Democrats Vs. Democracy
has come to Haiti and the benefits are important and tangible. There
is a grave political crisis, yet there is no threat of official violence.
Haiti's leaders are looking for solutions within a constitutional framework.
former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's role has recently come under
criticism, it was still of crucial importance for the United States,
with the backing of the United Nations, to restore him to office in
1994. He laid the groundwork for democracy, first by abolishing the
Haitian military over the misconceived objections of the United States
and, second, by presiding over the peaceful transfer of power from one
elected president to another.
These democratic gains, however, are overshadowed
by the ominous political crisis caused by the dissolution of the Lavalas
movement and the power struggle among its fragments. Frustrated by his
inability to gain parliamentary approval of economic reform, President
René Préval's prime minister resigned on June 9. The search for a successor
has proved fruitless for five months, with Aristide leading the opposition
to privatization and another, rival wing of the Lavalas party opposing
the choice of prime minister.
of power and responsibility
power with responsibility is crucial to effective government. The political
crisis in Haiti is happening in good part because official responsibilities
reside with the executive and legislature while power belongs to Aristide,
the most popular politician in the country. Aristide launched a new
wing of the Lavalas party called Lavalas Family, while the old wing,
known as Lavalas Political Organization (OPL), maintains a relative
majority in the legislature. President Préval is caught in between.
Until there is a greater convergence of power and responsibility, Aristide
can block any initiative.
21 Préval decried this split in the Lavalas coalition, which has paralyzed
conflict is between those of us who were together in the past, a misunderstanding
between those of us who fought together in the past against the coup
d'état, and today we are battling one another. I think this is dangerous.
failure to meet a self-imposed deadline of September 26 for naming of
a prime minister, Préval continued marathon negotiations with the various
components of Lavalas. As of this writing, the Lavalas rivals are not
even talking to one another. They have left the table, and discussions
are going on separately. Whoever is finally nominated will face a dire
emergency in a country where threats of political violence, strikes,
and road blockages are becoming nearly daily occurrences. Their cumulative
effect is bringing the country to the brink of ungovernability.
the crisis is the desperate need to reform and modernize the Haitian
economy. The poverty of the Haitian people is a scandal to the hemisphere.
The economic-reform package, which includes privatization of state-owned
enterprises, has proved controversial both because it threatens the
jobs of some state workers and because it has become a lightning rod
for the population's justified frustration with the economic status
quo. In effect, the Haitian people have won the battle for democracy
but are baffled and frustrated in the battle for economic progress.
of reform has all but exhausted the patience of donors, who have bent
over backwards to accommodate the political complexities of Haiti. Nevertheless,
their patience may need to be further tried or the entire reform package
may be lost along with much of Haiti's democratic leadership.
under a crisis not only of leadership but of loss of faith in the political
process. In the 1990 election that brought Aristide to power, 95 percent
of the people turned out to vote. Last April 6, with nine senate seats,
two chamber seats and close to six hundred local councils at stake,
only 5 to 10 percent of the people bothered to go to the polls. Haitian
politicians likened it to a popular boycott. With cries of fraud and
manipulation echoing around the country, the elections commission has
been unable to schedule runoff elections. The result has been a weakened
president, a truncated and fragmented parliament and a caretaker prime
minister without the authority to make major decisions.
political forces in Haiti
While president, he appeared to signal his support for the economic
reform package, yet only a few months into the Préval presidency he
began attacking reform and, in particular, privatization. When the Lavalas
movement, under the leadership of the veteran political leader Gérard
Pierre-Charles, continued its support of the government, Aristide took
the dramatic step of creating his rival Lavalas Family.
As a young
priest, Aristide seemed to seek confrontation with Church authority.
As a revolutionary, he condemned dictatorship and called for democracy.
