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Haiti Appoints Free Market Economist as Prime Minister

May 4, 2008

Haiti Appoints Free Market Economist as Prime Minister

From Haiti Liberte, via Haiti Analysis:

Preval was also pressured to choose Ericq Pierre by several visiting foreign officials such as Alain Joyandel, French Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), and Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

...Pierre also eloquently expressed his technocratic vision when he said: "There is no reform of the left or the right, there are only necessary reforms." The greatest outcry against Ericq Pierre's nomination may come from the Haitian people themselves. The uprising that began of April 3 and swept away Alexis was not just against food's high cost but against neoliberal austerity policies in general. In this light, Pierre's nomination is likely to provoke more anger and demonstrations in the weeks ahead.

Canada's Response? Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine Bernier stated that his government "welcomes this first step in forming a new government in Haiti, in keeping with the provisions of the Haitian constitution."

First step? As if the Haitian people had never elected their own governments before. Wasn't the appointment of Jacques Edouard Alexis back in 2006 the "first step in forming a new government?"

In fact, the Canadian government was among the countries, along with the US and France, that took the "first step" in forming this current government in Haiti when it aided in the military removal of Haiti's elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 2004. To them, Haiti has always been a wayward child, especially when it has had governments chosen and elected freely by its people. Jacques Edouard Alexis, due to his former Lavalas credentials, was certainly never popular in Ottawa, and was in fact barred from entering Canada during Haitian President Rene Preval's visit in 2006.

Apparently, the choice of a former Inter-American Development Bank economist, although perhaps the pragmatic candidate for Preval's hogtied government, is Haiti's best hope of entrenching the free market reforms that have begun to take hold since 2004, particularly the downsizing and privatization of Haiti's telephone company, the potential privatization of Haiti's ports, and the beginnings of international corporate interest in strip mining in Haiti's comparably lush northern region. These reforms have lately done little to develop prosperity in Haiti and, in the case of the Teleco privatization, have had the effect of causing large-scale job loss within a country whose unemployment rate stands at around 70%.

It remains to be seen what the response will be in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

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