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Date: Fri, 5 Apr 1996 08:44:23 -0600
From: "L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b)" <LISTSERV@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Subject: File: "DATABASE OUTPUT"

> S * IN ACTIV-L --> Database ACTIV-L, 9801 hits.

> print 09726
>>> Item number 9726, dated 96/04/04 15:43:34 -- ALL
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 15:43:34 CST
Reply-To: haiticom@blythe.org
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 14:2 4/3/96

Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

Aristide Foundation Blasts Privatization and Preval Government

From Haiti Progres,
Vol. 14, no. 2, 3-9 April 1996

Many popular organizations were pleasantly surprised this week to find a new but major player taking their side in the struggle against privatization: the Aristide Foundation for Democracy.

In a weekend conference beginning on March 29, the 9th anniversary of the popular vote ratifying the 1987 Constitution, to March 31, International Youth Day, over 1000 delegates from around Haiti gathered in the new foundation's new headquarters, about a hundred meters from the residence of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Tabarre, a Port-au-Prince suburb. By no coincidence, the foundation's large white building is extremely similar in construction and decor, both inside and out, to the old St. Jean Bosco in La Saline where Father Aristide used to preach before the church was burned down by Duvalierist thugs on September 11, 1988.

The discourse coming from the foundation's large hall was also very reminiscent of St. Jean Bosco. "This neo-liberal plan was hatched in Washington and is not in the interests of the nation," state the final resolutions which came out of the conference, whose themes were privatization, the police, and youth. "It is the United States, the World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund] which control this diabolic plan."

Unionists from both the state-owned electric authority, EDH, and telephone company, Teleco, helped lead both the plenaries and the workshops and explained how privatization would hurt the workers and peasants which make up 90% of Haiti's population. However, the delegates did not need much convincing, and in speech after speech, they lashed out against privatization and the Preval government.

In the conference resolutions, which were read on the last day to great applause, the delegates called privatization a "rat poison" which "the plundering bourgeoisie, imperialist tools, and several others are using to destroy the state enterprises... [and] remove state responsibility so as to permit rapacious capitalists to freely make big profits off the backs of the poorest people without paying taxes." Privatization would also make Haiti a "toxic waste dump without state control" and would "increase the fortunes of the richest people while daily making even poorer the poorest people." In short, the resolutions conclude that "privatization means more suffering, more hunger, more high cost of living, more unemployment, more hardship, more children in the streets, more people who don't have homes or land, more insecurity. Let's just say it means total disaster."

Furthermore, the delegates ridiculed Preval's rationalization that selling off the state enterprises would pay for capital improvements in agriculture. "Now some people say that they are doing privatization to develop national production!" the delegates said referring to Preval. "Reality says 'No!' Reality says 'That is demagogy!'"

The resolutions termed Preval's steps toward privatization an "economic coup d'etat" and declared that "a small handful of people cannot call [this government] their own and freely decide [for privatization] without consulting all those who have suffered particularly during the 3 year coup d'etat."

The delegates also criticized the lack of justice and the growth of insecurity in Haiti. "We ask the government to set aside privatization to instead pursue all former soldiers, all civilians, bourgeois, like [Raoul] Cedras, Michel Francois, [Prosper] Avril and above all [Senator Edouard] Dupiton, Marc Bazin, and [Jean Jacques] Honorat, who circulate freely in the country, to account for the more than 4000 bodies of our comrades," the delegates declared.

The resolutions also warned the national police force about its repressive conduct, saying "just as the people dismantled the Haitian Army, they are ready to dismantle any other force which tramples their fundamental rights."

Finally the delegates appealed to Haitians throughout the country and in its diaspora to "unleash a prolonged mobilization for us to block at any cost the death plan that the lackeys want, no matter what."

While the tone and content of the conference was very militant, it was also significant that Aristide himself did not attend or address the conference. Expectations were kept high throughout the weekend, however, with a large deployment of police, as well as palace and private security agents, around the foundation's facility.

While Aristide's apparent defection back to the camp of popular and nationalist forces is certainly welcome, it must be noted that the present situation - a "small handful of people" selling the country against the wishes of the majority - is only the logical extension - one could say the "continuity" - of Aristide's own anti-national deed: inviting the foreign military occupation of Haiti, which is still firmly in place. Hundreds of foreign troops - 1500 Minuha, 700 Canadians, and 300 Americans - still freely function around Haiti, all essentially under the command of Washington. They constitute the "stick" which awaits "Ti Rene" should he ever stop chasing the "carrot" of foreign assistance, which historically has always only corrupted Haitian government officials and benefitted the aid-givers rather than the Haitian people.

Furthermore, one must remember that it was President Aristide who first argued for and tried to sell privatization disguised as "democratization." Only after massive protests did Aristide back down in October 1995 and balk at selling the state enterprises, a move which led to the resignation of his neoliberally-minded prime minister Smarck Michel.

Despite this past, popular organizations are likely to welcome Aristide and his partisans - albeit warily - as allies in the fight against privatization. Other pirouetting politicians, like Evans Paul of KID and Victor Benoit of KONAKOM, are also being invited to join in a tactical alliance to stop the "death plan" on the basis of their professed opposition. But the past is not forgotten.

There are other indications that Aristide is on the warpath against Preval and the politicians of the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL). Close Aristide associate and his former secretary for state of population, Dr. Gerard Blot, announced on April 2 the formation of a new party: Rasanbleman Pitit Lejitim Tab (RPLT), loosely translated, the Legitimate Children of the Lavalas Assembly. Rumors that Aristide would form a new party to rival the OPL began circulating shortly before he left office on Feb. 7, and the RPLT might be it.

Furthermore, the Lavalas' premiere "popular organization," known as PROP, has seen a growing internal battle between two of its prominent leaders: the singer Annette Auguste, known as So Anne, who was a delegate at the Tabarre conference, and singer Manno Charlemagne, the mayor of Port-au-Prince, who favors President Preval and privatization. Partisans of Auguste confronted those of Charlemagne at a meeting the mayor had organized on privatization on Mar. 26 at the Hotel Christopher. Blows were exchanged and shots were fired, but no one was hurt.

The problems in PROP date back to the presidential elections last December, where Charlemagne supported Preval's candidacy while Auguste's faction were rallying for Aristide to recoup the 3 years he lost while in exile.

Such conflicts are harbingers of the fierce political struggles that lie ahead, as the U.S. government, World Bank, and IMF try to force the Haitian people to swallow the bitter medicine - or rather "rat poison" - of neo-liberal reform.