|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|15/12/95||HAITI: UPDATE International Liaison Office for President Aristide|
From: International Liason Office <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 1995 11:19:09 -0800 (PST)
The Foundation for Security and Stability
A Chronology of Recent Events
Haitian Government Requests Documents Seized by the U.S. Military
60 Minutes: FRAPH Leader Affirms Alliance with CIA
Reports of U.S. Special Forces Assisting FRAPH and Haitian Army in Hiding Weapons
International Day to End Violence Against Women
A New School for the Training of Magistrates
VI. POLICE FORCE
New Director; Dissolution of Interim Police Force
The Inter-American Development Bank Approves $50 Million for Emergency Programs
Negotiations with the International Financial Institutions & Privatization
VIII. ART and CULTURE
Sacred Arts of Haitian Voudou
As presidential elections approach on December 17, and less than two months before the transition of power to a new President, Haitians are deeply concerned about the failure to disarm the country and the threat posed to both their security and their fragile democratic process. In addition, there is deep disappointment among the population that the coup d’etat of 1991 has unjustly succeeded in robbing them of three years of the term of their first elected president. Though enthusiasm for the Presidential elections has been meager, at the administrative level, election preparations are proceeding smoothly. On the economic front, international aid flows for budgetary support have temporarily ceased, though project funding continues, as the government and the international financial institutions negotiate over the future of structural adjustment policies. The people continue to pressure for economic policies responsive to their needs.
The Foundation for Security and Stability
Many Haitians and international observers have long feared that Haiti’s anti-democratic forces have stored unknown quantities of arms and could violently reassert themselves with the departure of the United Nations Multinational Forces in February of 1996. The Haitian Government and civil society have repeatedly sought assistance with disarmament from the United States and United Nations since before the return of President Aristide in October, 1994. The United Nations Secretary General’s Report of July 15, 1994, which details the original mandate of the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), explicitly states in Point 9 that one of the tasks of the Multinational Forces is to assist the legitimate Haitian authorities in … III. securing public order, including the disarmament of paramilitary groups. Neither the United Nations nor the United States has adequately fulfilled this mandate.
Concerns about lack of disarmament and the potential to destabilize democracy were highlighted by the daylight assassination of one Parliamentarian and wounding of another on November 7. Unwilling to return to the nightmare of three years of violence under the coup regime, Haitians are demanding that the government take immediate, effective action to carry out disarmament and end impunity. A number of reports in the international media have described the events of recent weeks inaccurately or incompletely.
A Chronology of Recent Events
October 26, 1995: An article in the Washington Post (11/26/95) revealed that on Oct. 26, 1995, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher sent the U.S. Ambassador in Haiti, William Swing, a confidential memo detailing intelligence reports that the Red Star Organization, under the leadership of ex-military dictator Prosper Avril (9/88-3/90), ‘is planning harassment and assassination campaign directed at the Lavalas party and Aristide supporters. The campaign is scheduled to commence in early December 1995. Although the information relating to assassination planning has not been corroborated, there is information available which suggests Avril has continued to meet with right-wing supporters to expand his political base’
This information was never shared with the Haitian Government.
November 7, 1995: After attending the inauguration ceremony for new Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh at the National Palace, two newly elected members of Haiti’s Parliament, Deputy Jean-Hubert Feuilli of Port Salut and Deputy Gabriel Fortuni of Les Cayes, were gunned down in an ambush. (Feuilli was a cousin of and former bodyguard for President Aristide). In a well orchestrated attack, a taxi blocked the path of their vehicle, and gunman opened fire with automatic weapons.
Two media outlets, Radio Metropole and the French Press Agency inaccurately reported that both Deputies had been killed (only Feuilli had been). Upon hearing the news, residents of the Deputies’ districts in Les Cayes and Port Salut, in southern Haiti, reacted angrily, building barricades and initiating protests against symbols and associates of the Duvaliers and ensuing military regimes. Some reports estimated 20 houses were burned and a former member of a paramilitary group was killed.
