Haiti: groups campaign against neoliberal accords

Some 17 Haitian groups have launched a new campaign against the neoliberal economic policies that Haiti has followed under successive governments over the last three decades. The immediate goal is to implement a moratorium “of at least five years on the trade liberalization agreements [between the Haitian government and international lending institutions] and the putting in place of an economic and social policy outside the logic of the market and of structural adjustment policies.”

“The grassroots social movement is unanimous in recognizing that the catastrophe [of the January 2010 earthquake in southern Haiti] is the result of a socio-historical process whose principal characteristics are exclusion, injustice and social inequalities,” the groups wrote. They dismissed the “reconstruction” projects of the international community as worse than useless: “While the situation of the [earthquake] victims and the displaced tends to get worse, the plans of the imperialist powers to use the country as a paradise for free trade zones [industrial parks exploiting cheap labor] are moving along nicely.”

The focus for the first 10 months of the campaign is to be on educating the population about the neoliberal accords, with the assistance of Haitian artists, intellectuals and musicians; putting pressure on the government and on international groups; proposing alternative policies; and participating in protests and other events. Among the groups in the campaign are the Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA), the Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), the Popular Democratic Movement (MODEP), the Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS) and Haitian Women’s Solidarity (SOFA). (AlterPresse, Haiti, Feb. 25)

Nearly a million people continue to live outside in tents or improvised shelters more than a year after the earthquake. The rainy season is approaching, and this will be the second rainy season without proper housing for the displaced. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC, or CIRH in French and Spanish), a group set up last year by donor nations to disburse and monitor international aid, says that one of its priorities is clearing away the rubble in Port-au-Prince so that new housing can be built. On Feb. 24 CIRH executive director Gabriel Verret announced that so far 20% of the rubble has been removed from the capital, and he promised that 40% would be removed by the end of the year. According to Verret, of the $5.3 billion that the international community is supposed to supply for reconstruction over an 18-month period, just 30% has been made available. (Radio Métropole, Haiti, Feb. 24)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 27.

See our last post on Haiti.