As president, he visibly chafed under the institutional restraints of
the constitution he had fought so effectively to restore. As ex-president
and no longer part of the formal decision-making process, his distrust
of institutions intensified. With the creation of the new party, Lavalas
Family, Aristide appears to have reverted to the ecclesiastical authoritarianism
he once condemned. Confronted with a Lavalas movement escaping his personal
control, he did not seek to build new coalitions within the party. Instead
he excommunicated his longtime friends in the old Lavalas and created
a new church, without doctrine or dogma except unquestioning loyalty
to its leader.
Aristide's vision and courage, Haiti would still suffer under dictatorship.
Paradoxically, the new challenge for Haitian democratic leaders is how
to move the levers of constitutional power in the face of Aristide's
Aristide has been out of office for almost two years, he remains the
most influential political figure in Haiti. He has been widely criticized
for deals he is alleged to have made and for the way he has opportunistically
abandoned positions he took while in office. Perhaps most damaging to
him in the eyes of ordinary Haitians, he no longer shares their experience
of poverty, but rather lives in a style that has more in common with
the privileged few. In spite of these negatives, however, he remains
the odds-on favorite to be elected president of Haiti in the year 2000,
when the constitution will allow him to run again.
The original Lavalas partyCnow known as the Lavalas Political Organization,
or OPLCis still the governing party. Despite his close personal ties
to Aristide, President Préval has not broken with OPL, and the parliament
is controlled by it.
undoubted gifts as definer of the Haitian esprit, it will be an uphill
struggle to maintain OPL as a functioning, coherent party. The April
6 elections, with their abysmally low turnout, favored the rival Lavalas
Family candidates. As a result, OPL denounced the elections, citing
abuses of power and technical flaws and calling for the resignation
of the elections commission. The United Nations and OAS criticized the
elections as well, while the United States accepted them. When Préval
declined to take the dramatic step of annulling the elections, OPL refused
to cooperate in the naming of a prime minister.
its electoral reverses, OPL does have some important advantages. Its
leader, Pierre-Charles, is universally respected as a democratic statesman
who never wavered in his loyalty to the constitutional government during
Aristide's exile. Pierre-Charles has also built strong ties of loyalty
with local officials throughout the island. Another positive factor
is the rising popularity of younger parliamentary leaders such as Kely
Bastien and Alex Fils-Aimé who speak convincingly of the battle between
those who work to build a framework of responsible government and anointed
leaders to whom personal loyalty is the transcendent virtue. How to
keep OPL together, to keep it from splintering, is a daunting but crucial
task as it is on this accidental party that, at least in the short term,
democratic progress depends.
parties. Another asset in the cause of institutionalizing democracy
is an unwieldy mix of smaller parties with unduly disparate platforms.
It would be a mistake to dismiss these politicians as leaders without
people. Counted in their number are men and women of talent and vision
who can see beyond the present crisis. They range from the sturdy social-democratic
veteran Victor Benoit to the fiery, charismatic Evans Paul, former mayor
of Port-au-Prince. Their groupings are united by their distrust of Lavalas
in either of its manifestations, their anger at those who presided over
the seriously-flawed April 9 elections, and their determination to use
the present crisis to reformulate the rules of the political game to
give them a better opportunity to compete.
organizations." These are small advocacy groups which have
sprung up spontaneously throughout the Haitian people's democratic struggle
since the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986. They frequently
articulate the population's justified anger with the status quo. Organizations
such as the Jan Tonbe Tonbe (JTT, "No Matter How It Falls, As Long
As It Falls") call for the resignation of the government and have
declared partially-observed general strikes C the degree of effectiveness
being difficult to gauge in a country with 60 to 70 percent unemployment.
The strikes are credited with hastening the departure of Prime Minister
Rosny Smarth and his government last June.
of JTT is frequently laced with the threat of violence: "We are
going to hold conferences, gatherings, and, possibly, if we have to
invite the people to take up arms against these people to force them
to leave the National Palace, we will incite them to violence."
of Lavalas must now contend with the anger most Haitians feel at the
failure of political actors to rise above their own narrow self-interest.
Those who fostered and participated in a process that brought some direction
and cohesion out of the current political chaos would earn the gratitude
of the Haitian people.