Thousands took to the streets over the coming days in Port-au-Prince, Gonaives, and Cap Haitien protesting and criticizing lack of Government action for disarmament, erecting barricades, searching cars and houses for illegal weapons.
Members of Haiti’s Parliament expressed outrage at the killing, demanded that the Government carry out disarmament, and questioned the role of the U.N Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). Parliamentary demands mounted in the following days.
The National Police were given a judicial order to search the home of ex-dictator (1988-90) Prosper Avril, based on evidence gathered by Haitian authorities. Apparently tipped off, Avril fled his home just before police arrived and took refuge in the Colombian embassy. Police discovered and confiscated arms and ammunition at the house.
The Haitian Government was angered when it later discovered that a U.S. Embassy political officer had visited Avril’s house just hours before the police arrived to arrest him. A U.S. official claimed that this was part of a U.S. policy to maintain ‘contact with a broad spectrum of Haitian society.’ The Washington Post (11/29) quoted a senior Haitian official as saying: ‘What are we supposed to think, when they meet with [Avril], maybe warn him, and fail to pass on intelligence that directly affects our safety? What would you think?’
—Avril is currently a fugitive of U.S. justice. In July, 1994 a U.S. District Court found that he bore ‘personal responsibility for a systematic pattern of egregious human rights abuses’ during his tenure as dictator, as well as for the ‘interrogation and torture of each of the plaintiffs in the case’ — six prominent leaders of Haitian civil society. He was ordered to pay a total of 41,000,000 dollars in damages.—
November 8, 1995: The false reports of Gabriel Fortuni’s death were corrected — he had survived the attack with serious wounds.
The Haitian Platform of Human Rights Organizations released a statement denouncing the climate of violence throughout the country and criticizing the Haitian government for not having disarmed paramilitary forces associated with the coup regime. Protests continued.
November 11, 1995: The funeral of Deputy Feuilli was held at the Port-au-Prince Cathedral. President Aristide delivered a strong speech mourning the loss of Feuilli and expressing his determination to provide security to all Haitians and his frustration at the lack of international support for disarmament. The President congratulated the police force for its professionalism in enforcing the law over the past few days, and ordered it to carry out a ‘legal, total and complete disarmament operation’ — which would be in compliance with Resolution 940 of the United Nations Security Council. He criticized the policy of searching for weapons in poor areas and not in the more likely, wealthier zones. He again appealed for the assistance of the international community, and called on the Haitian people to support the police in this legal campaign ‘with our Constitution and our laws,’ by accompanying the police and providing information. President Aristide continued:
‘… This is what I ask of the Haitian people: Don’t cross your arms, don’t stand there waiting; accompany the police when they are going to enter the houses of those who have heavy weapons. Give them information. Don’t be afraid. When you do this tell the police not to go only to the poor neighborhoods, but to go to the neighborhoods where there are big houses and heavy weapons. … Too much blood has flowed in the country. The rich man, the poor man, the big man and the small man must find peace. And for this to be done we must take the heavy weapons from the hands of the big men. We must not be cowards. We must not be hypocrites. We must be respectful, but true. And all will benefit from this peace. … If we respect ourselves, we must roll up our sleeves, pick up our Constitution, gather the law, support our police to prevent the zenglendos from piling up our bodies on the street. … Friends of the international community, today, through me, we tell you: we want your help and your cooperation, and we will respect you, march with you so that disarmament is achieved. … They assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The international community expressed its determination to work for peace. It is beautiful. It is grand. Here in Haiti, let us do the same. It is not too late, simply late. It is not too late.’
November 11-13, 1995: The police initiated the disarmament campaign. In many instances the people participated in an orderly manner, providing information and accompanying the police. Citizens also set up road blocks and searched vehicles in particular in Port-au-Prince. Numerous reports of people who went through these roadblocks indicate that people were generally respectful. In some cases popular protests spilled over into violence targeting allies of the coup regime. Reports of generalized targeting of wealthy Haitians were inaccurate.
