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Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has twice altered our understanding of what we mean by development. Traditional welfare economics had focused on income as the primary measure of well-being until his seminal work in the 1980s demonstrated that poverty included a broader range of deprivations in health, education, and living standards that income alone did not capture. His ‘capabilities approach’ resulted in the creation of the United Nations Human Development Index and, later, the Multidimensional Poverty Index, both of which aim to measure development in a broader sense. Sen then shifted the goalposts in 1999, arguing that freedoms are not only the means but also the ends of evolution. Sen’s viewpoint is now widely accepted: development must be judged by its impact on people, not just on changes in their income, but also on their choices, capabilities, and freedoms, and we should be concerned with the distribution of these improvements, not just the simple average for a society.

However, defining development as an improvement in people’s well-being differs from what the term means to most of us. Development is also associated with long-term change. Providing a person with a bednet or a water pump can often be an excellent, cost- effective way to improve her well-being; however, if the improvement disappears when the bednet or pump is removed, we would not commonly refer to this as development. This implies that development entails more than simply improving citizens’ well-being, however broadly defined: it also conveys the capacity of economic, political, and social systems to provide the conditions for that well-being on a long-term basis.

Anyone working in development knows that the problems are complicated because making progress requires addressing various issues. However, referring to the economy as a complex adaptive system implies something specific about its dynamic properties. The term “complex adaptive system” is used here as a technical term to describe a type of non-linear system found in everything from waterfalls to ant colonies. The presentation begins with the endearing story of Thomas Thwaites, a British design student who attempted to build a toaster from scratch. This is extremely difficult to achieve: even building something as simple as a toaster requires a lot of other things to be in place in your economy and society. 

An economy comprises people, firms, products, and institutions that interact with one another while adapting to changing circumstances. In the presentation, I explain how this network of adaptive agents interacts with one another to form a complex adaptive system similar to those studied in biology and physics. Although the mainstream economics profession has slowly embraced these ideas, scientists have studied complex adaptive systems for at least thirty years. They have made significant progress in describing their properties. Despite their enormous diversity, these systems share some essential characteristics due to their underlying mathematics. There are good theoretical and empirical reasons to believe that economic and social systems share these characteristics, and real-world economic and social system trajectories fit the properties of complex adaptive systems better than the simple, linear models of mainstream economics.

One of the essential lessons from complexity theory is that complex adaptive systems can have system-wide properties that do not correspond to individual component properties. (This is only possible in non-linear systems because linear systems are always a weighted sum of their parts.) For example, we think of consciousness as a feature of the human brain, but it is impossible to say that a specific brain cell or synapse is conscious. A thunderstorm is a weather feature, but we cannot say whether or not a particular molecule in the air is stormy. These phenomena, known as ’emergent properties,’ are not the sum of the characteristics of individual parts of the system; instead, they result from how the different elements interact. In the talk, I argue that development is an emergent property of the economic and social system, similar to how consciousness emerges from the brain. This appears obvious, but it is a surprising departure from how most economists have traditionally described development as the sum of economic output from all firms in the economy or the sum of the human well-being of a nation’s citizens. Development is not the sum of people’s well-being in the economy, and we cannot achieve it simply by making enough people in the economy better off. Instead, development is a system-wide manifestation of how people, firms, technologies, and institutions interact within the economic, social, and political system. Development, in this context, refers to a system’s ability to provide self-organizing complexity. 

Self-organizing complexity in an adaptive system is never designed or purposefully created; it emerges due to adaptation and evolution. As a result, if we want to accelerate and shape development, we should concentrate on how to make the environment most conducive to the growth of self- organizing complexity.

This view of development as an emergent system property corresponds to the earlier described common-sense definition of development. Development encompasses more than just improvements in people’s well-being; it also refers to the system’s ability to provide the conditions for that well-being to continue. Development is a feature of the system; sustained improvements in individual well-being are a yardstick against which it is measured. This has significant implications for development policy for developing countries seeking to accelerate their economies and societies and for outsiders seeking to assist in that process. We are still in the early stages of investigating those implications. In my next blog post, I’ll discuss one specific significance of applying complexity theory to development: it has both positive and negative consequences for the UK Government’s emphasis on a “golden thread” of institutions that they claim runs through all successful economies.

The Current State Of Development In Haiti

Haiti has a free market economy with relatively low labor costs. It was a French colony before becoming a republic after an uprising by its enslaved people. Following its independence, it faced embargoes and isolation, political crises punctuated by foreign interventions, and devastating natural disasters. In 2018, the estimated population of Haiti was 11,439,646 people. “Long known as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti has stumbled from one crisis to the next since the Duvalier (François Duvalier) years,” the Economist reported in 2010.

Haiti’s economy is based on agriculture. Haiti produces more than half of the world’s vetiver oil (an essential oil used in high-end perfumes). Export crops include bananas, cocoa, and mangoes. Haiti has also expanded into higher-end manufacturing, producing Android-based tablets and current sensors and transformers. 

Its primary trading partner is the United States (US), which grants the country preferential trade access to the US market through legislation such as the Haiti Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) and the Haiti Economic Lift Program Encouragement Acts (HELP).

Haiti’s most serious disadvantages are natural disaster vulnerability, poverty, and limited access to education. Two-fifths of Haitians rely on agriculture, primarily small-scale subsistence farming, and are vulnerable to damage from natural disasters exacerbated by the country’s widespread deforestation. Haiti has a significant trade deficit, which it attempts to address by diversifying into higher-end manufacturing and more value-added agricultural products. Remittances are the most crucial source of foreign exchange, accounting for nearly 20% of GDP. [5] The 2010 Haiti earthquake, which occurred on January 12, 2010, had a significant impact on the Haitian economy.

Before the revolt of the people enslaved in Haiti to work its plantations against French colonization in 1804, Haiti was the world’s most prosperous and productive colony. Haiti suffered from international isolation in its early years of independence, as evidenced by the lack of diplomatic recognition by Europe and the United States (which did not recognize it until 1862); this harmed investment in Haiti. Another economic impediment to Haiti’s early independence was its payment of 150 million francs to France, which began in 1825 and did much to deplete the country’s capital stock. Haiti was forced to pay for its independence and freedom from colonization by France. According to a 2014 study, the Haitian economy is stagnant due to a combination of weak state power and hostile international relations.

It was difficult for the newborn ‘Negro republic’ to gain recognition as a sovereign nation- state, form strategic alliances, gain access to foreign loans, and protect trade interests. It was burdened with debt under the threat of external violence (the French indemnity). Self-chosen isolation, such as prohibiting foreign land ownership, further limited the options for successive Haitian administrations. The odds were stacked against Haiti when opportunities for export-led growth opened up in the late nineteenth century.

From 1915 To 1934, The United States Invaded And Occupied Haiti.

Following the restoration of constitutional governance in 1994, Haitian officials have demonstrated their commitment to economic reform by enacting legislation mandating the modernization of state-owned enterprises and implementing sound fiscal and monetary policies. A council to guide the modernization program (CMEP) was formed, and a timetable for modernizing nine key parastatals was developed. Although the state- owned flour mill and cement plants have been privatized, progress on the remaining seven parastatals has stalled. The modernization of Haiti’s state-owned enterprises is still a contentious political issue in Haiti.

The country’s economic agenda under President René Préval (1996-2001, 2006 – May 14, 2011) included trade and tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil-service downsizing, financial-sector reform, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other international financial institutions have only partially created the conditions for private sector growth.

Since the 1980s, comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti lagging behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the Western hemisphere). Haiti’s economic stagnation is the result of earlier[when?] ineffective economic policies, political instability, a scarcity of good arable land, environmental deterioration, the continued use of traditional technologies, undercapitalization and a lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large segments of the skilled population, and a low national savings rate.

The consequences of the 1991 coup are still being felt in Haiti. Haiti’s de facto authorities’ irresponsible economic and financial policies hastened the country’s economic decline. Following the coup, the United States imposed mandatory sanctions, while the Organization of American States imposed voluntary sanctions to restore constitutional government. 

International sanctions culminated in a United Nations embargo on all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies like food and medicine in May 1994. In the mid-1980s, the assembly sector employed nearly 80,000 people, owing to its reliance on US markets. During the embargo, employment fell from 33,000 in 1991 to 400 in October 1995. Private, domestic, and foreign investment in Haiti has been slow to return. Since the restoration of constitutional rule, employment in the assembly sector has gradually recovered, with over 20,000 people now employed. Still, investor concerns about safety and supply reliability have hampered further expansion. Foreign remittances have long been a significant source of financial support for many Haitian households. The Haitian Ministry of Economy and Finance devised the Haiti economic reforms of 1996 to rebuild the Haitian economy following significant downturns in previous years. The primary reforms were centered on the Emergency Economic Recovery Plan (EERP), followed by budget reforms.

After six years of growth, Haiti’s real GDP growth turned negative in FY 2001. Real GDP fell by 1.1% in the fiscal year 2001 and 0.9% in the fiscal year 2002. Political uncertainty, the collapse of informal banking cooperatives, high budget deficits, low investment, reduced international capital flows, and the suspension of IFI lending all harmed macroeconomic stability. Haiti owes the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.

In 2003, Haiti’s economy stabilized. Although FY 2003 began with the gourde rapidly falling due to rumors that US dollar deposit accounts would be nationalized and the withdrawal of fuel subsidies, the government successfully stabilized the gourde by making the politically difficult decision to float fuel prices freely according to world market prices and raise interest rates. The government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a staff monitored program (SMP), followed by payment of $32 million in arrears to the IDB in July, paving the way for renewed IDB lending. In July, the IDB disbursed $35 million of a $50 million policy-based loan and $146 million in previously approved project loans. The IDB, IMF, and World Bank also met with the government to discuss new lending. Much of this would be contingent on the government’s compliance with fiscal and monetary targets and policy reforms initiated under the SMP and Haiti’s payment of World Bank arrears ($30 million as of 9/30/03). 

The IMF estimated that real GDP was flat in the fiscal year 2003 and projected 1% growth in the fiscal year 2004. GDP per capita, which was $425 in FY 2002, will continue to fall[Citation needed] as population growth is estimated to be 1.3% yearly. While the implementation of governance reforms and the peaceful resolution of the political stalemate is critical to long-term growth,[Citation needed] external assistance remains essential to avoiding economic collapse. The main component is foreign remittances, which totaled $931 million in 2002, primarily from the United States. Meanwhile, foreign assistance totaled $130 million in the fiscal year 2002. Since FY 1995, when an elected government was restored to power under a United Nations mandate, the international community has provided over $600 million in aid, and overall foreign assistance levels have decreased.

A legal minimum wage of 36 gourdes per day (approximately USD 1.80) was established in 1995, and it applies to most workers in the formal sector. Later, it was increased to 70 gourdes per day. [Citation required] This minimum is 200 gourdes per day (approximately USD 4.80). 39.175 gourds equal one US dollar.

Haiti’s economy was severely harmed in January when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the country’s capital city, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas. Already the poorest country in the Americas, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty, the earthquake caused $7.8 billion in damage and a 5.4% drop in GDP. Following the earthquake, Haiti received $4.59 billion in international pledges for reconstruction, which has needed to be faster in progress.

The Challenges Facing Haiti’s Development Efforts According to the planning study, Haiti’s resilient urban expansion needs to be improved by vast gaps in essential services, increased vulnerability to natural catastrophes, and inadequate land-use planning. A crucial result for Port-au-Prince derived using both old and new data sources, was that an estimated 66 percent of land in the administrative area and 78 percent of built-up land is vulnerable to high seismic risk and that the city continues to expand rapidly in high-risk regions.