16 a member of the lower house spoke for many when he urged the different
components of the Lavalas movement to "unite their forces"
in time to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the military coup d'état
(September 30). Deputy Garry Guiteau said, "For those of us who
are still Lavalas, we should be working together." He called for
a "profound reflection."
of aid policy and privatization
Bank (International Dev. Association)
William Goodfellow and James Morrell)
Haiti is administered by a plethora of international banks and national
aid agencies who have met in consultative-group meetings chaired by
the World Bank to coordinate policy. While the aid package has a strong
humanitarian element, the overarching theme is stimulation of private-sector
growth and participation in the global market. As in many other countries,
this capitalistic approach collided with protected enclaves of the Haitian
economy and political system. Government workers in overstaffed ministries
or unproductive state corporations feared the loss of their jobs. Since
many of these workers belonged to the few effective unions in the country,
their grievance took on a social tinge. Foreign banks were threatening
the few jobs left in a country tortured by a dearth of jobs.
for private enterprise as the engine of growth is rooted both in the
World Bank's charter and the ruling ideology of the Western world, and
its rationale has been borne out in recent decades as Third World and
former socialist countries alike have found this form of development
most conducive to growth. Its capitalist model is clearly superior to
the chaotic bureaucratic-mercantilistic structure inherited by the democratic
Haitian government. Thus the World Bank-led consortium approaches Haiti
not only with the power and leverage of its money but with a strong
moral case, namely that its approach has lifted more people out of poverty
than any other and even its former ideological critics have been converted.
be further said in favor of the aid consortium's approach that it often
sought to avoid an inflexible imposition of this doctrine on Haiti and
always allowed for a large element of emergency relief and poverty alleviation
in its aid package. In a meeting with nongovernmental organizations
in November, 1994, Inter-American Development Bank president Enrique
Iglesias promised to "break the rules for Haiti." The aid
donors had been frustrated by the decades of misrule and corruption
in Haiti and recognized the advent of democratic government as a unique
names "World Bank" and "International Monetary Fund"
are misleading in the case of Haiti because all of the bank's loans
to Haiti are from its soft-loan affiliate, the International Development
Association, and are almost equivalent to grants, as is the majority
of the fund's loans as well. IDA's and the Inter-American Development
Bank's loans in Haiti come directly from the taxpayers of the developed
countries and are not "bank loans" in any sense. In their
actual nature they are scarcely different from the grants of the national
administration the World Bank and IMF operate as a club of the rich
countries. The word of the United States is predominant among the executive
directors, though it is nearly always coordinated with other leading
stockholders such as Great Britain and West Germany. The meetings of
the executive board are conducted in secretCa serious anomaly because
the executive directors do no more than allocate public money at these
meetings, in much the same way as a national legislature voting in open
session. Indeed, here may be one of the roots of their insensitive and
so-far- unsuccessful approach to Haiti. The World Bank seemed to acknowledge
as much when last April it held its consultative-group meeting in Haiti
and opened it up for the first time to Haitian nongovernmental organizations.
the World Bank-led consortium was well-suited to work through an established
government able to enforce its decisions. It was not well-suited for
the situation it found in Haiti Ca weak government floating atop a fragmented
society traumatized by a decade of political fighting and the embargo.
This was a society in which the state workers comprised one of the few
well-organized sectors. While these workers were a small minority of
the population, many among the poor majority aspired to such jobs and
did not equivalate their elimination with progress. Similarly, the notion
that the economic salvation of Haiti lay in stimulating the "morally-repugnant
elite" to invest and create jobs also was less than self-evident
to the majority. A number among them had been radicalized by the harsh
experiences of the past decade. Many poor Haitians viewed the rich with
a mixture of envy and hostility, and quite a few saw them as a parasitical
class, not the engine of progress. The World Bank and IMF presidents
traveled to Haiti and spoke on radio and television. The Agency for
International Development hired a Canadian public-relations firm to
make a pitch for economic reform. These appeals to capitalistic efficiency
went over the heads of much of the Haitian population because the theory
was alien to their experience.
