Thursday, April 30, 2009


"Justice. Verite. Independance."


April 29 - May 5, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 41
by Kim Ives

None of the 78 candidates who ran for 12 of the Haitian Senate's 30 seats on April 19 won in the first round, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced on Apr. 27. The CEP also said that the elections, which were boycotted by Haiti's largest party, the Lavalas Family (FL), had a voter participation of 11.3 %, an assertion many voters and observers question.

"The figures the CEP give are a joke," said former FL deputy James Derosin, who helped to organize the party's "Operation Closed Doors, Empty Streets" on election day. "It's a fabrication because everybody observed that less than 1% of voters participated."

The nine-member CEP disqualified the Lavalas Family from participating in the Apr. 19 elections on the grounds that the party's leader, exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, did not sign FL candidates' registration papers (see Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 31, 2/18/2009).

According to the CEP, 438,624 voters went to the polls from about 3.7 million enrolled nationwide.

In Port-au-Prince, the CEP claims that 49,522 people voted, with 41,688 valid votes, 3,243 blank ballots, and 4,591 flawed ballots. Even those widely disbelieved figures would indicate that less that 2% of the capital's 3 million people turned out.

Some politicians, such as the FL's Annette "So An" Auguste and Mirlande Manigat of the Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP), called on Haitians to vote but to cast blank ballots. (Other FL leaders and base organizations disavowed Auguste's call, insisting on a complete boycott.)

The Lavalas Family Committee of the Haitian Diaspora wrote in a letter to Haiti's Senate that "the majority had to impose its right of veto on these anti-democratic elections."

Charging that less than 1.5% of the population voted, the Committee said that "only the mercenaries in the polling places voted on Apr. 19 by stuffing the ballot boxes with false ballots." It called on the senators to "forbid the integration of the pseudo-senators in the Republic's Senate so as to safeguard the constitutional victories of the Haitian people, and this will be justice."

The CEP said that 11 run-offs will be held on Jun. 7. The Center Department, whose voting was cancelled on Apr. 19 after violence flared there, would rerun its first round on that date.

"As far as the people are concerned, there was no election, no first round," Derosin said. "If there was no first round, there can be no second round. But if they persist, we will have to launch Operation Closed Doors Number Two."

President René Préval's party Lespwa (Hope) is in all 11 of the run-offs. A candidate needs 50% of the vote plus one vote minimum to win the seat.

The second rounds scheduled for Jun. 7 will pit the following candidates and parties against each other in 9 departments:

West: John Joel Joseph (LESPWA/29.31%) vs. Mario Viau (UNION/12.56%).

South East: Wencesclass Lambert (LESPWA/49.06%) vs. Pierre Ricard (OPL/43.19%).

South: Laguerre Joseph Benoit (UCADDE/27.97%) vs. Exilus Pierre Francky (LESWPA/22.70%).

North: Moise Jean Charles (LESPWA/49.49%) vs. Laguerre Jean Jacques René (MODELH-PRDH/21.86%)

Northwest: Hyppolite Melius (OPL/34.93 %) vs. Sainvil Francois Lucas (LESPWA/29.29 %).

Grande-Anse: Jean Maxime Roumer (LESPWA/38.67%) vs. Bellefleur Marie-Aurore Lainé (FUSION/22.06%).

Nippes: Jean William Jeanty (KONBA/23.95%) vs. Vilson Louberson (LESPWA/16.50%).

In two departments, two senators will be elected, resulting in run-offs of four candidates.

Artibonite: Anick Joseph Francois (OPL/26.22%), Jean Baptiste Jean Willy (AAA/22.29%), Paul André Garconnet (LESPWA/14.54%) and Michelet Louis (Indépendant/13.74%)

Northeast: Pierre Louis Lucien Derex (LESPWA/24.48%), Jean Rodolphe Joazile (Fusion/18.54%), Charles Pierre Jacques André Karl (OPL/13.20%) and Joachim Armand (OPL/11.90 %).

