The Guardian 31 August, 2005

Haiti’s nightmare
Act now against World Bank’s lies

The World Bank recently posted an outrageous statement on Haiti on its website. It is one of the most amazing whitewashes of all time, totally misrepresenting the plight of the people of Haiti. Guardian readers are urged to sign and circulate the following letter to the World Bank.

Respond with signatures to Tom Ricker, For organisations — please include name of signer, title, and organisation name. If listing organisation solely for identification, please note that. If you do not have access to the internet then contact the Communist Party of Australia at 74 Buckingham St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010; phone 02 9699 8844 with your details. The petition is also available on the CPA’s website, with footnotes, not published below.

Paul Wolfowitz, President
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433U.S.A.

Dear Mr Wolfowitz,

We, the undersigned, write in response to the World Bank’s recent statement on Haiti.

On July 27, the World Bank posted on its web site an article titled "Haiti: One Year Later"

[1] that grossly misrepresents the current reality in Haiti.

To lead readers to the article, the World Bank posted a banner headline at the top of its home page reading: "Haiti’s Recovery, A Year of Progress" and the teaser: "New schools, roads, and jobs are among the achievements of the Interim Cooperation Framework, Haiti’s economic, social and political recovery program." This is an inexcusable whitewash of the terrible nightmare that most Haitians have suffered through since their democratically elected government was overthrown on February 29, 2004.

Haiti’s economic situation remains dire. The country’s GDP declined by 3.8% during the last fiscal year, which ended September 2004, and there is little evidence to suggest that there has been substantial improvement since then. The past year has been one of sharp decline in living standards for the vast majority of Haitians. The Haitian people have had to endure arbitrary, politically motivated detentions by the state, police violence including extra judicial killings (particularly directed towards residents of Haiti’s slums), and a sharp increase in kidnappings, rapes, and murders. Under the interim government of Haiti human rights conditions have deteriorated so dramatically that United Nations Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno stated at the end of June that "Haitians in Cap Haitien Šare in [a] worse situation than some of the IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] I saw in Darfur."

[2] The Bank touts "recruiting 2,300 new police officers" as one of Haiti’s achievements since the coup. It is well known that former members of death squads and of the military, which was disbanded by Aristide in a widely popular move, have been reincorporated into the police. According to the Catholic Institute for International Relations, many members of the Haitian National Police (HNP) have "links to the previous military or have been involved in drug rackets, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings or other illegal activities."

[3] Since the incorporation of former military personnel in its ranks the HNP has been accused of numerous human rights abuses from a variety of sources including: the Bureau of International Lawyers, the Center for the Study of Human Rights at the University of Miami School of Law, the Harvard University Law School Advocates for Human Rights, and Amnesty International.

An investigation of human rights in Haiti published in January 2005 by the University of Miami Law School Center for the Study of Human Rights found Cité Soleil and Bel Air (two of Haiti’s largest slums) to be under siege by the HNP and UN forces. The report found that UN forces and Haitian police enter these neighbourhoods, which are filled with supporters of the elected former government and the Famni Lavalas political party, and mount violent attacks that routinely kill residents. The report also described numerous attacks on unarmed demonstrators and residents of these neighbourhoods by the Haitian police including the shooting of unarmed demonstrators in downtown Port-au-Prince on September 30, 2004[4].

Cases of summary executions of unarmed civilians have also surfaced. Haitian police are accused of executing 12 young men on October 25, 2004 in Fort Liberte and 5 men on October 27, 2004 in broad daylight in Delmas.

[5] The Bureau of International Lawyers has documented eyewitness accounts of summary executions of at least 32 unarmed people by the police between October 2004 and February 2005.

[6] The security situation is not improving, due in part to collaboration between UN and police — in fact, the situation has been made worse. A July 6, 2005 raid in Cité Soleil left at least 23 people dead (including women and children). According to residents who witnessed the raid, UN troops were the chief perpetrators of the violence.

[7] Although the UN initially denied reports of unarmed civilian deaths, it later admitted to this possibility and announced an investigation.

Currently hundreds of political prisoners are being detained throughout Haiti.

