Originally: “HAITI: IDEAS FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT”
INTER-AMERICAN DIALOGUE CONFERENCE
“HAITI: IDEAS FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT”
MARCH 13, 2003 – WASHINGTON D.C,
1. GOVERNANCE AND INSTITUTIONAL PROBLEMS
Solution to the Political Crisis
When one considers the positions of the international community, of the Haitian democratic opposition, of the students organizations, and of the Haitian civil society in general, a logical conclusion is that there MUST be a solution to the political crisis before any actions can be undertaken to even begin to reduce the continued deterioration of social conditions and to alleviate chronic poverty in Haiti. OAS resolution 822 offers the framework for a possible solution. It is now up to the OAS to decide how it will respond to the non-compliance with the resolution on the part of the Haitian actors.
Since actions by the opposition and the Civil Society were predicated upon the application by the Haitian authorities of certain clauses of 822, it appears that at this time the OAS is faced with four options: 1) wait as long as it takes to see if the Haitian government will live up to its commitments regarding the resolution; 2) vote a new resolution; 3) keep on sending missions to Haiti; and 4) In concert with the international community at large and vital forces in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora, come forth with an imposable scenario to end the unbearable suffering of the Haitian people, in conformity with the “Responsibility to Protect” a population in danger, without infringing upon the right of the Haitians to self-determination. (Reference: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty).
Regarding the formation of the CEP and the holding of elections, one thing is certain: there is no lasting solution to the crisis without democratic, free, and fair elections. However, as long as the institutions of the country, particularly the Police and the Judiciary are under the control of the party in power, allowing for persecution of dissenting voices by supporters of the government, there will be no security and there will NOT be enough confidence for non-lavalas candidates to participate in the elections, even with the presence of foreign monitors. (Reference: recent statements by Louis Joinet, David Lee, and Human Rights Organizations). This is also the consensus coming today from leaders of the democratic opposition, civil society, religious organizations, women groups, and the Haitian public at large. Looking back and revising statements made by different leaders over the 1986-1990 period, one can now recognize the incredible truth that the December 1990 presidential elections, contrarily to what was expected to happen in the aborted 1987 elections, were in fact won by the faction that projected no firm belief in free elections as a fundamental part of the democratic process.
Overview of Proposal for Political Reforms
The organization of flawed or fraudulent elections under the constitution of 1987 started to handicap good governance in Haiti since 1995 (Reference: Reports by the Carter Center as well as by the International Republican Institute – IRI). An already bad situation was made worst with the polls of 1997 and 2000. Grossly fraudulent elections like those witnessed in Haiti’s recent history sow the seeds of discord within the population. They create the kind of frustration, which, when gone unsolved for too long, fosters social instability. In order to bring Haiti on the path of socio-economic progress, the chain of fraudulent elections must be broken, by creating, as a first step, conditions that are conducive to full participation in the electoral process.
Oftentimes Haitians complain about the high number of political parties within the political system. Whether this is warranted or not, many think that the plethora of political parties is part of the problem. People are free to have as many political parties as they want. However, as long as there are not two, three or even four major parties that can clearly make a difference and stabilize the system, the political cacophony will continue. In order to address this problem, I would like to make the following proposal:
• All the political parties or coalitions of parties that had fielded candidates for at least 30 percent of available seats during the aborted May 2000 elections will receive an equal financial support from the state during the upcoming democratic, free and fair elections.
• The three parties or coalitions of parties that will have received the most votes in the upcoming elections will receive a budgeted financial support from the state over the next ten years following the elections.
Those measures should help establish a viable party system in the country, with two to three major parties.
Overview of Proposal for Public Security and Judicial Reforms
Public security and an adequately working judicial system constitute another key requirement to put Haiti on the path to socio-economic progress. It is possible to devise a security plan that would increase the safety of Haitians in their homes, in their offices, on the streets, on the major roads or wherever they might be in the country. A practical scenario to reform the judicial system, particularly through the elimination of corruption, would accompany such a plan. Professional and efficient police work should help bring down the crime rate that has skyrocketed in Haiti in recent years. In so doing, the police would fulfill its important role as the auxiliary of the judicial system.
