|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|29/10/95||HAITI INFO 29 October 1995, Vol. 4, #1|
From: Haitian Information Bureau <hib>
(Below is the table of contents and lead story from the most recent issue of Haiti Info, the newsletter of the Haitian Information Bureau. The lead story from each bi-weekly issue is posted in this conference. To receive the entire newsletter, you may subscribe by email or mail. See the subscription information at the end of this entry).
News direct from the people and organizations of Haiti’s democratic and popular movement
NEW PARLIAMENT, NEW PRIME MINISTER– What Can Be Expected?
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Oct. 28 – The new parliamentarians have taken their places, a new prime minister should be ratified soon, and presidential elections appear to be in the offing (despite the president’s continuing to entertain mbiguity on the question).
The newspapers and airwaves are full of speculation, plans and promises. Several steps toward privatization – like the opening of bids for the flour and cement plants, and the signing of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund – have been put off. But will the change in government bring about a change in policies? Will the population’s demands for lower cost of living, justice and jobs be satisfied because of a change of personnel?
There are a few positive signs in the 46th Legislature. A number of those elected under the Lavalas platform banner (B Tab La) have backgrounds in the democratic movement. Some began their careers last week by attacking the U.S. government [see page 2], criticizing scofflaws and sanctioning two infamos putschist Senators.
The Senate decided to punish absentee Senators Thomas Eddy Dupiton and Bernard Sansaricq – vehement supporters of the coup d’etat, of the illegal elections of Jan. 18, 1993, of the “parallel Senate” and of the de facto prime ministers and presidents, including ex- Judge Emile Jonassaint (who died this week) – by cutting off their paychecks. (They have reportedly beencollecting salaries for 13 months.)
“There is nothing that can justify the way Senator Sansaricq carried himself,” said Senator Jean-Robert Sabalat. “Someone who dishonors his family, the Senate of the Republic and the Haitian nation… He has been eating off of this country for one year!”
In a reply, on page 1 of the ultra-rightist Le Matin newspaper, Sansaricq, reportedly in the U.S. (he has a Green Card), said he would never associate himself with the “bunch of Lavalassiens who indecently occupy the parliament.”
Senator Paul Denis said he wants to go after those “who act as though they are above the law” by not paying taxes, even though they collect sales taxes from consumers, and also after the state employees who are part of the corruption. e read off a list of companies to target on the radio.
Prime Minister-designate (current Minister of Foreign Affairs) Claudette Werleigh also brings a change. She was Aristide’s first choice for prime minister last October (quickly tabled, undoubtedly due to pressure from the U.S.), and has a background in non-governmental work. Other ministerial replacements are also expected.
In the meantime, despite popular protests [see other stories], Aristide is still very popular and continues to wield influence. On Oct. 19, over 5,000 Bel-Air residents showed up to hear him speak. He promised the crowd he will consider their demands for “three years,” saying “if I respect you, I have to accept to see what you ask for, listen to what you ask for.” He also tlked about four “miracles” that need to be accomplished: conquering hunger and delivering justice, housing, and schools and announced that the government was giving Bel-Air residents the Engineer Corps building. (Due, in part, to an apparent lack of pre- planning, however, many families immediately tried to squat there, and two days later, it was attacked and burned down by arsonists.)
Aristide’s poplarity is due, in part, to the fact that until now he has been able to hint that unpopular programs or lack of progress were the fault of his ministers. The challenge now facing him and the Lavalas platform, if indeed the elections are going to be held, is to maintain that popularity under the “new” government so he can hand-off the presidency to the as-yet-unnamed successor. The sooner the races, the better for Lavalas.
The Harsh Reality
The U.S. might just agree. Coincidence or no, this week Sen. Jesse Helms announced the “frozen” money for the presidential elections is now unblocked. The race will supposedly happen in time to inaugurate the new president on Feb. 7. All of this took place very quickly, and within days of Werleigh’s meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Since then, U.S. an U.N. officials have endorsed her candidacy, but Christopher, immediately and publicly, stressed the need for Haiti to return to the IMF table and to continue economic reforms.
The way the elements are shaping up, Werleigh and the new lawmakers might continue in the direction indicated by the aforementioned Senators, in spite of the fact that, thus far, the Lavalas platform and the president have not been quick to dirctly question to U.S.-dominated status quo.
If they prove they have the mettle to stand up to the U.S. and the banks, they should be prepared to go all the way. To really bring about positive and profound changes, they will have to openly break with U.S. plans and programs here: neoliberalism, the occupation and the U.S. tutelage over government policy. If not, their criticisms will amount to little more than caprices perhaps resulting in a few slight reforms, like one or two less enterprises privatized, and while that may fool the Haitian people, it will not fundamentally put into question the overall U.S. project.
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