Aristide's Accomplishments

from the essay

Hunger Plagues Haiti and the World

by Stephen Lendman, May 2008


Aristide's second term [2001 - 2004] was more challenging than his first. Haiti was nearly bankrupt, its social and economic programs severely compromised by extorted concessions, media propaganda was intense, and from his inauguration to ouster paramilitary pressure was building.

In spite of it and his damaging mistakes, Aristide's accomplishments were remarkable:

* his government built and renovated health clinics, hospitals, dispensaries and improved medical services; Haitian medical students were trained in Cuba; a new Haitian medical school was established in Tabarre and provided free medical education for hundreds of Haitians; Cuba also sent Haiti about 800 doctors and nurses to supplement its meager 1000 or so total;

* education was targeted in addition to medical training in Tabarre; FL implemented a Universal Schooling Program; new primary and high schools were built, including in rural areas; thousands of scholarships were provided for private and church-run schools; schoolbooks, uniforms and school lunches were subsidized; a national literacy campaign was undertaken and from 1990 - 2003, illiteracy dropped from 65% to 45%;

* there were human rights and conflict resolution achievements, including criminal justice reforms; special children's courts were established and the nation's youths got real legal protection; measures were also adopted to reduce exploitation of children;

* for the first time, women got posts as prime minister, finance and foreign minister, chief of police and unprecedented numbers won parliamentary seats;

* the hated military was abolished as already mentioned;

* unprecedented free speech, assembly and personal safety were achieved;

* the minimum wage was doubled;

* land reform was initiated;

* thousands of jobs were created;

* new irrigation systems supplied farmers with water; rice yields (Haiti's main staple crop) increased sharply;

* many thousands of Caribbean pigs were distributed to farmers;

* efforts were made to collect unpaid taxes from the rich and business elites;

* hundreds of community stores sold food at discount prices;

* for the first time ever, a Haitian government participated in discussions with Venezuela, Cuba and other Caribbean states to discuss US-limiting regional economic strategies, including cooperative trade; and

* low cost housing was built, and more in spite of enormous constraints, bare bones resources, the country nearly bankrupt, and an administration targeted for removal by overwhelming internal and external force.

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