[8] Haiti’s two most high profile political prisoners are former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and more recently Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a popular Catholic priest. In both cases these men were arrested for crimes despite an apparent lack of evidence of their involvement. Yvon Neptune was charged with allegedly orchestrating a massacre of anti-Aristide protestors, which to date the government has not been able to prove actually occurred. Father Jean-Juste, who has been an outspoken supporter of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and a critic of the present government, was illegally arrested without a warrant on July 21, 2005 for supposedly murdering a journalist whose death occurred while Jean-Juste was himself abroad.

[9] Amnesty International has declared Jean-Juste to be a prisoner of conscience and has raised a "health" and "legal concern" over Neptune, urging the interim government to "abide by its own constitution" and grant Neptune a fair trial.

[10] The UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdes, has also called for Neptune’s release.

[11] The World Bank reports that Haiti’s interim government is "launching an ambitious electoral registration process". The Bank’s claims were at odds with the findings of a report the International Crisis Group issued the next day, which found that only one-fifth of eligible voters — some 870,000 people — had been registered by July 29, none had yet received their new national identity cards required for voting, and only 327 registration centres were open.

Because of deficiencies in the electoral process and the violent repression of many of its members and supporters, Haiti’s largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, is boycotting the proposed elections. But the Bank gives only the unelected government’s view of the situation.

The Bank also misrepresents the economic situation in the country, painting a picture of economic progress since last year’s coup. The article cites the creation of "tens of thousands of jobs". But since the labour force has been growing by 60,000-80,000 people per year, it is not clear that the jobs cited have even been enough to keep Haiti’s massive unemployment rate from growing (some two-thirds of the population do not have formal employment).

[12] The World Bank’s whitewash of Haiti’s dire situation is especially troubling in light of the Bank’s own role in helping to topple Haiti’s democratically elected government by "suspending aid, under vague ‘instructions’ from the US", according to Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

[13] We call upon the World Bank to cease taking sides in Haiti’s civil conflict, and to conduct an independent investigation into its own role in helping to destabilise the prior elected, constitutional government.


Bill Fletcher, President TransAfrica Forum
Tom Ricker, Co-Director Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center
Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Director Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Olivia Burlingame-Goumbri, Director Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA) Haiti Action Committee
Ira Kurzban, Attorney Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger & Tetzeli, P.A.*
Noam Chomsky, Professor Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
Paul Farmer, M.D. Partners In Health*
Cynthia Rose, Partners in Health
James Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church
Stella Goodpasture, OP Justice Promoter, Dominican Sisters of Mission, San Jose, CA
Diana Bohn, Co-coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action
*Organisation for identification purposes only


[1]Found at,,contentMDK:20594578~pagePK:BR>

[2] Heinlein, Peter. UN Peacekeeping Chief: Haiti Worse than Darfur"

Voice of America. June 28, 2005 Url:

[3] Catholic Institute for International Relations. "Haiti: free and fair elections unlikely as security worsens." August 2, 2005.


[4] Griffin, Thomas. "Haiti: Human Rights Investigation, November 11

21, 2004" Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law, 2005, pg. 9.

[5] Ibid, pg. 10.

[6] Lindsay, Reed. Among Haitians, Police Are Seen As a Deadly Force.

Boston Globe, February 27, 2005, Pg A15.

[7] Buncombe, Andrew. Peacekeepers accused after killings in Haiti,

29 July 2005. See also Haiti Information Project, "UN ‘peacekeeper’ in Haiti accused of massacre," July 13, 2005.


[8] Griffin, Thomas. Haiti: Human Rights Investigation, November 11-21, 2004
Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law, 2005, pg. 12.

[9] Amnesty International. Haiti: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Gérard Jean-Juste (m), aged 59, Catholic priest" July 25, 2005


[10] Amnesty International. Haiti: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Gérard Jean-Juste (m), aged 59, Catholic priest" July 25, 2005; Amnesty International. Haiti: Health concern/legal concern, Yvon Neptune. May 6, 2005.


[11] Delva, Joseph Guyler. U.N. envoy in Haiti wants jailed ex-PM released. Reuters. June 24, 2005.

[12] Data from CIA World Factbook,

[13] Sachs, Jeffrey. "The Fire This Time in Haiti was US-Fueled" in Taipei Times, March 1, 2004

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