Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 06:43:35 -0500
From: "L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b)" <LISTSERV@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
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> S * IN ACTIV-L
--> Database ACTIV-L, 7501 hits.
> print 07386
>>> Item number 7386, dated 96/05/02 17:15:26 -- ALL
Date: Thu, 2 May 1996 17:15:26 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <email@example.com>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 14:6 5/1/96
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
This Week in Haiti,
As officials of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Preval administration meet behind closed doors to fashion a neo-liberal austerity package for Haiti, the country's popular organizations and unions are taking to the streets to demand a different future.
Organizations and leaders from around Haiti are rallying to a large
anti-privatization demonstration called for May 1st by popular
organizations like the National Popular Assembly (APN), Collective
Against the World Bank and IMF, SAJ/Veye Yo, and KODENA. Meanwhile,
the secret meetings between the international bankers and Haitian
government officials are now in their third week. Scarcely a glimmer
of information about these
negotiations (as Preval and his
officials like to characterize their grovelling) has come out in the
press since the banking officials arrived in Port- au-Prince on
Yes, it's true, we should give more information about the
negotiations, said President Preval, trying to deflect criticism
during an Apr. 30 press conference.
I think, in fact, it would have
been good if we had put out a document to say what are the objectives
of the negotiations.
But the Haitian people don't want more documents and speeches about
objectives. They want to know what is being
decided about the future of Haiti. They already know that the
objectives are to further sell off the nation's assets so that
the bankers can more easily collect interest on their loans and so
coup-backing foreign and Haitian businessmen can more easily invest
and profit. All this would occur, if this plan goes through, at the
expense of the Haitian people who would lose their legal right to
control the publicly-owned enterprises, lose their jobs, lose all
protection from foreign imports, and attain new levels of suffering
If Preval really wanted to inform the Haitian people, he could televise or broadcast the back-room wheelings and dealings. Instead, he has kept the people in the dark, while sending out emissaries to attack the critics of privatization.
I ask the people not to run to participate in the May 1st
demonstration because you will be together with worthless
associations, urged an Apr. 29 radio broadcast by Father Yvon
Massac, a windy Lavalas priest who gained notoriety by openly
demonstrating in Haiti against the putchists during the coup.
you oppose a legitimate government, when you talk about uprooting, you
are sending the country towards misadventure... It is not good for the
Meanwhile, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the head of Preval's private cabinet, has also been travelling around Haiti, trying to convince the Haitian people that privatization is the only solution to the country's economic woes. However, his reception by popular organizations has been rather cool and was positively hostile in Cap Haitien on Apr. 24. Because of political instability and governmental irresponsibility from 1804 to 1994, Chavannes argued, Haiti today has no choice but to follow the neo-liberal road. By that logic, every country in Latin America, and even the entire Third World, must embrace neo-liberalism, since their political economies and histories all are marked by political instability and governmental irresponsibility.
However, the popular organizations in Cap Haitien so energetically rejected his pro-privatization argumentation that the Haitian police, backed up by U.N. occupation forces, had to come to escort Chavannes away from his presentation and out of town.
Of course, rather than wasting Haiti's limited resources on propaganda junkets to try to win the Haitian people to privatization (or perhaps it is all paid for by the $800,000 which USAID gave to the Haitian government to promote privatization), Preval would do better to simply make public the international bankers' plan for Haiti.
Some of this plan was revealed when Inter Press Service (IPS) leaked
excerpts from a World Bank document dated Apr. 11 and entitled
outline of the aid strategy of the Bank group towards the Republic of
Haiti. Not surprisingly, this document calls for such neo-liberal
measures as the
liberalization of trade so that Haiti can be
transformed into a country with a competitive economy, in other
words, eliminate all customs duties so that more goods can be dumped
on Haiti and the state will have even less revenues. The outline also
demands that the key state enterprises be
completely and rapidly
privatized in one form or another, whether it be Preval-favored
capitalization or any other formula. IPS also
notes that the report calls for the
deregulation of agro-industries
and industry in general, i.e. more freedom of the movement for
This neo-liberal strategy, which has proven so disastrous to the
living standards of people around the world, is not only rejected by
Haitian popular organizations, peasant groups, and unions, but also by
Haitian economists who have closely studied their country's
development options. Webster Pierre, who was a special (though
neglected) economic advisor to President Aristide during 1995, has
issued this March a report entitled
Some Thoughts for an
Alternative Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in which he seeks
to demonstrate how
the [SAP] put forward by the IMF (...) does not
conform to the entire Haitian reality. The report was given to
Preval, who has chosen to bury it rather than publicize it. But
Pierre was in New York this past week doing radio interviews to
criticize the IMF's policies and to point out some alternative
measures, such as annulling the tariff reductions of Smarck Michel's
government and putting a 110% tax on the import of luxury items and
motor vehicles, of which about 24,000 have entered Haiti since
Oct. 1994. Through a series of taxes, customs duties, and state
investments in public enterprises like the telephone company and
cement plant, the Haitian state, according to Pierre's report, could
raise over the next 8 months 8.5 billion gourdes -- about $566 million
In short, there are many alternatives to the prescriptions of the World Bank and IMF, but there is no will on the part of the Preval government to look for them. It will only be through the force of the Haitian peoples' mobilization, like the May 1st demonstration, that the privatization project of Preval and the international bankers can be stopped.