at 600,000 cubic metres and 140,000 tonnes of charcoal per year, the government will facilitate the import of coal for industries and private homes.

The World Bank has promised to supply 26 million U.S. dollars to finance a national forestry project. During November and December 40,000 persons have been employed in labour-intensive projects.

Aristide also announced loans from China to build a road, though the additional work required to pave the almost 4,000 kms of unpaved roads could come from voluntary labour.

Haiti's gold mines will be exploited, its marble quarries - pozzuolana (volcanic ash) used for making cement, and rerserves of calcium carbonate.

Dissatisfaction is running high. There have been protests about the high cost of living and concern is growing about problems related to justice and personal security.

Last Thursday some 2,000 people responded to a call by various working-class organisations to demonstrate for the abolition of the army and in favour of making Aristide president for life.

Inhabitants of the slum district known as Sun City, home to half a million residents situated north of the capital, whose houses were burnt down last year by members of the extreme right party (FRAPH), have been protesting at the delay by the government in rebuilding their houses.