Date: Wed, 14 May 97 11:04:29 CDT
From: Workers World <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Haiti: IMF austerity brings famine
Article: 10855

IMF austerity brings famine

By G. Dunkel, Workers World, 15 May 1997

During the last week of April famine became deadly in Haiti. In the northwest part of that country, over a dozen people died of hunger. People there are trying to survive by living on a mix of molasses and dirt until mangoes are ready to be picked.

Haiti's government is trying to arrange for some non-governmental organizations to provide emergency food aid, both in the northwest and in other areas of Haiti where hunger has still not reached deadly proportions.

The newsweekly Haiti Progress reports that agronomist Philippe Mathieu, who is in charge of the Northwest Famine Dossier, says this aid would be in the form of cash for work, food for work.

Haiti is still under an austerity program imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

This program is designed to reduce government spending by cutting government jobs, ending subsidies to farmers and consumers, privatizing and keeping private-sector wages low. Its stated goal is to keep Haiti competitive for foreign investors.

U.S. interests dominate both the World Bank and the IMF. Whatever they propose is cleared first in Washington. This program, which is the same thing as telling a starving family to save money by not eating, is being carried out under the watchful eyes of United Nations, Canadian and U.S. troops who still occupy Haiti.

But the Haitian people are anything but passive. In 1986, they uprooted Jean-Claude Baby Doc Duvalier. He fled on a U.S. plane with a U.S. guard. They resisted several military coups that followed Duvalier's departure. In frequent uprisings, the Haitian people have shown they are willing to unite and make great sacrifices to achieve democracy and justice and develop their resources.

When two-thirds of the Haitians swept Jean-Bertrand Aristide into the presidency, it created great consternation for the U.S. ruling class. Rather than a normal election, it was much more like a mass movement.

Without the connivance of Washington, the coup that overthrew Aristide would have ended soon after it began. U.S. support for its reactionary henchmen in Haiti closed the door to development in Haiti for the benefit of its workers and peasants.

Washington bears major responsibility for all the miseries afflicting the Haitian people. A few sacks of grain and a few hypocritical kind words won't reverse or excuse years of exploitation and oppression.