|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|12/11/95||Haitian Information Bureau Vol. 4, #2|
|From: Haitian Information Bureau <hib> Subject: Haiti Info v.4 #2 WERLEIGH’S 100 DAYS
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* * * HAITI INFO * * *
News direct from the people and organizations of Haiti’s democratic and popular movement
12 November 1995, Vol. 4, #2
Stories: WERLEIGH SWORN IN FOR “100 DAYS”
WERLEIGH SWORN IN FOR “100 DAYS”
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov. 11 – At a moment when it is becoming more and more difficult to conciliate the interests of the imperialists (the neoliberal agenda, privatization, etc.) and the demands of the population, this week Claudette Werleigh was sworn in as Prime Minister.
Werleigh is well-known in government and non-governmental circles. She worked at Catholic Relief Services and then for CARITAS, serving as its Caribbean director from 1976-1987, and also for Institut de Technologie et d’Animation (ITECA). During the coup d’etat, was a director of the Washington Office on Haiti. She served as Minister of Social Affairs during the Ertha Pascale Trouillot government, was in Prime Minister Rene Preval’s private cabinet in 1991, and was Minister of Foreign Affairs under Robert Malval and Smarck Michel. Her husband, George, was a founding member of the party PANPRA, which supported the coup. He has since resigned.
Werleigh faces daunting tasks during a term she has said will last 100 days: assuage the country’s clamor for disarmament and justice; answer people’s demands for a lower cost of living and jobs; organize and pull off presidential elections, despite continued protests from the political “particles,” and resume “negotiations” with the multilateral institutions or face the consequences: the non-delivery of “aid” and loans.
In the meantime, in addition to the protests over the attack on the deputies, the population appears to be running out of patience: this week students in Grand-Goave and Carrefours closed down the main highway in protests over inadequate conditions in their schools, 1,000 parents in Acul-du-Nord blocked the same road in the north and threw rocks at police demanding, for the second time this fall, the revocation of a corrupt public school director, and popular organization members in Archaie blocked the highway in protest of the fact that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has not come through on promises he made to the community when he visited there in May.
In her speeches before the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, Werleigh said she was conscious that she was taking her new job at a very difficult moment. The immediate objectives of her government, she said, were: the presidential elections; the deployment of the new police force; the launching of a literacy campaign; the stimulation of food crop production; reforms in the public administration, including fighting corruption; fiscal reforms, including increasing the state’s revenues; regularizing the “Tenth Department’s” status, and aid for coup victims.
Werleigh faced some of the population’s demands head-on, declaring that political, social, culture and economic justice are her central goals. She promised justice for the victims of the coup, an emphasis on women’s rights, “economic justice seated on political stability” and social justice, including the “reinsertion” of all those left by the wayside (street children, landless peasants, slum residents), and the “equitable partitioning of the riches produced by this country.”
The new prime minister also said she would work to reduce the Haitian economy’s dependence, but aside from that vague promise, she generally stayed away from directly addressing the other tough issue she faces: the neoliberal reforms agreed to by the Aristide government in 1994, which today the “international community” continues to demand, and which stand in the way of many of her promises. Instead, she revealed she will have a pragmatic approach: “We should not hang our hat higher than our hand can reach.”
During two rigorous days of hearings, Deputies and Senators grilled Werleigh on the points of her program, and predictably, put the emphasis on justice, the high cost of living and the economic reforms.
One of the main concerns of many speakers was the lack of disarmament, and their fears were obviously justified. They also repeatedly denounced U.S. imperialist policies in general, the lack of justice, and the failure of the government to “de- macoutize” the public administration. Many said they opposed privatization.
Saying that the enterprises should not be sold in a “fire sale” just because of past bad management, Senator Renauld Bernadin noted that in the 1991 negotiations with the multilaterals, “the word ‘privatization’ was excluded from the conversation.”
In 1991, Werleigh replied, Aristide “had the force to say: ‘Look at what I want.’ In 1995 the situation is not the same.” However, she said that if the parliament and executive work together, “the interlocutor cannot tell you what to do.”
There are positive elements in Werleigh’s program, but without questioning her sincerity, when taking into account the general situation – the occupation, the imperialist presence, the government’s practically non-existent margin of maneuver, a term that is supposedly only 100 days long and at a moment when the Haiti’s dependence in all domains has never been higher – one cannot keep people from remarking on the idealism and naivete of its promises.
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