Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Half-Hour for Haiti: Get Haiti Debt Cancellation Its Day on Capitol Hill

November 1, 2007

Update: Some good news to start: Dr. Maryse Narcisse, a leading public health advocate in Haiti, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Fanmi Lavalas party, was returned safely to her family Wednesday after being abducted on Saturday night. For more information, see One Lavalas Official Freed in Haiti, One Remaining (Haiti Information Project).

Unfortunately there has been no similar good news regarding abducted human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. His case has received more attention, from members of Congress, the press and the United Nations Mission in Haiti. Thanks to everyone who wrote to President Preval last month. If you have not yet written, there is still time to make a difference, see the previous alert.

We�ve picked up two more co-sponsors on H.Res. 241, the Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution: Representatives John Olver and Eliot Engel. Thanks to their constituents in Massachusetts and New York who made calls to their offices. Val Bryant, a Half-Hour for Haiti participant from Central Florida, is putting together a local team for Congressional office visits. If you are interested, send us an email, and we�ll forward it to Val. If you�d like to start a local action group in another area, let us know that too.

Coming Attractions: In Boston, Randall Robinson will deliver a lecture at Harvard Law School�s Institute for Race and Justice on November 8. Berkeley CA will host Building Democracy From The Grassroots: Report Back From Haiti on November 10. This year�s School of the Americas Watch Vigil (November 16-18, Ft. Benning Georgia) will feature a workshop by the Haiti Action Committee, and Haiti speakers during the main events.

This week�s alert: Is from the Haiti Reborn Project of the Quixote Center. Haiti Reborn is urging Rep. Spencer Bachus, one of the co-sponsors of H.Res 241- the Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution, and the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, to bring the bill to the full committee for a vote. They need your help on a letter to Rep. Bachus, especially if you are a leader of a faith community.

Dear friends,

We are seeking signatures on the following letter to be delivered directly to Representative Spencer Bachus next week.�� Some background:� H Res 241 calls for President Bush to use the influence of the U.S. to ensure the immediate cancellation of Haiti’s debts to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank.

Each of these institutions has agreed to cancel Haiti’s debts at some point in the future; after Haiti has completed the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative.� This means at least two -maybe three or more years in the future.� There are no guarantees.

H Res 241 was introduced in March of 2007.� It now has 65 co-sponsors and we are still working on that number daily.� We are hoping that we can press for a vote as soon as possible on this resolution – our goal is a vote before the end of this Congressional session!� Bachus is the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, and was one of the original co-sponsors of this resolution.� Barney Frank� – the current chair – was a co-sponsor on a similar resolution last year.� Though the politics of being a committee chair have led Frank not to take the lead on this resolution at this time, he would not block an effort by Bachus to do so.

We are hoping to get signatures from leaders from faith communities and others folks by November 6 so that we can deliver the letter to Bachus next week -hopefully Wednesday.

This is a letter for individuals – but please indicate any position you may hold with a faith community or other organization if appropriate.

Please send your signature to Tom Ricker at the Quixote Center at by mid-day (1:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, November 6.
Thank you,
Tom Ricker
Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

******Letter follows********
Dear Representative Bachus,
We would like to thank you for your leadership and your continued support for debt cancellation in Haiti and in other countries. Thanks to your leadership people of faith have successfully gained an unprecedented level of support for H Res 241 and the Jubilee Act. We are writing today to encourage you as the ranking member of the Financial Services committee to move H Res 241 to a vote as soon as possible so the people of Haiti will have the benefit of debt cancellation beginning this year.

Time is critical. If we act, we can bring life-saving debt cancellation to the people of Haiti now. As we write this, Tropical Storm Noel is threatening to damage what is left of this season�s crops that survived previous hurricanes. With only one percent of its original forest cover, and being the economically poorest country in the hemisphere, Haiti is the most vulnerable to disasters. Come harvest time, the majority of Haiti�s peasant farmers will have nothing to sell, and nothing to feed their families with.

Given this desperate situation, we feel there is a clear moral imperative for immediate, complete, unconditional debt cancellation � the kind called for in H.Res. 241. Now is the time. Haiti is scheduled to pay $57 million to the three multinational institutions party to the HIPC (debt-cancellation) initiative over the next year, with $62 million the following year (see table). There are other institutions that claim a debt from Haiti�s people, but these are Haiti�s largest creditors, they have begun the HIPC process, and they are covered by H.R. 241.





IDB$ 36,614,712$ 41,130,855$ 40,983,331$ 40,687,204
WB$ 19,607,990$ 20,004,180$ 20,931,210$ 21,246,040
IMF$ 785,400$ 785,400$ 785,400$ 785,400
TOTAL$ 57,010,110$ 61,922,444$ 62,701,951$ 62,720,655

While it may not be seen as much, a little money goes a long way. The Haitian government spent a mere $25 million in health care for 2005-6.

The resolution calling for immediate cancellation of Haiti�s debts (H Res 241) currently has 65 co-sponsors, including 14 members of the Financial Services committee, and two sub-committee chairs, Rep. Luis Gutierrez of the Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology subcommittee, and Rep. Eliot Engel, of the Western Hemisphere sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. People around the country have repeatedly mobilized to educate members of Congress and their staff on the consequences of debt, and are prepared to do so again.

Thank you for your courageous leadership on debt cancellation.

(initial signers)

Rev. William Callahan
Co-director, Quixote Center
Marie Dennis
Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Rev. David Duncombe, grassroots advocate
Bread for the World and Jubilee USA Network
Pat Pelham, Vice Chair
Board of Directors, Bread for the World
Tom Ricker
Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center
Carol L. Ries, SNJM
Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic Mission Centre
Kristin Sundell, M.Div.
Director of Advocacy and Organizing, Jubilee USA Network
Elaine Van Cleave, Volunteer District Organizer
Bread for the World, Birmingham, Alabama
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