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Namphy Announces Decentralization Program

July 16, 1988

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Haitian leader Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy decreed on state television Friday night what he described as a decentralization program aimed at helping the poor.

Namphy said the National Bureau of Small Projects Coordination Program, led by a coordinator and 77 advisers, is aimed at encouraging the poor to ″be the artisans of their own destiny″ by taking part in local decision-making.

The bureau will coordinate small-scale development projects, such as the building of latrines, wells, lower-class living quarters and repairing roads.

Namphy ousted President Leslie Manigat after only four months of civilian rule in a coup on June 19.

His plan is highly similar to the development program Manigat outlined in his platform, calling for decentralized decision-making and self-help projects in the countryside.

Namphy said in his 10-minute speech Friday,″The government has decided to implant a dynamic administrative structure ... in accordance with the demands of the population.″

Namphy added that Haiti’s social inequalities are ″clearly unacceptable.″

Most Haitians earn less than $300 a year each, making this Caribbean nation of 6 million the poorest in the Americas. Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

The general said his program ″calls for the direct participation of everyone. This form of decentralization is a school for democracy.″

The decree says the bureau’s mission ″consists in facilitating the voluntary participation of the rural population by identifying their needs, defining priorities and executing small projects selected by the executive.″

In a speech in June in which Namphy announced his intention to do away with the constitution overwhelmingly approved by Haitians in March 1987, the general said Haitians were too poor to enjoy democracy.

″It is obviously illusory to think that the full enjoyment of . .. rights and liberties is possible in the context of absolute poverty in which nearly 70 percent of the population of the country is vegetating,″ he said then.

Friday’s decree was the second major one since Namphy took power last month. On July 12, the government abolished the death penalty, though it had already been abolished in the 1987 constitution.

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