President Aristide, Prime Minister Claudette Werleigh, Justice Minister Reni Magloire and other government officials condemned the violence and reaffirmed that the disarmament campaign must be carried out within a legal context. In Port-au-Prince the majority of the violence ceased within a few days, and in general a state of calm returned to the streets.
November 13-14, 1995: In Gonaives, U.N. troops intervened to control a crowd of protesters angry at an alleged coup regime collaborator. Some reports indicate that the individual associated with the coup regime fired upon protesters from a house, killing several and wounding eight. Other reports indicate that U.N. troops fired either into the air or into the crowd, and may have been responsible for killings. In addition a voodoo priest thought to be associated with the coup regime was killed on Nov. 14. The Justice and Peace Commission of Gonaives called on the U.N. to replace its Nepalese soldiers in the city with other soldiers, due to the tremendous animosity which had grown between the people and the soldiers.
In Cap Haitien, demonstrators also built barricades and searched for weapons. Some witnesses claimed that agitators provoked the demonstrators to violence. On Nov. 13 a group of protesters attacked a radio station and then on Nov. 15 the vehicle of another radio journalist who on the air had accused individuals of involvement in violence.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. Special Envoy in Haiti, promised that the United Nations Forces would assist the Haitian Police in carrying out the mandate of United Nations Resolution 940 to confiscate arms from people’s home and vehicles. But he criticized the action of demonstrators, stating, ‘The law and the constitution say that it is the police that maintain order, not volunteers.’ Palace spokesperson Yvon Neptune emphasized the legitimate right of people to defend themselves when threatened.
November 20, 1995: President Aristide opened a National Dialogue Conference, which had been in planning since this summer’s Parliamentary elections, aimed at promoting dialogue on solutions to Haiti’s major political, social and economic problems. In recognition of the historical divisions within Haitian society, the intent of the conference was to find common ground upon which all Haitians could advance within the context of democracy and the Constitution. The conference opened at a tense moment with a broad array of representatives from across Haiti’s political spectrum sitting in the same room. In his opening remarks Aristide stated:
‘Tonight, we are opening this dialogue. We have a big, big challenge to overcome. It’s the capacity to speak to one another before we even have time to contradict each other. … Once we realize that democracy is not made up entirely of people who agree, but of people who have differences among them, at that moment, I will know we are off to a good start.’
Over the coming days the conference increasingly focused on the growing, vehement demands of civic and popular organizations for Aristide to serve out his remaining three years in office. In Aristide’s closing speech to the conference, he articulated his sensitivity to the concerns and demands of the people in comments which were misinterpreted internationally as intentions to serve out his remaining three years. President Aristide later reconfirmed the elections would take place as scheduled.
November 23, 1995: A subsequent incident in Citi Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhoods, highlighted people’s demand for security. A dispute broke out between a police officer and a bus driver. Shots were fired and a little girl nearby was killed. Some reports state that a man on a motorcycle fired the shots, and others state that the policeman did so. The facts remain unclear. Residents reacted angrily and attacked the police station. Units from the Interim Police Force eventually arrived and helped to restore calm. The police withdrew from Citi Soleil. Increasing reports have emerged of an armed gang, the ‘Red Army,’ wielding influence in Citi Soleil.
November 25-26, 1995: Although calm had largely been restored to the streets of Haiti, major media in the United States carried a numerous articles and reports inaccurately portraying a situation of chaos and mob rule. The New York Times editorialized that in an ‘episode of deliberately provoked terror, Mr. Aristide has shaken the fragile tranquility.’ With the disarmament campaign having achieved only limited successes, tranquility was not what most Haitians were feeling.
Other incidents of armed violence have made Haitians increasingly uneasy as the December 17 elections approach. In addition, incidents and revelations in international media reports have increased concerns in Haiti about the lack of international support for disarmament and the consolidation of the rule of law.
