Garry Conille: The Neo-Liberal Pedigree of Haiti Latest Prime Minister Nominee
By Kim Ives
It is a common misconception, both in Haiti and abroad, that the country’s president holds executive power. In fact, his main power is to nominate the man or woman who does: the Prime Minister.
President Michel Martelly, after shunning consultations with the heads of Parliament’s two chambers (as the Constitution demands), saw his first two hard-line nominees – Daniel Gerard Rouzier and Bernard Gousse – rejected by the Parliament, which must ratify the candidate. This stand-off set off alarms in Washington, which saw the President it had shoe-horned into office still floundering without a government over three months after his May 14 inauguration.
Published in the English page of this week's issue of Haiti Liberte, August 31, 2011, Vol. 5, No. 7. You can read the current issue online at www.haitiliberte.com. There, you can also subscribe.
But now, following interventions by the U.S. Embassy (see accompanying article by Yves Pierre-Louis) and UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton with Martelly and Parliamentary leaders, a “compromise” nominee has emerged: Garry Conille, Clinton’s chief of staff in Haiti. Barring any surprises in the all-important background documents, Conille’s ratification is all but assured.
Garry Conille, 45, is the son of a Serge Conille, who was a government minister under the Duvalier dictatorship. He graduated from the Canado highschool in 1984 and trained as a doctor in Haiti’s State University Medical School. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Health Policy and Health Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He then became a protege of economist Jeffrey Sachs, who runs the liberal Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. Sachs is often credited as the father of the “economic shock therapy” that was applied to formerly Communist countries in Eastern Europe after 1989. The “therapy” involved privatizing publicly owned industries, slashing state payrolls, dismantling trade, price and currency controls, in short, the same neoliberal “death plan” policies which Washington and Paris have sought to apply in Haiti over the past 25 years.
Sachs apparently had second-thoughts about the policies he spawned after their disastrous effects on working people and began to propose poverty alleviation, particularly through the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which were put forth in a September 2000 United Nations summit of 191 nations. The eight goals, to be achieve by 2015, included targets to “reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half,” “achieve universal primary education,” and “reduce infant mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-fourths” and “stop the spread of pandemic diseases.” To report on how to achieve these goals, Sachs directed ten “Task Forces” of the UN’s Millennium Project, which according to its website included “researchers and scientists, policymakers, representatives of NGOs, UN agencies, the World Bank, IMF and the private sector.”
It is in this MDG work that Conille became one of Sachs’ collaborators (he is an adjunct research scientist at the Center for Global Health and Economic Development of Sachs’ Earth Institute). In May 2006, Conille co-authored with Sachs a set of recommendations to the incoming administration of President Rene Preval that called on the Haitian government to “establish a clear and consensual path out of poverty, that builds upon outreach to the business community,” the same “business community” which had responded to democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s proposed “path out of poverty” with a bloody 2004 coup. (In fairness, Sachs and, according to sources who have spoken to him, Conille opposed that coup.) They also called on Haiti “to reach agreements with the IMF and World Bank on a new three year development program,” the same international banks whose “development programs” have been underdeveloping Haiti for decades.
Principally, and not surprisingly, the prescription of Conille and Sachs was for “Haiti to establish a development strategy and implementation plan consistent with achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”
African economist Samir Amin submits the Millennium Development Goal strategy to a withering analysis in the March 2006 issue of Monthly Review. “A critical examination of the formulation of the goals as well as the definition of the means that would be required to implement them can only lead to the conclusion that the MDGs cannot be taken seriously,” Amin writes. “A litany of pious hopes commits no one. And when the expression of these pious hopes is accompanied by conditions that essentially eliminate the possibility of their becoming reality, the question must be asked: are not the authors of the document actually pursuing other priorities that have nothing to do with ‘poverty reduction’ and all the rest? In this case, should the exercise not be described as pure hypocrisy, as pulling the wool over the eyes of those who are being forced to accept the dictates of liberalism in the service of the quite particular and exclusive interests of dominant globalized capital?”