The connectivity evaluation provided data and analysis to support a discussion of the primary access problems restricting economic potential in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitian. An accurate understanding of where jobs are about where people live is required to examine accessibility difficulties effectively. Because Haiti’s most recent census was in 2003 and there is no business registry, the team turned to cellphones, partnering with Digicel, Haiti’s largest cell phone provider, and Flow minder, a non-governmental organization with extensive experience in cell phone data analysis for development purposes that has the private sector’s trust in its handling of sensitive data. The use of mobile phones by individuals and machine learning techniques supplied the researchers with a vast data collection with essential information about where people live and work. The team then tracked people’s movements within the metropolitan network, including the most critical job hubs and typical routes individuals travel. Combining this with information on natural dangers, such as floods, aided in identifying the transportation linkages that, if disrupted, would have the most impact on people and the economy. 

The finance assessment investigated the effect of restricted municipal-level resources on local governments’ planning, services, and linkages. Municipal finances must be strengthened to close the urban infrastructure and services gap and accommodate Haiti’s rising urban population. 

To complete this gap, current frameworks must be consolidated, harmonized, and enforced; capacity and financial possibilities must be expanded; and the local tax base must be broadened and leveraged.

The report’s release in Port Au Prince (January 23, 2018) and Cap Hatian (January 25, 2018) ignited a lively debate in both cities. Substantial media coverage demonstrated how these concerns reverberate across all levels of government, the commercial sector, and Haitian residents. There is hope and urgency in producing inclusive and efficient urbanization in Haiti’s cities. 

The subject is still being covered in the media five months after the introduction. The World Bank team has produced follow-up pieces on urban resilience.

The study’s findings will inform Haiti’s growing urban portfolio, providing a unique opportunity to apply these diagnostic tools, particularly in the preparation of the US$37.5 million Municipal Development and Urban Resilience Project for the Cap-Hatien metropolitan area and discussions on the National Urban Policy. It is already influencing talks about urban transportation demands and corresponding policy reforms.

The Haiti Urbanization Review is accessible in French and English in the Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository and a Creole executive summary. The study’s findings and suggestions are projected to enhance resilient and sustainable Haitian cities, expanding opportunities for all. “The priority now is to focus on addressing the increased demand for services and job opportunities, as well as affordable transportation and housing in cities,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti.

Sameh Wahba, World Bank Director for Social, Urban, and Resilience Global Practice, explains: “Closing the infrastructural and service gaps, as well as improving land-use planning, will be critical to reducing Haitian’s risks urban people confront. The research intends to spark a discussion about Haitian cities’ future and identify priority areas for action that might result in better services and opportunities for Haitians.”

Thus far, the evidence suggests that the composition of budgeted and actual public spending is shifting towards poverty-reducing activities under PRGFsupported programs, as sought under the PRSP approach. Countries allocate more to education and health care as a percentage of GDP and a share of total government spending (Figures 1 and 2). These changes represent broad-brush shifts in expenditure composition towards poverty-reducing activities (although imperfectly, because not all public education and health spending is poverty-reducing). 

While not available for all countries, data on budget outturns suggest that such increases are being realized. Programs were initiated in 25 countries in the sample in 2000; for the 13 countries with available data for that year, spending on education and health care rose by an average of 0.4 and 0.2 percentage points of GDP, respectively. 

The emphasis on increasing these outlays in PRGF- supported programs is consistent with the concept that government has a crucial role in providing social services to assist economic growth and poverty reduction. Real public spending on education and health care (including spending on HIV/AIDS) is expected to rise sharply on a per capita basis. These spending increases build further on the gains realized during ESAF-supported programs, where real per capita public outlays on education and health care rose by an average of more than 3 percent per year between 1985 and 1999.

The transition economy included in the sample is Albania, for example, smaller-than- average increases are envisaged. This reflects the slightly higher initial spending levels and the substantial scope for further rationalizing education and healthcare systems inherited from the pre-transition era. This contrasts with nontransition PRGF-supported program countries, where the need for expanding public education and health – as well as improving the efficiency of such spending – is excellent. Higher spending increases are also envisaged in nontransition PRGF-supported program countries because of debt relief under the enhanced HIPC initiative.

Substantial increases in spending identified as poverty-reducing in PRSPs are also envisaged. PRSPs have defined a range of programs as poverty-reducing, including expenditures on primary education, primary or essential health, roads, rural development, agriculture, judicial systems, and anti-corruption. Over time, as PRSPs are updated and revised in light of the impact of policies on social outcomes, the definition of poverty-reducing activities is expected to be refined. Based on budgetary data in 19 countries that most closely approximate the PRSP definition of poverty-reducing spending, these outlays will rise, on average, by about 2 percent of GDP from the pre-PRGF year; for new PRGF-supported programs, the increase is slightly lower. The share of total government spending absorbed by these outlays will rise slightly more in new PRGF-supported programs than in the sample as a whole.

8 For most countries, existing budget classification systems do not allow precise matching of expenditure allocations and the programs identified as poverty-reducing in the PRSPs. Only 8 of the 19 countries (Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Tanzania, and Uganda) compile spending data on the specific poverty-reducing activities identified in PRSPs. 

There are also significant lags in disseminating data on poverty-reducing spending, including spending under the approximate definition described above; for 2000, figures are available for only five countries. The role of economics and agriculture in Haiti’s development of agriculture, forestry, and fishing are all critical industries. 

Agriculture is Haiti’s most significant industry, employing roughly two-thirds of the working force but accounting for around one-fourth of GDP (GDP). Haiti’s soils and fishing zones are under threat. Even though just one-fifth of the land is suitable for farming, more than two-fifths of the area is under cultivation. Significant difficulties include soil erosion (particularly on mountain slopes, rarely terraced), periodic drought, and a lack of irrigation.

Many farmers focus on subsistence crops such as cassava (manioc), plantains and bananas, maize (corn), yams and sweet potatoes, and rice. Some foods are available at rural markets and along highways. Haiti’s primary cash crop is mild arabica coffee. Haitian farmers sell it through a network of brokers, speculators, and merchant houses. Sugarcane is Haiti’s second most significant cash crop, although the country has been a net sugar importer since the late 1970s.

Deforestation is a severe problem in Haiti, which began with a high demand for sugarcane processing during the French colonial period and continues to the current day with an increased need for charcoal for fuel in Port-au-Prince and other metropolitan areas. Political instability and a lack of financing have hampered efforts to lessen reliance on trees for fuel. Several large-scale reforestation initiatives were planned, but they were pushed back due to social and political instability and the urgent need to fund other infrastructure projects. Only a tiny portion of Haiti’s territory is now wooded.

Goats and cattle are the most frequent livestock, with pigs and horses being less common. There is some poultry farming going on. Following Haiti’s significant outbreak of African swine flu in the late 1970s, the Creole pig population was eradicated by 1982. As a result, many peasants lost their only assets, and other pig breeds were eventually introduced as replacements.

Historically, Haitians have not used their fishing resources; because of the post- independence tradition of residing in the interior—away from the possibility of a French invasion Haitians have relied on agriculture for livelihood rather than fishing. However, there are minor fisheries in tiny ponds and canals across Haiti. Although most fishing boats are tiny and inadequately prepared, there is the potential for a commercial fishing industry: Massive migrations of deep-sea species such as bonitos, marlins, sardines, and tuna are carried by the north-flowing currents off the coasts of Haiti.

  1. Power and resources

Small quantities of gold and copper have been discovered in the country’s north. Despite bauxite (aluminum ore) reserves in the southern peninsula, large-scale mining halted in 1983. Haiti appears to need hydrocarbon resources on land or in the Gulf of Guinea, placing the country at a considerable disadvantage regarding energy imports (petroleum and petroleum products). Hydroelectricity generates over half of the country’s power, with the remaining provided by thermal (mostly coal-fired) facilities, particularly in Port- au-Prince. However, more than power is needed to meet present demands, and firewood and charcoal remain the primary sources of cooking energy.

  1. Manufacturing

Manufacturing expansion has been constrained by a small local market, a scarcity of natural resources, and internal strife. In the late twentieth century, some trade barriers were lifted, pushing local industries to compete directly with imports from the Dominican Republic and the United States. Processed foods, drinks, textiles, and footwear account for the majority of output. Chemical and rubber goods, tobacco, essential oils (particularly Amyris, neroli, and vetiver), and alcoholic drinks are also manufactured. Although Haiti produces Barbancourt rum, one of the world’s best, the bulk of the country’s sugarcane is processed in rural distilleries to manufacture clairin, a low-cost rum. Nontraditional exports such as decorative flowers and mange-tout are becoming increasingly popular (snow peas). The building sector has historically grown due to the high demand for houses (particularly in metropolitan areas) and natural catastrophe devastation.

  1. Finance

The financial position in Haiti is unstable. From 1919 to 1991, the national currency, After the gourde was tied to the US dollar (at five gourdes per dollar), the government allowed the exchange rate to float. The country’s currency is freely circulated in the United States. The Bank of the Republic of Haiti is the national bank. There are various commercial banks, notably the government-owned National Bank of Credit. Several private and foreign banks are also present. The government has substantial foreign debt, and its finances rely primarily on funding from international organizations and nations such as the United States, France, Canada, and Germany. There is no stock exchange in Haiti.

Trade Export agriculture has long been favored by farmers and governments alike since it generates revenue and serves as a source of foreign currencies. However, coffee exports declined precipitously in the late twentieth century. Clothing, handicrafts (wood carvings, paintings, and woven sisal items), electrical goods, and baseballs were among the assembled goods sent yearly, depending on the competition. 

Food, gasoline and its derivatives, machinery and automobiles, and textiles are the essential imports. The United States accounts for over two-thirds of foreign trade; other key commercial partners include the Dominican Republic and Canada. Haiti has a significant and ongoing yearly trade imbalance.

Tourism, once a significant source of foreign exchange, declined during the 1980s and 1990s due to political instability. Still, beginning in the late 1990s, the government prioritized restoring that sector. Visitors returned, drawn by the country’s cultural life, colonial architecture, pristine beaches, and gambling casinos. 

Prostitution, cultural imports (at the expense of native arts and customs), and the necessity to import expensive foods and luxury items have all been related to tourism in Haiti. Cap-Hatian and, before it was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, Port-au-Prince were the typical tourist destinations. 

Cap-Hatian is the gateway to Haiti’s 19th-century Citadel, Ramiers defenses, and Sans Souci Palace, all named UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1982.

  1. Taxation and labor

The majority of the labor force is rural and employed on family farms. Men typically farm crops, while women handle household labor and agricultural output. Rural Haitians raise their food and hunt and sell food and other goods at markets. As a result, per capita income data reflect remunerated work and could be more beneficial to Haitians.

Because peasants have historically held the majority of agricultural land in Haiti, the urban elite’s primary sources of income have been government employment and a regressive tax structure that disproportionately affects the poorer classes. This contrasts with much of Latin America, where plantation ownership is a regular source of wealth for elites. The Haitian system has resulted in an exceptionally high level of semiofficial corruption. The elites, who possess both money and power, can use the government to their advantage and co-opt monies intended for the general public.

Taxation on rural markets accounts for the majority of peasant tax income. Customs duties on imports and exports are the other principal source of taxes. Personal income tax collection could be more effective, and tax evasion is widespread. Haiti’s inability to reform its tax legislation has been exacerbated by political insecurity and institutional weakness. The government established the Investment Facilitation Center in 2007 to encourage business and investment prospects in the private sector by advocating regulatory reforms and expediting licenses and other procedures required to start a firm.

  1. Transportation

Although the highways from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Hatian, Les Cayes, and Jacmel have been paved, they are not frequently maintained, and city streets are infamous for their many deep potholes. Most interior transit is impeded by rugged roads that can become inaccessible in bad weather. Trucks and buses provide infrequent and expensive transportation from Port-au-Prince to the provinces. There is no train service available. The rural populace travels primarily on foot, by bicycle, by public transport (known as a “tap-tap” in Haiti), or by donkey. The latter technique is also often employed for cargo transportation. 

The two main seaports are in Cap-Hatien and Port-au-Prince, with the latter harbor handling the majority of Haiti’s foreign commerce. Although there are a few tiny ports, passenger boat services are restricted. Haiti has two international airports, one in Port-au-Prince and one in Cap-Hatian. 


Entrepreneurship is critical to economic growth, innovation, and poverty reduction in emerging nations (Landes, 1998). Haiti, a small Caribbean Island, is no exception to this tendency. According to studies, entrepreneurial enterprises in Haiti have stayed relatively small within their organizational structures due to various internal and external constraints, limiting economic development. As a result, they have yet to take off (for example, strategic imports, hotels, telecommunications, and banking have been accused of impeding the country’s progress on several occasions. Presumably, the traditional function of the elite is to invest in the country to generate economic activity, riches, and employment, as well as to influence the government to enhance trade, promote productivity, assure stability, and safeguard investments. In Haiti, however, the elite does not play this role (Roc, 2008).

See also Séraphin and Butler (2013), Séraphin et al. (2014), and Gowreesunkar et al. (2015). Haitian aristocracy dominates commerce, and the lack of government and accountability has encouraged the development of parallel economies and patronage practices (Moita & Gauthier, 2010). 

This issue is also made by Gowreesunkar et al. (2015) and Page (1999), who suggest that in postcolonial destinations such as Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Mauritius, significant firms, particularly those controlled by whites, continue to dominate the economy. According to a 2016 UNICEF online poll, 77% of Haitians live in poverty and have poor literacy (61% – 64% for males and 57% for females). 

As a result, many Haitians are underemployed and earning pitiful pay (Lukhoba, 2013). As a result, survival, unproductive, and harmful types of business have emerged (Séraphin, Butler, and Gowreesunkar, 2015). 

For example, 47% of the labor force is employed in private informal firms, 39% in agriculture, 7.5% in formal private enterprises, 3% in public administration, 1.4% in state-owned enterprises, and 1.2% in NGOs (Financial Times, 2015, p. 5). Working in the informal sector appears to fit the profile of most prospective entrepreneurs because it does not require formal educational credentials as required in legal industries. Currently, six sectors contribute to Haiti’s economic growth: commerce, hotels and restaurants, construction, transportation, and communication, manufacturing non-retail services, and other retail services (Financial Times, 2015: 5). Haiti’s existence is, thus, to considerable part, dependent on the success of its entrepreneurship sector, a fact reflected in Szerb’s (2016) study: a nation’s economic progress is directly tied to the performance of its entrepreneurship sector.

The Haitian civilization appears to be anchored in traditional behaviors (see Pisani, 2015; Seraphin & Butler, 2013; Seraphin et al., 2014; Gowreesunkar et al., 2015; Gauthier & Moita, 2010; Roc, 2008). The notion of learned helplessness may assist in explaining reluctance to change in nations that have suffered abusive power relationships, continuing poverty, racism, violence, and natural disaster (Seligman & Maier, 1967). 

According to the authors, continuous experiences of poverty or powerlessness produce learned helplessness, which leads to a suspension of environmental inquiry or behavior modification (Mal, Jain & Yadav, 1990; Teodorescu & Erev, 2014). 

Learned helplessness is a mental condition in which people ascribe their circumstances to uncontrolled variables, such as an intrinsic lack of ability or to global issues that will never change, leaving them powerless to change their circumstances. Looking at Haiti now, we can see that things have changed over the years. Still, they have also stayed the same, such as the country’s weak government and a lack of chances for locals (Séraphin, 2013a, 2013b).

Our study issue is thus theoretically significant since it will uncover the elements creating learned helplessness in the Haitian entrepreneurial sector. Consequently, our method’s uniqueness consists of using the Blakeley Model to identify the “blind spots” in Haiti’s entrepreneurial sector. 

Blakeley (2007) defines blind spots as “a recurrent propensity to repress, distort, discard, or fail to notice information, opinions, or ideas in a particular area that results into learn, develop, or grow in response to changes in that area” (Blakeley, 2007: 6). This philosophy guides our research questions: What are the gaps in Haitian entrepreneurship? What steps may be taken to close these gaps?? The questions appear pertinent given the continuing discussion among Haitian intellectuals and academics specializing in this destination (Gauthier & Moita, 2010; Paul et al., 2010; Roc, 2008; Lauthier, 2004).

Using the Blakeley model will assist in identifying the underlying causes (that we cannot perceive) of why entrepreneurship in Haiti has stalled. 

The research is new in two ways: first, it employs a model that has never been applied to any entrepreneurial environment; second, it concludes the entrepreneurial sector in tiny island countries. Inductive and exploratory research methods apply ideas and concepts to a small island economy. As a result, the debate is mainly based on secondary data, including available case studies of Haitian entrepreneurs. For numerous reasons, Haiti was chosen as the research location: Our paper is divided into three sections: The research context will be presented in the first section. 

Following that, we will do a literature analysis on entrepreneurship and connect the findings to the Haitian environment. Finally, the Blakeley Model (2007) and findings from adaptations of this model to the Haitian setting will be presented.

An Overview of the Entrepreneurial State Concept

Innovation-led growth has the potential to square a circle that modern capitalism faces: how to achieve continuous and sustainable economic growth based on high-value, well- paying jobs. 

This is at the heart of entrepreneurial cultures, and it is a worthy goal. The issue is figuring out how to get there. Even though many countries have established the objective, only some have attained it.

This elusiveness stems from widespread misconceptions about how innovation-led development has historically been accomplished. Because of these misconceptions, false narratives have driven policymaking, with individual entrepreneurs and businesses as key players. If this story is not challenged, it will lead to unproductive policymaking and the distribution of growth incentives that do not represent the actual distribution of risks. An entrepreneurial society requires an entrepreneurial state that can develop animal spirits in private firms through creative and intelligent public investments scattered across the innovation chain. Entrepreneurs then perceive prospects for expansion, and company investment follows.

Breakthrough technologies, such as the internet and biotech, did not arise from governments concerned with “commercialization”; instead, they evolved due to spillovers from investments focused on long-term public goals. Missions of the past, such as sending a man to the moon, translated into a slew of homework issues that required many players to collaborate in dynamic partnerships, fostering creativity. From aging to climate change, today’s social concerns may give a comparable focus and driving drive. As profit- making opportunities emerge, they can promote innovation and provide direction for new private investment and entrepreneurial activity. Mission-oriented thinking is likewise used to formulate technological roadmaps for the 17 SDGs.

Crucially, this will need public leadership, challenging the dominant mentality that confines the role of public actors to merely de-risking or supporting the true heroes, the private sector wealth creators, such as risk-taking entrepreneurs, while waiting for the market to discover answers. Today, public actors have done more than merely allow the private sector in the few nations that have achieved innovation-led innovative development, such as the United States, Israel, Denmark, and China. They have deliberately accepted risks as a first-resort investor rather than a lender of last resort. The decentralized network of clever public organizations that permitted feedback loops throughout the innovation chain was crucial in Silicon Valley. This encompasses fundamental research, applied research, and patient and strategic long-term financing for businesses. It also covers policies that affect demand for new goods and services, both directly and indirectly.

Contrary to popular belief, public organizations such as DARPA and SBIR in the United States, Yozma in Israel, and Sitra and Tekes in Finland have actively influenced and created markets. These direct investments are more effective in generating additional private investment than indirect ones, such as tax credits.

This strategy entails purposefully tilting the playing field in a specific way rather than just leveling it. That does not imply putting all your eggs in one basket but instead backing a portfolio of different technologies (motivated by challenges to tackle) that are all part of a goal (the big problem). 

The common criticism that governments cannot choose winners misses the reality that the internet, like almost all of the technology in the iPhone, was chosen through such mission-oriented investments (including GPS, Siri, and touchscreen). Public financing boosted solar, nuclear, wind, and even shale gas in the energy industry. 

Solar City, Tesla, and Space X, Elon Musk’s three enterprises, have received almost $4.9 billion in public funding. These investments sometimes succeed (Tesla) and sometimes fail (Solyndra), but any venture capitalist will tell you that this is common. The goal is to get past these false narratives and stale ideological disputes over whether the state should take a stride forward or a step back. The essential dilemma is how to apply the lessons of effective mission-oriented policy in the past to today’s social concerns, both as a foundation for resolving these critical issues and as a stimulant for and a direction for inclusive, sustainable, innovation-led growth. This entails creating conceptual frameworks, analytical tools, and organizational capacities capable of justifying, evaluating, and nurturing this approach.

In a recent essay published in the journal Industry and Innovation, I presented these problems in terms of four questions:

  • First, let us talk about routes and directions. If “letting the market decide” is a vague and unproductive answer to the difficulties we confront, how can we create democratically sustainable means to select specific objectives and establish the paths and orientations for change?
  • Then there are organizations. How can we construct learning organizations in the public sector that can embrace risk, learn from failure, discover, explore, and know when to turn off the water? This entails viewing policy as a process in which learning from failure is tolerated and encouraged. Speaking about public organizations as mission-driven rather than just facilitators for others can also aid in recruiting the brilliant individuals that visionary public organizations require.
  • The third step is evaluation. The transformational impact of purposeful, market- creating public investments must be captured by something other than static cost- benefit analysis. New dynamic assessment mechanisms are required based on a much fuller knowledge of public value production.
  • Fourth, there are dangers and benefits. The false narrative about who the risk takers are has resulted in a reward distribution that does not represent the genuine distribution of risk. If taxpayers assume the most significant risks in the early phases of innovation, they should participate in the gains. The question is how best to accomplish this. There are numerous options, including agreements on profit

reinvestment (precisely the type of deal that led to the formation of Bell Labs); price caps on publicly funded products (e.g., drugs); retaining a golden share of intellectual property rights; retaining equity or royalties when feasible; and income-contingent loans. There is no single solution, but considering diverse approaches to share the benefits of innovation better is critical to a strategy that aims for intellectual and inclusive growth.

It is a well-known fact that the winners write history books. The victors of Silicon Valley, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs created narratives that justified the benefits they received. Their stories, however, could be a better guide for policymaking elsewhere. That requires a look beneath, at the shoulders, they were standing on, and the development of symbiotic ecosystems between public and private actors that acknowledge wealth generation as a collaborative undertaking because an entrepreneurial society needs an entrepreneurial state first.

The Potential Benefits Of An Entrepreneurial State For Haiti 

According to Schumpeter (1934), entrepreneurship, and hence entrepreneurs, play a significant role in a country’s economic growth, whether it is industrialized or developing (Robson & Bennett, 2000). 

According to Schumpeter’s thesis, businesses must be creative by introducing new items or a new quality of a thing, introducing new methods of production, opening new markets, developing new sources of supply or raw materials, or manufacturing half-finished goods. Cantillon had a far more simplified understanding of the entrepreneur, considering anybody who acquired a thing at a special price, utilized that good to build a product, and then sold the product at a specific price to be an entrepreneur. Cantillon (1758) did, however, include the concepts of risk and market adaptability in his definition. 

In his definition of entrepreneurship, Knight emphasizes risk and uncertainty. Still, he also adds that being an entrepreneur implies being able to act in the face of unknown future occurrences (Knight, 1921). According to Drucker (1985), “risk” exists only for “entrepreneurs” who do not know what they are doing. In this vein, it is necessary to understand how entrepreneurs are socially rooted within the environment in which they operate (Granovetter, 1985). They behave by local values and available resources (Dodd & Anderson, 2007).

As a result, to comprehend entrepreneurial behavior, we must evaluate the significance of the local social context, as entrepreneurship is a socially rooted phenomenon. Thus, many elements have been discovered to provide a favorable environment for entrepreneurship at the macro-level, such as a liberal market structure and dynamics (Van Stel, Storey, & Thurik, 2007), easy access to financing (Welsh, Memili, Kaciak, Sadoon, 2014); a favorable government policy in terms of taxation, funding programs, and a reduction in bureaucratic procedures related to starting a business (Ahmad & Xavier, 2011); and political (Movahedi & Yaghoubi-Farani, 2012). Finally, internal conditions regarding experience, personal attributes, and ambitions round out elements that may or may not assist entrepreneurship (Krueger, 2007), with access to formal education and training being a critical component (Dabic et al., 2012).