as in any severely-abused population throughout this century, the Left
seemed to be speaking more directly to their concerns. Here, the international
left's critique of aid agencies, grounded in their abuse by the United
States in its ideological wars in Vietnam and Central America, had a
certain resonance in Haiti. The critique of structural adjustment and
"neoliberal" policies was quickly picked up in Haiti, to the
point where thirty members of the lower chamber of parliament, including
its president, formed an "Anti-Neoliberal Bloc." Thus to a
hard core of resistance comprising those who felt directly threatened
was added a much larger mood of skepticism which did not much differentiate
between a world bank, an international monetary fund, and the all-too-familiar
to this popular mood, attacks on the government blame the "neoliberal
policies" of the World Bank and IMF for Haiti's deep-seated economic
woes. Haiti's people and popular organizations have seized on this rhetoric
in their desperate need to articulate the people's suffering and evince
a response from the rich and powerful. A typical offering from a self-styled
popular organization reads as follows: "The new chosen government
must separate itself completely from the neoliberal program. This new
government must have in its program options for education, health and
also a clear definition of policy to create jobs in the country."
to this attack, however, it must be mentioned that the scorned neoliberal
program contains $132 million for education, $423 million for health,
water and sanitation, and over $1.2 billion for jobs creationCa total
greater than Haiti's entire annual national income. This money comes
from over two dozen international donors, ranging from U.S. AID to the
World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary
Fund, the United Nations, the European Community, and the national aid
programs of Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan,
went on to threaten Préval with a dire fate if he did not comply. He
would not be able to flee abroad, and "The day will come when the
people will rise up, become wild, and no one will be able to hold them
back, no barriers will hold them back."
call for economic isolation ignores the advantage of Haiti's easy access
to the U.S. market and the huge discrepancy in wage levels, in which
Haitian labor is grossly undervalued and can only gain in an efficiently
functioning free market. The highly emotional attacks on the World Bank
and IMF encourage demagoguery and scapegoating in Haiti, which, if not
checked, could lead to aid donors being targeted as in Somalia.
dilemma of technically-motivated aid cuts
the above mix the primordial fact that the population had the vote and
politicians unattuned to the popular mood were unelectable, and the
result was a situation in which the donors could meet in January, 1995
and commit $2.8 billion for Haiti, a good part of it fast-disbursing,
yet by October 1997 have only spent $1 billion of that impressive sum.
In the hemisphere's poorest counry, $1.8 billion of aid goes unspent.
And according to the Inter-American Development Bank Haiti risks losing
$400 million of this if does not resolve its political crisis by the
end of October. Although some of the failure to disburse is because
of the natural lag between decision and implementation, the majority
is because of Haiti's political crisis and inability to satisfy the
less than a year after the restoration of the Haitian government by
twenty-two thousand American troops, the World Bank withheld budget
aid to the government in a dispute over the pace of privatization. Haiti
had failed to carry through on its commitment to rationalize the public
administration, and still does. President Aristide had endorsed the
reform, if tepidly, and his prime minister Smarck Michel had pursued
it. But after the Lavalas landslide in the elections in the summer of
1995 Aristide had second thoughts and the parliament aggressively questioned
the prime minister. The 1987 constitution gave parliament the final
word, and it was clear the package would not pass. The prime minister
resigned and the bank withdrew its financing.
ample grounds. Most of the Haitian government's expenses are for civil-service
or state-corporation salaries in Port-au-Prince. For example, 95 percent
of the agricultural ministry's budget is for personnel and most of that
is in Port-au-Prince. It is 40 percent overstaffed. The quality of services
the various ministries supply is low and tends to be restricted to the
better-off areas. The Haitian government has no capital budget; that
is left to aid agencies. Without reform, much of the World Bank's budget
support was going to be wasted. It would be, as congressional aid critics
like to say, "money going from the poor folks in the rich countries
to the rich folks in the poor countries."
other institutional reasons as well. The bank's staff was under severe
pressure to cut the failure rate of projects. Haiti had yielded a disproportionate
number of projects so classified. The main reason for them, the staff
studies held, was the bank's failure to insist hard enough on reform.