Meanwhile, even senators from parties that participated in the Apr. 19 polling are taking a distance from the vote in the face of widespread popular outrage. A group of prominent senators have called the election a "farce" and vowed to block the seating of any candidates emanating from this set of partial Senate elections. Sen. Evaliere Beauplan (Pont Nord/Northwest), the spokesman for the group, said that the senators would make sure that the "impostors" could "not validate their power." The group also includes Fritz Carlos Lebon (Union/Sud), Edmonde Supplice Beauzile (Fusion/Center), Eddy Bastien (Alliance/Northwest), Rudy Hériveaux (Lavalas/West) and Jean Hector Anacacis (Lespwa/West).

Beauplan said that the senators "refuse to accept what happened on April 19" and proposed that well-organized inclusive elections be held in November when other parliamentary contests are due. He also called on Préval to apologize to the Haitian people for the fiasco.

According to Andris Riché (OPL/Grande Anse), the Senate's vice-President, "the Apr. 19 elections were a complete waste." The elections cost some $16 million to hold.

Even senators who accepted the principle of the exclusionary elections are complaining. "People voted in exchange for money and food," griped Senator Nenel Cassy (Lespwa/Nippes). "This is bribery that reversed the voting trend in the Nippes department."

The Organization of American States (OAS), representing, as usual, Washington's position, worked hard at damage-control after the election. In an Apr. 21 press release, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza called the elections "part of an invigorated and persistent democratic exercise of the government of President René Préval, contributing to the institutional consolidation of that country."

The OAS asserted that the elections "were well-organized during the opening and closing of the voting centers, and in the distribution of government-issued registration cards, as well as in the presence of security forces that helped maintain order." Security maintenance was helped by the fact that most voting stations were all but empty of voters.

Insulza feigned ignorance of the massive boycott, attempting to attribute low voter turnout to apathy. "Indifference is harmful for a democratic process that requires a strong interaction between political actors and governments," he said. He also pointed to the "the normality that characterized the voting process and the propriety at the polling centers," as if a 1% turnout was normal or would sully a voting station.

To further underscore the foreign hand guiding Haiti's supposedly sovereign elections, Hédi Annabi, the head of the occupation force known as the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), inspected the OAS-provided Tabulation Center where votes were counted.


Mario Joseph, Haiti's most prominent human rights lawyer, and Brian Concannon, a U.S. lawyer who spent nine years in Haiti, will discuss the fight for justice for poor Haitians in three different events around the New York metropolitan area next week. Joseph, who heads the Office of International Lawyers (BAI) in Port-au-Prince, and Concannon, who heads the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), will explain how this fight is waged in Haiti, one of the poorest and most inequitable countries in the world. They will also lay out how powerful countries like the U.S. have undermined justice and democracy in Haiti by imposing economic policies and deposing uncooperative Haitian governments.

All events are free and open to the public.

MONDAY, MAY 4, 2009
"Two Lawyers Working on the Front Lines for the Rule of Law in Haiti"
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Alan V. Lowenstein Conference Center
65 Livingston Avenue
Roseland, New Jersey 07068
Sponsored by Seton Hall Law School.
Please RSVP by April 29, 2009
to or 530.219.0971

Meeting with the New York Haitian Community
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Haiti Liberté Newspaper
1583 Albany Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11210
Sponsored by Haiti Liberté

"Fighting for Justice in Haiti"
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
New York University School of Law, Furman Hall, Room 212
245 Sullivan Street, between West 4th and West 3rd Streets
New York, NY
Sponsored by the National Conference of Black Lawyers & the National Lawyers Guild
(A photo ID is required to enter the building.)
Contact: 541.263.0029

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


"Justice. Verite. Independance."


April 22 - 28, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 40

APRIL 19, 2009:

by Kim Ives

Haitian voters overwhelmingly shunned partial Senate elections held on Sunday, April 19, respecting a boycott called by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family (FL), by far the nation's largest political party. The boycott came in response to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) disqualifying FL candidates from running for the 12 of 30 Senate seats up for grabs (see Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 31, 2/18/2009).

Most press and observer estimates put participation at "under 10%." But Senator Jean Hector Anacacis, a member of President René Préval's own party, Lespwa (Hope), called the polling "a foreseeable fiasco," estimating participation between 1% and 3%.