Emerging-Market Entrepreneurship

Emerging markets are low-income but fast-growing countries that use economic liberalization as their principal development engine (Hoskinsson, Eden, Lau & Wright, 2000). These nations’ poor socioeconomic growth was frequently caused by political instability, a high number of conflicts in a short period, a lack of national identity among the population, economic crises, natural catastrophes, and disease outbreaks (Gould, 2011; Ritchie, Dorrell, Miller & Miller, 2004). Rising countries are mostly postcolonial, post-conflict, or post-disaster destinations (Bayeh, 2015; Séraphin, 2014; Gould, 2011). 

They are also divided into two groups: China, the former Soviet Union, developing Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East are all countries in transition economies (Hoskinsson, Eden, Lau & Wright, 2000). Regarding entrepreneurship, the fundamental concern for developing nations is their survival strategy (Mshenga & Owuor, 2010). According to Bessant and Tidd (2011), they (small and medium-sized firms) are inward-focused, too busy fighting fires and dealing with today’s issues to be concerned about looming storm clouds. The popularity of street food and street food sellers in countries such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Kowalczyk, 2014), which are also rising destinations (Hoskinson et al, 2000), the aforementioned contextual framework is entirely valid.

The 2019 Crises And Protests In Haiti

Ongoing protests against the current Haitian President have recently intensified across the country. According to local sources, 17 people have been killed and nearly 200 injured since violence escalated around four weeks ago. The protests have directly impacted local infrastructure, most notably the health sector. Hospitals have been strained to close due to access constraints and a lack of medical supplies and staff. Education has also been affected, where according to some sources, nearly 2 million children are unable to attend school due to closures as a result of the unrest. Many humanitarian organizations have had to suspend their operations, including WFP, due to security concerns and lack of fuel. Demonstrations calling for the resignation of the Haitian President, Jovenel Moise, have been recurring throughout the country for over a year; in June, protests resulted in 2 deaths and four injuries. 

However, the heightened level of violence in recent weeks reflects the deteriorating economic and political situation. Haiti is facing a sharp deterioration of the political and socio-economic situation. The political opposition organized a large demonstration on June 9, calling for the President’s resignation, which gathered several thousand Haitians in Port-au-Prince and other major cities. The demonstration turned violent, with roadblocks and looting reported. Three deaths have been linked to the demonstrations, cars were burned, and buildings were damaged. On June 10, commercial activities were limited, and schools remained closed. 

The unfolding situation has resulted in the cancellation of the mission of EU Member States’ humanitarian counselors to the UN this week. Haiti is facing a large-scale food emergency, with 37% of the rural population needing humanitarian food assistance.

Haiti’s humanitarian crisis is currently vastly underfunded (<10%) and is, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the most underfunded crisis in the world in 2019.

Overview Of The Political And Economic Crises In Haiti In 2019 Currently, Haiti is going through one of its worst crises ever. Practical international community involvement is urgently required. Since a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the nation on August 14, 2021, Haiti has been experiencing a severe food and security crisis. 

About 4.5 million people in the nation are severely food insecure. Haiti’s inflation rate has reached 26%, and the crisis between Russia and Ukraine is causing food prices to rise quickly. Along with these economic problems, the nation has seen violent battles between armed factions since June 2021, negatively influencing social and economic life in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. The people of Haiti are rife with anxiety and worry.

When the Haitian government declared in 2018 that it would gradually end gasoline subsidies, there was a great deal of protest. Protests against Jean-Charles Mose’s administration and his proposed constitutional referendum grew in 2019 and then again in 2021. 

These protests were met by the police using disproportionate force. President Moise was killed, and his wife was injured when armed men broke into their Port-au- Prince home due to the political tension that had built up. Only five weeks later, the nation saw a devastating earthquake that destroyed entire neighborhoods and claimed more than 2,000 lives. Following this, gang violence and political unrest sharply intensified, throwing Haiti into a severe crisis. 

Street protests have been growing recently due to lousy leadership, insecurity, gasoline shortages, and price rises. According to an assessment by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), gangs are thought to control more than a third of the capital city. The assassination of the President sparked gang warfare, which later got out of hand and affected the country’s economy, food security, oil supply, and transportation system.

Due to its vulnerability to hazards, Haiti has seen back-to-back disasters, including a significant earthquake in 2010, a hurricane in 2016, and another earthquake in 2021. Additionally, the nation’s agricultural industry has been gradually declining, leaving it dependent on imports for more than half of its food needs. The country’s farmers went bankrupt when the rice tariff in Haiti was reduced from 30% to virtually nil in the 1980s. The nation has also experienced ongoing gang violence throughout its history. Haiti’s economic situation has worsened in the current global environment due to the war in Ukraine driving up petroleum costs. Fuel expenditures have become unaffordable nationwide due to growing prices and government fuel subsidies.

The difficulties facing Haiti may be categorized into three main categories. First off, with a non-functional parliament and only a few operating public institutions, the government is now governed in a very constitutional manner. Second, with half the nation under the hands of criminal gangs with significant political ties, citizen protection is practically nonexistent. Finally, the nation is experiencing severe economic hardships. In Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, one in five children in Haiti under five are acutely malnourished. Any one of these difficulties would be extremely overwhelming for a nation to face on its own. Its descent into one of the biggest crises in its history was made worse because these all came undone simultaneously.

In a recent statement, the Organization of American States (OAS) said that the world community was to blame for the crisis currently engulfing Haiti. According to the report, “the international community’s presence in Haiti over the past 20 years has amounted to one of the greatest and most glaring failures implemented and carried out within the context of any international collaboration.” While the organization’s recognition of the role that foreign players played in the current situation that Haiti is experiencing was positive, the fact that it continued by asserting that only the international community could resolve this catastrophe is troubling. It declared that the “core group”—Haiti’s self- declared guardians consisting of ambassadors from nations such as the United States (US), France, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Canada, and the European Union, as well as officials from the United Nations and the OAS, must provide funds to pay the bill and aid Haiti in resolving its crisis. 

The core group has repeatedly turned to criminally motivated factions worldwide, many of whom are Haitians, expecting them to bring stability to such crisis-torn countries, so expecting them to rescue the country from the political and economic destruction it is currently experiencing is pretty ironic. The criminal groups in Haiti have merely retaliated against the leading group by intensifying corruption, instability, economic and social damage, and gangs with their kidnapping, rape, murder, and mayhem, further compounding the problems faced by the common Haitian. 

As if this were not enough, the nation now lacks a functioning legal system to handle prosecutions against these thugs. Moreover, Haiti’s jail system is already overloaded. Educated Haitians believe that leaving their nation is the only practical choice, and many apply for asylum in the US. The Biden administration has quickened the return of Haitians, nevertheless.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) Opposition leaders are calling for a nationwide push Monday to block streets and paralyze Haiti’s economy as they press President Jovenel Moïse to give up power. Tens of thousands of their young supporters were expected to heed the call. People stood in lines all day Sunday under a brutal sun to get water, gasoline, and other essential supplies before a round of protests that many worried would turn more violent than a demonstration Friday, during which several homes and businesses were burned as police fired tear gas at protesters. 

Several people have died in the past three weeks amid the political clashes. “I have a feeling that the country is going to change,” said Yves Bon Anée, a mason standing next to eight empty plastic jugs that he would fill with gasoline at $2 a gallon for friends, family, and himself. He planned to resell his portion to make money because he could not find work in weeks. He continued, “My kids are suffering,” referring to his three young boys.

According to opposition leaders and supporters, a lack of gasoline has forced many gas stations in the city to close because suppliers want the cash-strapped government to pay them more than $100 million that is owed to them. They also hold government corruption and rising prices responsible. Additionally, protesters call for a more thorough inquiry into claims that senior government figures misappropriated billions of dollars from a Venezuela-subsidized oil plan to finance critical social projects. 

Despite the upheaval, Moise, who took office in 2017, has stated he would not resign. Instead, during a speech broadcast on television at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, he asked for peace, harmony, and discussion. Since the beginning of the most recent protest wave around three weeks ago, the president has made few public appearances.

Professor Laurent Dubois, an authority on Haiti at Duke University, predicted that the nation will become increasingly impasse until the parties compromise. There is a lot of worry and dread that Haiti is headed in a path we have not seen in a while, he added. Haitian history is entering a new phase. Still, it will be impossible to foresee what it will bring. As required by law if a president steps down, opposition leaders calling for Mose’s resignation say they anticipate a transitional administration following the appointment of the top judge of Haiti’s Supreme Court.

The country’s middle class has declined, according to André Michel, an attorney, and professor of human rights, who claimed that Haiti’s existing political system had caused suffering, underdevelopment, and corruption that have led to poverty.

Michel urged the world community to support the overthrow of Moise. He stated that Haiti needed to construct a new society and state. The people’s will is evident, Michel declared. “He will plunge the nation into turmoil if he persists on staying in office.”

At a press conference on Sunday, opposition leaders asked the large crowd of supporters to begin blocking roadways and to assist them in finding Mose, whom they claim has fled. Opposition Sen. Youri Latortue, who has always refuted corruption claims leveled against him by American officials more than ten years ago and who once headed a party affiliated with Mose’s Tet Kale group, was one of those leading the campaign to identify Moise.


Se lè ou nan bezwen ou konn ki moun ki zanmi ou is a well-known adage from Haiti, which translates to “A loyal friend will always be ready to help you in the most trying circumstances.” While it is true that Haitians have had tremendous hardships recently and that there are still many obstacles to overcome, there are a lot of positive reasons to be optimistic. I am thankful that I recently had the chance to visit Haiti and commit to continuing to support the nation’s strong recovery.

I brought this message with me on my most recent trip, my first since becoming the World Bank’s Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite the most challenging circumstances throughout my travels, I was amazed by how much was accomplished. Such an earthquake will take place in 2020. The earthquake that struck Haiti brought massive economic and humanitarian destruction. 

To ensure a prompt and targeted response, the World Bank has been actively engaging with the Haitian government in three critical areas ever since. Gathering early intelligence, We were able to discover, evaluate, and present a Global Rapid Damage Estimation Report that outlined the crucial recovery requirements in less than two weeks. In addition, we worked with the UN and EU to undertake a Post Disaster Needs Assessment, which estimated that the earthquake would cost around $2 billion in losses and damages or 11% of Haiti’s 2019-2020 GDP. 

Second, we helped Haiti put together the equipment required for action. We are working with donors and partners to provide a total of $2 billion over the following three years after leveraging an additional $200 million for the earthquake response. 

We are now on track to grant Haiti a fiscal year’s worth of funding records—nearly $500 million more than we had initially been expected to give—thanks to our dedication to the rebuilding effort. Third, we are devoting all of our resources to the recovery effort. This involves ensuring that the required financing gets there as quickly and effectively as feasible. Together with the administration, we will concentrate our efforts in Haiti for the upcoming year on this crucial initiative.

We are aware of historical concerns that the international community occasionally makes more promises than it can keep, notably about the 2010 earthquake. We are steadfastly devoted to ensuring that, despite the current challenging conditions, we identify quick and practical ways to provide aid to those who need it the most, particularly the most vulnerable and in the most isolated places.

Two local facts regretfully provide obstacles to Haiti’s rehabilitation. First, the recovery is taking place as the security situation continues to worsen. For the World Bank’s Haiti initiative to succeed, restoring security is even more crucial than the ambiguous political situation. Strong cooperation with our development partners, particularly the United Nations, the United States, and Canada, would be required to complete this agenda. Second, the economic effects of the COVID-19 epidemic are still a problem for the nation. Lockdowns and containment measures have increased unemployment, poverty, and inequality in 2020 and 2021, similar to other Caribbean nations. 

There are continuous attempts to increase Haiti’s vaccination rate, which is the lowest in the area, to assist the country in emerging from the pandemic’s shadow and to reduce the 60 percent of Haitians who are vaccine-hesitant.