Haitian Government Requests Documents
Seized by the U.S. Military
In September of 1994, after the international intervention U.S. military forces confiscated a reported 100,000 pages of documents from the Haitian Army’s headquarters, and another 60,000 pages of documents as well as photographs and cassettes from the offices of the terrorist group FRAPH. Though rightfully the property of the Haitian government, the documents were taken to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington. Representatives of the Haitian government had been requesting the documents since shortly after the return of President Aristide to Haiti in October of 1994. Finding itself in the absurd position of requesting its own property from the DIA, written requests for the documents were initiated in the August of 1995. In addition to the Government, Haitian human rights organizations and the Truth and Justice Commission sought access to the documents. The documents are thought to contain significant information both on the whereabouts of arms caches as well as human rights violations.
Ira Kurzban, Counsel to the Haitian Government in the U.S., was quoted by the Washington Post (11/29) as stating: ‘The U.S. said, ‘If you tell us where the weapons are, we will search.’ But the truth is the reverse. The U.S. has vast amounts of intelligence … Why has not the information central to disarmament been shared by the United States? Why have documents central to human rights prosecutions not been turned over?’
Forty members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to President Clinton seeking ‘a complete account of all documents and their immediate return to the Haitian government. … There is absolutely no justification why these materials should be in the hands of our government now that the legitimate government of Haiti has been restored. The fact that these documents have been withheld obviously raises questions about the level of collaboration between elements of the American government and the former military regime.’ Over 50 representatives of U.S. non-governmental human rights, religious and development organizations sent a similar letter to President Clinton.
U.S. officials have recently announced that the documents would be returned, but this has not yet occurred.
‘60 Minutes:’ FRAPH Leader Affirms Alliance with CIA
On Dec. 3, 1995 the CBS program ‘60 Minutes’ aired a segment in which FRAPH leader Emmanuel Constant affirmed his status as an agent and ally of the CIA in Haiti. ‘I was meeting with the CIA on a regular basis. We had an understanding. We had an alliance. So if I’m guilty of those crimes that they’re accusing me of, the CIA is also guilty. … sometimes when things were very intense and very critical, we used to meet every day … With the station chief, personally.’ Constant stated that he fully informed the CIA station chief about his plans to carry out a demonstration that was ‘simply a media frenzy’ in order to block the arrival of the USS Harlan County in October of 1993. He said that the station chief never asked him about FRAPH involvement in human rights violations at the time these violations were at their height and being reported in the international press. Rather, Constant said ‘They always praised my quality as a leader and the possibility for me to maybe be a successor to Aristide.’
Reports of U.S. Special Forces
Assisting FRAPH and the Haitian Army in Hiding Weapons
The Washington Post (12/8/95) and Village Voice (12/5/95) both reported about a newsletter called ‘The Resister: The Official Publication of the Special Forces Underground,’ an extreme-right publication whose publisher say they are active and recently retired Special Forces troops. An article on Haiti in ‘The Resister’ published in January 1994 states, according to the Village Voice:
‘The following is a synthesis of several reports forwarded by our members currently deployed to Haiti. Immediately upon arrival in an operational area we met with senior non-commissioned officers of the FAd’H and arranged a meeting with senior representatives of FAd’H, Attaches and FRAPH. … This was not as easy as it sounds given the treatment these groups had received in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien in late September. It called for a very blunt cold-pitch describing our hatred of communism and our official mission.’ … The unsigned article goes on to describe how attachis and FRAPH members were advised to go underground or take ‘long vacations’; how ‘we informed them about the plans and timetables for weapons confiscation and told them how to disappear their functional firearms while keeping broken and otherwise useless weapons available to sell during the weapons buy-back program.’
