Haitian peasant organizer speaks
Bruce Gagnon, FCPJ
Even though President Aristide is back in power in Haiti, the future looks uncertain. This was the message delivered by Haitian activist Yvette Michaud, an organizer with the Peasant Movement of Papay, who spoke in Gainesville on October 25 at an event organized by the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice.
The Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) has been in existence for 22 years but was a main target for repression by the military regime that overthrew Aristide after he was elected president of Haiti in 1990. Only since Aristide has returned to power has the MPP been able to put their organization back together.
The grass-roots group has created seed coops for tree planting in order to reverse the alarming soil depletion problem that has come from deforestation on the island. The MPP is also concentrating on creating small scale commerce to help create badly needed jobs.
In a country where the rich pay virtually no taxes (Haiti Trans Air has not paid taxes during the last five years), Michaud told the Gainesville audience that Aristide has virtually no funds in the government to help the poor.
"The World Bank structural adjustment plan is putting pressure on Haiti to privatize all government functions," Michaud said. If this is carried out, "It will take away the rights of Haitians to make decisions."
As part of the U.S.-brokered agreement that brought Aristide back into power, he must leave office at the end of his term, even though he spent well over half of his time in exile. Michaud stated that she fears "The rich will impose a para-military government if honest elections are not allowed."