Monday, April 02, 2007

BHRN Resolution on Cancellation of Haiti's Debt

In an earlier post, I indicated my intention to begin blogging on the work that groups such as the Bahamas Human Rights Network (BHRN) are doing to address the injustices faced by Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians in the Bahamas. Due to final exams and other pressing end of the semester business, I've not yet gotten around to that. Nevertheless, the pursuit of justice for Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians marches on and now it looks like I need to quickly post a few things or risk being left behind.

Below is a copy of the resolution that was passed at our last meeting, which I hope is self explanatory. Momentarily, I'll also post a copy of the press release that was issued on this topic. Maybe in another week or so, school stuff will slow down enough for me to be able to give a detailed overview of what BHRN is all about as well as some of the exciting initiatives they have in the works to address Haitian rights issues in the Bahamas.
Statement on Cancellation of Haiti’s Multilateral Debt
Issued by the Bahamas Human Rights Network
21 March 2007

The Bahamas Human Rights Network (BHRN) calls upon the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other lenders to immediately and completely cancel Haiti’s debts to their respective institutions. Likewise, BHRN calls upon the Bahamian government to exercise its international influence on Haiti’s lenders to facilitate immediate and complete debt relief.

In September 2006, the IMF gave much needed debt relief for Haiti by approving it for participation in its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) program that would also apply to its World Bank debt. This HIPC is a process contingent on Haiti’s compliance with specific conditions that will take at least until 2009 to complete. Similarly, this past weekend the Board of Governors of the IDB approved 100% debt relief for Haiti, contingent upon their compliance with the HIPC.

While these efforts are a step in the right direction, BHRN is concerned that Haiti’s continued economic distress over the next two or more years will have dire consequences for the Haitian people as they wait for the process under the HIPC to reach completion to become eligible for 100% cancellation. Meanwhile, Haiti will continue to pay $60 million per year to service its debt, money that would be better spent tackling Haiti’s dire health and education problems. Such economic distress can only continue to aggravate the existing social and political turmoil experienced in Haiti. BHRN believes that lack of funding to address these problems will result in the continued flight of Haitian migrants to neighboring countries such as the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and the United States.

Given that approximately half of Haiti’s debt was incurred through loans made to the Duvalier regime and other dictatorships that used the funds to finance lavish lifestyles and prop up repressive regimes, BHRN believes that it is an unconscionable policy to allow the people of Haiti to continue to suffer under weight of such debt.

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