Staff also was frustrated with the dilatory ways of the Haitian bureaucracy
and suspicious of the lack of transparency in letting bids.
larger management point of view, however, it made little sense for the
United States and world community to restore a government at such cost
and risk, then proceed to cut its aid. This was a true dilemma. Some
of the aid would be wasted, yet it was too soon for the United States
and the other bank stockholders to insist on full compliance with measures
which, while desirable, would be politically difficult even for a government
better settled than Haiti's.
could be made that these conditions need to be phased in over the medium
and long term so that those who would lose their jobs in the rationalization
of public administration, even if they were unqualified, would be absorbed
by a safety net or the private sector. To insist on them now would be
to expose the precarious Préval administration to attacks from the left
and right and make it a tempting target for Haiti's many political opportunists.
But the counterargument is that the reforms are conducive to self-sustaining
growth and jobs creation for the poor majority, rather than a well-connected
few. These are reforms that have proved their worth in the high-growth
economies of Asia and Latin America. Delay merely coddles a privileged,
unqualified bureaucracy at the expense of the vast majority.
politics with aid: The U.S. congressional performance
Haitian parliament seemed to have shirked its duty, the U.S. Congress
emerged in 1995 as a major destabilizing and destructive actor. Some
politically attuned members saw in Haiti a lucrative source of embarrassment
to President Clinton if the situation went bad. The more radical among
them, such as Indiana Republican representative Dan Burton, were not
content to wait for it to go bad but bent every effort to hasten that
Foreign Affairs Committee held nine "attack hearings" at which
members accused administration witnesses of perjury and cut or placed
holds on a variety of aid to Haiti, ranging from aid for education and
health clinics to piping clean water to rural communities. Cutting off
this aid, it was contended, would force the Haitian government to prosecute
alleged assassins in its midst. In three years of subpoenas and grilling
of ambassadors and foreign-service officers under oath, however, no
evidence was adduced of any Haitian government assassination program,
much less of a Clinton administration attempt to cover it up.
neither side gained political mileage from the hearings. What the hearings
did do, however, was put the Clinton administration in a deep defensive
crouch and totally drain it of the necessary risk-taking and imaginative
capacity that it needed to cope with the deteriorating Haitian situation.
Every AID hire, every discussion with a Haitian politician was suffused
with the fear of the congressional committee chairmen. U.S. soldiers
were removed from Haiti as quickly as possible and the U.N. military
mission was left to the Canadians and Pakistanis. No wonder that the
international financial institutions and private investors also soon
showed similar aversion to risk-taking.
discerning Haitian public immediately recognized the congressional moves
as an exercise in domestic politics. For all of the omissions and sins
of the Haitian government, political assassinations were not one of
them, as virtually anyone who lived in Haiti could attest. The Republican
cuts in aid melded in with the World Bank's as just so many instances
of foreign coercion to be resented.
Answer: Selling the Phone Company
company, TELECO, offers a good case study into the complexities of privatization.
There are 50,000 telephone lines in Haiti, although only 30,000 to 40,000
actually work. The U.S. embassy estimates there is immediate demand
for at least another 45,000. According to a Haitian businessman, an
efficient company could sell 300,000 lines if the service were fairly
priced. However, the state system does not have the capital to expand,
and the current system is so overloaded that it is often impossible
even to get a dial tone. Not only does TELECO forgo revenue every time
a call is not completed, it also is missing out on revenue available
from the demand for an almost tenfold increase in working lines.
TELECO is a financial disaster by almost any measure, there are some
who are benefiting. The true cost of switching an international call
is about two cents. An embassy economics officer said while most companies
double this when they bill their customers, the Haitian system charges
two dollars for each call it switches. TELECO earns about $2
million a month in hard currency for the central government. Because
these funds are free of the restrictions placed on foreign aid, the
Haitian authorities, many still loyal to Aristide, can spend the money
to reward their supporters.
phone company is scheduled to be privatized in February, 1998. The U.S.