Until a de-politicized police force can effectively ensure public security, the OAS Special Mission to Haiti has received the mandate to “improve security conditions relating to political activity” by providing “assistance in the development of mechanisms and procedures to ensure the security of all political parties, their officers and candidates, as part of creating a propitious climate for future elections in the country”. This is a noble objective assigned to the Special Mission. However, as international analysts and Haitian political leaders (Haiti Democracy Project and MDN/MPSN) have been noticing recently, the Mission cannot fulfill this objective with one hundred police monitors. There must be “a force of some 2,000 to 3,000 election security monitors” to supervise the disarmament of the so-called “popular armies” and to create the “propitious climate for elections”. Furthermore, it would be worthwhile for the international community to consider assisting Haiti in setting up a national security force responsible, among other things, for the protection of the integrity of the national territory, considering the pervasiveness of drug transit routes throughout Haiti, at the borders, and in the territorial waters.
2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC VISION (in the framework of a dynamic public/private sectors partnership)
FIVE SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES:
• Build up the social infrastructures: healthcare, education, sanitation, social housing, drinking water, and social safety net.
• Build up the economic infrastructures: roads, telecommunication, energy, ports and airports (Including the protection of public investments through the creation of a “Service for the Maintenance of Public Works and Public Equipments).
• Create jobs and generate revenues in the different regions of the country through a decentralized framework.
• Reduce Poverty, promote sustainable development and protection of the environment, and accelerate the process of national and regional integration.
• Create an environment conducive to investments for the purpose of increasing national production by, among other things, promoting human resources development and fighting corruption.
3. GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
SHORT TO MEDIUM TERM
• Environmental protection and production of cash crops (Tropical Fruits / Reforestation).
• Revitalization of the Assembly Industry and Handicraft.
• Modernization of the public enterprises that have already been identified.
• New investments (local, foreign, and expatriate Haitians).
• Creation of a network of small and medium scale enterprises in the different regions of the country.
• Modernization of the economic structures by promoting reforms and entrepreneurial activities in key sub-sectors:
? Establishment of the national land register.
? Enactment of land reform through the regrouping of farmlands.
? Provision of equipment and small agricultural machinery to farmers under rent or sale contracts.
? Provision of agricultural credit under preferential conditions.
? Construction of lakes and ponds in rural areas for agricultural purposes.
? Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
? Promotion of Animal Husbandry.
? Promotion of Building Materials (cements, bricks and marbles).
? Promotion of Agribusiness, including the conservation or the transformation of fruits and vegetables.
? Promotion of Metallurgic and mechanic industries.
? Promotion of Pharmaceutical industries including the industrialization of medicinal plants.
? Promotion of Vegetable Oils.
? Promotion of Essential oils.
? Promotion of Textile and clothing products, especially for the Assembly Industry.
? Promotion of Tourism, with special emphasis on attracting Haitians living abroad.
? Promotion of New Information technologies.
? Promotion of Insurance, Banking and other Financial Services.
? Promotion of Private Consulting Firms.
? Promotion of Sport, Art, Music and Folklore.
? Promotion of Transportation Enterprises.
Overview of Proposal for Growth Opportunity Through the Production of Tropical Fruits (Reforestation)
The grim socio-economic conditions of Haiti call for firm strategic decisions to be made now so that as the population reaches the 20 million predicted by the end of the next two decades, the country may be able to cope with the exigencies of the global economy. About 60 percent of Haitians live in the countryside, farming lands that are 95 percent eroded. Sixty percent of the total land area has slopes greater than 20 percent.
To remedy this situation, I would like to propose that the 60% of mountainous and denuded area, that is around 1.6 million hectares, be reforested with tropical fruit trees. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “demand prospects for tropical fruits other than bananas are expected to be favorable over the next decade (the fresh fruits included in these projections are pineapples, mangoes, avocados and papayas). The projected global average annual growth in demand for the four fruits would range from 3 to 4.5 percent. Compounded over ten years from a base period of 1993-1995, import demand would increase by an average of 40 percent by the year 2005”. Haiti exports annually around 14,000 metric tons of Francis Mangoes (a unique variety, available only from Haiti). Specializing in tropical fruits production could give Haiti an edge in the global tropical fruits market, which promises to reach into the tens of billions of dollars in the decades to come.
