Date: Sat, 13 Apr 1996 06:16:26 -0500
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>>> Item number 6501, dated 96/04/11 19:28:12 -- ALL
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 19:28:12 CDT
Reply-To: NY Transfer News Collective <email@example.com>
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From: NY Transfer News Collective <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 14:3 4/10/96
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
This Week in Haiti,
In the face of the Preval government's embrace of World Bank-prescribed neo-liberal austerity reforms to remedy the Haitian economy, Haitian popular and democratic organizations have responded with a flood of statements expressing outrage, dismay, and alternatives.
Here are excerpts from a selection of statements from the past 2 weeks:
Many people want to make believe that we have no other choice [but to privatize] because we have a big budget deficit. But what measures has the state ever taken to sustain and control those [public] enterprises? When have we ever had a responsible government which would stop corruption and recover what belongs to the state such as the money which dictators, plunderers, and corrupt bureaucrats [gran manje yo] have stolen, and taxes which have been owed to the state since way back? Isn't it that we have not yet had a real government which didn't shirk its responsibilities? In a country where the people have practically no social services, a state in the interests of the people should look for a way to provide services such as health care, education, food, housing, etc. ...
We believe that privatization does not mean profitability nor better service. On the contrary, privatization will weaken the state even more, a state which has never taken up its responsibilities to the people. Privatization will eliminate the possibility for the people to get services...
The state should look for ways to meet the people's needs. We don't need a servant state, nor a puppet state, but rather a state which is able to build a participatory democracy where people can live in dignity, where there is justice, and where everybody lives equally.
Preval talks about promoting national production while at the same time saying that he has to privatize all the state enterprises. We say to Preval that national production and the neo-liberal plan are irreconcilable [let ak sitron]. They are 2 things which can't go together [pa domi nan menm kabann]. It is precisely because of the neo-liberal plan that the big imperialist countries, headed by the U.S., encouraged Jean-Claude Duvalier to open up the country to allow imported rice from Miami to freely flood the country and destroy rice production in the Artibonite Valley. Under this same plan, the U.S. ordered Duvalier to kill the Creole pigs of the peasants [in 1981-82] and made [former Finance Minister and present Central Bank head Leslie] Delatour close [the state-run sugar refinery] Darbonne, [the state-run essential oils plant] ENAOL, [the state-run sugar refinery] Welch, etc.
Preval says the state industries don't give good service. If Preval has a short memory, we must remind him that during the 7 months of his government [in 1991], it was he himself who praised the revenues that the public enterprises brought the Haitian state in only 2 to 3 months. Thus, his talk today that privatization will give better services does not mean services for the masses but rather for big foreign companies so they can make more money faster off the backs of the Haitian people, while they pay peasants and workers 36 gourdes [about $2] a day which is not even enough to buy food, let alone to send a child to school, pay rent, electricity, or telephone.
The World Bank admits, in one of its evaluations, that the process of privatization only has a chance of success in high revenue countries which have solid state structures capable of regulating the private agents enjoying a monopoly position. It is pointless to stress that this is not the case in our country, the poorest in the hemisphere and in which the public administration does not even have the laws nor the means of intervening which would allow the efficient regulation of the activities of private operators....
Much money has already been spent by the Haitian state in preparing to implement privatization procedures. $2 million US were spent by the [World Bank's] International Finance Corporation (IFC) to diagnose the 9 enterprises targeted by the privatization program, [and] $800,000 US for a publicity campaign for privatization. A complete full-time staff has been financed since August 1995 for the Unit to Democratize the Public Enterprises (UDEP) which is preparing the privatization program. That adds up to a lot of money, while according to the August 1995 IFC report, an investment of $2.3 million would suffice to restart operations at the Minoterie [the state-owned flour mill] by substantially modernizing it.
The neo-liberal economic project that [Preval's] American boss has given him to implement in the country has these objectives: to sell the country, a high cost of living, more unemployment, [and] to tie up the sovereignty of the country to the foot of the table of the big imperialist countries. If this death plan really takes root in this society, the corrupt state will abandon more than ever its responsibilities to the peasants and poor who don't have the means to live as they should.
The Lavalas team has clearly shown that they don't have any development plan for the country, after the so-called return of democracy which they talk about. They can't even ask the international community for economic justice for all the damage that the imperialists did to the already sick economy of the country with their porous embargo which just allowed the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer...
Only a policy based on the sovereignty of the country can bring a correct solution to the country's problems.
To get the economy out of the hole it is in, the Collective points to a number of measures the state can take without spending one gourde, without selling any public enterprises, without selling the country. Here are the measures:
1) In the year 1994-1995, we had imports of 2.5 billion gourdes. 20% of that merchandise was food. We had exports of only 750 million gourdes. The state should: -limit the amount of products coming into the country. -discourage the import of food by raising the tax on imported foodstuffs.
2) The state should set up another formula for managing the state enterprises. A new form of administrative council should direct those enterprises. It would include: worker representatives, consumer representatives, representatives from the locality where the enterprise is based, and a team of technicians who are experienced in administration.
3) The state should stop servicing its debt. The state should invest in national production for local consumption the 800 million gourdes taken to service the debt this year.
4) The government should take measures to collect the money that the state has in the hands of the bourgeoisie and former big state functionaries.