The Lavalas Family's boycott campaign was called "Operation Closed Doors, Empty Streets," which is exactly what election day produced. Early Sunday morning, streets in normally bustling Port-au-Prince and Pétionville were eerily empty and quiet, patrolled by slow-moving police trucks with their lights on and bristling armored vehicles of the U.N. Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH).

The boycott was helped by the government ban on all motor vehicle traffic and sales of alcohol from Saturday night until early Monday morning.

In the capital's teeming Bel Air neighborhood, at the voting center at the Dumarsais Estimé National School, the 12 voting stations had collected a total of 37 ballots shortly before closing at 4 p.m., according the MINUSTAH website. Another Port-au-Prince voting station at the St. Anne school saw only 40 of the 450 people registered there vote.

Haitian police, U.N. soldiers, and yellow-shirted "Election Security" personnel outnumbered voters at most polling places.

"Préval did not encourage people to go to the polls," complained a right-wing politician on the radio. "He preferred to leave for the Summit [of the Americas in Port-of Spain]. He strengthened the Lavalas boycott by banning the movement of all tap-taps," the colorful Haitian buses.

On April 16, Ronald St. Jean, a well-known human rights activist and independent candidate, withdrew from the running, saying he could not "in good conscience" participate in the elections.

Even the National Council of Political Parties, a coalition of neo-Duvalierist parties headed by right-wing politicians Déjean Bélizaire and Osner Févry, recognized that the elections were "a failure."

Despite the low turn-out, it will take at least eight days for results to be known as ballots are trucked in from the countryside, Jean-Marc Baudot, a Canadian consultant coordinating logistics for the CEP told the Miami Herald.

"This is a stinging setback for the government and the international community which has financially backed these fake elections and for the CEP, which organized this fiasco, spending $16 million," said Patrick Elie, a human rights activist. The U.S., France, Canada and the U.N. gave about $12.5 million for the elections.

In some places, even members of the voting stations (known as BIVs) did not vote, Elie said. "The decision of the CEP to arbitrarily exclude the Lavalas Family party from the election contributed greatly to this failure," he concluded, calling on the CEP to account for the millions it spent.

"Only in this country are the people victim of so much deprivation and misery," said Manes, a resident of Rue Magny in the capital on Sunday morning. "And yet our leaders find more than $16 million to waste just to please the indecent whims of the international community."

So far the CEP's President Frantz Verret has declined to estimate the participation rate. "We can call ourselves happy to have delivered the goods," he said. "The people went to the polls but not en masse. The essential thing was done: the elections took place on the date previously established."

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson tried to minimize the boycott. "Historically, off-year elections in the United States as well as in other countries tend not to be as well-attended as presidential elections," she said. "We'll have to see."

"You have just told me that voters did not go to the polls," responded Préval when asked about the massive voting abstention. He returned from the Summit to vote late Sunday in Bois Verna, "However, I will await the results to be published shortly by the leaders of the Provisional Electoral Council."

Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis was similarly agnostic when she voted in Turgeau. "It is not up to me to determine whether or not the voters have responded," she said. "The essential thing is that I have fulfilled my duty as a citizen because elections are an expression of sovereignty." Haiti's "expression of sovereignty" was held under a deeply unpopular U.N. military occupation.

"We can congratulate ourselves for helping to carry out the April 19 elections," a MINUSTAH spokesperson declared with even more irony. "From a security standpoint, there weren't any major incidents. As for the Police, there were not many arrests."

However, violence was so severe on the Central Plateau that the CEP had to annul elections there. The worst incidents occurred in the town of Mirebalais.

"It was about 1 a.m. when masked individuals, who drove up in a white Nissan Patrol, burst into the electoral office located at the National High School," said voting station chief Fils-Aimé Valbrun from his hospital bed in intensive care. "Furious, they ordered me to sign the ballots and hand them over to them. Faced with my categoric refusal, they pulled out a handgun and shot me in the mouth."

Skirmishes and gunfights between supporters of the rival parties Lespwa, UCADDE, and Fusion, terrorized the townspeople of Mirebalais. An angry crowds almost set fire to the Roseau Hotel belonging to Agriculture Minister and Lespwa big-wig Joanas Gay. A similar stand-off took place at the Mirage Hotel, where some Fusion candidates were housed.

