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28459: Simidor asks: Can Preval Deliver? (fwd)

From: Daniel Simidor, danielsimidor@yahoo.com

Can Preval Deliver?

Corruption, erosion and crime are three of the worse
diseases that doom all efforts to pull Haiti from the
brink of destruction.  Each one at a minimum carries
in turn a triple complication that makes them endemic.
 Will a new and improved René Preval/Jacques Edouard
Alexis government succeed, where they failed before,
in curing those ills?

1.  Haiti?s Ills

Corruption includes, but is not limited to, the theft
of public resources (contractors, ?grands mangeurs?
and the like); political patronage, which changes the
few government posts available into no-show jobs for
hangers-on and militia types; and mismanagement
(bureaucratic ineptness, ?Petits Projets de la
Présidence,? etc).  The word corruption was only
mentioned once in passing in Prime Minister Alexis?
program of governement.

The destruction of the environment encompasses the
current energy needs of a population that has grown
exponentially; lopsided trade practices over three
centuries that depleted the country?s forests; and the
extreme tariff reductions of recent years, resulting
in ?declining agricultural yields and creeping
desertification? (Advocacy Platform Ireland/UK,
?Haiti?s Membership of CARICOM,? June 2006).  The new
minister for environmental affairs, Jean-Marie Claude
Germain, is a political appointee, not an activist,
not someone who can be expected to come from behind
his desk to agitate, to inspire and to lead, in the
fight against practices that go back 200 years.

Insecurity is another word for organized crime in
today?s Haiti.  It derives from such factors as
political and drug-related gangs that thrive on
instability; economic and social inequality, and a
population explosion in the slums; and the
deliquescence of the state which accounts for the
involvement of judges, policemen and appointed
officials in a wide range of criminal activities
(including contraband).  The new administration cannot
even begin to address the security crucible, unless it
is ready to face down and to disband the Lavalas gangs
that claim President Preval as a stand-in for their
leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Each one of those diseases and complicating factors is
in turn related to the dire state of the Haitian
economy.  Which raises the question of what economic
policy the new government proposes to implement in
order to promote national production and induce real

2.  Preval?s Odds

Preval?s so-called pragmatism helplessly goes along
with the extreme liberalization imposed by the Bush
White House and the International Monetary Fund, in
order not to risk losing the fabled aid packages that
are often dangled but seldom delivered to Haiti.  This
is the formal side of Preval?s economic outlook:
privatization, tariff liberalization, austerity
measures.  But there is an informal side as well that
looks at Latin America and hopes to transform MINUSTAH
into what it is not: a security and development
assistance program.  To figure out which model is
going to prevail from this patchwork approach, we only
have to look at the dominant economic system all the
countries involved, except Cuba,  are living under.

Much emphasis is placed in the inaugural speeches of
the new government on building social peace through
job creation and improved services to the poor.  But
little of substance has been said about where the
money for those programs is coming from.  One telling
indication, however, is that Preval?s Social
Appeasement Program (PAS) shares a common December
2007 deadline with the Interim Cooperation Framework
(CCI), handed down to Gerard Latortue?s transition
government in July 2004, by the so-called
international community.

Of the $964 million of CCI money allocated as of March
2006, more than $600 million are to be paid out to the
Preval/Alexis administration, according to an article
by Jean Robert Jean-Noel, a former Latortue adviser,
in ?Le Matin? (6/14/06). Jean-Noel goes on to cite
several development projects already under way, more
than $100 million of reserve funds at the Banque de la
République d?Haiti, and substantial additional funds
to be pledged by the main lending institutions at the
upcoming July 26 Conference on Haiti -- and concludes
that the prospects for Haiti have never been better.

?Van an vire? (The wind has changed) is the proud new
motto of Preval?s coalition, Lespwa.  ?We don?t have
the right to be wrong,? proclaims Alexis, in a
somewhat Latortue vein.  But ?Gwo van, ti lapli? (Much
wind, little rain) quips the Collective against the
High Cost of Living, noting the propensity not to
deliver on many of those promises.  For countries like
Haiti, waiting on the international financial
institutions is often worse than waiting for Godot.
They lend you one and take back four.  That is, when
they lend you anything in the first place.  Either
way, the odds are against the Haitian people.

Daniel Simidor

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