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Haiti Chief Urges Foreign Investment to Aid Nation

November 20, 1986|WILLIAM R. LONG | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, head of Haiti's provisional government, appealed Wednesday for an infusion of private investment to help develop his country's economy, the poorest in the hemisphere.

Namphy, the first Haitian government chief to visit the United States in more than 30 years, came to participate in the annual Miami Conference on the Caribbean. He is expected to travel to Washington today and to meet Friday with President Reagan, U.S. and Haitian officials said.

The general emphasized capitalism and the free market as vehicles for development, a position that coincides with Reagan Administration policy in the Caribbean.

In an address Wednesday evening, Namphy told the Miami conference that Haiti needs private foreign investment to increase its exports and break out of its economic stagnation.

"If Haiti fails to turn to a policy of total effort to promote exports, our economy will continue to stagnate, bringing as a probable consequence extreme political and social tension," he said.

Economic Reform Plan

He outlined reforms that he said will be designed to create "a climate favorable to the spirit of enterprise."

"Haiti is ready to transform the basic structure of its economy to break the bonds of poverty forever," he said. He appealed to businessmen to "help us infuse a new dynamism into the industrial sector, whose accelerated expansion is viewed as essential in today's economy if the tendency toward stagnation is to be reversed."

Namphy has headed Haiti's National Government Council since Feb. 7, when President Jean-Claude Duvalier gave up power and fled to France after a series of anti-government demonstrations. Duvalier had inherited the presidency from his father, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier, who took power in 1957.

Since the end of the dictatorship, political protest and labor activism have frequently tested the limits of the new freedom in Haiti, but Namphy said that such "manifestations of turmoil" do not put investment in his country at risk.

Cites Freedom of Speech

"Rather, they merely attest to the vitality of our infant democracy and the strength of our dedication to human rights, without which no development is ultimately possible," he said.

A block away from the downtown hotel where Namphy spoke, about 300 Haitian expatriates demonstrated against his government. As in many demonstrations in Haiti, the protesters here claimed that his provisional government has not broken away from the policies and personalities of the Duvalier regime.

The Miami conference brings together businessmen and government officials from the Caribbean, Central America, the United States and other countries. Namphy said that Haiti's hope for the future rests, in large measure, "on the spirit of hemispheric solidarity" that such meetings promote.

"It is true that we politicians are the ones who must organize this solidarity," he said. "But we must also make solidarity come alive, and this is, above all, a job for enterprising businessmen."

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