(Ignoring the CEP's decision annulling the elections in the Center Department, UCADDE candidate Willot Joseph and his allies ran through Mirebalais' streets proclaiming their victory.)

Violence flared in other regions. In the northern towns of Acul du Nord and Limbé, right-wing parties participating in the anemic polling clashed. "If you find ballots in the urns, it is not our votes," said one Limbé resident.

In the Nippes Department, some people were wounded in rock thowing. In the Artibonite town of Verrettes, supporters of the party Haiti in Action party were arrested for possession of illegal weapons.

All of the violence was between small rival parties participating in the elections. Election officials had been expecting trouble from the Lavalas Family.

"I want to express my congratulations to the Lavalas Family," said CEP's director general Opont Pierre-Louis with borderline sarcasm. "Despite its call for abstention, its supporters refrained from violence against those who wanted to exercise their civic duties."

Lavalas leaders were also proud of the discipline shown by their frustrated partisans. "We wish to thank the masses for showing so much maturity," said former Lavalas deputy James Derosin. "However, the fight has just begun."

"We solemnly declare that we are in opposition to Préval's policy of exclusion," said Nahoum Marcellus, also a former Lavalas deputy from the North and one of the disqualified Senate candidates. "We re going to mobilize for the return of President Aristide," who remains in exile in South Africa five years after the coup that ousted him on Feb. 29, 2004.

Meanwhile, demonstrations took place on April 20 and 21 in front of the National Palace and the CEP headquarters. On Apr. 16, five young Lavalas Family activists entered the Parliament where they have undertaken a hunger strike to call world attention to the exclusion of the party from the elections. They say they will continue the strike until the elections are annulled.

The Lavalas Family's Permanent Mobilization Commission also declared that April and May would be spent mobilizing to demand the annulment of the elections and their rerun in November when wider parliamentary races will be held. The party also called for an audit of the CEP by the Cour des Comptes (Haiti's General Accounting Office) and the Corruption Fighting Unit (ULCC).

(Based on reporting by Haiti Liberté correspondents Geatjens Pierre, J. Fatal Piard, and Jean Baptiste Jean Ristil)

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.
This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI LIBERTE newsweekly. For
the complete edition with other news in French and Creole, please contact
the paper at (tel) 718-421-0162, (fax) 718-421-3471 or e-mail at Al3o visit our website at

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Black President Doesn’t Mean Racism is gone in America

By Peter Phillips

Racial inequality remains problematic in the US. People of color continue to experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment, police profiling, repressive incarceration and school segregation.

According to a new Civil Rights report, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge,” by Gary Orfield, schools in the US are currently 44% non-white, and minorities are rapidly emerging as the majority of public school students. Latinos and Blacks are the two largest minority groups. However, Black and Latino students attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights era. Over fifty years after the US Supreme Court case: Brown VS Board of Education, schools remain separate and not equal. Orfield’s study shows that public schools is in the Western states, including California, suffer from the most severe segregation in the US, rather than schools in the southern states as many people believe.

This new form of segregation is primarily based on how urban areas are geographically organized—as Cornel West so passionately describes— into vanilla suburbs and chocolate cities.

Schools remain highly unequal, both in terms of money, and qualified teachers and curriculum. Unequal education leads to diminished access to colleges and future jobs. Non-white schools are segregated by poverty as well as race. These “chocolate” low-income public schools are where most of the nation’s drop-outs occur, leading to large numbers of virtually unemployable young people of color struggling to survive in a troubled economy.

Diminished opportunity for students of color invariably creates greater privileges for whites. White privilege is a concept that is challenging for many whites to accept. Whites like to think of themselves as hard working individuals whose achievements are due to deserved personal efforts. In many cases this is partly true; hard work in college often pays off in many ways. Nonetheless many whites find it difficult to accept that geographically and structurally based racism remains a significant barrier for many students of color. Whites often say racism is in the past, and we need not think about it today. Yet, inequality stares at us daily from the barrios, ghettos, and from behind prisons walls. Inequality continues in privileged universities as well.

