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8987: A Study in Democracy Enhancement's stated Objectives vrs. Realtiy (fwd)

From: kevin pina <kpinbox@hotmail.com>

Although written nearly a year apart, these two documents together are a 
study in the stated objectives of USAID's "Democracy Enhancement" versus the 
reality. A fascinating comparison certainly worth reading.

Excerpt from In the Aftermath of Invasion
By Jane Regan, in Covert Action Quarterly, 21 December, 1994

FULL TEXT AVAILABLE AT:    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/002.html


While the Aristide government is struggling to maintain some control over 
personnel and training for the new security forces, it has practically given 
up fighting U.S. development schemes and democracy enhancement projects. We 
realized we can't fight this huge machine, said a transition team 
member.(30) Behind closed doors, the U.S. Agency for International 
Development (AID), the World Bank, the National Endowment for Democracy 
(NED), and scores of U.S.-funded groups are institutionalizing a more 
permanent, less reversible invasion. The troops of this intervention called 
democracy enhancement by AID and low intensity democracy by others are 
technicians and experts. Their weapons are development projects and lots of 
money. Their goal is to impose a neoliberal economic agenda, to undermine 
grassroots participatory democracy, to create political stability conducive 
to a good business climate, and to bring Haiti into the new world order 
appendaged to the U.S. as a source for markets and cheap labor.

As in other countries, this democracy promotion industry will support those 
projects and people willing to go along with its agenda and will mold them 
into a center. In the crude old days, grassroots organizers unwilling to be 
co-opted would have been tortured or killed. Now, they will simply be 
marginalized by poverty and lack of political clout.

Sophisticated propaganda campaigns will set the stage for the demonstration 
elections that will bestow legitimacy on the project.(31) A month before the 
invasion, on August 26, in Paris, representatives of the Aristide government 
met with some of the major cogs in this U.S.-dominated machine: the World 
Bank, International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank and 
bilateral funders. The Aristide team verbally agreed to impose a neoliberal 
structural adjustment plan (SAP) that included the sale of public utilities 
and publicly owned businesses (euphemistically called the democratization of 
asset ownership ), liberalization of trade, and payment of debts. The 
agreement implied a reduction in already pitifully inadequate social 
services and an increasing reliance on non-governmental institutions and the 
private sector.(32) Asked if the plan would support a raise in minimum wage 
static since 1983 at about $1 a day AID chief Brian Atwood said: I don't 
think that this economy is ready to consider such measures.(33)

A transition team member said that demands by the World Bank and other 
funders go beyond a neoliberal economic structure and include a political 
agenda. The international funders hoped to see a government of 
reconciliation which would guarantee stability and a sound economic 
environment, *34 he said. In the context of Haiti, reconciliation is a 
codeword for sharing power with the people who engineered and supported the 
coup d'etat, and maintaining their ability to control much of the political 
and economic life of the country.


Like ICITAP police and military training, most of the financial aid will 
bypass the Aristide government. Not only those funds slated for SAPs, but 
also the almost $600 million earmarked for economic, governance and 
humanitarian projects will remain largely under U.S. control. A transition 
team member reported that when members of the constitutional government ask 
about or criticize AID projects, U.S. officials say: `It doesn't really 
concern the Haitian government.'(35)

Any hopes that the U.N. might intercede on Haiti's behalf dissipated when 
U.N. Development Program director in Haiti, Juan Luis Laraburre, resigned in 
May 1994, blaming pressure and restrictions placed on him by the most 
powerful states.(36) A more recent UNDP technician was more amenable to the 
U.S. agenda. The government has no absorption capacity, he explained. The 
best situation would be for the government to oversee the projects without 
having government employees do the actual work.(37) Under this arrangement, 
the monies will go straight to the private sector, non-governmental 
organizations (NGO), or local leaders and politicians chosen by AID and 
NGOs. The most important U.S.-based groups NED, the Washington-based Center 
for Democracy (CFD), the International Republican Institute and the National 
Democratic Institute are almost wholly funded by U.S. taxpayers. The key 
Haitian player the U.S.-founded and funded Programme Integre pour le 
Renforcement de la Democracie (PIRED) is headed by U.S. anthropologist and 
longtime Haiti resident Ira Lowenthal.


The bulk of PIRED's funds and the font of Lowenthal's influence is a $15 
million, five-year democracy enhancement project funded wholly by AID 
through the Alexandria, Virginia-based America's Development Foundation, a 
spinoff of NED. It has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into popular 
organizations, labor unions, peasant groups, foundations, and human rights 
groups linked to political leaders and parties.

PIRED has also promoted the U.S. asylum processing program, through which at 
least 60,000 grassroots militants were interviewed extensively about their 
activities, enabling the U.S. government to create a detailed database of 
the democratic movement which many speculate has been used for more than 
immigration matters. With PIRED's tutelage and cash, scores of labor unions 
and neighborhood groups have gone from demanding higher wages and denouncing 
U.S. imperialism to thanking Bill Clinton and promoting reconciliation.(38)

A $200,000 PIRED grant went to a foundation associated with Port-au-Prince 
Mayor Evans Paul, a strong proponent of reconciliation apparently being 
groomed by the U.S. to succeed Aristide. When Paul was reinstalled in his 
office by U.S. troops in October, Lowenthal was there, beaming. A mainstream 
newspaper noted with relief that Paul is very different from Aristide and 
that he has matured from leftist street agitator to statesman. In the same 
story, wealthy businessman and former coup-backer Gregory Mevs gave his nod 
to Paul and a U.S. diplomat said, There's no one on the horizon who can come 
near the guy.(39) Many are concerned that Lowenthal, who was also a frequent 
visitor to army general headquarters in recent months, has too much power 
over the millions being pumped into Haiti. In a confidential memo to U.S. 
lawmakers, an Aristide aide complained that PIRED should be taken out of the 
loop because it has been repeatedly involved in attempting to create 
political solutions through power sharing arrangements with the military 
regime.(40) Lowenthal is basically running the show, explained the 
transition team member. He is like the new governor of Haiti. All local 
programs go through him.


Excerpts from The United States Agency for International Development
Technical Notes from USAID's Global Center for Democracy and Governance
Fall 1995


Another plan. Another deadline. Another last chance. These concepts 
virtually define USAID/Haiti's $11 million Democracy Enhancement Project 
(DEP) since it was approved in May 1991. Democracy, which relies on argument 
and opposition, is by nature a disorderly business. But since 1991, 
democracy in Haiti has had to rebound from a difficult three-year period 
during which the country's military rulers thumbed their noses at the world; 
two major evacuations of USAID Mission personnel; and, the September 1994 
20,000-soldier-strong deployment of the Multinational Force (MNF) through 
"Operation Uphold Democracy," mounted in the declared interest of protecting 
democracy in the American hemisphere. Up until the MNF arrival, random 
killings continued at the rate of dozens a month, and Port-au-Prince became 
so dangerous that the streets were deserted. The thuggish junta expelled 
international human rights observers and announced a state of siege that 
resulted in greater military repression. Yet, it was a drama being played 
out in America's backyard, and one that radically altered project 
conditions, rendering most of the planned DEP activities impossible or 

Four years later, USAID/Haiti can be proud of a democracy success story in 
progress to which their program lent high visibility and key credibility to 
U.S. Government (USG) foreign policy. That is the compelling story that 
needs to be told.

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