Ban Ki Moon's statement on Haiti

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Ban Ki Moon's statement on Haiti

Post by Barb » Sat Aug 11, 2007 11:53 pm ... cleID=8715

By Ban Ki-moon
First Published: August 10, 2007
There may be worse slums in Haiti, but none so infamous for its violence and grinding poverty as Cité Soleil in the heart of the nation's capital, Port au Prince. Drinking water is scarce, public sanitation non-existent. Most of its 300,000 residents have no electricity; fewer have jobs. The neighborhood's mayor was blunt when I met him during my visit to Haiti last week. "Here," he said, "we need everything."

And yet, I also saw hope in Cité Soleil. At the mayor's offices, a new local government is putting down roots in a community it long ago abandoned. Across the street, I toured a newly refurbished school. Youngsters greeted me, excited by the prospect of resuming their education. Nearby, young men played soccer.
People struggle merely to survive in Cité Soleil. The irony of its name, Sun City, is cruel. Yet I was glad to see this lively bustle, these signs of normal life. Six months ago, there would have been none of this. Gangs ruled, terrorizing ordinary people, extorting money and destroying lives. Kidnappings were routine—nearly 100 a month. Even poor families feared to leave home, especially with children.

Last December, newly elected President René Préval asked the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti to do something. It did, with a decisiveness and efficiency that serves as a model of robust international peacekeeping. In an operation lasting six weeks, amid fierce firefights, UN forces took control of the slum. Roughly 800 gang members were arrested; their leaders have been jailed. The practical results are plain to see. In June, only six kidnappings were reported. Security has returned not only to the streets of Cité Soleil, but to the rest of the capital and other Haitian cities as well.

I saw other signs of progress. For the first time in a long while, Haiti today has a stable, democratically elected government, widely accepted across all strata of society and by all political parties. The economy is no longer in free-fall. Inflation has dropped to 8 percent, from 40 percent three years ago. The IMF projects growth of 3.5 percent this year--as opposed to negative growth for much of the previous decade. Thanks to new laws, tax revenues rose by a third last year. Just as President Préval took on Haiti 's gangs, so has he declared war on corruption, endemic to every sphere of life. This shows real political courage.

I am convinced that Haiti is at a turning point. Long the poorest country in the western hemisphere, seemingly forever mired in political turmoil, it at long last has a golden chance to begin to rebuild itself. With the help of the international community — and the UN in particular — it can. Haiti has seen five multinational interventions over the past decade. In each case, we left too soon, before real change could take hold. Or we let our efforts to help be too circumscribed — restricted, say, to merely trying to maintain security or supervise an election.

This time will be different. That is why, in October, I will ask the Security Council to renew the UN's mandate in Haiti for a term beyond the customary interval of six months. In clear language, I assured the Haitian government — and the people — that we intend to stay until our mission is accomplished, consistent with their wishes, for however long it takes.
Haiti is nearing the end of the first phase of its nascent recovery — that of ensuring peace and security. The second phase must focus on social and economic development. More than ever, Haiti needs our energetic help in building functioning civil institutions — beginning with the creation of an effective and honest national police force, backed by a reformed justice system.
I was therefore immensely encouraged that, in response to my visit, the Haitian Senate last week approved ambitious new legislation aimed at reconstituting an effective and independent judiciary and creating a legal climate more conducive to economic development and foreign investment. Without such changes, the trends of global commerce, finance and tourism will continue to pass Haiti by. I called on all sectors of Haitian society — the government, business and ordinary people — to commit themselves to work together for social change. Without their mutual cooperation, Haiti cannot advance.

Above all, the ordinary people of Haiti must see tangible evidence that they can look forward to a better future — starting now, not tomorrow. We must therefore assist the government in delivering what many call a "peace dividend." It's nothing grand, as our Brazilian force commander Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz explained to me. Yes, the people of Cité Soleil, like all Haitians, welcome the new peace on their streets. But more, he said, they need “the basics.” Water. Food. Jobs.
Of course, this is ultimately Haiti's responsibility. But it is ours to help achieve it.

Ban Ki-moonis Secretary General of the United Nations

Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

Post by Barb » Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:28 pm

I posted the statement by Ban Ki Moon in hopes of getting some kind of a response, as it seemed pretty contradictory to other things I have seen posted on the Haiti board about the role of the UN peacekeepers in Haiti.

My basic question about Hugo Chavez and Venezuela is how much of what is rumored to be going on there is factual and how much is B.S. and hopes for a left wing miracle. The talk is very exciting but does it ever get beyond the talk stage? Is anybody actually benefitting yet from Chavez's offers of Venezuelan oil or is all of that still in some rosy future.

