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Context of '(October 18, 1996): Haiti Agrees to Neoliberal Reforms'

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Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide promises donors that he will implement neoliberal reforms if he is returned to power. He agrees to a plan calling for the privatization of some state-owned enterprises, including the country’s flour mill, cement factory, and electric company. The plan also requires the removal of import controls, reforming of customs, and the elimination of limits on interest rates. But due to strong domestic opposition, Aristide will not completely follow through with the Structural Adjustment Program once in office. [Inter Press Service, 9/28/1995]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, Neoliberalism and Globalization

Haitian Prime Minister Smarck Michel announces that Haiti will continue with plans to privatize nine state-owned companies, though he acknowledges that most Haitians are “against the idea of privatization” and that for many, “the word is a demon.” In an effort to sell the plan to the public the government has been euphemistically describing it as the “democratization of assets.” The privatization scheme—to include Haiti’s flour mill, a cement factory, its air and seaports, telephone exchanges, and electricity—must be implemented in order for Haiti to receive $170 million in structural adjustment loans from the World Bank, the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union. The loans are part of a five-year, $1.2-billion aid program (see (October 18, 1996)) which Aristide had tacitly agreed to in August 1994 (see August 1994). [Inter Press Service, 9/8/1995]

Entity Tags: Smarck Michel, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Monetary Fund

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

During the World Bank’s annual meeting, the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressure Haiti to sign a letter of intent assuring the US, IMF, and other donors that Haiti would proceed with the Structural Adjustment Program that President Aristide had agreed to in August 1994 (see August 1994) before he was restored to power by a US-led multinational force. Haiti, whose parliament and population are strongly opposed to the neoliberal reforms, refuses to sign the letter. [Multinational Monitor, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Smarck Michel, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

US Vice President Al Gore visits Haiti on the one-year anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return to power. During his visit, he meets with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and stresses the need for his government to comply with the structural reforms which he had agreed to implement in August 1994 (see August 1994). “We discussed the need for continuing international assistance to meet the developmental requirements of Haiti and the steps the government of Haiti and its people need to take in order to ensure the continued flow of these funds,” Gore recounts during a brief press conference. Earlier in the month, Aristide’s government refused to sign a letter of intent assuring the US, IMF, and other donors that the country would follow though with the mandated reforms (see Early October 1995). [Inter Press Service, 10/16/1995; Multinational Monitor, 11/2004]

Entity Tags: International Monetary Fund, Albert Arnold (“Al”) Gore, Jr., Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Haiti agrees to implement a wide array of neoliberal reforms outlined in the IMF’s $1.2 billion Emergency Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) put together by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Organization of American States (OAS). The recovery package, to be funded and executed over a five-year period, aims to create a capital-friendly macroeconomic environment for the export-manufacturing sector. It calls for suppressing wages, reducing tariffs, and selling off state-owned enterprises. Notably, there is little in the package for the country’s rural sector, which represents the activities of about 65 percent of the Haitian population. The small amount that does go to the countryside is designated for improving roads and irrigation systems and promoting export crops such as coffee and mangoes. The Haitian government also agrees to abolish tariffs on US imports, which results in the dumping of cheap US foodstuffs on the Haitian market undermining the country’s livestock and agricultural production. The disruption of economic life in the already depressed country further deteriorates the living conditions of the poor. [International Report, 4/3/1995; International Monetary Fund, 10/18/1996; Shamsie, 2002; Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004]

Entity Tags: Organization of American States (OAS), USAID, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

The Organization of American States (OAS) blocks $400 million in aid to Haiti from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), citing the unresolved status of the contested 2000 Haitian elections (see May 21, 2000). The aid package was to consist of four separate loans for health, education, drinking water, and road improvements. Though it is claimed that this decision has been reached by a consensus, critical observers raise questions about the influence of an April 6 letter (see April 6, 2001) from a US official asking the IDB to suspend the release of these funds. [London Review of Books, 4/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Organization of American States (OAS)

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Lawrence Harrington, the US representative to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) sends a letter to Enrique Iglesias, the IDB’s president, recommending that the bank block already approved loans to Haiti. “At this point disbursements could normally begin, assuming all loans conditions had been met,” Harrington writes. “However, we do not believe that these loans can or should be treated in a routine manner and strongly urge you to not authorize any disbursements at this time.” [US Department of State, 4/6/2001 pdf file; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004] The loans are for health, education, drinking water, and road improvements. The OAS will block these loans 14 days later (see (2001)). [London Review of Books, 4/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Organization of American States (OAS), Lawrence Harrington, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Enrique Iglesias

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

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