An example of white privilege is how Sonoma State University (SSU) has recently achieved the status of having the whitest and likely richest student population of any public university in the California. Research shows, that beginning in the early 1990s, the SSU administration specifically sought to market the campus as a public ivy institution—offering an Ivy-League experience at a state college price. Part of this public ivy packaging was to advertise SSU as being in a destination wine country location with high physical and cultural amenities. These marketing efforts were principally designed to attract upper-income students to a Falcon Crest-like campus.

To achieve the desired outcome of becoming a wine-country public ivy, SSU’s administration implemented special admissions screening processes that used higher SAT-GPA indexes than the rest of the California State University (CSU) system. According to Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres in The Miner’s Canary, high SAT scores correlate directly to both race and income with little relationship to actual success in college.

SSU also conducted recruitment at predominately white upper-income public and private high schools throughout the west coast and Hawaii. Consequently, SSU freshmen students with family incomes over $150,000 have increased by 59 percent since 1994 and freshmen students from families with incomes below $50,000 declined by 21 percent (2007 dollars). The campus remained over three-quarters white during this fifteen-year period, while the rest of the CSU campuses significantly increased ethnic diversity.

We are at a time in society when a majority of the population has elected a black President of the United States. This presidency is a hugely symbolic achievement for race relations in the US. We must not, however, ignore the continuing disadvantages for people of color and the resulting advantages gained by whites. Institutional policies and de facto segregation contribute to continuing inequalities that require ongoing review, discussion and redress. Efforts against racism must continue if we are to truly attain the civil rights goal of equal opportunity for all.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University. His recent research study Building a Public Ivy: Sonoma State University: 1994-2007, is on line at:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Haiti's Senatorial Elections Already a Fiasco

April 18th, 2009

By Wander Pierre*

Election or Selection?

Two days before they are due to occur, Haiti's senatorial elections are already a fiasco. According to a nationwide survey by The Haitian Priorities Project (HPP),“...only 5% of eligible voters would turn out on Apr. 19, based on polling conducted of some 65,000 people by 70 investigators during eight days in early April.”

Famni Lavalas (FL) the party of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide has had all its candidates disqualified by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).

Rene Civil, a long time Aristide supporter and former political prisoner, said in a telephone interview “There will be a selection on April 19, not an election.” He said that demonstrations against the government and the CEP would be relentless. He believes that with FL banned from the senate President Preval will be able to force through unpopular economic policies such as the privatization of state institutions such as TELCO (Haiti's phone company) and the National Port Authority.

Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis declared a recent donor conference in Washington a success. But it is doubtful that this will inspire Haitians to turn out for the election.

Comments gathered below from people living and working in Haiti seem to confirm this.

Romy, a young labourer said in a telephone interview that he would not vote because FL has been banned. However, he also said that he wished FL were less internally divided.

Dave, a young vocational student who has worked with foreign journalists, also lamented FL's exclusion as a “lost opportunity” for Haitians.

Merisma Jean-Claudel, a law school student said “I am not sure that even 35% of the population will go out to vote. I have been in Cap-Haiti for the holy week. People are not interested in this election.”

Erline, a mother of two who works as secretary at a private school, said in an email, ” I am not going to vote, I am very disappointed to see some folks become rich overnight while most are starving..”

Disillusionment with Preval seems widespread. However, divisions within FL have also been harshly criticized. Even Aristide has been criticized for not taking a clear stand as the FL leader. It has been suggested that his silence during the dispute with the CEP was driven by a desire to do nothing that may appear to legitimize the coup of 2004. However, FL partisans have expressed frustration that they must guess what their leader is thinking.

The electoral fiasco has prompted more foreign attention for Haiti. Criticism of the CEP, at least among the foreign and Haitian elite, halted after a visit to Haiti by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Such high levels visits have provoked ridicule of the government for its deference to foreign donors.
*Merisma Jean-Claudle contributed to this article.

Friday, April 17, 2009

HAITI: Fanmi Lavalas Banned, Voter Apprehension Widespread By Jeb Sprague*

NEW YORK, Apr 17 (IPS) - Weekend senatorial elections in Haiti are mired in controversy as Fanmi Lavalas (FL), the political party widely backed by the poor majority, has been disqualified.

Read the rest of this article on:

Thursday, April 16, 2009


"Justice. Verite. Independance."