The piece also describes how Special Forces waged ‘a clandestine offensive against the Lavalas … which in our operational areas managed to drive at least the leadership back underground.’ Finally, it said, ‘We have established an escape line to help FAd’H, ex-attachis and ex-FRAPH members under threat of arrest from the communists reach relative safety in the Dominican Republic.’
The Washington Post quotes Leslie Voltaire, President Aristide’s chief of staff, as stating: ‘We cannot comment on the authenticity of the Resister. However, the ramifications of its claims, if true, are so serious for the future security of the Haitian people that we feel it merits further investigation. Unfortunately, there is a correlation between details cited in this document and events that have taken place in Haiti during the past year.’
The Post article goes on to state that: ‘Almost from the beginning of the occupation, it was clear that Special Forces troops, mostly deployed outside the capital, viewed FRAPH as friends, not as the thugs and rights abusers described by the State Department and human rights organizations. They talked to reporters about dealing with FRAPH as a legitimate political party and the need for remnants of the Haitian army and police to impose order.’
As the date of the December 17, 1995 Presidential elections approached, pressure from Haitian civil society for President Aristide to serve out the remaining three years of his term mounted. The President’s reconfirmation that elections would take place on schedule and that he would turn over power on February 7, 1996 met with broad disappointment among the population. Popular sentiment is that the coup was against the people — stealing three years of the President they democratically elected —and not just Aristide. Enthusiasm for the elections has been limited, and some analysts believe that this climate of disappointment, as well as the focus on pressing issues such as disarmament and concerns about violence, may lessen voter turnout.
At the technical and administrative level, all reports indicate that preparations for the elections are proceeding extremely smoothly under the direction of the Provisional Electoral Council. After initial administrative problems in the first round of Parliamentary elections in July 1995, each subsequent round of elections has been increasingly well administered, according to Haitian and international observers. Earlier problems such as inadequate civic education have been corrected.
In spite of longstanding predictions from all perspectives that the Lavalas candidate would be a strong favorite to win, fourteen candidates representing positions across the political spectrum registered as candidates and have been approved. They include representatives of eight political parties and four independents — at least three candidates supported the coup regime. Some parties are boycotting the elections.
Though enthusiasm has been meager, candidates have all been given ample opportunity to present their views on state television and radio stations. The candidates, including those who supported the coup regime, have been able to freely express their views. Police protection has been afforded to candidate rallies. International funding has been provided for each of the candidates to place 700 poll observers throughout the country — the candidates need only submit the names of their designated observers. Including the Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission, hundreds of international observers and media representatives are travelling to Haiti and will have full access to voting sites. If no candidate wins a majority on December 17, a runoff will be held on January 21, 1996.
The fourteen candidates are:
The overwhelming favorite is the candidate of the Lavalas Political Platform, Rene Preval. Preval has a degree in Agronomy from the Faculty of Jembloux in Belgium. In 1963 he was forced to leave the country because of problems with the Duvalier dictatorship. When he returned in 1975 he worked at the National Institute of Mining resources (INAREM). After the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, Preval participated actively in various popular and charitable organizations. In 1991 he was President Aristide’s Prime Minister until the military coup of September 30. In exile Preval served on the Private Cabinet of President Aristide. After the return of the constitutional government, Preval was named director of the Economic and Social Assistance Fund (FAES).
Victor Benoit, Secretary General of the CONACOM Party (National Congress of Democratic Movements) founded in 1987, was a teacher, a school principal and is a former member of the Senate. After the 1991 coup, CONACOM remained critical of the coup regime, yet in March of 1994 some CONACOM parliamentarians aligned themselves with the PANPRA party and proposals to resolve Haiti’s crisis without the return of the legitimate President. Benoit was Minister of Education under the government of Prime Minister Malval in 1993-1994. His entrance into the race surprised some observers after his and his party’s strong denunciations of the parliamentary elections and the CEP.
Leon Jeune, independent, worked as Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice on the creation of the new National Police under the government of Smarck Michel. He was also director of the National Office of Civil Aviation. He was forced into exile in 1991 along with members of the Constitutional Government, and was active in support of the restoration of the democratic government.
