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House vote imminent on Rep. Maxine Waters’ bill to cancel Haiti’s debt

March 7, 2010

by Michael Levin

In Haiti, people are scavenging building materials to use or sell. Because neither the people nor the government have the resources for relief or recovery, Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ debt cancellation bill calls for any new aid to Haiti to come in the form of grants rather than loans. – Photo: AFP
Washington – Legislation introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., to cancel all debt owed by Haiti to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other multilateral institutions was passed by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade during a markup on Thursday, March 4, following a subcommittee hearing on debt relief for Haiti. The legislation could be voted on by the entire House of Representatives as early as this week.

A longtime advocate for Haiti, Congresswoman Waters introduced the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act (H.R. 4573) shortly after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti.

“Haiti faces enormous challenges now, and the burden of paying off foreign debt would prevent the nation from taking necessary steps to help its people at this perilous time. I introduced H.R. 4573 so that Haiti can use its limited resources to make both immediate and long-term investments in essential humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development efforts,” said Congresswoman Waters.

H.R. 4573 requires the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. executive directors at the World Bank, the IMF, the IDB and other multilateral development institutions to use the voice, vote and influence of the United States to do the following:

1. cancel immediately and completely all debt owed by Haiti to these institutions;

2. suspend Haiti’s debt service payments to the institutions until the debt is canceled completely; and

3. provide additional assistance to Haiti in the form of grants so that Haiti does not accumulate additional debt.

On Feb. 21, 2004, eight days before he was forced out of office and out of Haiti by U.S. Marines, President Jean Bertrand Aristide speaks at a press conference flanked by his wife, Mildred, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The Presidential Palace, where they are standing, collapsed in the Jan. 12 earthquake. – Photo: Pablo Aneli, AP
H.R. 4573 also requires the Secretary of the Treasury to commence immediate efforts to urge other bilateral, multilateral and private creditors to cancel immediately and completely all debts owed by Haiti to such creditors.

The subcommittee also passed a Manager’s Amendment to Congresswoman Waters’ legislation offered by Subcommittee Chairman Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and drafted in conjunction with Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. The Manager’s Amendment adds a provision directing the U.S. executive director to the IMF to advocate that some of the excess profits from the sale of IMF gold, which Congress approved last year, be used to provide debt relief and grants to Haiti. The amendment also adds updated statistics on Haiti’s debts to the bill’s findings and makes other technical changes.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, owes $828 million to multilateral development institutions according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This includes $447 million to the IDB, $284 million to the IMF, $39 million to the World Bank and $58 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

Congresswoman Waters has previously helped Haiti and other poor countries obtain debt relief and just last year was instrumental in encouraging the World Bank and the IMF to cancel $1.2 billion of Haiti’s debt.

Congresswoman Waters said, “Haiti had been making progress since suffering extensive damage caused by a series of hurricanes in 2008. The government of Haiti successfully developed and implemented a comprehensive Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, under the direction of the IMF and the World Bank, in order to qualify for debt relief, and last year’s debt cancellation helped to move Haiti in the right direction. We must help Haiti continue to move forward despite the considerable obstacles it now faces, and this is only possible with additional debt cancellation.”

Congresswoman Waters traveled to Haiti this weekend, her second trip there since the earthquake, in order to assess relief and reconstruction activities. She is particularly concerned about the need to provide shelter to hundreds of thousands of Haitians whose homes were destroyed. Many Haitians are living outdoors in makeshift camps, but the rainy season will arrive soon putting them at greater risk. Congresswoman Waters has called on the international community to distribute durable tents to Haitians to help meet their immediate needs for shelter, and on her upcoming trip she will monitor the progress of efforts to provide tents.

Michael Levin, communications director for Congresswoman Waters, can be reached at

3 thoughts on “House vote imminent on Rep. Maxine Waters’ bill to cancel Haiti’s debt

  1. Pierre F. Lherisson

    When Aristide was telling the world about what should be done in Haiti,the Western propaganda machine tried to discredited him systematically. Mother nature echoed his grievances through the earthquake by showing the world that Aristide has been right.

  2. Malaika H. Kambon

    I echo the sentiments of Mr. Lherisson and add that persons such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters seem to be doing more for Haiti than her currently useless, u.s. puppet government w/ Preval as president.

    Would that Haiti’s only true President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, were not being deliberately blocked from returning to the land of his birth by the u.s., france, and canada; the UN MINUSTAH regime, and their flunky in Haitian skin, Rene Preval.

    I wonder how high on the hog he is living today – in a sovereign AFRIKAN nation whose people and lands have been devastated by an organized u.s. unnatural disaster?

    Is he starving and scavenging parts of buildings and leftovers to survive? Or is he fat and healthy, not missing any meals, not worrying about a roof over his head, like the latest set of invaders and occupiers – the u.s. 82nd Airborne troops, the Blackhawk (and other) mercenaries, and the already in place U.N. MINUSTAH forces & their quislings, the Haitian National Police?

    Congresswoman Maxine Waters and other serious people form around the world are doing more for Haiti than her currently invisible ‘government.’

    It is long past time to overthrow the imperialists leeching off of Haiti, which would thereby remove Rene Preval, the quintessential negro imperial lackey.

    War Without Terms,

  3. Malaika H. Kambon

    9 March 2010

    Just a couple of corrections to the caption underneath the AP wire service photograph by Mr. Pablo Aneli’s of Drs. Jean-Bertrand & Mildred Aristide, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters:

    1. When President and First Lady Aristide and their Family resided there,
    the Haitian Palace was not EVER a ‘White House,’ such as that in the U.S.

    2. The devastating set of earthquakes which have all but leveled Haiti began on 12 January 2010 – not 12 February 2010 as the picture states.

    We are nearing the 2 month ‘anniversary’ of the unnatural disaster that has occurred.

    War Without Terms,


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