April 15 - 21, 2009
Vol. 2, No. 39

by Kim Ives

In the face of widespread consternation and a boycott by Haiti's largest
party, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) plans to go forward with
partial Senate elections this weekend, just days after international donors
met in Washington, DC in an effort to raise money for the cash-strapped

Two months ago, the CEP excluded former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
Lavalas Family party (FL) on the grounds that he had not signed the
registration documents for his party's candidates for the 12 Senate seats
being filled (see Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 31, 2/18/2009).

Aristide, who is still in exile in South Africa, is not required to sign the
documents. Another party designee can and has done so in years past,
including this year. Furthermore, it would be difficult and politically
awkward for Aristide to sign the documents at the Haitian Embassy in
Pretoria, as he would have had to.

In response to its disqualification, the party has launched "Operation
Closed Doors," a campaign urging the Haitian people to shun the Apr. 19
polling. The call comes after a Haitian court ruled Mar. 9 that the CEP had
acted illegally in disqualifying the Lavalas Family (see Haiti Liberté, Vol.
2, No. 34, 3/11/2009). The CEP, however, has ignored the ruling, being
constitutionally autonomous and outside court and government jurisdiction in
electoral matters.

(Judge Jean-Claude Douyon, who made the ruling against the CEP, was fired by
Haitian Justice Minister Jean-Joseph Exumé on Apr. 3 for alleged corruption.
Douyon, however, says his dismissal was retaliation for hearing the case,
according to the Haiti Information Project's Kevin Pina.)

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the capital on Feb. 28, the fifth
anniversary of the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'état against Aristide, to demand his
return to Haiti and the party's inclusion in the elections. Another march of
some 10,000 on Mar. 27 shook Haiti's second city, Cap Haitien.

The Haitian Priorities Project (HPP), based in the U.S. and Haiti, estimated
that only 5% of eligible voters would turn out on Apr. 19, based on polling
conducted of some 65,000 people by 70 investigators during eight days in
early April.

"If the Lavalas Family is not part of the election, then there will be no
free and fair election," said a Lavalas Family member at a demonstration
outside CEP headquarters last month. "Whatever happens will just be a

Even organizationally, the election appears destined for trouble. Although
CEP spokesman Frantz Bernadin claimed that ballots and other voting
materials were already distributed to Departmental Electoral Offices - known
as BEDs - several press reports said that two-thirds of the 600,000 new
electoral cards were not yet distributed to voters with less than a week to

There are 78 candidates from only 16 of Haiti's 49 registered parties -
along with some independents - running for the 12 seats. The elections,
which have been postponed for about a year and a half, are costing more than
$15 million.

In an effort to promote the elections, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton will travel to Haiti on Apr. 16, as her husband, former President
Bill Clinton, did with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Mar. 9 (see
Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 34, 3/11/2009). In Port-au-Prince, she will meet
with President René Préval, as she did on Feb. 5 in Washington. (The same
day she will travel on to the Dominican Republic and then on Apr. 17 to
Trinidad and Tobago, where she will attend the three-day Summit of the
Americas along with President Barack Obama in Port of Spain.)

The push for elections will come after a push for aid. On Apr. 14, Hillary
Clinton, along with Ban Ki-moon, French Deputy Foreign Minister Rama Yade,
and Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, attended a donors
conference of about 30 nations and multilateral agencies in Washington,
organized by the Haitian government and the Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB). Clinton pledged $57 million from the U.S. government, including $20
million for infrastructure repair, $20 million for debt relief, and $15
million for food aid.

The $125 million Pierre-Louis aimed to raise on Apr. 14 is just to close
this year's budget deficit, Haiti's Economy and Finance Minister Daniel
Dorsainvil told The Wall Street Journal. In addition, the Haitian government
is looking for pledges of $2 billion, half of a $4 billion three-year
poverty reduction program.

The government came away from the conference with pledges of $324 million
for the next two years. Time will tell how much of that sum will actually be
delivered as the world capitalist crisis deepens in the months ahead.

Washington is very concerned about Haiti's political stability, as indicated
by the donors conference, the high-level visits, and a spate of articles and
editorials by Ban Ki-moon and others in leading U.S. dailies like the New
York Times and Miami Herald over the past two months.