Amin takes special aim at MDG # 8: “Develop a global partnership for development.”
He responds: “The writers straightaway establish an equivalence between this ‘partnership’ and the principles of liberalism by declaring that the objective is to establish an open, multilateral commercial and financial system! The partnership thus becomes synonymous with submission to the demands of the imperialist powers.”
Writer Naomi Klein, the author of the best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” also points to the contradictions of Conille’s mentor in a 2007 interview with Oscar Reyes in “Red Pepper Magazine.”
“A lot of people are under the impression that Jeffrey Sachs has renounced his past as a shock therapist and is doing penance now,” Klein explained. “But if you read [Sachs’ book] ‘The End of Poverty’ more closely he continues to defend these policies, but simply says there should be a greater cushion for the people at the bottom.” In fact, “This is really just a charity model,” Klein concludes. “Let us be clear that we’re talking here about noblesse oblige, that’s all.”
So this is what Conille represents: the liberal wing of the U.S. bourgeoisie as represented by Sachs and Clinton.
When Dr. Paul Farmer, now acting as Clinton’s deputy UN Special Envoy, embarked on his new role in 2009, he had to put together a team. “Jeff Sachs helped me try to recruit Garry Conille, a Haitian physician schooled in the ways of the UN, to head the team,” Farmer writes in his just published book, “Haiti After the Earthquake.” “But Conille was otherwise occupied, the UN told us.” At that time, Conille was the UN Development Program’s Resident Representative in Niger. But then, two months ago, he became Clinton’s chief of staff with the title “Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Haiti.”
As Samir Amin points out in his MDG analysis: “The United States and its European and Japanese allies are now able to exert hegemony over a domesticated UN.” It appears likely that they will also be controlling a thoroughly domesticated Haitian prime minister.
Garry Conille's Nomination as prime minister: Washington put its foot down!
By Yves Pierre-Louis, Haiti Liberte, August 31, 2011, Vol. 5, No. 7
After Parliament’s rejection of two prime ministers nominated by President Joseph Michel Martelly, various sectors in Haiti and the so-called "friends of Haiti" began to express their concern about the president’s inability to appoint a successor to the currently resigned Prime Minister, Jean Max Bellerive. Martelly’s outright refusal to negotiate and divvy up government posts with the Parliament’s majority political platform led the country into a political stalemate for more than three months. President Martelly and his team apparently did not understand the principles of power-sharing, and this has opened the door yet again to the meddling of imperialist and neo-colonial foreign powers.
So, on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 24, six senators from the Senate’s “Group of 16,” controlled by former President Rene Preval’s Inite party, met with U.S. diplomats led by U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten. After that meeting, the Senators would not utter a word to the press. They were apparently holding state secrets to which the Haitian people had no right.
However, two senators who did not participate in the meeting, Wenceslass Lambert (South East) and Jean Hector Anacacis (West) made some remarks. According to Senator from the Southeast, the U.S. officials wanted to convey the White House’s concerns about the political crisis that has been growing in Haiti for months. In other words, they wanted to know what was blocking the ratification of a Prime Minister.
Lambert said that the Senate’s majority was willing to advance the ratification process, once all the political conditions are met. He invited the President to designate a non-confrontational figure, open to dialogue, to lead the next government: “The president gets trapped on a slippery slope, believing that he can circumvent Parliament,” Lambert said. “He has his constitutional powers, and we have ours. He must respect his limits. And we will never allow him to name by himself all the 42 heads of Haiti’s diplomatic missions abroad, and he will never appoint alone all the 36 director generals and 18 ministerial posts while the platform on which the president has been elected has only three deputies out of 99.”
According to Anacasis, the ratification of the next head of government was the main topic on the agenda of the discussion with the U.S. Ambassador. He said the parliamentarians expressed their willingness to help to unblock the situation as soon as Michel Martelly recognizes that he cannot go it alone and accepts to share power.
