Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 02:29:51 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: Rich Winkel <>
Organization: PACH
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <>

/** reg.carib: 209.0 **/
** Written 12:49 PM Oct 27, 1995 by oaadvocacy in cdp:reg.carib **

Haitians resist structural adjustment—US reacts by withdrawing aid

Action Alert!, 27 October 1995

In response to public outcry over privatization, the Haitian government last week refused to sign a World Bank loan agreement which would require implementation of a structural adjustment program. In turn, USAID is withholding $4.5 million in balance-of-payments support in order to pressure the Haitians to agree to the adjustment plan.

The following letter is being sent to USAID and the international financial institutions. To sign on, please contact Lydia Williams at Oxfam America (include name of signer and org.) via phone (617/728-2409), fax (617/728-2596, or e-mail ( The deadline END OF BUSINESS, TUESDAY,OCT 31.

Also, please contact USAID today to demand that desperately-needed funds Haiti not be linked to acceptance of the structural adjustment plan: Brian Atwood, USAID Administrator phone: (202)647-9620 fax: (202)647-0148


Dear [donor agency]:

We, the undersigned US, non-governmental organizations, write to express our serious concern that pending decisions by international donor institutions are stifling democratic debate in Haiti.

One year ago, the international community demonstrated its commitment to democracy by helping to restore the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Following President Aristide’s return, international donors conducted a Joint Assessment Mission to Haiti to determine what role they would play in the nation’s reconstruction.

In the report from the Mission, the donors determined that, in the past international cooperation to Haiti has had two basic shortcomings: no impact and no sustainability. Sustainability, it concluded, required Haitian society to further build consensus on basic societal values and goals... As a first step, the Mission called for increasing the link between communities and their elected officials, in order to increase the legitimacy of authority... and fostering of a dialogue with the government and the social sector which could lead to active participation of social organizations in national development strategies and programmes.

Barely one year later, donor attempts to push through significant economic reforms belie these earlier commitments. For example, with the parliamentary and local elections just completed, and the new parliament seated mere days ago, public debate about the privatization of state-owned industries and other fundamental economic issues is just beginning. And yet, donors have already determined that privatization is a priority and will proceed along a certain course and timetable. This has led to public outcry and major disagreement within the government, resulting in the resignation of the prime minister.

The situation raises two related concerns: First, the donors have patently dismissed the legitimate concerns of Haitian citizens vis a vis sovereignty, due process, and equity. Secondly, these agencies continue to use Haiti’s urgent budget needs to force hasty acceptance of policies which will have a long-term impact on the Haitian people.

Such pressure from donors can hardly be said to be supportive of democracy. Nor are donor agencies doing their job in ensuring that information about their programs and policies is getting to the people who are supposedly the beneficiaries and, in the case of assistance from the multilateral banks, will be expected to repay the loans.

Earlier this month, some of our organizations hosted a 13-member delegation of leaders of Haitian non-governmental and grassroots organizations. The purpose of their trip was to collect information and meet face-to-face with multilateral development bank officials to begin the process of analyzing the plans.

The delegation was extremely frustrated by the lack of access to donor-controlled information, especially documents, that is critical to their ability to engage in any meaningful debate on donor programs and policies in Haiti. For example, the delegation could not obtain a copy of the International Finance Corporation feasibility study on privatization, which proposes specific strategies and options for their nation. They noted that donors are blocking citizen participation in economic decisions that affect them, while they are pumping millions of dollars into so-called democracy projects and civil society-building projects.

The delegation made it clear to donors that Haitian citizens’ groups must be seen as active participants in each step of the development process, including economic policy making, rather than merely as implementers of foreign-designed projects. The Haitian people expect their government to ensure that donor-supported projects and policies serve the interests of the Haitian people, include the people in the formulation of the programs, and transform, rather than reinforce, the social and economic status-quo that led to the military coup d’etat and continue to marginalize Haiti’s poor majority.

Once again, we urge that the donor community disseminate information to the Haitian population and devise mechanisms, in concert with the Haitian government, to enable citizens and their parliament to become informed participants in the economic policymaking process. Without these actions, there can be no lasting democracy or development in Haiti.