'Ideas and Action - Projecting the voices of Haiti's progressive civil society organisations', #5, 15th May 2006
Kolektif Mobilizasyon Kont Lavichè - The Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living: Press release on neo-liberal policies and the people's demands
Port-au-Prince - 9 May 2006
The people's demands and the neo-liberal plan are like chalk and cheese.
On 7 February 2006, the masses chose Rene Preval to revive the country. The masses gave Preval a mandate to attack the problems of unemployment, poverty, the high cost of living, the problems of health, education, high rents, etc. Unfortunately the president- elect is taking the route to despair when he chooses the neo-liberal model as his guide. In every country where the model has been applied, there is a high cost of living, unemployment, insecurity, and the destruction of national production. The Collective can see that several neo-liberal specialists have already taken their place on the Lespwa band-wagon in order to carry despair into the heart of the masses.
During Preval's first presidency, the neo-liberal plan was already part of his programme. It was the time when the president and the OPL party privatised the state-owned Flour Mill and Cement Company, and put hundreds of people from the public administration out of work through the application of a programme of voluntary departure. Several state-owned enterprises, including the National Credit Bank, the Teleco, the National Port Authority, the Electricity Company and the Airport, were on the list to be sold. Privatisation and voluntary redundancy are the cause of poverty today because the underprivileged cannot afford to buy cement to build houses and the prices of flour and bread have increased. On top of that, many workers now hang around on the street because they can't find work.
This year, while he was in Canada, the new president has again announced he is going to privatise the state-owned enterprises. Several big businessmen, hiding behind Preval's back and influencing him, are already preparing to buy up state-owned enterprises for peanuts. With what money is Preval going to resolve the problems of misery in the underprivileged areas, and the problems of health and education across the country, if he privatises the state enterprises? With this political framework, national production will continue to suffer from competition with foreign imports and the country's external debt will only increase. This will all reinforce the country's dependence on the rich countries.
Is the new president capable of serving two masters at the same time?
In several declarations that he has made, the new president has made it known that he is going to attack the problems of health, education and other problems afflicting the population. But, at the same time, the new president agrees that he is continuing to give the people the IMF and World Bank's medicine. Right now, the Lespwa team is already discussing the possibility of adopting the Interim Cooperation Framework and the neo-liberal policies, even though this programme has nothing to offer the workers, peasants, small traders, or people living in the poorest areas. The president's declaration in Canada makes us think that he wants to appoint a puppet Prime Minister and have ‘yes men' as members of parliament. The Collective believes that the parliament and civil society organisations will have something to say about this issue. For us, it is clear that the demands of the masses today are for a resolution of the problems of poverty and a high cost of living, and for work, lower food prices, lower fuel prices, and controls on the prices charged by schools and by landlords, as well as the provision of land for peasant farmers in the context of a proper agrarian reform. These demands, and neo-liberal policies, are like chalk and cheese.
What direction can we take?
The Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living believes that the President must chose to listen to the IMF, or to the masses who voted for him. To avoid the route of failure, the Collective asks the people who live in poorer areas, activists and engaged organisations, to get together to stand up against all policies that are not in the interests of the masses. Our struggle today is to force the new government to:
1) Lower fuel prices, and, in this context, the PetroCaribe agreement must be managed in the interests of the people;
2) Lower the prices of all essential goods;
3) Set up state-shops in the poorest areas and in all rural administrative districts (communes) in the country;
4) Eliminate the special deals that the interim government gave to the bourgeoisie;
5) Control the amount of profits that merchants make on fuel and on all essential products and services
6) Set in process an agrarian reform so that peasant farmers can get land and a framework in which they can work the land.
The Collective asks all the members of parliament who still represent the interests of the people to accompany the masses in this direction because the neo-liberal route will lead us into despair.
Down with privatisation of the state-owned enterprises!
Down with the high cost of living!
Long live a self-reliant people in a self-reliant country!
For the Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living:
Organisations participating in the Collective to Mobilise against the High Cost of Living include:
MODEP - Mouvman Demokratik Popilè,
MEGA - Mouvman Etidyan Granmoun Ayisyen,
POHDH - Plate-forme des Organisations Haitiennes de Droits de l'Homme,
GRAEP - Gwoup Refleksyon ak Animasyon Edikasyon Popilè,
SOFA - Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen,
PAPDA - Platfòm k ap Plede pou yon Devlopman Altènatif.
(Translated from Creole by Charles Arthur for the Haiti Support Group)
'Ideas and Action - Projecting the voices of Haiti's progressive civil society organisations' is a Haiti Support Group project funded by the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)
The Haiti Support Group is a British organisation working in solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for human rights, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992 - www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org
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