[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
6719: Aristide also refers to debt problem in intro to Investing in People (fwd)
(midway is a discussion on the debt)
Investing in People
The White Paper of Fanmi Lavalas
Introduction by Jean-Bertrand Aristide
The human being is at the center of this white paper, at the heart of our
programs, and is the primary focus of our political and economic choices.
For that reason we have chosen title this document "Investing in People;"
While the white paper deals primarily with the national situation, these
introductory comments will attempt to place the Haitian reality in an
international geopolitical context. Both exogenous and endogenous economic
factors must be examined to understand the Haitian reality. The localization
and the internationalization of poverty are linked in a cause and effect
On the threshold of the third millennium one of the challenges we face is to
attain a level of economic growth that is synergistic with human development.
If economic growth does not lead to a reduction in poverty, to the creation
of jobs, towards social integration, or to the disappearance of social
inequities within the society, it does not represent progress towards the
development of the human being.
Poverty is the most serious threat to political stability, social cohesion,
and the environment at a global level. It is unacceptable that today 1.3
billion people still live under the poverty line, that 800 million people are
hungry, and that nearly 600 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition.
It is unacceptable that 80% of the world's population have only 16% of the
wealth of the world, while the richest 20% allocate only .03% of their GDP
for development aid. It is unacceptable that some poor countries dedicate
twice as much money towards military spending as they do to both health and
The objective of human development is to enlarge the field of possibilities
open to each human being, allowing him or her to live a long and healthy
life, to have access to education and to other needed resources. He or she
must enjoy political, economic and social liberties within an environment of
dignity and respect for the rights of all.
Human development must be rooted in the strength of law not in the strength
of arms. With the end of the cold war the reduction in military expenses
globally could free peace dividends that could be allocated to human
development. In 1991, if industrialized countries had reduced their yearly
military expenses by 3% that would have freed 25 billion US dollars a year.
Today, by not increasing their own military budgets, developing countries
could save $10 billion US dollars a year. Unfortunately military expenses
continue to absorb 5.5% of the GNP of the developing world.
The information and analysis presented in this white paper reveal the degree
to which human and economic inequalities are the cause of human suffering.
In regards to the Haiti, however, there is a difference. The military has
been dissolved. The Haitian people recall the disbanding of the Haitian
military with great joy. Shortly after the restoration of democracy in 1995
we dismantled our army of 7,000 men which had absorbed 40% of the national
budget, in order to free ourselves from this internally occupying force.
That was our first objective. It was also done so that peace, justice and
love might bloom in Haiti, that all the sons and daughters of the nation
could build a society of law where vengeance and impunity are condemned,
where justice and peace may prevail.
Today, we are charged with the responsibility of promoting development based
upon productivity, social justice, sustainability, and the participation of
all our citizens. For human development and economic growth to become deeply
linked we must DEMOCRATIZE DEMOCRACY. In other words we must create
participatory structures to:
1) Promote just economic growth and participatory development. To this
end the main task before us is to invest in people with the goal of freeing
their initiative. This will create a strong link between economic growth and
human well being.
2) Reinforce the private sector, social actors, and organizations that
seek to invigorate the social fabric.
3) Support the peaceful struggle of the underprivileged majority who
continue to demand justice, transparency, and participation.
The achievement of a new democratic order depends on all of us, including our
sisters. To ignore or exclude women from human development is to doom it to
failure. To address the economic challenges before us we must struggle
against sociological inequality between the sexes. Seventy percent of the
poor are women; two thirds of those who cannot read and write are women. In
consequence internationally women hold only
14 % of administrative positions
10% of parliamentary seats
5% of ministerial posts
By contrast, statistics show that of the 16 billion dollars generated in the
informal economy world wide each year women produce 11 billion. Honor and
respect for Haiti's valiant women.
In examining the Haitian reality as we have done in this book we cannot avoid
noting a paradox of democracy in our times. While the last decade has seen
unprecedented advances for democracy among developing countries, it has also
seen unprecedented economic difficulties.
