Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 07:28:08 -0500
From: L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b) <>

> S * IN ACTIV-L --> Database ACTIV-L, 6717 hits.

> print 06715
>>> Item number 6715, dated 96/07/02 15:22:45—ALL
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 1996 15:22:45 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Haitian Information Bureau <>
Subject: Haiti Info v.4 #17 NEOLIBERALISM REJECTED

Declaration of the reflection-seminar: ‘Neoliberalism and human rights’

Haiti Info, Vol.4 no.17, 27 June 1996

Participants... reflected a great deal on why the Lavalas government chose this road that... puts to one side a series of fundamental rights of citizens and noted:

1. The Lavalas government decided at the end of 1994 to apply the neoliberal plan, a death plan big imperialist countries have decided and want to jam down the throats of all little countries on the earth...

2. The objective of neoliberalism is not to improve the living conditions of people or favor development, (in fact, it can't!) but is rather a response... to the crisis that the capitalist system has been in since the late 1970s.

3. Neoliberalism has the same principles of the old liberalism, and is a way of managing capitalism where the market is the motor of all economic activities while the state plays the role of police and that the only thing neo or new is the degree of integration of the capitalist relations worldwide, what they call in their mystifying language,‘globalization’ which is actually today's savage, violent form of managing capitalism.

4. With neoliberalism, there are actually two liberalizations:

5. All the changes are done in the name of modernization which means, fire 25,000 state employees..., retire the state's responsibilities regarding economic and social rights... rights recognized in the 1987 constitution like the right to life, to work, to housing, to education, etc.

6. The modernization they are talking about instead has as its true objective to reduce the democratic demands and aspirations of the Haitian people, and make the political game a simple formal and institutional process based only on elections. In other words, the right of participation is not guaranteed. When the slaves go to vote for their masters, that does not eliminate the situation of masters and slaves. The police will come to play a repressive role, like the army.

7. The government is hiding the real information on this subject. Instead, it's corruption, manipulation and co-optation all over. The press does not help people see clearly, and the majority of local authorities (magistrates) and many parliamentarians have already decided to support, eyes closed, the neoliberal plan.

8. The government is not telling the truth when they repeat the clarion call of‘no alternatives'. There are many propositions... But the Lavalas power would rather believe in the role of 'salesman’ that it is playing...

The assembly concluded:

1. The Lavalas government's neoliberal plan will open the door to even more trampling on human rights in the country and will totally ignore the thirst for justice of the population after three years of coup d'etat.

2. Human rights organizations should further integrate respect for economic and social rights into their work...

3. Human rights organizations should work together to make the government guarantee... access to information especially the immediate publication, in Creole, of the accord the government has with the international financial institutions.

4. Human rights organizations should work to support the people's right to participate. Meeting after meeting is held, plots upon plots are cooked up, and the people are increasingly mere observers. The Haitian people are the ones who should first know the consequences of the government's neoliberal plan, and who should first hear the explanations to justify the mayors’ and parliamentarians’ support of the death plan.

5. Human rights organizations should organize more sensitizing activities... on the nature and consequences of the neoliberal plans of the government for social and economic rights.

6. Human rights organizations should develop good relations with peasant, popular, and women's organizations to combat the government's neoliberal plan.

7. At the same time we denounce all the pressure on and blackmail of parliamentarians, we ask them not to vote for the neoliberal plan and measures. Despite the bad orientation of his program, you still voted for Prime Minister Rosny Smarth. Today you should refuse to march down the route of selling the country, of trampling on the fundamental demands of the population.


While government officials rush to finalize the agreement with the International Monetary Fund [see last issue], organizations in the democratic and popular movement are not sitting back to accept the so-called passage obligee or obligatory step.

Instead, at a three-day meeting hosted by the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations, representatives of over two-dozen popular groups, a dozen human rights, women's and socio- professional institutions, and two Latin American visitors met in a reflection-seminar entitled Neoliberalism and Human Rights.

The outcome of the meeting—where over 50 delegates broke into two work groups: one that looked at the neoliberal economic measures planned for Haiti, and a second at the consequences and how base groups and the human rights sector can fight them—was clear: a firm rejection of the government's neoliberal policy and a determination to struggle together against it.

Visitors Ideas and Responses

The meeting opened on Sunday, June 16, with introductory addresses by Father Hugo Trieste, General Coordinator of the Platform, and by Luiz Perez Aguirre of Uruguay and Joao Whitaker Ferreira of Brazil. Father Trieste explained that the Platform has decided to focus on economic and social rights because the neoliberal plan being forced on the Haitian people touches the first right of all human beings, which is the right to life, but, he concluded, we are not alone and change is possible.

