Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 06:57:55 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <>
Subject: Re: Labor, outsiders, etc.
To: Bob Corbett <>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9610290646.A2221-0100000@netcom9>

Date: 29 Oct 96 05:33:36 EST
From: Greg Chamberlain <100074.2675@CompuServe.COM>

Labor, outsiders, etc.

By Greg Chamberlain, Haiti list, 29 October 1996

I think all the important questions have been soberly confronted for once in this thread. Good.

But just one point from Tom Driver’s post of 23 Oct., which I think he should explain:

The US spent $26 million to defeat the proposal to raise the minimum wage in 1991 (under Aristide I).

This is stated without any explanation. We need to know a bit of detail behind this huge charge.

The Haitian Chamber of Deputies voted on 22 August 1991 to increase the minimum wage from 15 to 26 gourdes (then US$3.70) a day in the capital and to 20 gourdes in the countryside, effective from October. The employers bitterly attacked this as potentially destroying the economy, complained they hadn’t been consulted and demanded suspension of the measure until a compromise could be reached. They also complained that the new minimum wage would not apply to government workers, only to their workers.

A few weeks later, Aristide criticised the new law because of the difference between the rural and urban rates proposed. This would, he said, aggravate the migration to the city. The government sent a new bill, abolishing this difference, to parliament in early September.

I don’t know whether it was voted into law. But I think not, due to the conflict between Parliament and Aristide over his failure to officially nominate new members of the Cour Superiere des Comptes (the state accounting watchdog). Aristide called a special session of Parliament on 24 September (a week before he was overthrown) to vote the new budget, but each side accused the other of incompetence of various kinds, so nothing was done.

Anyway, we need Tom’s explanation.

As for respecting Haitians and leaving them to come up with their own solutions, of course that is absolutely right. The problem arises from the simple fact that no (nation) is an island (these days). If national elites, ruling classes wish to be corrupt, steal, pillage as is their wont everywhere, I suppose they will do so. But no-one can expect outsiders whose aid is sought not to take that into account and not to make observations/conditions on account of it.

Apart from that, I agree with Tom about nationalism being a bogus response to outside criticisms of injustice. The critics maybe meddling and hypocritical on occasion, but the nationalist card is nearly always found to be bogus, specious and indeed out of the mouths of the perpetrators of the abuses. So we must all, as earthlings, continue to speak up.