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9654: Interest on debt - Antoine responds to Allen. RE: 9645 (fwd)

From: GUY S ANTOINE <guyantoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

Dr. Allen,

I particularly welcome your informative response to the Corbett list,
challenging a basic tenet  of one of the questions I raised earlier, that
is Haiti's repayment of interest on loans not received.  I have heard it
from several sources, but not in an official capacity.  Perhaps, it's
just a very bad rumor.  This needs to be established as true or false
one way or the other.  If this turns out to be false, some would see
it as egg on my face.  I do not see it that way at all.  Let everyone
know this: I  think that it is abysmally wrong for the IMF or any other
international banking institution to impose on Haiti repayments of
interest on funds that have not been disbursed, and if that turns to
be false, well........CHEERS!  I would indeed be very glad if it never
were so.  However, I have been alerted by another source that
Haiti is not a special target, that in fact this is standard IMF policy
under which all other underdeveloped countries labor.  More and
more interesting...

Dr. Allen, I am glad you raised the challenge in a constructive manner,
compared to some demeaning notes I have received from people who
feel the need to tell ME that Haiti should learn to do for itself and that
we should not continue to beg, as though I was advocating such. I don't
believe that "humility" is particularly a virtue in these circumstances as
you seem to attest (borrowers are not necessarily beggars). I do believe
however that the rules of the game should be respected, as well as
challenged, when need be.  Care should always be exercised to fairly
explain those rules to our base of taxpayers who have historically carried
the burden of such debts.

Every one on this list and out should benefit from an authoritative and
final answer to this puzzle of interest to be paid on loans not received.
I am not the first one to have heard this concern. While I cannot establish
its absolute veracity, from where I stand, I would not be so quick to
dismiss it either. (Michelle Karshan, what's the word from the GOH?
IMF experts or employees on this list, what's the word?  We are dying
to know...)

What follows is one source where this interest paying has been
discussed (in a holy forum, no less) :

National Catholic Reporter
115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111
The Peace Pulpit
Homilies by Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton

By special arrangement, The National Catholic Reporter Publishing
Company is able to make available Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton's

October 21, 2001
* A longtime national and international activist in the peace movement,
Bishop Gumbleton is a founding member of Pax Christi USA...

(The following is just an extract of the homily.)

"The first situation that comes to mind today is the country of Haiti.
It so fills up my whole heart. I've just come back from Haiti, as you
know, together with three other people from our community. We
spent Monday to Friday in Haiti. And there we saw again, as you
know from those of you who have gone before who were in a
delegation or from what you have heard about Haiti, the worst
poverty you can ever imagine. This is the poorest country in our
hemisphere. Here you have people truly symbolized by that widow,
people without rights. They have rights as human beings, but these
rights are not recognized. They are people who are totally vulnerable,
people who are desperately and absolutely poor.

"They need God's justice. They need people who have enough
confidence in God's way of justice and will reach out to these poor
vulnerable people and try to find a way by which they can be lifted
up. That their lives can be transformed and changed and that they
can enjoy the blessings of this world that God has given for all and
not for a few.

"What is happening to the poor of Haiti seems almost unbelievable.
In fact, I would not doubt that some would be skeptical that this
would really be the case. "This poorest country in our hemisphere,
back in 1994, was promised when President Aristide returned from
his exile after the coup that had taken place there in 1991, that it
would receive 500 million dollars of international assistance so that
the people could rebuild their country. That people could start up
an economy that would provide jobs. That people could live with
dignity and could begin to move, as President Aristide says about
the people of Haiti, from absolute misery to poverty with dignity.
That they could at least have that.

"But you know what? They have never received a penny of the
500 million dollars. Not one penny -- because the United States,
which controls the decisions of the international development fund
where the money would come from, has continued to insist that
Haiti is not ready to receive the money saying they would not use
it effectively.

"Even this past spring, when President Aristide met with a group
of 32 countries in the Caribbean and the head of the international
development fund, he was told that Haiti has met every requirement
for getting the money. And yet the United States still says no.

"What makes this even more unjust is that he was forced to pay
$5 million in interest on a loan that they have not received. In
meeting with him, he said with great sadness, I really had to struggle
with whether I should handover the $5 million or not, because we
could use that money for so many other things. But the head of the
international development fund said they must pay the interest or
they will never get the money. So they turned over $5 million in
interest for a loan that hasn't even been given to them. Now that is
an injustice that cries out to God for some kind of settlement.

"The people of Haiti are the poor, the vulnerable, the weak. We
are the judge. What are we going to do to try to make justice come?
That the poor are lifted up, that they receive in this case what is really
due them, that Gods reaching out to help the poor is realized through
us. We have to find the way.

"One of the things we came back with, the four of us in the delegation,
was a conviction that we have to begin to work to get our government
to change its policies. All of us have to participate in this kind of
so that our government does not press down against the poor and crush
them but rather lift them up and bring real justice to these people.

"So that's one very clear example of how we must change ourselves as
the judge in the parable and work for justice truly and especially for the

Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti