Coming Attractions: Tomorrow, March 29, is the 30th anniversary of Haiti’s Constitution. Several grassroots groups will protest at the National Palace for the full implementation of the Constitution. We hope to have photos and a report-back tomorrow on the Haiti Justice Blog. The Latin America Solidarity Coalition Conference in Chicago, April 13-15, will include several Haiti activities, including workshops on bringing Haiti into the mainstream of Latin American Solidarity work and on violence against women. Peasant activist Bolivar Ramilus will address the plenary.
This week’s action: 70% of survey respondents said we should target U.S. officials more. We’ll start right away with the Jubilee USA Network’s call-in day for debt relief, tomorrow, March 29. The Haiti Debt Relief Resolution needs co-sponsors, it has only 8. The same bill had 65 co-sponsors last year, so many of these Representatives just need a few phone calls to get it up on their radar screen.
Please also download HR.241 postcards to Congress, created for a Haiti Justice Committee of Minnesota event last week. There are four to a page, just make copies on cardstock, cut them and pass them out at your church or solidarity group. For more information, and toolboxes, see www.JubileeUSA.org, or the debt relief section of www.HaitiJustice.org.
Make A Call Worth $138 Million for Haiti
Today March 29 marks the 20th anniversary of Haiti’s constitution, a significant milestone in the decades-long struggle for democracy and respect for human rights. This day is being observed by groups in Haiti and internationally. We invite you to join this effort by contacting your member of Congress TODAY to urge them to support a House resolution that would immediately cancel Haiti’s debt!
The Haiti debt cancellation resolution ( H.Res. 241) urges the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and other international financial institutions to completely cancel Haiti’s debt without delays!
Last year, Haiti was added to the World Bank and IMF’s list of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) eligible for debt cancellation, just after the election of new president Rene Preval. But under the harmful economic conditions of the World Bank and IMF’s debt relief program, Haiti will not see this relief until 2009 at the earliest by which time the country will have paid $138 million in debt service to these institutions. This is money robbed from children drinking contaminated water and growing older without learning how to read because of inadequate resources for education, health care, or other social sector spending. H.Res. 241 was introduced March 13 by Representative Maxine Waters along with Representatives Spencer Bachus, Donald Payne, Luis Gutierrez, Carolyn Maloney, Barbara Lee, John Conyers, and William Delahunt, and will urge the World Bank, IMF, and IDB to immediately and completely cancel Haiti’s debt.
Haiti’s debt is both unpayable and unjust. Nearly half of the country’s $1.3 billion debt was accrued under the Duvalier family dictatorship and used to finance the Duvaliers’ lavish lifestyle and support their brutal, 29-year rule. The Haitian people continue to pay interest on these loans of a clearly odious nature. This is money that could be used to invest in health care or education in a country where almost a quarter of children under five are chronically malnourished and only 35% of students are able to complete primary school. From 2007-2009, Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is projected to pay $138 million in debt service. This is nearly double the amount Haiti spends annually on health care. Immediate cancellation of Haiti’s debt would allow the country to stop paying interest on odious debts and free up much needed resources for the country to invest in health and education.
Contact Your Representative if You Haven’t Already!
You can help Haiti achieve immediate debt cancellation without delays or strings attached by calling your Representative and asking them to co-sponsor the Haiti debt cancellation resolution in the House ( H.Res. 241). To co-sponsor the resolution, your Representative should contact Representative Maxine Waters’ office at (202) 225-2201 — Representative Waters helped introduce this resolution along with seven other Members of Congress. If your Representative has already co-sponsored the resolution, please call to thank them and ask that they support the re-introduction of the JUBILEE Act.
This Haiti resolution garnered 65 co-sponsors in the last session of Congress, and we want to ensure it passes this year. To find contact information for your Representative, visit http://www.house.gov/writerep . To find out whether your Representative has co-sponsored this resolution, see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.res.00241 : For more information see: www.jubileeusa.org or www.ijdh.org
Phone Script to call your Member to cancel Haiti’s debt!
My name is XXX and I support debt cancellation to release resources to fight poverty in Haiti. I am calling to encourage Representative XXX to co-sponsor H.Res. 241 which would immediately cancel Haiti’s debt.
Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere. Close to one in four children are chronically malnourished. There are only 2 doctors for every 10,000 people. Haiti needs debt cancellation to pay for social services like education, hospitals, and medicines.
The Haiti debt cancellation resolution urges the World Bank, IMF, and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to completely cancel Haiti’s debt without delays. To co-sponsor H.Res. 241 please contact Kathleen Sengstock in Representative Maxine Waters’ office at (202) 225-2201.
Thank you for your time!
For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per week, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.