I read the article Aragorn referred to. I wonder if Aragorn did or if he just skimmed it. It looked to me like a blanket damnation of cooperatives in Venezuela as they currently exist with a whole lot of suggestions for how to salvage at least some of the mess they have created. Once you get past the first couple of paragraphs, very little of what it talks about is positive.

These are sections from the article Aragorn posted above. Doesn't sound too positive to me.

The very high rate of cooperative mortality in the sector is a product–among other causes–of having started many cooperatives without having first proven their viability by means of corresponding socio-economic project proposals; of the reduced capacity of administration of most of the people involved in them; and of the fact that they were capitalized exclusively with the economic contribution of the State and were not forced to take into consideration the means of commercialization of their products and services.

We are aware that–just as during the sixties–people again feel the call of "the cooperative myth," according to which it is supposed that merely with the presence of a single cooperative one has the key to solve a socio-economic problem, without taking into consideration that to create a cooperative many times can be the source of a true problem.

It is a certain fact that most of the cooperatives in operation today are of very small dimensions, they are located fundamentally in the area of services, many of them are doing activities of the public sector, in areas of reduced profitability, with a high component of manpower of low qualification, and with scanty technological content.

With few exceptions, they suffer from weak management due to such factors as not having structured effective managerial teams, having serious problems with the financing–sustained and growing–of their operations, lacking stable sources of supply of their raw materials and, most important, no efficient channels to commercialize their products.

While some cooperatives function as such, it is lamentable the widespread use that has been made of them to obtain generous public financing that is granted to cooperatives under special conditions for the director's personal use; for the unfair benefit of public sector contract preferences or tributary benefits, while at the same time avoiding labor obligations and the social security of the workers, making their working conditions precarious.In numerous other cases, a political party role is given to the cooperatives as the local agents to implement plans and programs unilaterally directed by the government, and exclusively for its benefit. In this way, enormous public resources are wasted in groups of people that through precarious cooperatives, assume populist programs that are neither profitable nor sustainable.

On the other hand, the Venezuelan Law of Cooperative Associations diverges from the universal principles of cooperation that throughout the world identify a cooperative enterprise, allowing the existence in the country of false cooperatives that are legal. Indeed, the law proclaims like a principle that the economic contributions of the members should be equal instead of fair; it allows different forms of voting instead of "one person one vote", and it accepts the distributing of surpluses in proportion to the contributions.

The law also lacks indispensable standards regarding different types of cooperatives, which impedes the description of its operating specifics and, most crucially, of the specific services that each cooperative provides to its members. Equally, it lacks the minimum standards that guarantee a legitimate decision-making process.

The clause which obligates all employed workers of the cooperative to become members appeared to be a great social advance. It makes their remunerations of a non-salary character, irrespective of what type of cooperative it is, removing them from the sphere of the labor legislation. However, in many cases the same workers refuse to do so because they fear to lose–indeed they have lost–social benefits consecrated in this legislation. Also, this takes away from the judicial bodies the knowledge of the controversies that cooperatives can have, and it subjects them in a binding way without appeal (except to nullify) the reconciliation systems and arbitration of the cooperative movement that, by the way, have not been constituted.

Whereas one of the cooperative principles is collaboration amongst cooperatives, the total disintegration of thousands of cooperative enterprises demonstrates that they are acting in isolation and alone. Their failure is due not only to their lack of economic strength, but also to this sector's lack of social strength and labor union, which is not compatible with its quantitative dimensions.

Although the existence of numerous supervisory bodies has been reported (more than 100) it seems that, except for a few exceptions, most of them are only a formality, since they do not seem to respond to the interests and needs of their member cooperatives, rather they mostly represent the State and resemble mechanisms of political control.

It is an undeniable truth that the Venezuelan State has amply financed cooperatives, at least those created during the present government, for its own purposes, personal or political. Furthermore, it seems to have been done in excess, and this has, among other effects, produced almost a complete dependence on public financing and the absence of the members' own economic contributions. Besides reducing the sense of ownership of the members, this violates one of the cooperative principles.

On the other hand, in spite of the importance that the government grants to cooperatives, we observe the low or nil participation of the same cooperatives in public planning and/or the execution of socio-economic policies, plans and programs that concern them. It appears as if the cooperatives have nothing to say or propose, and are limited to merely carrying out public policies.[/quote]

Cooperatives are a great idea in theory. Unfortunately, the major flaw in them is human nature. It is extremely difficult for a group of people to cooperate selflessly in a successful economic venture over a long period of time. Cooperatives tend to be short lived, unstable, unprofitable, impractical and a pain in the neck. People lose interest, don't contribute their fair share, cheat, get mad, get into power struggles, take their marbles and go home. Government sponsorship opens an even bigger can of worms.

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