Despite these difficulties, I am optimistic about Haiti’s future. It has been remarkable to see how resilient Haitians have been in the face of ongoing instability and frequent shocks. Haiti has a thriving civil society, a young, active populace, and an affluent diaspora that maintains strong ties to its homeland thanks to remittances. In truth, Haiti has evolved much since the devastating earthquake of 2010, even though it has been a rough decade. This is seen in the way the country responded to the 2021 earthquake.

I was encouraged to see and hear about the new temporary bridge being built quickly adjacent to the one harmed in the earthquake last year outside of Jeremie. A lot has been learned about dealing with natural catastrophe aftermath from prior experiences.

Investments made to improve disaster risk management and civil protection have paid off, especially considering that the tragedy occurred just one month after the terrible killing of President Jovenel Moise and amid extremely complicated political conditions.

The management of health-related shocks, education, infrastructure (including roads, water, and renewable energy), local government (particularly in the domain of public finance), and a plethora of other advancements in recent years can be added to this.

We have a long path ahead of us as a team. To end poverty and promote prosperity in Haiti, we must keep tackling current and enduring issues.

However, every crisis brings about a fresh opportunity. There are several reasons to believe the current situation may be a turning point. The perseverance and progress of Haitians in those above and other fields, including how the international community may support Haiti’s development, greatly assist in reorienting the country toward a more prosperous direction.

An Overview Of Haiti’s Issues In 2020

The Haitian government’s inability to provide for the fundamental necessities of its people, address persistent human rights issues, and respond to humanitarian disasters in 2020 resulted from protracted political instability and gang violence, which frequently had connections to the state.

Since the government’s declaration in July 2018 that it would end gasoline subsidies, widespread civic unrest has essentially crippled Haiti. As proof of misappropriation of monies intended for infrastructure and healthcare under three previous governments, including that of President Jovenel Moise, increased in 2019, protests became more frequent. Police used too much force in their response. Gang and police brutality continued to go unpunished.

In October 2019, the electoral commission postponed the parliamentary elections indefinitely. President Mose has remained in power via executive order since the legislature’s term expired in January 2020. When electoral legislation was not approved by parliament, Mose blamed them for the delay, and his opponents accused him of trying to sabotage the election. In March, amid an uptick in gang violence, the first instances of Covid-19 were verified. As stigmatization and targeted violence against persons thought to be infected suppress care-seeking, the relatively low case counts may be partly attributable to underreporting. The epidemic has made vulnerable groups in society more susceptible. A new penal code, as opposed to the draft law that was presented to parliament in 2017, was decreed by President Mose in June. After being published for 24 months, it will become a law.

  • Crime, violence, and instability

Since 1986, Haiti has seen one of its deadliest periods of violence. Between January and August 31, according to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), there were 944 deliberate killings, 124 kidnappings, and 78 instances of sexual and gender-based violence. At least 159 individuals died from gang violence, including a four-month-old baby.

Claims of political collusion with gangs have exacerbated a sense of insecurity. 98 persons, including 2 top government officials, have been charged by the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) with participating in a 2018 gang-related massacre that resulted in the deaths of 71 people and other atrocities in Port-au-La Prince’s Saline district. The perpetrators did so with the support of the authorities, notably Jimmy Cherizier, a police officer who was later sacked and is now in charge of a gang alliance. The UN has urged authorities to prosecute those who are at fault.

In the Bel-Air area, where locals were protesting an increase in gasoline prices in 2019, Cherizier and other National Police also assisted in at least three deaths, six injuries, and the burning of the homes of 30 people, according to BINUH. In 2017, there may have been attacks in the Grande Ravine area by Cherizier. No criminal investigations have been opened against individuals involved as of yet.

The Port-au-Prince bar association’s chairman, Monferrier Dorval, was assassinated on August 29 outside his home, hours after calling for constitutional

reform in a radio broadcast. The Core Group has urged authorities to look into the incident.

On August 31, gangs in Port-au-Bel-Air Prince’s and Delmas districts killed at least 20 people. They set houses on fire, causing at least 1,221 inhabitants to seek refuge in public spaces, including a soccer field. However, the police did not step in to stop the violence. Numerous assaults carried out by armed gangs under the government’s cover have been reported by human rights organizations such as the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) and Fondasyon Je Klere (FJKL).

  • Displacement

In 2020, there were reports of at least 12,000 displaced individuals, the bulk resulting from gang violence and a typhoon in July. Many more displaced persons should have been counted.

Hurricane Matthew in 2016 displaced almost 140,000 households, still requiring proper housing. At least 300,000 people now reside in an unofficial settlement without government monitoring. In comparison, about 33,000 people are still housed in displacement camps from the 2010 earthquake. Authorities have not offered support for their relocation or return or for protecting their fundamental rights within the colony.

  • Rights to food, water, and health

Environmental concerns, including significant deforestation, industrial pollution, and restricted access to clean water and sanitary facilities, affect the most disadvantaged people in the nation. International organizations estimate that 4.1 million Haitians, or more than a third of the population, experience food insecurity and that 2.1 percent of children are severely malnourished. In many parts of the nation, low rainfall is a persistent problem made worse by climate change’s increased temperatures.

Cholera has killed nearly 10,000 people and infected more than 819,000 since UN forces first discovered it in 2010. Since the final week of January 2019, increased control measures, including a comprehensive vaccination campaign, have eliminated all confirmed cases. However, two-thirds of the population lack access to adequate sanitation, and over a third lack access to clean water, making Haiti vulnerable to a comeback now to Covid-19.

The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Haiti’s Economy And Society Following the Haitian Rebellion, Haiti formally proclaimed independence from France in 1804. The heritage of colonization and slavery is still there, much as in the United States. With a score of 168 out of 187 on the 2014 Human Development Index, Haiti is one of the Western Hemisphere’s nations with the most significant poverty rates. Even though the present political instability has taken precedence, COVID-19’s effects on Haiti’s poverty have been decades in the making. However, external assistance from the US and other nations has been vital in helping Haiti get back on its feet.

Remaining Challenges After The Earthquake

An enormous earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 left many people without houses or sources of income. The earthquake had a terrible impact on farmers and claimed many lives. Following the earthquake, the island experienced enormous aftershocks that worsened its financial situation. Haiti needed assistance from other nations through money and volunteers to progress. However, a significant percentage of the enormous donations vanished because of corruption. As the world focused on other issues, Haiti was once more forgotten.

After the devastating earthquake in 2010, the island started to make tentative improvements. Extreme poverty decreased from 31% in 2000 to 24% in 2012. However, because of the COVID-19 epidemic, Haiti’s severe poverty rates are rising again. Additionally, many COVID-19 cases have started to appear in the nation, “threaten[ing] to overwhelm Haiti’s weak healthcare system.”

Despite increased reported COVID-19 cases in Haiti, the incidence rate is still low. The current rise was partly caused by easier COVID-19 testing availability. However, as cases

increase, Haiti lacks the resources to purchase COVID-19 vaccinations. It must rely on aid from other governments, including the World Bank.

Haiti is battling COVID-19 while simultaneously enduring political upheaval brought on by the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise. Due to more urgent challenges, including kidnappings, political unrest, and natural catastrophes, many people place little attention on COVID-19’s effect on poverty in Haiti.

Following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the country is on the edge of a national health emergency. COVID-19’s impact on poverty has lost its status as a top priority because of the ongoing political upheaval in Haiti. Fears of war, famine, corruption and foreign interference have brought the country to a standstill. However, in July 2021, American President Joe Biden donated 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to Haiti. 

According to Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, a national scientific advisory group member on COVID-19 vaccination, many do not think it is worthwhile in practice because COVID- 19 did not significantly affect us. This occurred when rumors about the potential side effects of AstraZeneca’s vaccine spread around the island.

The development and well-being of Haiti depend on the generosity of other nations. Some academics contend that since France has abused Haiti the most, it should have a significant role in providing help to the nation. The absence of vaccination marketing in the nation is another urgent problem. The lack of knowledge and comprehension of the virus and the vaccination has been attributed to the gap between the general populace and health officials. 

It will be crucial for the Haitian government to inform its citizenry about the significance of COVID-19 awareness as it works to keep the nation from degenerating further into conflict.

The COVID-19 problem was mainly resolved thanks to government reform and reorganization under the direction of former Haitian president Jovenel Moise. Unfortunately, President Moise’s passing has ended Haiti’s development. It is now up to the world community to band together and aid Haiti. Haiti still has a chance to increase its immunization rate and contain the COVID-19 epidemic because of vaccine contributions from powerful nations like the United States and China.

Imagine What 2025 And Beyond Could Be For Haiti

  • Imagine 2025 when Haiti would finally uphold the same creeds that guided our ancestors some 200 years ago and stop being a laughing stock on the international stage.
  • Imagine 2025 is when the state apparatus is equipped with capable citizens, and widespread incompetence will become a thing of the past. The country’s parliamentary body would consist of men and women, driven by a common shared goal and guided by a shared purpose, which would put the country’s interests first.
  • Imagine 2025 is when Haitian politicians running for public office do so by love of country, not because they see politics as the only way to personal success.
  • Imagine 2025 is the year Haiti would finally be capable of having the proper mechanism in place to assess and regulate the state activities so that credible elections could be organized by and for Haitians free of foreign interference.
  • Imagine 2025 is the year Haiti decides to turn from its old ways and rid itself of this institutionalized and endemic corruption that has been systematically established in all state institutions.
  • Imagine 2025 is the year international aid dependency becomes a thing of the past; the country can stand on its own, where Haitians would no longer need to go to the neighboring Dominican Republic to live the most humiliating ways of life.
  • Imagine 2025 would be the year Haiti decides to invest in literacy so much that the country’s electorate would be educated enough to choose its elected officials wisely and hold them accountable through their votes.
  • Imagine the populace would refuse to accept the status quo for what they are, instead envision what they could have been. While I understand these views may be subject to be dismissed as just a utopia, they are nevertheless my heartfelt sentiments and wishes for the country. I am appealing to all who long for the day to see this country returning to its former glory to come together and work for the greater good. The potential impact of democratization, decentralization, and development on Haiti’s future can be significant and far-reaching.

Democratization can bring political stability to Haiti by giving citizens a voice in government and promoting transparency and accountability. A more democratic government could also address the root causes of poverty and inequality and provide better access to education and healthcare.

Decentralization can improve local governance by empowering local communities to make decisions that affect their own lives. This can also reduce corruption, as power and resources are distributed more evenly across the country. 

Decentralization can also create more economic growth and entrepreneurship opportunities by allowing communities to identify and address their own development needs.

Development, particularly sustainable economic development, can improve the quality of life for Haiti’s citizens by reducing poverty, improving access to healthcare and education, and creating job opportunities. This can also help reduce political instability, as people have a stake in the country’s stability and are more likely to participate in the political process. However, it is essential to note that democratization, decentralization, and development are not guaranteed to have positive effects in Haiti. These processes require careful planning and implementation and can only be successful if they are accompanied by ongoing efforts to address corruption, improve governance, and build the capacity of local communities.

The Role Of The International Community In Supporting Haiti’s Political And Economic Advancement

Political insecurity, rising violence, and unprecedented levels continue to impede Haiti’s economic and social development, exacerbating fragility. Haiti remains the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and one of the world’s poorest countries. Haiti’s GDP per capita in 2021 was $1,420, the lowest in the LAC region, which averaged $15,092. In 2020, Haiti ranked 163 out of 191 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index.

Amid the lingering political and institutional crisis and high vulnerability to natural hazards, coupled with violent gangs vying to gain control over business districts, the economy contracted for three consecutive years by 1.7% in 2019, 3.3% in 2020, and 1.8%

in 2021.

In such a context, past gains in poverty reduction have been undone. While more recent data to measure poverty are unavailable, the lack of improvement in critical dimensions needed to reduce poverty negatively affected household incomes across the country. 

