Date: Thu, 26 Oct 1995 19:01:51 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: Workers World Service <>
Subject: Haitian Groups Fight Privatization, U.S. Rule
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <>

Haiti—One year later: Popular groups fight privatization, U.S. rule

By Pat Chin, Workers World, 2 November 1995

This Oct. 15 was the one-year anniversary of the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti in the wake of a U.S. invasion force.

But despite optimistic declarations by Vice-President Al Gore, who was in Port-au-Prince for the official celebration, things are not going well for the U.S. in that Caribbean nation. The much publicized elections are finally over, and a new parliament, dominated by pro-privatization Lavalas members, has been seated, but the problems remain.

Against the backdrop of mounting anti-privatization protests, numerous popular groups are denouncing the lack of justice, the high cost of living and the U.S. occupation. Whatever his public speeches, Gore read the riot act to Aristide on adhering to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Structural Agreement Program, reported Ha<ti Progres newspaper. (Oct. 18-24)

The mobilizations may have forced Aristide to do an about- face on the U.S.-imposed economic plan the Haitian president signed while in exile. Privatization is one of three major points of the agreement.

Fallout from the demonstrations has been momentous. Even the capitalist press has been forced to finally acknowledge the movement while downplaying its breadth and distorting its influence.

Aristide’s ambivalence, reported the Oct. 19 New York Times, encouraged Mr. Aristide’s supporters in grass-roots groups on the left to paint anti-privatization graffiti everywhere. They have also vehemently attacked [Prime Minister Smarck] Michel and other proponents of the measures on government-owned television, accusing them of betraying the nation.

On Oct. 13 Michel shocked the White House by announcing he would step down. Michel was the chief proponent of the IMF/World Bank structural adjustment program. His resignation took place just before the anniversary celebrations. It also went into effect the day before bidding was to open on the state-run flour and cement factories slated to be sold off.


Then on Oct. 15 an official motorcade was stoned by angry demonstrators in Cit, Soleil, a poor neighborhood in Port- au-Prince. The beseiged delegation included Tipper Gore, Vice President Gore’s wife.

Yankee go home. UN go home, shouted the protesters. When troops fired tear gas into the crowd, they were pelted with rocks and bottles.

Since the U.S.\U.N. occupation started last September the Haitian people have become increasingly fed up with the deteriorating conditions and empty promises of aid.

September saw a rising number of protests, including marches and demonstrations on the anniversary of the Sept. 30, 1991, coup d’etat that deposed Aristide.

On that day in the capital, two women’s groups hosted an outdoor meeting where people demanded justice and a court to judge all rapists. (Haiti Info, Sept. 30)

On the annniversary of last year’s invasion, more than a dozen organizations demonstrated against the occupation and privatization. More than 1,000 people came to the march, which began at the St. Jean Bosco Church, reported Haiti Info. The sponsoring groups included the National Popular Assembly, peasant, student, youth and other groups.

In Cap-Haitien a new coalition was formed. On Sept. 19 the New Alternative of Popular Forces Against the Occupation and the IMF held a press conference calling for justice and lower prices and denouncing the government’s neo-liberal policies.

Popular organizations in St. Marc shut down the port to protest smuggling and corruption. It was also there on Sept. 22 and 24 that over 40 representatives of popular and peasant groups met to discuss privatization and measures to oppose it.

A few days later, members of the peasant group Unit, des Paysans de Marceline threatened to close down the hydroelectric station if their areas are not electrified.

One worker from the state-owned telephone company slated to be sold told Haiti Info: The policy of privatization is a policy of aggression. We don’t think it will improve the existence of people nor satisfy the democratic aspirations of the people.

Clinton has tried to justify sending troops to Bosnia by pointing to the so-called success in Haiti. The White House claims that the troops will soon leave that country. But with the popular movement gaining in strength, this seems unlikely.

In fact, plans to keep the occupying forces in Haiti were recently confirmed when U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said he would ask the Security Council for an extension.

In the meantime, the popular movement continues to grow in strength determined to stop the recolonization of their country by the capitalist government in Washington.