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7826: re: 7785: The Gourde, or, Money in Haiti (fwd)


After reading his note on the "Haitian Dollar" vs. "Real" (i.e. U.S) Dollar 
vs. Gourde, I cannot help bringing a clarification or two to the attention of 
Mr. Lyall:

i.  There is no mention of any value of the gourde anywhere in the 1987 
Constitution, much less a "guarantee(d) exchange rate of 5 gourdes for one US 
dollar," as he writes.

ii. In fact, the sole use of the word "gourde" in the entire 298 articles of 
that Constitution is found, unless my eyes skipped over something, in Article 
6, which reads as follows:

         "The Monetary Unit is: The Gourde.
           It is divided into: Cents."

iii. Indeed, contrary to older Haitian currency, which used to explicitly 
state that (I paraphrase here) the bill was redeemable at the Central Bank of 
Haiti at the full face value of 5 gourdes for one US dollar, 
post-Constitution bills merely state: "In conformance with Article 226 of the 
Constitution of the Republic of Haiti" -- an clear recognition, even before 
the de facto regime's worsening of the situation, that there was neither any 
legal obligation, nor any practical way to have a 5:1 gourde.   

iv.  The Article 226 referred to on all present Haitian currency  deals not 
with their dollar-equivalent, but with the legal authority to issue money: 
"The Central Bank is invested with the exclusive privilege to issue  ... 
bills representative of the Monetary Unit, divisional money (i.e. coins for 5 
cents, 10 cents, etc.) ... as set by the Law."

So as much as I had absolutely no love for the de factos, don't lay this one 
at their doorstep alone. For except for the almost two years (April 1986 to 
February 1988) when Leslie Delatour served as Minister of Economy and 
Finance, when the gourde appreciated from approximately 6.25 to the US dollar 
back to 5.25; then for his three-plus years as Governor of the Central Bank 
(December 1994 to February 1998), when the gourde again strengthened from 
about 18:1 to 14.5:1, the gourde has steadily lost value due to the 
irresponsible fiscal and monetary stewardship of every other government since