For example, In December 2021, 65 percent of households saw a decrease in revenue compared to the years preceding the pandemic, indicating that an already high poverty rate has likely increased. In line with these findings, estimates from the Bank’s team show that poverty will likely rise to 87.6 percent ($6.85/day), 58.7 percent ($3.65/day), and 30.32 percent ($2.15/day) in 2021. 

Haiti is also one of the countries in the region with the highest levels of inequality. 

This is primarily because two-thirds of the poor live in rural areas, and adverse agricultural production conditions create a welfare gap between urban and rural areas.

Haiti remains one of the world’s most vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. These shocks affect more than 96 percent of the population. On August 14, 2021, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale struck Haiti’s southern region, home to approximately 1.6 million people. The quake’s epicenter was located about 12 kilometers northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, about 125 kilometers west of the capital Port-au-Prince.

The direct human toll of the earthquake resulted in 2,246 deaths, 12,763 injured, and 329 missing in the three departments of the Southern Peninsula. Regarding infrastructure, 54,000 houses were destroyed while 83,770 other buildings were damaged, including schools, health facilities, and public buildings. At the government’s request, the World Bank worked with development partners to produce a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) to estimate the damage’s extent and chart a path to recovery. 

The evaluation results of the effects of the August 14, 2021, earthquake indicate a total of more than US$1.6 billion in damage and losses or 11% of GDP. The same region was impacted in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew, which caused losses and damages estimated at 13 percent of the 2015 GDP, and the 2010 earthquake, which killed approximately 250,000 people and decimated 67 percent of the country’s GDP. 

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, intensity, and impacts of extreme weather events, and Haiti, while making some progress, still needs adequate preparedness and resilience-building mechanisms.

On the human development front, after three years with no laboratory-confirmed cases, Haiti is experiencing a new cholera outbreak, with several confirmed cases in some populated areas of the capital cities. Improvements in human capital have therefore stalled and, in some cases, deteriorated since. Infant and maternal mortality remain at high levels, and coverage of prevention measures is stagnating or declining, especially for the poorest households.

According to the Human Capital Index, a child born today in Haiti will grow up only 45 percent as productive as they could be if they had enjoyed full access to quality education and healthcare. Over one-fifth of children are at risk of cognitive and physical limitations, and only 78 percent of 15-year-olds will survive to age 60.

Haiti has a complex political and economic landscape shaped by a long history of political instability, corruption, and economic inequality. Despite some progress in recent years, the country still faces significant challenges, including poverty, poor governance, and limited access to essential services such as healthcare and education. Despite these challenges, there are also opportunities for growth and development, particularly in agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. 

To take advantage of these opportunities and address the country’s challenges, it is essential to focus on strengthening governance and reducing corruption, promoting economic growth and development, and ensuring that the benefits of these efforts are widely shared among the population. By doing so, Haiti has the potential to create a brighter future for its citizens and build a more sustainable and prosperous society.

The Potential For Sustainable Growth, Greater Shared Prosperity, And Equal Opportunities For All Haitians

By democratizing the political process, all citizens have a voice in shaping the country’s direction and can hold their elected officials accountable for their actions. This can lead to policies and programs that better meet the population’s needs, promote more significant economic growth, and reduce poverty.

Decentralization can also drive development by giving local communities a more significant say in allocating resources and decision-making. 

This can lead to more targeted and effective development programs and greater local ownership of development initiatives.

Finally, a focus on development can help improve all citizens’ well-being and reduce inequality. By investing in education, health care, and other critical areas, the government can create a more level playing field and provide all Haitians with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.

These three concepts can help lay the foundation for a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for Haiti and its citizens.

The interplay of democratization, decentralization, and development in Haiti is complex and multifaceted. Haiti is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the Western Hemisphere, and its political and social challenges are significant. Despite some progress in democratization and decentralization, Haiti faces many challenges, including weak governance, political instability, and limited economic development.

Decentralization efforts have aimed to give more power to local governments, improve governance and increase accountability. 

However, these efforts have been limited by a weak political and administrative infrastructure and the challenges of poverty and inequality. The decentralization process has also been hindered by a need for more resources and the challenges of implementing reforms.

Democratization in Haiti has been a slow and challenging process, marked by political instability, weak institutions, and limited civic engagement. The country has experienced frequent changes in government and several periods of violence, further undermining the democratic process. Despite these challenges, Haiti has held regular elections and has a relatively free press, which has contributed to the country’s democratic development.

Various factors, including political instability, weak governance, and limited economic growth, have hampered development in Haiti. The country’s poverty and inequality levels are among the highest in the region, and its economy has struggled to create good jobs and increase economic opportunities for its citizens. The lack of investment and the slow pace of economic growth has also limited the ability of the country to improve living standards and reduce poverty.

While Haiti has made some progress in democratization and decentralization, the country continues to face significant challenges in its development. The interplay of these factors is complex and requires a sustained effort from the government, civil society, and international partners to achieve lasting and meaningful change.

U.S. Relations With Haiti

Haitians and Americans benefit when Haiti becomes more prosperous, secure, and firmly rooted in democracy. The policy of the United States toward this close neighbor aims to foster the institutions and infrastructure needed to achieve strong democratic foundations and meaningful poverty reduction through sustainable development. 

The United States is the single largest donor of humanitarian aid to Haiti, assisting in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable Haitians through health care, shelter, food, nutrition, water/sanitation, and other relief. Another pillar of U.S.-Haiti bilateral cooperation is assistance for long-term development and institution building. 

Priority areas include support for economic growth and poverty reduction, improved healthcare and food security, respect for human rights, more vital democratic institutions, and strengthening the Haitian National Police (HNP) so Haiti can provide its protection, be an essential partner against transnational crime, and foster long-term stability. To help combat poverty and tackle chronic unemployment, which requires job creation, the United States facilitates bilateral trade with and investment in Haiti. The large Haitian diaspora in the United States is a potentially powerful ally in expanding business opportunities and building on the many links that unite Haitians and Americans.

Haiti has faced significant challenges for decades, including natural disasters, environmental shocks, and multiple political crises. Intensified gang violence and recurring political and civil unrest since July 2018 have severely exacerbated Haiti’s dire economic and humanitarian conditions: unemployment and inflation are high; the national currency is volatile; fuel shortages are recurring and severe; foreign reserves are dangerously low; more than 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and more than four million Haitians face crisis- or emergency-level food insecurity. 

The proportion of people in Haiti facing acute food insecurity has increased significantly, from 1 in 3 people in 2018 to almost 1 in 2 people in 2022, according to the study “Food security in Central America, Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Haiti,” published by the Inter-American Development Bank. In addition to grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7, 2021; weeks later, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit southern Haiti on August 14. A nearly two-month-long gang-led blockage of the nation’s largest fuel terminal from late September to early November 2022 led to a nationwide fuel shortage, shutting down hospitals and water treatment facilities while cholera reemerged for the first time since 2019.

While humanitarian assistance will alleviate some urgent needs, it will not, and cannot, address the root causes of the current economic and political paralysis in Haiti.

Political Overview

Haiti’s transition to a functional democracy is essential to the United States. Solid democratic institutions, including regular free and fair elections, can help guarantee Haiti’s democratic traditions and ensure a voice for the Haitian people in their governance. A commitment to democracy, security, and the rule of law ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are better protected. The stability and predictability that come with these institutions are essential for Haiti to achieve sustained economic growth and attract needed foreign investment. However, Haiti suffered another setback in its democratic development with the assassination of President Moïse, who had been ruling by decree since Parliament lapsed in January 2020 but was set to leave office in February 2022. Prime Minister Ariel Henry became head of government, but Haiti still lacks fully functioning legislative and judicial branches. The October 2019 local and parliamentary elections did not take place as scheduled. The terms of the final ten senators, who began serving their terms in 2017, will expire on January 9, 2023, leaving no nationally elected officials remaining in Haiti. The twelve-person Supreme Court lost its president to COVID-19 in June 2021, and because of dismissals, retirements, and deaths, only three judges remain.

The worsening of Haiti’s humanitarian, security, and political crises has also led to an uptick in the outward flow of Haitians from Haiti, several of whom have attempted to migrate irregularly to the United States. Haitian migrants frequently depart via dangerous land and sea routes facilitated by illegal migrant smuggling networks. The decision to relocate may result in losing money, possessions, and even life. As the Biden Administration prepares for the end of Title 42, the United States and the Government of Haiti strongly discourage Haitians from undertaking these dangerous journeys, by both land and sea, to the United States. Although DHS extended and redesignated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians already residing in the United States as of November 6, 2022, TPS does not apply to individuals without a legal basis to enter or remain in the United States. DHS regularly repatriates Haitians who attempt to enter the United States illegally. The United States remains committed to apprehending and prosecuting the human smugglers who profit by organizing and carrying out illegal sea voyages and land movements. 

In addition to deterring irregular migration and preserving life, the United States works to address the root causes of irregular migration from Haiti by helping to create more economic opportunities for Haitians in their own country.

U.S. Assistance to Haiti

Even before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was among the least developed nations and faced chronic challenges to meaningful poverty reduction. Since the 2010 earthquake, the United States has provided over $5.6 billion to assist Haiti in life-saving post-disaster relief and longer-term recovery, reconstruction, and development programs. After the 2021 earthquake, the United States again mobilized a whole-of-government effort to provide immediate assistance at the Haitian government’s request. 

Against this backdrop, the country’s reconstruction and development will continue for many years. In addition to chronic cycles of poverty, a worsening political and security crisis has exacerbated persistent humanitarian needs in Haiti. Since fiscal year (F.Y.) 2021, the United States, through USAID, has provided nearly $172 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance in response to persistent needs and more than $106 million in development and health assistance. 

Highlighted U.S. assistance to Haiti includes:

U.S. assistance helped over 40 partner financial institutions to disburse over $100 million in loans to over 50,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises and allowed to participate SME businesses to generate $110 million in sales. In the agricultural sector, U.S. assistance has helped 105,000 farmers increase crop yields through improved techniques and seeds, generating nearly $30 million in farm sales and $15 million in private-sector investments in the agriculture sector.

In the Water Supply and Sanitation sector, U.S. assistance, in conjunction with the National Potable Water and Sanitation Directorate (DINEPA), has increased access to water services to over 300,000 Haitians since 2018. This assistance has included the provision of fuel to DINEPA water treatment and pumping sites impacted by the Varreux fuel terminal blockage by gangs in October 2021, capacity building for local water distributors to maintain international standards, and public education on personal hygiene.

The Haitian National Police is more substantial, and U.S. assistance has helped increase the HNP to roughly 14,000 officers from less than 10,000 in 2010. Thanks to U.S. assistance, more Haitians have access to police services following the construction of six police commissariats. The United States helped the HNP establish a community policing unit to gain public trust and improve community relations. In addition, the role of women within the force has been amplified. This is reflected by the robust recruitment efforts to target more women to make the HNP more gender inclusive.

U.S. assistance has contributed to measured improvements in fundamental health indicators, including child nutrition and mortality, improved access to maternal healthcare, and the containment of the spread of HIV/AIDS. Over the past ten years, infant mortality has remained steady at 59 deaths per 1,000 live births; under-five mortality has dropped from 88 to 81 deaths per 1,000 live births.

U.S. assistance has helped increase access to primary healthcare through 165 hospitals and clinics across the country. Our aid has increased access to and quality of primary healthcare in those clinics, reaching over 4 million of the most vulnerable among Haiti’s population of 11 million.

Health infrastructure in Haiti has been strengthened by U.S. assistance which established the national public health reference laboratory and an early warning surveillance system that screens a subset of all biological specimens from 67 hospitals across the country for high-risk contagions.

U.S. assistance has supported Haiti’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) for the past ten years, facilitating intensified response training for more than 130 public health leaders and frontline workers. 

These cadres were first responders for the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Haiti, including deployments to all ten departments and the high- risk border region with the Dominican Republic.