Three candidates are members of the current Senate: Senators Clarck Parent, Firmin Jean-Louis and Julio Larosilihre. Senator Clarck Parent, was elected Senator for the FNCD party in 1990 for six years. He is running under the banner of the little-known party PADEMH (Haitian Democratic Party). Senator Firmin Jean-Louis, former-President of the Senate, was elected to the Senate for six years for the FNCD party, and he is running as an independent in these elections. Senator Julio Larosilihre was elected in 1990 for six years under the banner of the RDNP and is also now running as an independent. Larosilihre led a group of parliamentarians which supported the coup regime and approved its facade Nerette-Honorat government.
Rockefeller Guerre was the Deputy representing Cap Haitien during the Duvalier dictatorship. Currently he is Secretary of State for natural resources and mines. He is participating in the presidential elections with the UPD party (Union of Democratic Patriots). Guerre was a member of the administrative board of the state telecommunications company, TELECO, during the de facto government of Nerette-Honorat.
Gerard Dalvius is a candidate for the little-known PADH party (Alternative Party for the Development of Haiti). He is a former member of the Armed Forces and was Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice in 1991 under Prime Minister Preval.
Eddy Volel, who supported the coup regime and then later the return of President Aristide, is running under the banner of the RDC party (Reunion of Christian Democrats). Volel originally described the coup d’etat as a ‘patriotic and disinterested gesture’ and said that President Aristide should have been condemned ‘to hard labor for the violation of the Constitution.’
Pastor Vladimir Jeanty is running for the PARADIS party (Haitian Party of God), the slogan of which is ‘Jesus.’ Jeanty fought virulently against the return of the constitutional order, forming part of the ultra-macoute alliance with Emmanuel Constant of FRAPH, among others.
The rest of the candidates are little-known: Jean Dumas Arnold, of the PNT (National Workers Party); Marie Alphonse Francis Jean, an ex-official of the army of the FMR (Revolutionary Militant Front): Renh Julien, attorney of the Amical des Jurists, as an independent candidate; and finally, Dieuveuil Joseph for the Party of the Virgin Mary.
International Day To End Violence Against Women
The Haitian Women’s Solidarity Movement (SOFA) designated November 24-25 to commemorate the International Day To End Violence Against Women. SOFA members spent two days discussing the problems of social injustice facing Haitian society today and drew up a strategic plan of action. SOFA’s declaration demanded the ‘abolition of FRAPH, disarmament of armed civilians, and justice and reparations for the victims of the coup.’
Concurrently, various women’s group (Kay Fanm and Rasamblement Fanm Popile) protested in front of the Justice Ministry in Port-au-Prince, calling for the creation of a special judicial panel to try the perpetrators of violence against women.
In addition, the new Minister of Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights, Therese Guilloteau, gave a press conference outlining the Ministry’s plan for the next three months. The issues Mrs. Guilloteau addressed included: laws pertaining to Haitian women, the relationship between her Ministry and other government agencies, the launching of an educational campaign to promote sensitivity to women’s concerns, training, dissemination of information, the creation of satellite regional offices of the Ministry, the opening of a permanent dialogue between the Ministry and women’s groups and the collaboration of efforts with non-governmental organizations. The Minister noted that women’s organizations are the backbone of the Ministry, and Ministry must promote a framework in which they can develop.
A New School for the Training Magistrates
On November 24, thirty five Justices of the Peace from Haiti’s nine regional departments completed a training course. During the graduation ceremony, Justice Minister Reni Magloire announced the creation of a Magistrate School to accelerate the pace of judicial reform. He urged justices to conduct legal proceedings in both Creole and French, eschewing the tradition of conducting proceedings only in French and thereby excluding the 80-85% of the population which speaks only Creole.