Aguirre, from Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) of Uruguay, said poverty is a sickness produced by capitalism.

So what is neoliberalism? Aguirre asked the audience. In two words, [it] is not‘the end of history,’ as some affirm, but an end to capitalist accumulation.

The effects to his country, which applied orthodox neoliberalism, have been devastating: all private banks are now in foreign hands, 30% of export earnings service the debt, almost half the budget goes to security and police, while education and health get only 32%. It has the highest unemployment, the highest debt per person and the lowest growth in the region, he said, ending: Voil the consequences of neoliberalism!

Aguirre concluded by calling for mobilization, but said we do not immediately see the solution. That inspired criticisms from several participants who disagreed with his overall resignation and focus on poverty.

Whitaker, a member of the Worker's Party in Brazil, talked about the environmental degradation due to neoliberalism: garbage from the over-consuming north and also from the transfer of heavily polluting industries to exploited countries. He also spoke of the importance of the mass media in promoting consumption. In Brazil, the world's tenth largest economy, 30 to 40 million out of 150 million consume, and the rest are left out, with 32 million under the poverty line.

Something is not working, Whitaker said.

Regarding alternatives, Whitaker cited Cuba's economic independence, but then said that in the global village, it is impossible not to integrate... It is inexorable. He instead made abstract propositions: networking, horizontal organization and exchanges to reconstruct the social tissue.

Like Aguirre, Whitaker offered interesting facts, but concluded with a pessimistic and defeatist vision which provoked harsh criticism from the audience. Rather than fighting neoliberalism, he advocated trying to minimize the damage, and spoke of the experiences of his party in Sao Paolo, where it held City Hall for a term. However, he admitted perhaps more than he had planned when he said that after four years, the right-wing got control and in three months, destroyed what we had done.

Seminar Participants Very Positive

Chenet Jean-Baptiste, General Secretary of the Platform, said the seminar as a success: The reflections were very rich.

Jean-Baptiste said participants made a number of recommendations to the human rights sector regarding the necessity to inform people of their rights, which he thought was positive, and also noted that it was the first time a series of accompanying institutions sat down with base groups for such an exchange of information and ideas.

The Platform will be publishing two documents resulting from the seminar: one with the alternatives discussed, and a second with background papers. The Platform will also undertake to document violations of economic and social rights and hopes to organize more seminars: The subject will be a priority for the Platform for the coming year... More meetings, discussions, elements of reflection, but above all, systematic information work.

An organizer with Aksyon Katolik Ouvriye (AKO), an organization that accompanies workers and unemployed people, said the meeting was a very good initiative because he had heard a lot of discussion about neoliberalism before, but did not fully understand it and its consequences.

More people will understand the importance of taking a position on those policies, he said, and added that the most important thing for him was: Learning and accumulating facts and understanding a series of economic concepts... seeing what is in store for us... and being able to use that information to make more people understand.

The organizer said the discussions and exchanges over strategies were also important, and that reviewing history showed that since the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier they have been putting peons into place and setting up neoliberal structures here.

Now the Platform needs to do the follow-up it promised, and the groups that attended need to see how they can work together, he said. AKO will continue studying the reality of neoliberalism and its manifestation among the masses, and on worker's rights, which do not exist under neoliberalism, especially in the growing informal sector, he said.

A women from Chandel (Candle), a popular organization founded in 1989 which focuses on popular education, thought the seminar was positive because it was the occasion for many popular organizations and institutions to reflect together.

Habitually, organizations reflect themselves. Chandel can reflect with its members... but when you put all the human rights institutions together with all those popular organizations, I think it is a good experience because it makes us see things more clearly, she said. Many ideas are exchanged and it is very enriching.

One concrete result, she said, was that those attending realized there should be a little team, we can't say‘platform,’ because we did not agree with that word, that can determine what should be done.

Things were discussed, but I will not say them because they are strategic, she said.

A member of Solidarite Ant Jen (SAJ) said: We think it is interesting to link it to the human rights question..., because they always perceive of human rights in terms of political and civic rights... They never talk about social and economic rights.

The young man said working together to produce a reflection and develop a collective understanding was very important. Another crucial aspect were the discussions on the need to expose individuals and organizations who say they are against neoliberalism, but are part of the government, like, for example, CRESFED [Centre de Recherche et de Formation Economique et Sociale pour le Developpement], an institution which is a member of the Platform, and we know the Platform is very clearly against neoliberalism, yet the entire senior staff of CRESFED is in OPL [qganizasyon Politik Lavalas] and is supporting the neoliberal plan... It was necessary that we air out these contradictions... so people are not confused!