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Context of 'March 2004: New Government in Haiti Cuts Funding for Social Programs'

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In Haiti, International development agencies implement short-term, labor-intensive job programs, focused primarily on road construction. According to agronomists interviewed in late summer of 1995, the programs are undermining local agricultural production and long term sustainable development programs. “In the middle of planting season, a large number of peasant farmers in the northeastern town of Vallieres abandoned their land to begin working in the areas with one of these projects,” agronomist Harry Noel explains. And in Artibonite Valley, revenues from levies on the irrigation pumps dramatically decrease when the job programs siphon off its labor supply. “Efforts over the years to create communally-managed irrigation systems have failed in just one season because of the job programs,” explains Volny Paultre, agronomist and consultant to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). [Inter Press Service, 9/4/1995]

Entity Tags: Volny Paultre, Harry Noel

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Haiti uses more than 90 percent of its foreign reserves to pay $32 million in debt service to its international creditors, requiring Aristide’s government to end fuel subsidies and slash spending on health and education programs. Haiti’s debt is of dubious legality, however, as the London-based Haiti Support Group explains: “Haiti’s debt to international financial institutions and foreign governments has grown from $302 million in 1980 to $1.134 billion today. About 40 per cent of this debt stems from loans to the brutal Duvalier dictators, who invested precious little of it in the country. This is known as ‘odious debt’ because it was used to oppress the people, and, according to international law, this debt need not be repaid.” The debt payment increases public dissatisfaction with Aristide’s administration. [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003; CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; London Review of Books, 4/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

The new Haitian government halts funding and other support to Haiti’s popular organizations (“OPs”) which oversee literacy programs, food and shelter programs, and orphanages. [Griffin, 4/11/2004 pdf file]

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Rodrigo Rato, the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), urges oil producing countries to save the extra revenue generated from high oil prices. Venezuela, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, shuns the advice and continues to use its oil revenue to fund literacy, health, and other social programs. In addition to the money that Petroleos de Venezuela, the country’s state oil company, contributes to the government, the company directly funds and administers another $3 billion in social projects. [BBC, 11/24/2004]

Entity Tags: Venezuela, International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

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