Date: Sun, 21 Apr 1996 15:59:33 -0500
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>>> Item number 6819, dated 96/04/18 19:12:44 -- ALL
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 19:12:44 CDT
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From: NY Transfer News Collective <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 14:4 4/17/96
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
From: Haiti Commission <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 18:51:14 -0400 (EDT)
This Week in Haiti,
In a desperate attempt to sell his project to privatize Haiti's state industries to the outraged and resistant Haitian people, President Rene Preval has mounted a major propaganda offensive using formerly nationalist political figures and foreign government officials.
However, the salesmen are not likely to win the confidence of the
Haitian people. For example, on April 12, Preval hosted a press
conference with the Bolivian minister of privatization Jose Valdez at
the National Palace. The Bolivian gave glowing predictions of the
miracles that privatization will bring to his nation, South America's
We have 2000 public telephones now, and we will have 4000
in one year, Valdez prophesied.
Every little village with at
least 300 people should have one telephone and two public
These marvelous developments will all be thanks to a simple Bolivian
privatization formula called
capitalization whereby private
capitalists are given 50% ownership -- and profits -- of a company and
management control. The state retains the other 50% ownership,
funneling its dividends, in theory, to a
pension fund for
Bolivians, according to Valdez.
We can say that
'capitalization' gives 2 very important things, Valdez claimed.
First, it brings money and technical knowledge into the most
important companies in the country; secondly, it distributes the
wealth of the country to everybody in the country, and with that, we
will have companies which function very well.
Unfortunately for Valdez -- and for Preval, who would like to import
this miracle formula -- the Bolivian people are fiercely opposed to
Tens of thousands of state workers took to
the streets of La Paz again [Mar. 27], chanting anti- Government
slogans, hurling rocks at the police and blocking traffic,
reported the New York Times' Calvin Sims on Mar. 28.
continuing a two-week-old strike demanding higher wages and protesting
the Government's plan to sell off state- owned industries. Valdez
dismissed such resistance as the work of
some leftist unions who
are siding with the left and ultra- left as well as disgruntled
beneficiaries of state enterprise contracts. But Sims says that
opinion polls have shown that people in this economically depressed
nation of 7 million people are generally opposed to privatizations,
which they equate with the loss of national independence and with
corruption. Just like in Haiti!
The Bolivian authorities have declared a state of emergency and
arrested hundreds of protestors several times in the past year to
quell (temporarily) opposition to the government's
capitalization project. Does Preval also intend to meet the
Haitian people's protests with repression? Apparently so. Last week,
National Police chief Pierre Denize announced the formation of a
special unit for rapid intervention which will be able to confront
the disorders arising in the country. Surely to be considered a
disorder will be the massive May 1 anti- privatization
demonstration being called by a large coalition of major popular
organizations including the National Popular Assembly (APN), the
Collective for Mobilization Against the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and World Bank, and Solidarity Among Youth (SAJ).
Ironically, Preval's privatization
a la bolivienne would above
all hurt the Haitian peasantry, the program's supposed
In 1985 the Bolivian government began to implement,
with the assistance of the World Bank and IMF, a structural adjustment
program, which it called the 'New Economic Policy' (NEP), reports
the Development Gap, a Washington-based research group, in a 1995
Structural Adjustment Programs At The Root of the
Global Social Crisis: Case Studies from Latin America. Bolivia's
has been absolutely devastating for the poor, especially small
peasant farmers, the report states. The remedy which is killing
Bolivian peasants is the same one that has been killing Haitian
peasants for the past 2 decades.
Bolivia's adjustment program has
emphasized export production through the redirection of credit towards
export producers. Most peasant farmers in the country lack the
necessary capital to engage in the production of export crops and have
difficulty securing credit... Furthermore, fuel subsidies have been
cut, leading to significant increases in the cost of the transport of
agricultural products... Adding to Bolivia's agricultural crisis has
been the U.S. 'Food for Peace' program, which has provided subsidized
food from the United States that undercuts local producers unable to
compete with the flood of cheap food entering the country. Meanwhile,
foreign-grown wheat [in tropical Haiti, it is foreign-grown rice - HP]
has been able to enter local markets more easily due to the NEP's
creation of a single flat tariff rate on imported goods, which is
among the lowest in Latin America. This
Bolivia has resulted in
a dramatic rise in coca production,
which has been met by the deployment of U.S. military forces to burn
peasants' fields. Is this the model Preval wants for Haiti?
In any case, Haiti's cement plant and flour mill would not be eligible
capitalization, Preval conceded in his April 12 press
conference, because they are already in the process of being sold off,
a step which violates Haiti's 1987 Constitution prohibiting the sale
state property. Realizing this, Preval called on the
parliament this week to pass a law to permit the sale. But even if the
parliament were to comply, the law could not take effect for five
years -- in 2001 -- when the next Haitian president (presumably)
assumes office. Preval will probably try to backhand this
Preval has also been summoning unions and other privatization critics
to the Palace for
dialogue and sending out emissaries to
convince the population that the country has no choice but to follow
World Bank dictates.
I am 100% agreed with privatization if it will
allow [Haiti's] mayors to meet their financial obligations,
Port-au-Prince mayor Emmanuel
Manno Charlemagne, declared on
April 15, in one of many interviews he gave to radio and television
It would be irresponsible for us to stand by without
doing anything while we watched the country disappear.
(Charlemagne has distinguished himself in recent weeks by leading
squads of Uzi-waving heavies in crackdowns on and evictions of
destitute market women in the capital's teeming marketplaces. His
once-great popularity has plummeted.)
Charlemagne's words were echoed by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, a
prominent member of Preval's private cabinet and a leader of the
Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), at a meeting in the southern city of
Les Cayes on April 15.
When you have a budget or a business and it
fails, what do you do? Chavannes asked the leaders and mayors of
communes of the Southern Department, whose opinions on
privatization he was supposed to be sampling.
You have to close
it. Can you close a country? The clear inference: Haiti must
Of course, Haiti can neither
disappear. It can
only comply to the World Bank's
structural adjustment program,
or resist. This will be the showdown unfolding in the coming weeks, as
a delegation of IMF, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank
officials arrived in Port-au-Prince on April 15 to cross the t's and
dot the i's on the privatization plan Preval signed up for during his
trip to Washington, D.C. in late March.
Preval, and his Prime Minister Rony Smarth, have postured that they
are going to
negotiate with the international lenders.
However, experiences around the world over the past two decades
demonstrates that the World Bank and IMF do not haggle with their
borrowers. They impose conditions for loans and strict plans for
reorganizing a debtor nation's economy.
Ironically, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
issued a report this week that predicted an already painfully obvious
reality: that the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), of which Haiti
is the only member in the Western Hemisphere, would never be really
competitive in the Darwinist
New World Order which
international capital is trying to construct.
The ability of LDCs to take advantage of the emerging opportunities
in world markets depends crucially on their ability to foster the
development of internationally competitive industries which can meet
exacting standards of cost, quality, reliability and delivery
schedules, the UNCTAD report says.
Supply capacities in LDCs
are, however, very weak for a variety of reasons and this is likely to
be the major constraint on their ability to exploit the opportunities
arising from globalization.
The inhuman dynamics of the capitalist
free market are pushing
people the world over, from Haiti and Bolivia to Paris and New York
City, to resist the austerity measures being imposed by the
illegitimate overlords of the world's wealth and to aspire to a truly
New World Order which is just, democratic and progressive.
we supposed to live on such low salaries, cried demonstrating
Bolivian teacher Javier Gonzales in La Paz on Mar. 26.
stand for it. Fight, fight, fight!