Agency for International Development has allocated $3.4 million to facilitate
its sale. Given the massive capital investment needed to modernize the
system, it is doubtful the state will get a lot of money for TELECO.
Moreover, any would-be purchaser must worry that the phone company will
be expropriated by some future Haitian government, perhaps headed by
Aristide if, as expected, he wins the presidential election in the year
payoff for the government in a free-market economy should come from
sales taxes paid by customers and corporate taxes paid by the private
telephone company. As economist Georges Werleigh has pointed out, in
Haiti people, especially the rich, do not pay taxes, and this is true
for rich companies as well. Indeed, the electric company's ten biggest
corporate customers do not even pay the company for electric service,
let alone pay taxes on earnings. Therefore, once any of the nine state-owned
companies are sold, the Haitian government forever loses any chance
of seeing that revenue again. Until Haiti has a functioning tax-collection
system, it is hard to see how the government will benefit from privatization.
issue is the thousands of excess employees any purchaser likely would
want to fire. In a country where two out of every three workers are
unemployed, corporate downsizing is fiercely resisted by unionized workers.
Some provision must be made to take care of workers who are laid off,
even if they are promised jobs sometime in the future. Haitian unions
are the most vocal opponents of privatization, for in the short term
at least, they know jobs will be lost. Unless AID and other aid agencies
are willing to guarantee job security for anyone laid off by a newly-privatized
company, the unions and their political supporters can be counted on
to bitterly oppose any privatization plan.
will buy the company is another contentious issue. Haiti does not have
a stock market where individual shares of stock could be sold to middle-class
investors; there is not much of a middle class. The only likely buyers
would be members of the local elite or foreign investors. The prospect
of turning over the country's phone company to rich Haitians or rich
foreigners understandably has little populist appeal.
the aid holdups emanating from these various sources have contributed
to political uncertainty in Haiti, leading also to hesitation by private
investors to commit long-term. The result of this collective failure
to spur development is the ongoing tragedy of the poor in Haiti, as
dramatized in the recent horrific ferry accident.
debate over privatization
It is difficult
to argue that Haiti's government bureaucrats are better managers than
private business owners would be. Visitors arriving at Haiti's decrepit
state-owned airport, and particularly those who try to make a call using
the state-owned telephone system, are immediately confronted by the
shortcomings of the current state of affairs.
everything else in Haiti, however, the issue of privatization is complex,
confusing, and impossible to separate from history and politics. Indeed,
the very fact that the U.S. embassy and all the international financial
institutions are so enthusiastically promoting privatization is enough
to convince many Haitians that it is not in their best interest to sell
off valuable state enterprises at fire-sale prices. As one Haitian observer
put it, after struggling for two hundred years to gain control of their
government, Haitians can't understand why they must now give it away.
Aristide has recanted his earlier tepid endorsement of U.S.-backed economic
policies. Even though his government agreed in writing to sell off nine
state enterprises, he now says the policies are merely making the rich
grow richer. (The nine companies include the electric and telephone
companies, the port and airport, a cement and a vegetable oil plant,
a flour mill and two banks. Most are losing money, and the flour mill
and banks are closed. The flour mill has been sold.)
one does not need a poll or focus group to gauge the unpopularity of
privatization. Indeed, it has become a symbol for the disappointment
Haitians feel at the lack of progress since the restoration of democracy
in 1994. In spite of the $2.8 billion in aid pledged by developed countries
and international financial institutions, the lives of poor Haitians
have gotten worse, not better. Granted, they are not being killed by
the military, but common crime seems out of control and about two-thirds
of the work force is unemployed. The disappointment and anger are palpable.