Civil society organizations close to President Martelly have expressed their deep concern about the current political, economic and social crisis eating away at Haiti’s republican institutions due to a lack of leadership and poor governance by the country’s current leaders.
"One hundred days after the installation of a new President, the Executive and the Legislature have failed to reach a political compromise to set up a government and begin to provide a solution to serious social and economic problems facing the country: stagnation, reconstruction, resettlement of people living in tents, increased insecurity, the population’s vulnerability to threats from natural disasters, enhanced economic decline, persistence of extreme poverty, the inability of the vast majority of parents to cope with the demands of school,” wrote 14 organizations including Rosny Desroches’ Civil Society Initiative (ISC), the late Jean-Claude Bajeux’s Ecumenical Center for Human Rights (CEDH), and Citizens Action (AC).
“So far, no clear and transparent mechanism has been presented to the public on how there is going to be free and compulsory schooling. The President of the Republic is supposed to guarantee the proper functioning of institutions under the Constitution, instead of spreading himself thin by traveling to chase hypothetical benefits; he should focus primarily on negotiations with the Parliament to choose a Prime Minister and dialogue with the economic and social forces of the country, to promote growth, create trust and implement effective and harmonious actions on major issues of the nation. What the country expects as a priority from the Head of State is the formation of a government, the promulgation of the amended Constitution, the installation of the High Council of the Judiciary and the Permanent Electoral Council, the appointment of judges missing from the Supreme Court, the elections in November to renew a third of the Senate and to elect local authorities. Most of these tasks could be carried out even in the absence of a government. That's where we judge its performance. >From this point of view, the first 100 days are far from being a success. The president must prevent the country from sliding into an institutional and political crisis, which would be sure to aggravate the already precarious social and economic situation.”
Meanwhile, Haitian popular organizations are demanding through the various forms of protest the departure of the UN occupation forces, not only because they have defiled the Haitian people’s national sovereignty, but because they have interfered in Haiti’s internal affairs, they have committed multiple criminal and immoral actions, and they are the true propagators of the cholera epidemic that has already killed more than 6,000 Haitians. These organizations also demand resolution of the crisis at the largest hospital in the country, the State University Hospital of Haiti (HUEH), commonly known as the General Hospital, the publication of the law on school fees to help parents during the school year, the construction of decent housing for victims of the January 12, 2010 earthquake who are threatened with forced evictions and more.
The political party, the Organization of Struggling People (OPL), which is a member of the Alternative platform and an ally of President Martelly, encourages him to recognize Parliament’s sovereignty and to take the lead in dialogue and compromise. On Aug. 23, the OPL’s coordinator Edgard Leblanc Fils said: "The current political situation is bordering on despair, with the decay of the state and society’s institutions, making it impossible to make economic and financial plans. "
On Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, following meetings with different Haitian sectors and with diplomats, three of the “Group of 16" senators – Wenceslass Lambert, Evaliere Beauplan, and Simon Desras – met with the press to share the recommendations of the Senate’s majority. After denouncing Martelly’s abuses of power, they presented a plan to end the crisis, in which they have predicated ratification on a set of recommendations, including: the enactment of the amended and corrected by the Constitution, formation of the Permanent Electoral Council (CEP), the Constitutional Council, the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court, the formation of the Supreme Council of the judiciary, the continuation of the Interim Commission for Haiti’s Recovery (IHRC), and the revision of the mandate of the UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Finally, faced with the failure of Haiti’s political actors, they became agents of the international community by agreeing on the choice of a prime minister, whom the foreigners are imposing. It is Garry Conille, the son of Serge Conille, a former Minister under the Duvalier dictatorship and a confederate of Tonton Macoute chief Roger Lafontant. It seems that Garry Conille is a perfect technocrat who is versed in working as a servant of the empire through the bureaucracies of the United Nations. He is currently the chief of staff to Bill Clinton, the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, co-chair of the IHRC, and the former president of the United States. That is an item in Garry Conille’s curriculum vitae that does not bode well.