The gap between the economic elites and the disadvantaged majorities
increases every day. And the impact of poverty on our planet increases every
day as well. In Haiti dictatorship left us a terrible legacy:
1% of the population owns 48% of the wealth of the country
The illiteracy rate is about 60%
For every 10,000 people we have only one doctor
Each year 36 million metric tons of soil are lost to the sea
>From north to south these contradictions are apparent and call upon all of us
to act. During the 1980's dictatorships in Latin America fell one after
another. At the start of the decade 120 million Latin Americans i.e. 39% of
the total population lived in poverty. By 1985 that number had reached
160-170 million. By the end of the 1980's we had reached the terrifying
level of 240 million Latin Americans living in poverty. Democracy was on the
rise, but paradoxically it was linked to economic and social impoverishment.
We must look at this paradox within the new global context. On the one hand
the East-West confrontation ended and in its wake actors offering traditional
alternatives to neoliberal development policies were thrown into crisis. On
the other hand there has been an emergence of new actors. Civil society,
which includes citizens associations, popular base organizations, women's
groups, human rights groups, and cooperatives among others, is comprised of
people in both the north and the south who are trying to make themselves
heard. They seek to become the voice of the voiceless, and to influence the
decisions of national and international institutions. For all of these
groups, for all of us who come from the civil society, democracy means the
participation of all.
Today one of the primary tasks of civil society, particularly in the south,
is to democratize democracy. On December 16, 1990, during Haiti's first free
and fair elections we said Haiti must move from misery to poverty with
dignity. Can we reach this objective via a formal democracy? What do we
mean by democracy? By democratizing democracy? The etymological roots of
the concept of democracy bring us directly back to the human being, to the
human being in whom we must invest. In Greek "demos" means People and
"cratein" means to govern.
Government of the people, by the people and for the people: a beautiful idea,
born 2,500 years ago, and yet unfortunately we are still far from realizing
this ideal. The "democracy" which appears to have taken root in so many
countries of the South may end up being nothing more than a formality if we
do not work to give it substance. What is the point of voting for an
ordinary citizen of the South if this act is not linked, even minimally, to
an improvement in his or her living standards? The emergence of a new
democratic order depends on all of us. At a time when liberalization,
standardization, globalization, and the sanctity of the market and of
free-trade, dominate political discourse we must insist that increased
national production also guarantees sustainable human development. If
economics is primarily about the flow of money, then attending to human
development brings an ethical dimension to the relations underlying the
functioning of the market.
HAITI's EXTERNAL DEBT weighs heavily on the pace of development. The state
of the country described in this book is testimony to this fact. In a
country with an anemic economy, a compromised ecosystem, and a fragile and
weak infrastructure we should think long and hard about our debt, currently
estimated at 1.1 billion dollars, with an eye towards freeing valuable
resources needed to finance sustainable development.
>From 1980 and 1996 sub-Saharan Africa reimbursed twice the amount of its
external debt, and yet at the end of this 16 year period was three times more
indebted. The debt went from 84.3 billion dollars in 1980 to 285.3 billion
dollars in 1996. Sub-Saharan Africa paid 170 billion dollars to service the
debt (interest and capital), which was 4 times the combined health and
education budgets for these countries over the same time period.
It is urgent that we understand deeply what is at stake at a macroeconomic
level so that we are not caught in illusions and frustrations, but rather
realistically working to guarantee social peace and political stability.
Our role is to insure that the state is well managed and in the service of
peace and security. Peace of stomach, peace of mind. Security for both
human life, and for property. This peace and security must free each woman,
each man, from fear and protect them against need. We seek to replace
weapons with the security guaranteed by sustainable development. Development
of this kind has up to now been reserved for a small portion of the world's
population while a larger portion lives below the poverty line. Every three
seconds a child dies. Every second we lose an area of tropical forest the
size of a soccer field. And close to one billion people live in areas
impacted by desertification.
