Date: Wed, 10 Apr 1996 09:05:55 -0500
From: L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <>

--> Database ACTIV-L, 9996 hits.

> print 09927
>>> Item number 9927, dated 96/04/08 18:13:23—ALL
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 1996 18:13:23 GMT
Reply-To: Haitian Information Bureau <>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Haitian Information Bureau <>
Subject: Haiti Info v.4 #11 PRIVATIZATION AGAIN

Privatization again and again

Haiti Info, Vol.4 no. 11, 5 April 1996

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Apr. 5—President Rene Preval’s solemn pledges in Washington to privatize Haiti’s state enterprises [see last issue], have unleashed a wave of contestation and relaunched the struggle against privatization and neoliberal policies.

Added to his vigorous promises were avowals from his entourage, like from special advisor Leslie Voltaire, who was in Washington reassuring officials Preval was serious. Speaking to Inter Press Service there, he showed he clearly understands structural adjustment: We know it’s a very painful program. It’s like surgery without anesthesia, but recited: We don’t have a choice; now everybody is insisting.

Protests Mount—Preval Reacts

Those kinds of statements provoked the indignation of the population and caused many popular and democratic organizations to denounce privatization and adjustment and attack the Preval government.

Although the many groups which immediately reacted to Preval’s unilateral decision did not agree on all points, groups as diverse as Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (SOFA), Assemblee Populaire Nationale (APN), Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP), Kolektif Mobilizasyon Kont FMI ak Bank Mondyal and Platform Haitienne de Plaidoyer pour un Developpement Alternatif (PAPDA) all denounced the government’s demagogic promotion of privatization, its categorical decision and reminded that neoliberalism equals more poverty and hardship for the masses.

Political parties and lawmakers also took to the airwaves to denounce the economic coup d’etat. In reaction to Preval’s claims that the government cannot manage enterprises, Sen. Irvelt Chery (OPL) said, Yes, the Macoute state is a bad manager, but the Lavalas state has not even proved itself yet!

After declaring in Washington that privatization would occur immediately, last week Preval stepped back when he began to feel the heat, announcing consultations and holding well-publicized meetings with union leaders. He also declared he had spent three hours with PAPDA, as if to say he was considering alternatives. Voltaire tried to make amends for his well-publicized surgery statement, saying the majority of the Haitian people will not feel the effects... since the state does not have the habit of subsidizing, completely misleading the public. Minister Foreign Affairs Fritz Longchamps announced a big campaign to tell the population about privatization and to collect opinions so the government can make a decision.

Moving Forward Anyway

But Preval’s and Longchamps’ call for dialogue and opinions was just a maneuver to cool down the game and defuse people’s anger, since plans continued to move forward. A hefty delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), Inter-American Bank (IDB), U.S. government and other instances is due here Monday, and bids have already been received for the 78 percent of the cement company the government is selling (despite Preval’s promise last month that it would retain control over enterprises.)

Despite its rhetoric, the government is showing every sign of complying with the very determined agenda of the international players who, every other day, take to the airwaves to warn that closing fiscal years and other deadlines approach, meaning Haiti should move fast or risk losing millions. The latest carrots dangled: WB: US$25 million, IMF: $20 million, IDB: $300 million.

Family Disagreement

The rush to privatization is starting to expose contradictions within the Lavalas family. Last weekend the Aristide Foundation for Democracy held a three-day meeting with, it said, 90 popular organizations which vehemently rejected privatization.

This week, two close associates of Aristide’s, one a former minister (Dr. Gerard Blot), announced a new mass organization, The Assembly of Legitimate Children of the Table, whose main demand is that the Lavalas platform (The Table) make space for the masses. Although its founders claim it is complementary and not opposition, they harshly criticized the government: Decisions are taken, privatization is discussed, but the legitimate children are not involved!

And Wednesday, Lavalas deputies defected and voted against a controversial IDB education loan that Lavalas senators supported, noting that although it had money for scholarships, it provided nothing durable. Senators were tangibly upset. But the defection is not surprising, offering only one illustration of the contradictions at the heart of Lavalas bound to grow and increasingly come to the fore as the government continues down the neoliberal path it has chosen and the people show their determination and capacity to resist and to fight against this anti-national and anti-popular policy.