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Context of 'Early October 1995: Haiti Refuses to Sign Letter for World Bank and IMF Agreeing to Neoliberal Economic 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 President Jean-Bertrand Aristide informs parliament that he will appoint Smarck Michel as the country’s new prime minister. Michel—who served briefly as Aristide’s commerce minister in 1991—owns a rice-importing business and retails gasoline. According to sources interviewed by the Washington Post, his selection “was aimed at appeasing the nation’s powerful business elite” and is viewed as a prerequisite for “winning support from foreign investors and attaining international development funds.” The Post reports, “At least two US-trained economic experts—former World Bank economist Leslie Delatour and former education minister Leslie Voltaire—had threatened not to participate in key government posts if Michel were not named prime minister.” [Washington Post, 10/25/1995]

Entity Tags: Smarck Michel, Leslie Voltaire, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Leslie Delatour

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

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

Haitian Prime Minister Smarck Michel begins a 10-day trip aimed at “unlocking about [$1 billion] in foreign aid stalled after a political row in Haiti about planned privatization.” He begins in New York where he meets with commercial bankers. Afterwards, in a two-hour press conference with the Haitian press, he explains to his Haitian viewers that the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are holding back $150 million until Haiti can “fulfill the conditions which structural adjustment demands,” and warns that there will be “dire consequences” if the Haitian people continue to resist privatization and other neoliberal reforms. [Haiti Progres, 9/13/1995]

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

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 World Bank and the International Monetary Fund announce that they will send their economists to Iraq to assess needs for reconstruction as soon as it is safe to do so. The decision was made “with strong pressure from the United States,” the New York Times reports. [New York Times, 4/14/2004]

Entity Tags: International Monetary Fund, World Bank

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

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