From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Jul 27 10:30:15 2002
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 00:59:18 -0500 (CDT)
From: Haiti_Progrès <email@example.com>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 20:19 7/24/2002
This Week in Haiti,Vol.20 no.19, 24—30 July 2002
Last year, dozens of
cooperatives mushroomed all over Haiti as
part of a
cooperative movement encouraged by President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In theory, the movement was supposed to
democratize the economy by offering alternatives to the Haitian
bourgeoisie’s monopoly control of key economic sectors, like
banks and import/export companies. Most of the cooperatives spawned
were unregulated banks and credit unions offering mind-boggling
interest-rates of up to 15%, enticing inflation-whipped Haitians to
deposit their meager life savings into accounts that seemed too good
to be true.
They were. This year, the cooperatives, most of which appear to have been concocted by pyramid schemers, have begun to fall like dominos, throwing thousands of Haitian depositors into even deeper poverty and despair. Many of the cooperative directors have gone into hiding or fled to the US.
Meanwhile, an angry movement of fleeced depositors has emerged in Haiti. They are demanding why the government made no effort to warn the public, to apprehend fugitive directors, or to monitor the cooperatives despite the existence of a regulatory agency, the National Council of Cooperatives (CNC). In an effort to calm spirits, Aristide has promised to refund the millions of dollars which evaporated from cooperative accounts, although the Haitian treasury is penniless. He has pledged to do this by September, when families need money for the start of the school year.
On Jul. 18, demonstrators took to the streets of St. Marc to demand
that the government act to arrest the directors of collapsed
cooperatives and to prevent their flight from the country.
only one thing we can do if the government refuses to take hold of
this matter, said one angry demonstrator.
Next week, we will
shut down all of St. Marc, from top to bottom. Many cooperatives
in that town have closed their doors, including BCI, BCCH, CADEC,
SOFADEC, BEFEC, and CODESO.
In Gonaoves, similar demonstrations took place last week to demand
that Aristide reimburse depositors as promised.
Aristide has to
give us our money immediately, one demonstrator said.
won’t wait until September. We are going to block all the roads
Every day in Port-au-Prince, crowds form in front of the CNC offices
where people file claims against cooperative directors to recoup their
I have been standing here since this morning, said one
forlorn man waiting on line.
I’m just trying to survive this
life they’ve destroyed. Since I’ve been standing on line,
a bunch of people have gone ahead of me. If you are not a policeman,
you don’t get anywhere. Some cops have taken to reclaiming
their money at gunpoint from folding cooperatives.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Jean-Baptiste Brown and Finance Minister
Faubert Gustave held a Jul. 19 press conference with the heads of the
Cooperative Initiative (INICOOP), an association of cooperatives
formed in an effort to save the movement. They announced an agreement
with the directors of failed cooperatives, but only those who had not
fled or gone into hiding. They encouraged people to continue to file
claims against fugitive directors and to be
patient. So far
over 9000 claims for money lost in failed cooperatives have been
lodged. Claims can be filed at the CNC offices, at the courthouse, or
even at the Ministry of Justice, the officials said. The Ministers
said they had taken various measures to protect the assets of the
cooperatives, and they invited fugitive cooperative directors to
return and make an arrangement with the government.
The INICOOP directors said that they had made a deal with the government and foreign firms to buy up the assets of failed cooperatives. INICOOP estimates that the Haitian state will have to reimburse about $240 million to swindled depositors, which is more than 60% of the national budget.
We don’t think that the state, that is the Haitian people,
should have to foot the bill, said Ben Dupuy of the National
Popular Party (PPN) in a Jul. 9 press conference.
Those who are
responsible, those who stole the money, should pay the depositors
back. The state should pursue them. The state doesn’t even have
the funds. People are dying in the General Hospital because there is
not enough serum or medicine. All the roads in the country are
disastrous; they can’t even afford to fill the holes. And now
the government says it is going to compensate people right and left.
It’s pure demagogy.