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5333 Next step for Haiti (fwd)
From: Joel Dreyfuss <email@example.com>
Sometime in the next few months, the inevitable will happen and Aristide
will get elected President again. Then what?
While this list has devoted considerable effort to dicussing the propriety
of the election (and international efforts to do it again), we haven't heard
much discussion about Aristide's plans for his next term in office.
In his first nine months leading to the coup, there were some remarkable
gains. Companies paid taxes (some for the first time); there was a
remarkable sense of participation among many Haitians for the first time.
But the euphoria had already begun to fade before the coup. There seemed to
be an aimlessness to the regime, a shortage of programs, and even less of an
articulated goal. Class-baiting seemed to become the primary organizational
After the Restoration, the Aristide regime seemed even more aimless. While
the presence of U.S. troops were a detriment, there was no visible agenda,
no overall vision, plan, no effort to organize at the grass-roots levels.
Sources at international agencies told me they couldn't get Haitian
government officials to submit proposal for money that was already earmarked
for Haiti. I was baffled that a regime with a reputation for grass-roots
support did so little to organize self-help programs. For example, what if
officials had organized neighborhood cleanups instead of letting the piles
of refuse accumulate? With aimlessness came temptation; stories began to
circulate of corruption among those close to Aristide.
What will happen in Aristide III? I worry that an obession for power has
replaced any plan for progress. What kind of relationship will exist with
the skeptical working class, the alienated merchant elite? Should Haiti try
to rebuild its agricultural base in light of low commodity prices? Does the
manufacturing sector have hope of revival? How can the government engage a
twice-burned Haitian-American community that is an important source of cash
and a rising lobbying force in the U.S.? In the absence of a vision,
countries like Haiti end up surrending control to the World Bank and IMF.
I'd like to know what a likely Aristide agenda for the next five years will