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|First published February 15, 2001|
|A dangerous theater drama in Haiti|
|By YVES A. ISIDOR|
Cambridge, Massachusetts - Like many of his previous speeches, Haiti's radical leftist Jean-Bertrand Aristide's February 7th so-called inaugural presidential speech had all the makings of a terrific theater drama.
As frustrations over the country's deplorable economic conditions were increasing, in addition to its long multitude of political problems, among Haitians, radical leftist Aristide's speech, however, was again broadcast on Tuesday, February 13th, on Haitian national television and radio.
Three radical leftist Aristide's so-called experts, all members of his newly created Bureau of the Presidency, had plenty to say about the speech, which since last week its contents have also been the subject of favorable discussions by other lunatics and fanatics alike, going as far as terming it "the speech of the century."
The so-called experts, who seemed to have never been enrolled even in a basic economics course, were: Mario Dupuy, Luc Especa and a woman named Yolene Surena. The latter sounded more like someone who could barely read than the medical doctor she was said to be.
Radical leftist Aristide promised to create 500,000 jobs over the next five years, they said. An explanation, however, as to how and where he will obtain the start-up capital from to pay for the cost of those jobs was never provided.
Though Haitians are often thought to venture into the ocean only after they make the decision to flee the country's abject poverty and radical leftist Aristide's thugs, with Miami as their final destination, still, 140,000 jobs will be created in the primitive-type fishing industry. An inventory, if any, of the current number of fishing boats and the physical condition in they were in, were not communicated to the very few Haitians who turned their radio and television sets on for the circumstance.
|A said soon-to-be Hilton hotel.|
Another 10,000 jobs will be created in the wooden craft industry. But a study of the demand schedule and curve will most likely indicate the quantity of craft goods (luxuries) that will be demanded by consumers, both foreign and domestic, during a given time period, say over the next five years, will not go upward, even if prices were to substantially go downward.
There are reasons to anticipate that demand for wooden craft goods, too, will decline. The current underemployment and unemployment rate of 85 percent (estimated) is most likely to go upward, as the very few investors who remain in the country, from retailers to car dealers, for example, continue to minimize their inventories or flee the country because of both rampant petty crimes and politically motivated crimes, further reducing the country's aggregate income and tax collection.
For example, one of the major investors and professionals to have fled the country after enduring political persecution, as the Haitian government became more tyrannical, is Dr. Reginald Boulos.
The destruction of the remaining few trees, while there is no plan to immediately plant new ones, to increase the supply of craft goods, will certainly lead to added-soil salinity, further reducing the country's food production capacity while a brief study of the demand and supply curve will suggest demand for food consumption is increasing at a fast pace, resulting also from an increase in population, now estimated at 7.8 million people.
The multiplying effect will certainly be added-famine (Haiti, where average citizen uses less than 50 kilograms of oil equivalent energy per year, is the third hungriest country in the world after Somali and Afghanistan, said a recently United Nations report), in addition to major health problems, further reducing the small number of available qualified workers. As a result, the overall social and economic costs will be exorbitant for a country that cannot even now address basic social and economic problems, which are not limited to both rampant petty crimes and politically motivated crimes, and diseases. The country's currency, the Gourde, has long lost most of its buying power (32 percent from end-September 1999 to mid-September 2000), when compared to the U.S. currency that is the dollar.
There was also a promise to build an additional 7,000 hotel rooms. But Haiti's tourist industry has long been dead like Vladimir Lenin, with the exception the preserved body of the latter is still on display in a Moscow's Mausoleum.
Even if Haiti were able to increase its hotel's room capacity by building 7,000 more units over the next five years their would certainly be no return on investment, rather an unpleasant lost in the fiscal years to follow, especially during radical leftist Aristide's illegal term in office.
There are valid reasons for this, which no one needs to be an economist to know.
Haitians cannot recall the last time their residences were illuminated for more than four hours a day, suggesting that Thomas Edison's revolution has yet to really take place in the Caribbean country.
Also, fears of contracting diseases have long kept even a significant number of Haitian-Americans away from Haiti. The country's healthcare system remains in shambles. There is only one doctor for 7,500 people. As for hospitals, there is only one bed for every 1,179 people.
Nearly all of the country's very few paved roads are impassable during the rainy season.
Access to safe drinking water is another indicator of the extent of Haiti's problems, suggesting that foreign tourists will not venture into such a country.
Even with a massive public relations campaign, the above painful issues suggest foreign travel agencies will continue to refuse to include Haiti in their clients' vacation itineraries. Only a few missionaries and journalists (far from being enough to achieve an equilibrium between supply and demand) will continue to, but occasionally, visit Haiti.
The lack of a well and sound fiscal policy, including monetary, suggests Haiti will remain a low-income country (under $700 per capita) or the poorest country in the Americas, as poverty ravages its citizens.
Creating 500,000 jobs, as radical leftist Aristide promised, entails more than simple arithmetic. With an estimated 85 percent illiteracy rate and very few high school graduates who can barely read and write there isn't enough of a qualified work force for serious foreign investors to even express interest in moving their business operations, say from the U.S. to Haiti.
Sure a democratic opposition leader, the Rev. Fito Regis, from the island of Gonave, was right when he said Tuesday, February 13th, radical leftist Aristide's speech was the equivalent of the great French philosopher Lafontaine's fable, Le Corbeau et le Renard or The Crow and the Fox.
Like hundreds of other Haitian democratic opposition leaders had done before him, the Rev. Regis urged his fellow Haitian compatriots not to believe in radical leftist Aristide's empty promises, which he also called "traps."
Yves A. Isidor teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and is spokesperson for We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, a Cambridge, MA-nonpartisan political pressure group.
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