New Director; Dissolution of Interim Police Force
On November 30, Dr. Fourel Celestin, a former Armed Forces Colonel and physician at the Military Hospital, was named Director of the National Police Force. The move was a part of the broader efforts to improve the discipline and performance of the Police Force. Celestin was a member of President Aristide’s personal security force in 1991, was forced into exile during the coup regime years, and served as the Director of Security for the National Palace after the restoration of constitutional order.
The Interim Police Force was formally dissolved through a Presidential Decree issued on December 5th. Over the past year, as classes of the newly trained Police Force have graduated, members of the Interim Force have been demobilized. Each month, members of the Interim Force about whom complaints had been received or whose performance was poor were demobilized first, while the best performing members with the greatest demonstrated respect for human rights were maintained. Of the original number of approximately 3,000 in the Interim Force, a final 750 were demobilized last week. The 100 remaining most effective members were transferred into the permanent Police Force. Another approximately 225 were designated to duty as unarmed Palace guards, separate from the Police Force with no other policing function. In addition, another 900-1000 police originally recruited from the Guantanamo refugee camp were transferred into the Police Force. Approximately 400 of these will be traffic police in Port-au-Prince, and apprximately 500 will be trained as rural police. The rural police will eventually be placed under the authority of local elected officials, and will replace the hated Section Chief system.
All police will continue to be subject to review if they do not perform up to standards and if complaints are filed against them. Promotions will also be made according to performance and respect for human rights and the Constitution.
The Inter-American Development Bank Approves $50 Million for Emergency Programs
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced its approval of a loan for $50 million to support the second phase of an emergency program to ‘revive the economy and rehabilitate the basic physical and social infrastructure.’
Funds have been earmarked for repairing ports and roads, drainage, irrigation facilities, markets, hospitals, government buildings, electricity and drinking water. The funds will also support peasant reforestation as well as coffee and fruit production projects. The loan will be administered by the Central Implementation Unit in the Prime Minister’s office.
Negotiations with the International
Financial Institutions & Privatization
The Government of Haiti is currently seeking to negotiate a new letter of intent with the World Bank, which would outline the policy framework to be adopted over the next three years under the Structural Adjustment program. Approximately $100 million in balance of payments support from the international community hinge on this agreement. Haitian civil society continues to pressure for economic policies responsive to the needs and realities of Haiti’s majority.
In spite of the tremendous progress made by the Haitian government in implementing economic reforms and complying with benchmarks of the international financial institutions, the U.S. government continues to withhold some $4.6 million in balance of payments support committed for last fiscal year. The U.S. seeks rapid privatization of state owned enterprises. The parliament has yet to pass the anti-trust and privatization legislation, and the population continues to express concerns that privatization not be carried out in a manner which could undermine the prospects for national development and democracy.
While money for particular projects continues to flow (such as the IDB loan mentioned above), the government has received no Balance of Payments support from the international community since the beginning of the fiscal year in October 1995. This support is used to maintain basic government functions and to imports vital good such as petroleum.
After a dangerous devaluation of the gourde versus the U.S. dollar, the gourde has rebounded, at least in part due to intervention by the Central Bank. In the last several months the gourde had devalued from G 15 to 1 dollar to G 20 to 1 dollar, yet it currently stands at about G 16 to 1 dollar. A devaluation of the gourde undermines the purchasing power of average Haitians for food and other basic goods which have some import component, which today is nearly all goods in Haiti.
ART AND CULTURE
Sacred Arts of Haitian Voudou
UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History opened a major exhibit, ‘Sacred Arts of Haitian Voudou’ on October 22, described by the curators as ‘the first major exhibition to explore the ritual arts of voudou.’ The exhibit features more than 500 cultural objects and various public education programs. On June 16 1996 the exhibit will travel to Miami, Chicago, Washington DC, New Orleans, and perhaps other cities. The exhibit is a collaboration between the Centre d’Art museum in Port-au-Prince, and the UCLA’s African Studies Center and Center for African American Studies.