"We are treading on very fragile ground," Pierre-Louis told the donors
conference. "If no action is taken now the consequences will be

Catastrophic instability, however, may well result, sooner or later, from
the exclusionary Apr. 19 elections. Despite attempts to raise money to avert
disaster, by keeping Aristide in exile and his party out of the Senate
elections the Préval/Pierre-Louis government, and its international backers,
may be engaged in the futile exercise described in a Haitian proverb: "Lave
men, siye ate." Wash one's hands but then dry them in the dirt.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jubilee-Grassroots: Obama Administration Pledges to Cover Remaining Debt Payments from Haiti!

Dear Jubilee members and friends,

Yesterday at the Haiti Donors Conference Secretary of State Clinton announced a US pledge of $20 million to cover Haiti ’s remaining debt payments to the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. Not only is this a victory for the people of Haiti , it is also an inspiring demonstration of the power of your solidarity and advocacy.

While this is exciting news, we are not entirely out of the woods yet. Congress may need to authorize and appropriate $50 million to fund the entire package of US emergency aid to Haiti (including the debt relief money). And Haiti has not yet received permanent debt stock cancellation. The projected date for this has been pushed back more than once and it could happen again.

That said, yesterday’s announcement is cause for celebration. Many thanks to everyone for the years of hard work that helped to bring about yesterday’s announcement!

Jubilee’s press statement & links to coverage and video of the announcement follow.



AFP – “ Clinton pledges more than $50 million in aid for Haiti ”

Secretary of State Clinton’s Remarks at Haiti Donors Conference – transcript and video



APRIL 15, 2009

CONTACT: Kristin Sundell, Jubilee USA, 202-783-0215 direct; 443-845-4461 cell

Brian Concannon Jr, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti , 541-432-0597

Jubilee USA Welcomes Obama Administration Pledge to Relieve Haiti’s Debt

Debt Relief to Support Haiti’s Fragile Democracy in Advance of Critical Senate Election

Washington DC – Jubilee USA Network today enthusiastically welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the US would pledge $20 million to cover Haiti’s 2009 debt payments to its multilateral creditors as part of an over $50 million aid package to the country.

Haiti is currently sending $1.6 million to the World Bank every month while thousands of Haitians starve and funding shortages threaten the nation’s stability.

“Today’s announcement is a victory for the people of Haiti . The US pledge to cover Haiti ’s debt service obligations will free $20 million for basic infrastructure, healthcare, and education and will help Haiti to recover from last year’s devastating storms. We are especially grateful for the leadership shown by the Treasury and State Departments in achieving this commitment.” said Kristin Sundell, Deputy Director of the Jubilee USA Network, a coalition of faith-based, development, human rights and community organizations working for debt relief for impoverished countries.

“This is change that Haitians can believe in,” said Brian Concannon Jr., Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti . “It provides much-needed tangible support while righting a historical wrong by removing the burden of Haiti ’s unjust and unbearable multilateral debt.”

In February, a bipartisan group of 72 US Representatives called on World Bank President Robert Zoellick to immediately suspend all scheduled debt repayments from Haiti and grant complete debt cancellation to the impoverished nation. The letter was circulated by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA).

Haiti is projected to complete the IMF’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative by July. Completion of the program will result in the permanent cancellation of a substantial portion of Haiti ’s debt to the United States, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank. Haiti was improperly left out of the original HIPC for political reasons. The country was accepted into the program in 2006, but its efforts to catch up have been hindered by economic policy conditions imposed by the IMF and a string of natural disasters, economic shocks and political unrest.

Earlier this month Haitian President René Préval appealed to Secretary of State Clinton for immediate financial assistance, describing a $100 million budget gap that he said could throw Haiti into anarchy.

The US pledge of $20 million in debt relief is a substantial step toward filling the budget gap, but the date by which Haiti is projected to complete the HIPC program and receive permanent debt cancellation has already been pushed back a number of times by the IMF. Haiti ’s debt must still be cancelled outright without further delays.


Kristin Sundell, M.Div.
Deputy Director
Jubilee USA Network

443-845-4461 (cell)

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