Together we are responsible for creating a millennium of peace. If
dictatorships have been a source of fear, democracy must be a source of
peace. Lapè nan tèt, Lapè nan vant.
(Peace in our mind, peace in our stomach.)
In diametric opposition to the methods of dictatorship, democracy depends
upon the participation of all its citizens. This white paper has been true
to the principle of participation. In it are found proposals collected
during nine departmental conferences, which were held throughout Haiti in
preparation for our first national conference on December 14, 15, and 16,
1999. The range of topics examined, and the diversity of styles are the mark
of the wide range of groups of specialists who gathered around the table of
dialogue to prepare this paper. We gathered members of civil society, the
opposition, representatives of governmental institutions, as well as members
of Fanmi Lavalas. Together, in an atmosphere of respect and tolerance we
agreed to examine our past as a people as we prepare ourselves to celebrate
the bicentennial of our independence.
We asked "why not a school in every communal section before the year 2004"
But let's go deeper. Where there is a school, there should be a health
center to vaccinate the students, a credit center for the parents. The
economic projects of the parents require infastructure (roads,
transportation, and telecommunication). If we take this approach, beginning
at the communal level, even before we construct the roads we are already
firmly on the path of decentralization. Decentralization is the sine qua non
condition for sustainable development in Haiti.
In his speech before the Governors committee last September the President of
the World Bank, James Wollfenson, declared "There is no doubt that the
reduction of poverty must take place at the local level." 125 of our 565
communal sections do not have public schools, 20 of these communal sections
do not have any school at all. Nationally only 56% of our school age
children are in school. Of those in school 64% are over age for their class
level. And only 27% of those who are in school successfully complete primary
Some have estimated that raising the average number of years of school
attended among a population by just one year can increase gross national
product by 9%. Nevertheless developing countries invest only 20% to 30% of
GNP in public expenditures, and tax revenues represent only 10%-20% of GNP in
the developing world.
In 1960 Pakistan and South Korea had identical GNPs. But their rates of
primary school attendance were sharply different, just 30% in Pakistan, with
94% in South Korea. Twenty-five years later Korea's GNP on a per capita
basis was three times that of Pakistan. It is now our turn as Haitians, in
partnership with our 10th department, as we call the Haitian Diaspora, to
significantly reduce our rate of illiteracy and achieve universal primary
school enrollment before the year 2004.
Modernity, be it political or economic, implies differences and divergence,
criticism and controversy, debate and consensus. One of the merits of this
white paper is an engagement in this sense. It is a process that seeks to
include all. We must open a dialectic peaceful struggle against the old
order, against corruption, drugs, and impunity to create a new ethical
We need order, discipline, and most definitely state authority.
We need a strategic and regulatory state. One that strengthens democracy,
human development and economic growth We reject the formulas of strong-arm
democracy and depotism. Our choices must be firmly rooted in the people.
Reform comes from the top, but peaceful revolution comes from the bottom.
After two centuries of a weakening economy Haitians, both men and women have
good reason to wish for a faster rate of growth. So many people have already
sacrificed themselves for this cause. People without work cultivate rational
patience, but they cannot wait forever. We understand this: they are asking
for only a minimum to live, and for the creation of a real state of law.
Building a state is a long process. Let us begin this task with courage,
together, with unity in diversity. Those who have been excluded until now
demand full participation. We must never move forward without them, or
against them. They are present in everything we do. Our people have courage
and a unique genius for survival. We must now move from survival to life.
We will do this through partnership between the public and private sector,
through strengthening the state of law and guaranteeing transparent and
sustainable policies. We will do it by guaranteeing justice for all,
transparency in all, and participation of all. Drawing upon our historical,
human, and cultural wealth, let us strengthen and regenerate the social
fabric of our nation.
Haitians are champions of the world at resistance. In 2004 we will celebrate
the peak of a Haitian renaissance. But already today, at the dawn of the new
millennium, we celebrate the first blossoming of this new era of a socially
just, economically free, and politically independent Haiti.