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#3642: Extract from Haiti Briefing Number 38 May 2000

From: Charles Arthur <charlesarthur@hotmail.com>

Extract from Haiti Briefing Number 38 May 2000

(Haiti Briefing is a bi-monthly publication of the Haiti Support
Group -solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for participatory
democracy,justice, and equitable development since 1992)

Haiti, a priority for the Jubilee 2000 movement

Haiti's debt to international financial institutions and foreign
governments has grown from US$ 302 million in 1980 to US$1.134 billion
today. About 40% of this debt stems from loans to the brutal Duvalier 
dictators who invested precious little of it in the country. This is known 
as 'odious debt' because it was used to oppress the people, and, according 
to international law, this debt need not be repaid. The other part of the 
debt has been run up in recent
years as Haiti has been lent money to carry out structural
adjustment policies that rather than helping economic development are in
fact damaging it.

Despite the fact that the debt has provided next to no benefit
to the majority of Haitian people, they are now suffering from the
obligation the current government has to repay it. The servicing of this 
debt is estimated at more than US$ 4 million a month - much more than the 
Haitian government can spend on public services such as health care.

According to the Word Bank, Haiti is classed as a severely
indebted low income country (SILIC). Its debt to exports ratio is around 
300% - a ratio considered unsustainable by the World Bank and the 
International Monetary Fund. In spite of meeting these criteria, the World 
Bank and the IMF have not included Haiti in the Heavily Indebted Poor 
Countries Initiative (HIPC) for debt relief to the countries who suffer most 
under the burden of debt.

For these reasons, people in Haiti have joined the international
Jubilee 2000 Coalition. Nine thousand Haitians have already signed an
international petition to demand the cancellation of  'Third World' debt.
Earlier this year, the Jubilee 2000 Coalition took the decision to
concentrate on Haiti, and to campaign for the complete cancellation of 
Haiti's debt this year.


Eighty-five per cent of Haiti's debt is owed to the World Bank
and the IMF.
The remainder is owed mainly to Italy (US$ 58 million) and
France (US$ 47 million).

Support the Jubilee 2000 Campaign and the people of Haiti by
writing letters to the World Bank and the IMF, and to the Presidents of 
France and Italy, asking for Haiti's debt to be cancelled. These letters 
should be sent in advance of the G8 summit in Japan starting on 23rd June.

1) To the Presidents of Italy (Haiti owes Italy US$58 million)
and France (Haiti owes France US$47 million).

Italy: Presidente Massimo D'Alema,
Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri,
Piazza Colonna 370,
00187, Roma,

France: President M.Jacques Chirac,
Palais de l'Elysée,
55, Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré,
75008  Paris,

Dear Mr D'Alema /  Mr Chirac (delete as appropriate),

Haiti is in a crisis situation. Eighty per cent of Haitians live
below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the government is struggling to pay
external debts worth US$1.197 billion, and, as a consequence, can only spend 
a negligible sum on its health and education systems. Although Haiti's debt 
is unsustainable, it has been refused debt relief.

As I am sure you know, 40% of Haiti's external debt stems from
the period of the Duvalier dictatorships. This part of the debt is known as 
'odious debt' and, under international law, does not need to be repaid. 
However, bilateral and multilateral creditors continue to demand repayment.

I urge you to consider cancelling the US$58 million / US$47
million (delete as appropriate) that Haiti owes your country, and make a 
real difference to the lives of some of the poorest people in the Western 

With thanks       (your name)

2) To the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

World Bank:
Mr James Wolfensohn
President of the World Bank,
1818 H Street NW,
WashingtonDC 20433,

email: <Info@worldbank.org>

Mr Horst Koehler
Managing Director of the IMF,
700 19th Street NW,
Washington DC 20433

Email: <publicaffairs@imf.org>

Dear Mr Wolfensohn / Mr Koehler (delete as appropriate),

The people of Haiti are suffering from the obligation their
government has to pay back a debt now totalling US$1.134 billion. The 
servicing of this debt is estimated at more than US$4 million per day. As a 
result, there is precious little funding available for health and education 

Eighty five per cent of Haiti's debt is owed to the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund. I implore you to consider
cancelling Haiti's debt, for, if the current situation continues, there will 
be even greater misery and hardship for the majority of Haitian people than 
there is right now. There is no way Haiti can turn its economy around if 
there is no investment in the only resource the country possesses - its 

Yours sincerely,

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