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Date: Sat, 13 Jun 98 11:17:01 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: This Week in Haiti 16:12 6/10/98
Article: 36582
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.22669.19980614181534@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** reg.carib: 213.0 **/
** Topic: This Week in Haiti 16:12 6/10/98 **
** Written 2:46 PM Jun 10, 1998 by haiticom@blythe.org in cdp:reg.carib **

The new American Plan for Haiti

Haiti Progress, This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 16, no. 12, 10-16 June 1998

Governance is the latest code word which the U.S. government and multinational banks are using. It means: bypass a nation's central government, violate its sovereignty, and pump funds directly to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local officials, and private groups.

One sees the word governance quite often in the new Haiti Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 1999-2004 drafted by the U.S. State Department's Agency for International Development (USAID), of which Haiti Progres has recently obtained a copy in French. In fact, governance is the lynch-pin of the U.S. government's strategy on how to influence Haiti's political and economic course over the next five years.

The first guiding principle of USAID is to promote efficient governance through assistance in the areas of justice, rationalization of public offices, and the modernization of the State enterprises, reads the report's introduction. In other words, the U.S. government wants to continue its recycling of putschist soldiers and its training and indoctrination of Haiti's policemen and judges, promote the mass layoff of state workers, and privatize Haiti's profitable public-owned industries.

USAID feels that it must do an end-run to achieve its agenda because the central government remains weak and lacks leadership and political will, to implement our dictates to the letter, the authors could have added. In areas like education, health, and the environment, we will work in collaboration with the ministries and agencies of the central government, but we will not count only on them and we will not furnish them with major funding either. USAID still holds out a carrot to them, however, and arrogantly talks as if it were the elected representative of the Haitian people. To the extent that the central government will display the will to work with USAID, the strategy will be adapted so as to facilitate the positive participation of the government. How generous of them.

The strategy of USAID will focus on local governments as partners in development, the report declares. USAID will also work closely with groups of civil society at the local level. The objective is not only to establish an honest and competent leadership in the municipalities, but also to make the electorate more inclined to discern abuses of power or inefficiency and to demand better governance. So after decades of supporting the corrupt Duvalier dictatorship and its military offspring, it is USAID which will now bring honest and competent leadership and flush out abuses of power or inefficiency. In truth, they will seek to bring about the exact opposite with their election engineering and creation of organizations like the National Federation of Haitian Mayors.

In addition to trying to shoe-in their agents to local posts, USAID will try to buy off the grassroots organizations which have been the power base of the Lavalas, the national democratic movement which coalesced around the candidacy of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990. The emphasis [of USAID's strategy] is on community participation at all levels, from implementing the Haitian Government's policy of decentralization to the integration of the popular organizations, the report states. Further on, it says that the major part of the USAID strategy will be to work directly with community groups, private organizations and local governments. USAID will also support private organizations, both new and already existing, so that they can act as think-tanks or as bases of development in the areas of interest for this strategy. USAID also sees popular participation as a stabilizing factor and plans to support the formation of NGOs to promote the defense of interests and organizing techniques. Translation: USAID wants to replace the popular organizations which have organically sprung up with its own civil society creations.

USAID's strategy has one other political goal. The U.S. government wants to be able to carry out its agenda even if Aristide is re-elected as Haiti's president in the year 2000. Since the U.S. government pushed him out of office in 1996, Aristide has become a harsh critic of Washington's neoliberal austerity prescriptions in Haiti and is likely not to be very cooperative if he returns to power. USAID's version of decentralization aims to cut him down to size.

Furthermore, the USAID report reflects Washington's discovery that it is easier to rig elections at the low-profile local level than in the impassioned national race, at least in Haiti. It seeks to constrain the power of the presidency which Aristide might again hold. We don't think that the central government will be the only interlocutor and active provider of goods and services to the population, USAID proclaimed. On the contrary, USAID will help to better define and strengthen the active participation of local governments and civil society...

As usual, the report contains all the familiar and ridiculous USAID notions. For example, it says the causes of Haitian poverty are a high population rate, mediocre training, and degradation of the environment; these are rather poverty's symptoms. It decries the incapacity of the government to furnish the resources to better the primary education system after pressuring that same government to trim education spending and funneling most USAID education funds to private schools. The authors even get defensive, saying that if the new strategy doesn't reduce poverty, USAID will be the target of the distrust of the people and populist demagogy.

With its latest plan, USAID shows itself to be as meddling and political as the International Republican Institute (IRI), which several Haitian parliamentarians want expelled from Haiti for its brazen orchestration of 26 right-wing parties into a new opposition front (see Haiti Progres, Vol. 16, No. 8, May 13, 1998).

In any case, if Haiti's Foreign Ministry had an agency comparable to USAID, it would be illegal in the U.S., unless it were registered, tightly restricted, and monitored in its activities as an Agent of a Foreign Government.


It has been one year since Rosny Smarth of the OPL (Organization of People in Struggle) resigned as Prime Minister on June 9, 1997. Since that time, President Rene Preval has nominated economist Ericq Pierre and economist/playwright Herve Denis for the post, but they were both rejected by the OPL-dominated parliament.

As we go to press, parliamentarians from the Anti-Neoliberal Block report, after a Jun. 9 meeting with Preval, that the next nominee will be Education Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis.

Preval's choice would not please members of the Block, who view Alexis as favorable to neoliberal policies and as someone who does not have the temperament to resolve [Haiti's] problems, according to Deputy Gabriel Fortune. For the past 18 months, Alexis has been embroiled in a bitter battle with teachers' unions over wages and school conditions.

Block members say that the Alexis nomination is the fruit of an accord between the OPL and Preval, but OPL leader Yrvelt Chery denied that allegation.