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Haiti’s elections: Will the peasantry’s demands be taken into account?

By Djems Olivier

Translated from French for the Haiti Support Group by Charles Arthur

Port-au-Prince, 07 Dec. 05 [AlterPresse] --- Candidates for the presidency
largely ignored an invitation to meet peasants grouped in the Peasant Platform
for Food Security in the North-West (PPSANO) held in the capital on 30 November.

"We invited 31 political parties and presidential candidates but the majority
of them were conspicuous by their absence. This very clearly shows that they
are not going to take into account the peasants’ concerns," remarked Ernia
Massillon of the Regional Platform of Organizations from the Lower North-West

"Will this sector of Haitian society continue to be exploited by the
politicians who want to form the next government?", wondered the peasant activist.

Out of the 30 or so candidates and parties called to the meeting, only ten
turned up, of which three were presidential candidates. They were Reynold
Georges of ALAH, Himmler Rébu of the GREH, and Judie C. Roy of the REPAREN.

This forum, considered by some as a failure for the so-called ’political
class’, had the objective of presenting the concerns and demands of North-Western
peasants in relation to food security and sovereignty.

"Today, peasants want to involve themselves in the struggle to press home
their demands. They have the right to participate in the big decisions concerning
the whole country," said the agronomist, Allen Henry, the moderator of the

"We believe that it is important to make the country’s future decision-makers
aware of the problematic of development in the North-West," added Hudson
Michel who suggested that "opportunists are enriching themselves on the back of
the population’s poverty".

Thanks to the financial support of the humanitarian organization, ActionAid,
the PPSANO had been able to carry out a field study in the region, stated the
agronomist Huguenel Alézi. The coordinator of the ActionAid Haiti program
vowed to ensure the follow-up to these activities, the objective of which is to
guarantee the country’s food security.

According to the study, the majority of families in the region known as the
Far West live in sub-human conditions. Basic social services are not provided,
and the State is more or less nonexistent, yet the Lower North-West possesses
the potential and the means to permit it to initiate a genuine development
that could satisfy the needs of its communities.

A better exploitation of the so-called Three Rivers would enable a strong
agricultural productivity in the region, according to the study. The statistics
show that the water resources that could be tapped in the region are estimated
at 17,868,750 cubic metres per 43 metres of height, stated the Platform’s

The leaders of the PPSANO believe that, to develop the North-West, it is
necessary to irrigate more than 15,000 hectares of land for agriculture, to
resolve the problem of (lack of) electricity by using wind energy, and to provide
peasants with training.

"All sustainable policies, aiming for sustainable development in this region,
must have food security as their principal objective and must revolve around
the axis of agriculture and livestock, fishing and tourism," said the
organizers of the 30 November meeting. They also foresee the construction of basic
infrastructure at Môle Saint Nicolas.

"The studies show that Môle Saint Nicolas is a zone exposed to the wind that
the authorities could use for wind energy to electrify the region", revealed
Hudson Michel, who did not state his source.

The Lower North-West is composed of four communes: Môle Saint Nicolas, Jean
Rabel, Bombardopolis et Baie-de-Haine. The members of the PPSANO demanded
concrete actions to improve the region, where the coast is exploited, they say, by
Cuban, Dominican and Bahamian fishermen.

A first meeting with candidates and political parties has already taken place
in the departmental capital, Port-de-Paix. Out of 64 people invited, only 10
turned up.

In the Artibonite Valley, activities of the same sort have been organized by
the Mouvement Revendicatif des Paysans de l’Artibonite (MOREPLA), supported by
Oxfam Intermon. [do ca gp apr 08/12/2005 21:00]