From Sun Jul 14 10:30:20 2002
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 22:22:58 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: [Haitireport] Haiti Report for July 5, 2002
Article: 141776
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Withheld funds

Haiti Report for 24 June 2002, prepared by Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

While the Group of Eight discussed an Action Plan for Africa, Haiti is getting poorer while subject to a US-orchestrated block on grants and loans to the country's government until an impasse is resolved. Last week, the Organization of American States (OAS) reported that progress has been made in opening dialogue between the government of President Aristide and the opposition, but the pace has been grindingly slow and success is far from assured. Meantime, the country—600 miles off the coast of Florida—is sinking further into destitution, a flame out all the more notable given its proximity to the world's wealthiest nation. On virtually any regional misery index imaginable, Haiti takes the prize. According to UNICEF,the infant mortality rate stands at 81 per 1,000 births (compared with 7 per 1,000 in the US), less than half population has access to safe water and just about a quarter has access to adequate sanitation. The average income hovers around $1.40 a day and the life expectancy is about 53years, a rate that international organizations fear could drop further as Haiti struggles with the highest level of HIV infection in the region at more than 5% of the adult population. According to a report in 2001, by Roberto Machado, an economist with the Inter-American Development Bank(IDB), the major factor behind economic stagnation is the withholding of aid, which has been valued at $500 million. Washington's policy is supported by the Democratic Convergence, a loose confederation of opposition parties including some backers of former dictator Jean Claude Duvalier, that protested the flawed election process. But it's stance infuriates humanitarian groups. What about the fact that we (the US) poured millions and millions into the country when there were dictators killing people, and we did nothing, said Rita Rousso of the Saint Boniface Haiti Foundation, which runs a hospital in Fond des Blancs, Haiti. Last week, the OAS's Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi said the stage maybe set for resolving the deadlock. Haiti's Permanent Rep. to the OAS, Ambassador Raymond Valcin, also saw signs of progress, noting the government had taken steps to re-open lines of communication with the opposition. But he objected to making an agreement with the opposition a condition for international financial assistance. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs was scathing in a report earlier this month. Due to members' close working relationship with Washington, the Convergence's directors are, in effect, co-rulers of the country, in spite of their lack of a popular base of supporters. Brian Concannon, an American lawyer based in Haiti who works for the government to prosecute human rights abuses, believes the opposition has little reason to seek a resolution.

There is an inverse relationship between electoral support and (US government) support for the Convergence Democratique, he said. The international community has missed an opportunity (to help the democratic process), said Concannon, who has worked in Haiti since 1996.

Because the international community was opposed to Aristide, they promoted people whose only platform was opposing Aristide. There is a lot of room for an opposition that could have challenged the Lavalas Party on policies, he said. (MSNBC News Dispatch, 6/26—note: Brian Concannon is incorrectly called Brian Corcoran in the original story) Excerpt of letter to Mrs. Laura Bush: In May of 2000, Haiti held its second democratic election. The International Coalition of Independent Observers found few problems with these elections. Representatives from the U.S. alleged that seven Haitian senators had been elected fraudulently.

Because of this claim, the United States has imposed economic sanctions on Haiti, cutting off all aid, The U.S. has frozen a total of $500million, including a $146 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that was intended for education, health care and infrastructure. Because the loans had already been approved before the elections, Haiti has already paid $10 million interest on loans it has never received, to prevent them from defaulting.

The seven disputed senators have resigned for the good of the country.

Still, the U.S. government opposes aid to Haiti. This policy is totally unconscionable. We are making the poor suffer for our own agendas. This is unconscionable. It is so wrong to punish this budding democracy,especially when we supported the evil dictatorships of the past. Whatever reasons the United States government comes up with to justify its actions, we are doing the poor of Haiti and their new democracy a grave injustice. We are denying Haiti the ability to develop a national health care system, provide safe drinking water, improve roads, and provide a system of public education. We are, in effect, paralysing the government.As I visit Haiti on my trips to our hospital in the back country, I see many improvements in the capitol of Port-au-Prince. Public parks with electric lighting have been built. In the evening, the parks are filled with students studying by the light. Most have no electricity in their homes.

There is greatly improved trash collection. Public telephones have appeared on street corners. There is a sense of pride that is tangible. People have freedom of speech for the first time in their lives. The justice system is being purged and developed with the help of Brian Concannon, a Paul Farmer, a physician from Harvard Medical School, has developed a high quality medical facility, Zanmi Lasante, where he treats patients with TB and HIV, as well as a miriad of other illnesses.

Many good things are happening in Haiti. Many more would occur if the sanctions were lifted. The needs are great. In God's name, let thegovernment of Haiti have the means to care for its people. Please ask President Bush to lift the sanctions against Haiti. Justice demands that he do so.

Sincerely, Rita Russo, Assistant Director, Saint Boniface Haiti Foundation, 14 Pond Lane, Randolph, MA 02368, 781-762-4391