The security threat in Haiti is not from a civil war but a civic explosion.
the abstract privatization might seem like a good idea, in Haiti it
must be accompanied by a social welfare plan to protect the thousands
of workers who would lose their jobs. As well, a regulatory authority
must be established to make sure the new owners do not overcharge their
customers. In addition, Haiti must have a functioning tax-collection
system if the government is to recoup the revenue lost by selling off
the phone system and other state enterprises. Finally, few buyers would
want to spend the billions necessary to modernize Haiti's phone and
other systems unless they had some kind of insurance to protect them
this is a tall order, especially if a desired February 1998 deadline
for privatization is to be met. Like so much else in Haiti, this target
date is likely to slide. Meanwhile, most Haitians will continue to do
without phone service, and those few lucky enough to have a working
telephone line will just have to keep trying to get a dial tone.
As a direct
consequence of President Clinton's initiative in returning President
Aristide to power, the acute political crisis Haiti is experiencing
is playing out without officially-sponsored violence and, thus far,
within the limits of constitutional order.
would be rash to place much more stress on this new and fragile democratic
system. Both domestic and external actors react to each new manifestation
of the crisis by pulling on the new shoots of democracy to see if the
roots are still there.
long the international community has justified its lack of action by
referring to the unique character of Haitians and by the observation
that they will pull things together in their own way and at their own
time. But what if this latest in a long series of crises has put strains
on the system to the point that the fragmented body politic is incapable
of pulling out of the crisis? Democratic solutions demand some consensus.
What should have served as a unifying theme C modernization with international
support C has become the point of division.
A way must
be found to reformulate and re-present the economic and administrative
reform package or the whole cause of modernization and poverty alleviation
is likely to be lost. The grievance of a relative handful of state workers
concerned about losing their jobs is containable with the right economic,
social, and political measures. But when this grievance is combined
with the struggle of the poor to understand and identify the source
of their misery, the result has been an angry politics of scapegoating.
In the face of the facts, a huge aid package oriented toward poverty
alleviation is grotesquely miscast as a poverty-generator.
recent bipartisan staff study of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
points the way out of the crisis. It urges the United States to strongly
back a series of immediate measures to reinvigorate the economy and
help create permanent private-sector jobs. To be effective, this effort
must include funds to provide a social safety net, as recommended by
this study points toward the renewal of wholehearted U.S. support for
Haiti, shared across the executive and legislative branches, that would
allow the ordinary Haitian to see some substantial benefits from the
democracy backed by the United States and the international financial
institutions. Only after such an immediate influx of aid and reinvigoration
of the economy will Haiti's political leaders muster the courage for
longer-term reform and modernization.
including Aristide, are operating in a climate of widespread rejection
of the political process. The constitutional framework itself, which
has so far been observed, is in jeopardy.
the hour is so late that it may take a major international initiative
to extricate Haiti from its crisis. While realistically speaking, international
pressure will be exerted on Haiti in any case, what is essential is
that it be done openly and be focused on a clear, achievable, consensual
for greater international involvement is heightened by the impending
expiration on November 30 of the mandate for the U.N. military mission
in Haiti. The 1,170 Canadian and Pakistani soldiers have provided a
security back-up for the Préval government. Their departure will come
at a time of increasing public insecurity. The newly-trained Haitian
police, barely two years old, are far from ready to take over from the
U.N. mission. The government will need outside security assistance,
but ad-hoc bilateral arrangements are an imperfect substitute for the
be reckless for the international community to continue its hands-off
attitude. Following up on the visit of Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, a high-level delegation should go to Haiti to urge some minimum
consensus among the Lavalas politicians. Far from impinging on Haitian
sovereignty, such a delegation would merely add its voice to that of
Haitian public opinion.
percent unemployed or underemployed, an average income of two U.S. dollars
a day, and one-third of children below the age of five malnourished,
a large part of Haiti's population is at the very brink. Unless there
is decisive action by the international community, Haiti may be headed
for a humanitarian disaster and the destruction of its hard-won democracy.
task in both Haiti and among its well-wishers in the United States is
to build a consensus for Haitian development and jobs-creation. Supporters
of Haiti abroad must encourage both public aid and private investment
in Haiti. Rival Haitian politicians must unite in understanding the
state as a facilitator of growth for the economy as a whole rather than
a jobs machine for a privileged few.