4. SOCIAL IMPROVEMENTS
Overview of proposal for social improvements
The social conditions in Haiti can improve enormously through a partnership between the state and potential homeowners in the lower classes. The proposal for social improvements includes the creation of modern villages where modest houses can be built in both rural and urban areas. The only cost from the state in this program would come in the form of logistical and technical support. Such assistance from the state would allow the citizens who would participate in the program to reduce by about 2/3 the cost of building a decent home. This would create the kind of environment that would facilitate the dispensing of services such as education, healthcare, public security, telephone, electricity, running water, leisure, and marketplaces to the vast majority of people who are now scattered over the countryside without any of those services.
5. WAYS AND MEANS
• Reallocation of national resources based on fiscal discipline and relentless fight against all forms of corruption.
• Renegotiation with the international community (Bilateral and multilateral) of a new program of cooperation with emphasis on accountability, regular reporting, and the respect of norms and procedures when awarding contracts and in all public procurements.
• Reduction in all non-essential expenses in government activities including purchasing of luxurious vehicles and travel abroad.
• Fiscal reform based on the simplification and rationalization of the revenue collection system and continuous fight against corruption.
• Systematic channeling of financial resources from expatriate Haitians (about $500 million a year) to foster growth in the motherland economy.
• Strengthening of international cooperation with our traditional partners particularly the International Financial Institutions
• Increased revenues in the Framework of Disciplined Fiscal Policy and an enlarged tax base.
• Fight against all forms of corruption and frauds in revenue collection and public procurements.
• Continuation of external cooperation with our traditional partners
• Continuation of the channeling of financial resources from expatriate Haitians
Overview of proposal for the opportunity to generate financial resources from expatriate Haitians by an expense advisor.
The goal would be to generate resources, potentially $500 million a year, to finance the development program of the government through the sale of “Development Coupons” to expatriate Haitians. Approximately 2 million Haitians live and work abroad. The program would target at least 1 million of them for one visit per year to Haiti. Haitians abroad would be encouraged to buy at least one “Development Coupon” each year to use during their visit to the motherland. The coupon would give them access to an array of transportation and other courtesy services from the time they land at the airport to the time they leave. A private firm would be contracted by the state to manage this program.
In concluding, it is essential to reiterate that the success of all the ideas proposed in this paper requires the existence in Haiti of the rule of law, equal justice and security for all, efficient management, fight against all forms of corruption, dynamic public/private sector partnership, and good governance under the leadership of a team of civil servants whose integrity, experience, and competence are well-established. What Haiti needs today from the international community is not only humanitarian or financial assistance, but a real commitment as in 1994 to help us put an end to an unacceptable situation, which is rejected by all the vital sectors of the country.
Leaders of the democratic opposition demand a change, the civil society demands a change, religious organizations demand a change, women groups demand a change, the workers unions demand a change, students organizations demand a change, the peasants organizations demand a change, the Human Rights organizations demand a change, and the Haitian public at large is waiting for a change. Nevertheless, I must also clarify that those who are asking for change are divided into two groups; the more radical ones wish the immediate departure of the president while the other group would like a change in the governance of the country, a change that will bring security, justice, and development as long as we have a government led by an independent Prime Minister willing to assume the responsibilities given to him by the constitution.
It is important to remember that according to the 1987 constitution, the head of the government is not the president, but the Prime Minister. It is my opinion that the view expressed by those in the second group might open a window for a possible solution to the crisis. The imposable scenario I talked about earlier could come in the form of the view expressed by the second group. The entire country is open to those who want and can help us organize credible, free and fair elections, institute the rule of law, equal justice and security for all, and realize the disarmament of the gangs. Let us all hope that something positive along this line can be done soon before our beloved Haiti slides into situations comparable to what happened in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Kossovo, or Liberia.
*This paper centers on the main points of the conference’s agenda and it presents only an outline (in some cases a brief overview) of subjects that are developed more fully in a proposal on Haiti.
GERARD R. LATORTUE