Profile: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was a participant or observer in the following events:
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]
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]
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]
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]
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 ; 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]
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