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9106: Haitians Fear Fall in Living Standard Amid U.S. Woes

From: kevin pina <kpinbox@hotmail.com>

>From: kevin pina  <kpinbox@hotmail.com>


Haitians Fear Fall in Living Standard Amid U.S. Woes
By Ives Marie  Chanel
Article Dated 9/22/2001
From:  The Black World Today

PORT-AU-PRINCE, (IPS) - Ten days after terrorist attacks left more than six 
thousand people dead or unaccounted for in the United States, Haitians 
continue to worry about how the events will affect life in this country 
heavily dependent on the U.S. economy.

Export-oriented assembly plants and remittances from Haitians living in the 
United States are the major sources of income for this small Caribbean 
nation of eight million.

In 2000, Haitians living in the United States sent back some 699 million 
dollars. Although foreign aid has slowed to a relative trickle, it still 
accounted for 193 million dollars last year, according to the Haitian 
central bank.

U.S. aid topped more than a billion dollars in 1994, when Jean Bertrand 
Aristide was returned to the presidency, but has been all but cut off 
because of a more than year-old electoral crisis here that has resulted in 
political gridlock.

The central bank, in a report, concedes that ''the prolonged political 
crisis has been a major obstacle to the release of the foreign aid necessary 
for development and investment projects''.

Minister of Foreign Cooperation Marc Louis Bazin noted Tuesday that 
recession in the United States could affect Haiti's assembly industry.

''The American economy appears to be undergoing a gradual recession, with 5 
percent of its workforce unemployed. The recent events will increase 
unemployment in the United States, and will undoubtedly have an impact on 
the purchasing power and consumption of Americans. As a result, there will 
be fallout for the assembly industry here'', he said.

Haitian assembly factories, which employ more than 20,000 workers, last year 
exported 245.1 million dollars worth of clothes and electronic equipment to 
the United States. In 2000, this industry accounted for 7.2 percent of the 
gross domestic product (GDP).

Haiti raised a further 7 million dollars last year by exporting mangoes to 
the United States.

''Increasing unemployment in the United States will mean that Haitians will 
only be able to send money abroad for emergency situations, such as 
funerals, marriages, and other familial obligations. With a climate of fear 
and uncertainty in the United States, Haitians will lose even more 
confidence in their country's economy, and will no longer make long term 
investments, such as in real estate'', Bazin said.

''The economy has been stagnant since the 1980s. According to not-yet 
official figures, we expect this year's growth rate to be zero or below 
zero'', said Ansy Pierre Louis, the central bank's vice governor.

Investors are claiming bankruptcy. All sectors of the economy are calling on 
the government and opposition parties to resume the negotiations they broke 
off more than a month ago so a solution to the political crisis can be found 
and foreign aid can again begin to flow.

Twenty hours after the attacks on the United States, Haiti's currency, which 
already had been rapidly losing value, fell by more than 4 percent. Monetary 
authorities said the drop was at least in part explained by the freeze on 
commercial flights between the United States and Haiti, which prevented 
Haitians living in North America - and their money - from returning home for 
a visit.

The United States is considered here as a haven for Haitians of every 
economic stripe. New restrictions in U.S. immigration policy will have 
serious repercussions for the families back home of undocumented Haitian 
workers living in the United States.

Even among legal U.S. residents from Haiti, the toll could be severe. ''The 
loss of jobs that has already occurred in the airline and hotel industries 
will have a considerable impact on the Haitian community,'' said Jocelyne, a 
New York-based nurse who spoke with IPS after the attacks.

More than one million Haitians and Haitian Americans live in the United 

As this country's main daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, wrote in its Sep. 11 
edition: ''We cannot help but be affected given the number of Haitians 
living in the United States and depending the way we do on the health of the 
American economy for our daily bread''.

Supporters of Haiti's present government consider President George W. Bush 
to be an enemy of Aristide, primarily because the military coup that toppled 
Aristide in 1991 occurred during the Republican administration of Bush's 

Nevertheless Aristide, the opposition, and foreign diplomats participated 
this week in religious services in memory of the victims of the terrorist 

Meanwhile, members of parliament have criticised Haitian consulates in the 
United States for poor management after they were unable to provide any 
information concerning Haitian citizens who may have been killed or were 
missing in the wake of the World Trade Centre attack.

Some fifty Haitian nationals worked at the complex dominated by the Centre's 
twin towers, according sources close to New York's Haitian community. The 
consulate there has so far reported that five Haitians appear to be missing.

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