Under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. assistance has stabilized the HIV prevalence rate in Haiti at about 2 percent since 2008. U.S. assistance offers life-saving antiretroviral treatment to 91 percent (128,000) of people living with HIV (PLHIV). 

It has helped Haiti to adopt innovative drug distribution and dispensing methods and limit unnecessary COVID-19 risk exposure to PLHIV. These methods include multi-month dispensing, community drug distribution, group services such as psycho-social support groups, and mothers’ clubs implemented remotely online or by phone.

The U.S. government contributed funding towards a solar energy program initiated by the Inter-American Development Bank to construct two solar power plants in northern Haiti. These plants aim to provide an increased supply of sustainable and affordable renewable energy in the region. 

These plants will help expand support to energy grids serviced by the existing U.S.-funded 10-megawatt thermal power plant that provides 24/7 electricity to five industrial clients operating 14 factories inside the Caracol Industrial Park and more than 14,000 households and businesses in five neighboring communities.

Under the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, the United States will implement a 10-year plan that prioritizes partnering with Haiti and takes a long-term view to address drivers of instability and conflict. 

This includes a targeted approach to foster stability in the most severely affected communities – identified through analysis and field-based consultations – while also gradually addressing the underlying drivers of conflict, instability, and violence and mitigating the impact of future environmental shocks.

The United States provided technical assistance to the Superior Judiciary Council (CSPJ), the institution managing, overseeing, and evaluating judiciary members. The CSPJ has since vetted 44 judges and prosecutors to ascertain their moral and professional integrity to serve in the justice system. Through this system, 25 judges and prosecutors were approved, helping renew the accountability of judicial members and building public trust in the justice sector.

To address a lack of transparency within the court system, the United States supported installing a digitized Case Management Information System (CMIS) to reduce Haiti’s prolonged pretrial detention. This system permits chief judges and chief prosecutors to monitor case processing time, enabling improved transparency and accountability in case recording and processing. 

The system is now operational in 13 jurisdictions, including two new locations. Approximately 5,320 points were entered into the system this year for nearly 46,800 cases. The United States is improving local government actors’ and institutions’ transparency, oversight, and accountability by increasing public involvement at the commune-level investment and development planning process. During FY 2021, USAID’s Community Driven Development activity helped 15 communes create municipal investment plans with local stakeholders by reaching a consensus on the prioritization of projects to be implemented and on long-term strategic planning in the targeted communes.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Since 2011, the Government of Haiti has emphasized encouraging foreign investment and developing private-led, market-based economic growth. The Haitian government promotes the inflow of new capital and technological innovations and has committed to improving the business environment and attracting foreign investors. 

However, recurring fuel shortages and the Haitian government’s unilateral actions to stop payment on and cancel contracts with independent power producers have slowed investment. U.S. companies considering investing in Haiti’s energy sector have expressed concern about the Haitian government’s lack of adherence to its contractual obligations and capacity to provide security.

Haiti’s Center of Investment Facilitation aims to facilitate and promote investment in the local economy by reducing administrative delays, streamlining the creation of enterprises, and facilitating the provision of inducements. Nevertheless, overall costs to start and operate a new business in Haiti remain high, and access to credit and structures for investor protection still need to be increased. The United States and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The United States is Haiti’s largest trading partner. Several U.S. firms maintain operations in Haiti, including commercial banks, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants. 

Opportunities for U.S. businesses in Haiti include light manufacturing, in particular, textile and clothing production; the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; building and modernizing Haiti’s infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors such as arts and crafts; business process outsourcing; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations.

The Haitian people, the government, and the international donor community continue to face crushing poverty. Three-quarters of the population subsists on about $2.41 per day, while the poorest subsist on only $1.23 per day. In July 2021, 36% of those working in February 2020 were no longer employed. 

Approximately 86 percent of employed people reported being informally used. Private transfers (remittances) to Haiti total more than $4.7 billion per year, equivalent to about 22 percent of GDP in 2021, with a large portion of these funds used for imported goods consumption and essential household support (e.g., education, health, nutrition).

Significant poverty reduction in Haiti will be dependent on economic activity and foreign investment. To that end, the U.S. promotes necessary reforms in Haiti to make business operations more accessible and predictable and to create the kind of stable environment required by investors.

Trade Preferences for Haiti in the United States

The Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative, provides duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials to both Haitian and American importers and exporters. 

The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE II) Act of 2008 and the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP legislation) of 2010 provide duty-free preferences for certain light manufacturing products made in Haiti, particularly apparel. The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 extended through September 2025 the trade benefits granted to Haiti under the HOPE II and HELP Acts. 

Haitian apparel factories eligible for duty-free entry into the U.S. under HOPE II and HELP must adhere to international core labor standards and Haitian labor law. The HOPE II and HELP Acts were critical in redeveloping Haiti’s apparel industry, which accounts for more than 80% of national export earnings and 10% of GDP (2020).

Membership of Haiti in International Organizations

Haiti and the United States work together to promote core values such as democracy, human rights, and economic development in the region and worldwide. Both countries are members of the United Nations (U.N.), the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (W.B.), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) (WTO). To achieve its policy objectives in Haiti, the United States collaborates closely with the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations (U.N.), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries.


We are very much aware that the more than 2 billion smartphones used worldwide today function not because of Steve Jobs’s singular genius, not even because of the private sector, but because of research and development funded by an entrepreneurial state. Haiti needs the research capacity to compete in this circle of technological advances. However, technological innovation has raised living standards and made populations healthier, safer, and smarter worldwide.

Three (3) barriers hinder sustainable economic development in Haiti.

  1. Inferior Labor Market

The inferior labor market is primarily an effect of a failing education system afflicting many parts of the economy. Poor education is evident in Haiti from primary school through higher education. A large percentage of Haiti needs to be educated and literate, especially in the rural parts of the country.

  1. Lack of Access to Capital

In addition to an inferior labor market, Haitians need help finding investment capital, limiting their entrepreneurial opportunities. 

Access to capital is the most severe constraint for Haitian entrepreneurs. Many Haitians have legitimate business ideas and produce sound business plans, but there are no opportunities to access financing. Minimal financing is available because investors, by nature, want to make investments that offer an excellent chance to earn a return with minimal risk. However, Haiti presents a higher risk due to its history of political insecurity and unrest and its unpredictable and complex business environment.

  1. Lack of trust

Businesses in Haiti routinely look to cut corners for their benefit, especially when they know they can get away with it. In the absence of more vital institutions that could enforce the rule of law, we need to create an environment conducive to positive social impact through value investments with financial gains.

We need to address these three barriers to sustainable development using the principles of a circular economy primarily through technical innovations, open leadership, and the popularization of credit.

  1. Each territorial division, communal Section, commune, or Department shall have the essential educational establishments adapted to their development needs without prejudicing the priorities assigned to agricultural, vocational, cooperative, and technical training, which must be widely disseminated.
  2. Crowdfunding takes the financing of small businesses out of the hands of uncaring banks and vulture capitalists. It puts it into the hands of real people like Madam Sara, who can passionately support companies as donors or investors. Therefore, the GoH could propose the adoption of Crowdfunding platforms to support access to capital for female smallholder farmers and other small producers in Haiti.
  3. The GoH should create a center of Research, Innovation, and Commercialization for Human Entrepreneurship (RICHE). The RICHE center will engage the most capable among us in collaboration with our most zealous entrepreneurs to bring about a much larger middle class.
  1. Following article 248 of the Constitution, the GoH should create THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF AGRARIAN REFORM to organize the revision of land and real property structures and to implement an agrarian reform to benefit Haiti’s economic development, help people in the rural areas with economic growth. This Institute shall create a Project e-cadaster in concert with the DGI. It should develop an agricultural policy with advanced technological support geared toward small farms while also building the infrastructure to protect and manage the land.

Extending Private Mortgage Access In Haiti

Like many emerging economies, Haiti has much of its capital locked in homes of low- and middle-income (LMI) households. The IMF estimated in 2002 that 95% of residents in developing countries have no access to mortgage capital. In September 2013, the Haitian Central Bank reported that Haitian banks had $111M in residential mortgage loans outstanding. They assumed those mortgages are at the high end of the market, where current listings in Port-au-Prince range between $150,000 and $600,000, and the number of residential mortgage holders would be well under 1000. 

If the “average” home value were $300,000 and the mortgage was at a 50% loan-to-value ratio, there would be only 740 mortgage holders in the country.

In the 2003 Census, 74% of households claimed ownership of their own homes. Assuming Haiti at a population of 10,500,000 people and an average household size of 7 people, 74% of the homes would be a potential market or 1,110,000 homes. 

If 20% of these homes took out a Home Equity Line of Credit of $30,000, the available capital to infuse into Haiti’s economy would be approximately $6,600,000,000.

Benefits Of Developing A Broad Residential HOME EQUITY LOAN Market Contribution To Economic Growth

Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto’s work shows that even those who live in slums possess far more capital than anyone realizes. Implementing his vision in Peru showed an annual GDP growth averaging over 6% p.a. from 2005-2014, despite significant drops in 2009 and 2014. 

According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the percentage of Peruvians considered “middle class” doubled to 70% of the population between 2005 and 2011. He and his colleagues calculate the amount of “dead capital” in untitled assets held by the world’s poor as “at least $9.3 trillion “a sum that dwarfs the amount of foreign aid given to the developing world since 1945.

Key elements of the housing component of this growth included:

  • Home-improvement retailers focus on the large portion of the population that builds their own homes.
  • Store-based credit cards and financing programs permit the building process to accelerate. 
  • Mortgage-specialist private companies are underwritten or guaranteed by government funds.
  • Long-term macroeconomic and political stability encourage families to take a long- term view of their future.
  1. Monetary benefits

The current inflation plaguing Haitians has many sources, and the shortage of hard currency is one of the critical factors.

Home Equity Loans would be funded by investors who bring such hard currency with an attendant decrease in the Gourde/Dollar exchange rate.

The cash infusion would create a significant increase in circulation in the country, with all the benefits it could bring to both production and consumption of goods and services, increasing the disposable income of the middle class.

  1. Fiscal benefits

Tax revenues would increase from the banking transactions in addition to all the second- and third-order transactions. A 2005 OECD analysis, Housing Finance Markets in Transition Economies, made the following critical observations about how to establish a well-functioning market/customer-based mortgage lending system Establish sophisticated risk management techniques of mortgage lending for low- and middle- income.

  1. Households

Develop mortgage products to stimulate mortgage issuance. Consider critical requirements of mortgage design for low- and middle-income households (e.g., plain and

cost-efficient instruments for borrowers, low-risk agents for lenders, and effective mortgage insurance schemes).

As effective risk controllers, make the best of secondary market funding arrangements (mortgage-covered bonds/MBS).

Attract institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies to the secondary mortgage market, which will mainly contribute to growing mortgage markets, improving liquidity, and developing the mortgage market infrastructure.

  1. Resolve land ownership disputes

Clean title to the land in Haiti that homes are built on is often problematic but can be resolved with technology like e-cadaster. A means for resolving this problem is essential. The resolution also opens the possibility of mortgaging land further to increase economic growth from increased capital in circulation.

We need a government at the service of its people. A friendly government. An open government. A transparent, functional, agile, and entrepreneurial government. We need a nation in which the inhabitants of the Communal Sections have the right of preemption for the exploitation of the State’s land in the private domain located in their locality, as stated in article 39 of the Constitution.


Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, has faced numerous challenges and difficulties, ranging from political instability, corruption, natural disasters, and economic turmoil. The situation in Haiti continues to be complex, with poverty and inequality still affecting a significant portion of its population. Here are some of the current issues in Haiti and a proposed solution for each:

  • Political instability: Haiti has faced a long history of political turmoil, including coups, rebellions, and contested elections. To address this issue, it is essential to support the strengthening of democratic institutions, such as a transparent electoral system and an independent judiciary. Additionally, the international community can play a role by promoting and supporting the peaceful transfer of power.
  • Corruption: Corruption has significantly hindered the country’s development, hindered economic growth and exacerbated poverty. To tackle corruption, it is essential to improve governance and accountability mechanisms, as well as increase transparency in the use of public funds. The international community can assist by providing technical and financial support for anti-corruption initiatives.
  • Natural disasters: Haiti is frequently struck by natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes, which can significantly damage infrastructure and cause loss of life. Investing in disaster preparedness and mitigation measures, such as building codes, early warning systems, and evacuation plans, is essential to address this issue. The international community can play a role by providing financial and technical support for disaster relief efforts.
  • Economic hardship: Despite efforts to improve its economy, Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with a significant portion of its population living in poverty. To address this issue, it is vital to promote economic growth and job creation through initiatives such as investment in education and infrastructure.

The international community can assist by providing financial and technical support for economic development programs.

The situation in Haiti requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of poverty and instability, as well as a strong commitment from the government, the private sector, and the international community.

Economic difficulties and political instability characterized the situation in Haiti in 1987. The country faced several challenges at the time, including high poverty levels, unemployment, income inequality, a lack of basic infrastructure, and limited access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and clean water. Additionally, Haiti’s political climate was marked by frequent changes in government and ongoing tensions between different political factions, which contributed to further instability and hindered progress.

UNCTAD’s proposed solution for Haiti’s reconstruction and economic development focuses on the importance of increasing and improving the capacity of the State while also respecting the country’s ownership of the process. The organization argues that recovery must be a shared responsibility between Haiti and its development partners. 

The new approach to international cooperation targets investment in productive capacity, infrastructure, market access, and agricultural productivity.

This integrated approach would generate employment, reduce poverty, and support sustainable economic growth. It would focus on macroeconomic, industrial, and trade policies that prioritize domestic resource mobilization and encourage the development of the private sector. This would create a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation, ultimately leading to greater prosperity and a better quality of life for the people of Haiti.

In conclusion, the situation in Haiti in 1987 was challenging. Still, with the right policies and approaches, the country has the potential to achieve sustainable economic growth and improved living standards for its citizens. The proposed solution from UNCTAD highlights the importance of an integrated approach that prioritizes the development of

the country’s domestic capacities and resources and recognizes the role of Haiti and its development partners in driving recovery and growth.

Haiti in 3D: Democratization, Decentralization, Development.

Table of Contents


Part I: Democratization in Haiti

Part II: Decentralization in Haiti

Part III: Development in Haiti

Epilogue/ Conclusion



About the Author


Like Haiti, few nations have faced development challenges. The Caribbean state, which gained independence from French colonial domination more than 200 years ago, has survived numerous foreign intrusions, ongoing political unrest, and catastrophic natural calamities. What was once the richest colony in the Americas has become the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere due to the interaction of these forces.

The relationship between the United States and Haiti has a long and rocky history, including a nearly twenty-year, at times murderous, occupation in the early 20th century. The two nations have a sometimes tumultuous relationship yet nevertheless have strong economic and social links.

Haiti in 3D strives to provide answers to issues about Haiti’s history and future in a socio-political and economic climate that is favorable to the long-term prosperity and well-being of Haitians. Haiti in 3D strives to provide answers to issues about Haiti’s future in a socio-political and economic climate that is favorable to the long-term prosperity and well-being of Haitians. We will examine Haiti’s lengthy experience with democratization, decentralization, and development.



  • What is the history of Haiti?

On the island of Hispaniola, which includes the present-day nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Spanish colonizers first arrived in 1492. French traders established an outpost on the western third of the island in the early 1600s, and many decades later Paris acquired it as the colony of Saint-Domingue. Haiti, the first postcolonial Black republic, rose to prominence as a model of racial equality, self-determination, and abolition. The indigenous population was mostly wiped off after the French came in the seventeenth century to carry on European exploration and exploitation in the Western Hemisphere. Africans (mostly from West Africa) were subsequently transported as slave labor to produce raw items for global trade. In the eighteenth century, Haiti, also referred to as “the pearl of the Antilles,” was regarded as France’s richest colony.Former slaves Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines staged a revolt against French control in the late 1700s that resulted in the establishment of Haiti in 1804 by resisting their exploitation. Haiti, the first postcolonial Black republic, rose to prominence as a model of racial equality, self-determination, and abolition. One of this revolution’s most significant results was that it compelled Napoleon Bonaparte to surrender Louisiana to the United States in 1803, which led to a significant territorial expansion of the American nation. When Haitians gained their freedom in 1804, they replaced the French-assigned name of Saint Domingue with the Taino name of Haiti, or Ayiti in Kreyl.

The culture and history of Haiti are intricate, rich, fascinating, and turbulent, with tales of resistance, uprising, and instability. But Haiti’s resiliency is one of its main characteristics. Haiti battles relentlessly to maintain its strength despite enslavement, numerous coups, different occupations, and military. “Ayiti se tè glise” (“Haiti is a slippery land”) and “Dèyè mn, gen mn” are only a couple of the many proverbs that describe Haiti and its existence (“Behind the mountains there are mountains”).

For African-Americans in the United States during the nineteenth century, Haiti was a glimmer of hope since it was the first black independent nation and had a tale of a successful slave uprising. Because white Americans were concerned that Haiti’s existence threatened their economy, which was based mostly on slavery, the United States, like France, did not recognize Haiti’s independence until 1862. Martin Delany and James Theodore Holly, among others, spearheaded a number of emigration organizations that urged African-Americans to relocate to Haiti. Nearly 20% of free blacks from the northern United States went to Haiti before the Civil War, despite the fact that most who relocated there later returned to the United States because of linguistic and environmental difficulties.

The two countries became connected as a result of this movement between Haiti and America. However, many African-Americans opposed the occupation of a sovereign state when the United States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, rewrote the country’s constitution, and in many other ways contributed to its enduring instability. Under the direction of Executive Secretary James Weldon Johnson, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) wrote a number of letters for The Nation criticizing American injustice in Haiti. The famous poet Langston Hughes visited Haiti in 1932 and had a meeting with Jacques Roumain, one of the leading intellectuals in Haiti at the time. Hughes wrote about his travel to Haiti and his encounter with Roumain in his autobiography I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey, published in 1956.Hughes was deeply moved by Roumain and ultimately translated his groundbreaking novel, Masters of the Dew (Gouverneurs de la Rosée), into English. Such discussions between African-American and Haitian intellectuals took place before phrases like “transnationalism” and “Black national consciousness” were commonly utilized.

Even today, there are still many connections between Haiti and Louisiana in terms of their culinary cultures, languages, buildings, religions, and music.

  • Haiti’s Economy

According to Britannica, Haiti is by a wide margin the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Three-fifths of the population may be unemployed or underemployed, and about four out of every five people there live in abject poverty. First via extensive colonial exploitation and later through unplanned expansion and corruption, Haiti’s meager resource base has been decimated. There are a few global firms operating there.

Although agriculture is the main sector of the economy, domestic food production has lagged behind consumer demand. Up to one-fifth of the food consumed in Haiti is imported, or occasionally smuggled in from the Dominican Republic or the United States. Because imports have lowered the country’s overall food prices, more people are being forced to move to urban areas and the nation’s struggling farmers are becoming even more impoverished.

The majority of Haitians work almost every day in the so-called “informal” sector, which includes street vending, odd jobs, working abroad (and mailing remittances to family members in Haiti), and engaging in illegal activities like smuggling. Conventional steady wage-earning positions are much less common than casual jobs or self-employment.The nation serves as a key hub for the transshipment of illegal drugs from South America to the US. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw significant remittances from Haitians working abroad; in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, remittances increased rapidly as the economic contribution of Haitians working abroad exceeded that of foreign aid and foreign direct investment.

The major sector of the Haitian economy is agriculture, which employs around two-thirds of the labor force but only contributes about one-fourth of the country’s GDP (GDP). Haiti’s fishing grounds and soils are in danger. More over two-fifths of the land is under cultivation even though just one-fifth of it is thought to be suitable for farming. Significant issues include soil erosion (especially on rarely terraced mountain slopes), ongoing drought, and a lack of irrigation.

Rice, cassava (manioc), plantains and bananas, corn (maize), yams and sweet potatoes, and rice are among the crops that many farmers focus on for sustenance. Some meals are offered for sale in roadside markets and in rural areas. The main cash crop in Haiti is a mild arabica coffee. It is sold by Haitian farmers via a network of middlemen, investors, and trading companies. Although sugarcane is Haiti’s second-largest cash crop, the country has been importing sugar since the late 1970s.

Since there was a great need for fuel to process sugarcane during the French colonial era, and there is still a large demand for charcoal in Port-au-Prince and other metropolitan areas, deforestation has become a significant issue in Haiti. Attempts to lessen reliance on trees for fuel have faced significant challenges from political instability and inadequate finance. Due to social and political upheaval and the pressing need to fund other infrastructure projects, a number of large-scale reforestation initiatives that had been planned had to be put on hold. Only a small portion of Haiti’s land is currently covered in forests. The most prevalent animals are goats and cattle, with less pigs and horses. There is some production of poultry. Haiti saw a significant outbreak of African swine flu in the late 1970s, which resulted in the complete eradication of the Creole pig population in the nation by 1982. As a result, many peasants lost their only source of income, albeit replacement pigs were later brought.Because of the custom of relocating to the interior after independence to avoid the possibility of a French invasion, Haitians have historically not fully utilized their fishing resources and have instead relied on agriculture for survival. However, there are some fisheries in various canals and tiny ponds all around Haiti. The north-flowing currents off the shores of Haiti transport significant migrations of deep-sea species such bonitos, marlins, sardines, and tuna, despite the fact that most fishing boats are small and inadequately fitted.

Factors That Have Threatened Haiti’s Development

Since gaining its independence from France, a variety of factors have threatened Haiti’s development, including outside influence, local political corruption, natural disasters, and diseases.

Intervention from abroad and debt. After gaining independence from France in 1804, foreign powers continued to interfere in Haiti. Only until its former colony agreed to make reparations that would be worth $22 billion today did France finally recognize Haiti as an independent nation in 1825. Up to 80% of Haiti’s income over the ensuing 120 years was used to pay off this debt.

Only in 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln was promoting emancipation both at home and abroad, did the United States officially acknowledge Haiti. Later U.S. administrations mostly have a strategic perspective on Haiti. At the start of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson sent Marines to Haiti in an effort to reportedly restore political stability because he was concerned about German influence expanding in the Caribbean. Seven presidents of Haiti have either been removed from office or killed in the five years preceding. The United States was in charge of Haiti’s security and finances for almost two decades. Additionally, it imposed forced labor, censored the press, and overthrew presidents and legislatures that disagreed with American presence. In uprisings against the U.S. government, some 15,000 Haitians perished; the worst uprisings took place in 1919 and 1929. As part of his Good Neighbor Policy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew American troops from Europe in 1934.Following the American evacuation, there were several unstable regimes, which culminated in 1957 with the installation of a dictatorship led by François and Jean-Claude Duvalier. Their twenty-nine-year reign was marked by human rights abuses that cost the country thirty thousand lives or went missing, as well as corruption that emptied the country’s finances. The younger Duvalier was forced to leave the country in 1986 as a result of widespread protests and international pressure, paving the door for a new constitution and democratic institutions.

Haiti has struggled to escape its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, disregard for human rights, underdevelopment, and extreme poverty since the overthrow of the Duvalier government in 1986. Widespread corruption continues to be a barrier to eradicating that legacy.


Mimi Sheller delves into peasant democracy in Haiti’s early republic in her book chapter “the army of sufferers.”;Although metaphorically located on the “periphery” of the nineteenth-century world system, the Republic of Haiti was at the heart of the democratization and de-democratization processes that shaped the Atlantic world. ‘ The very existence of Haiti as the first American republic to be liberated not only from colonial rule but also from slavery defined the period.

The parameters of a global struggle for freedom and citizenship for all former slaves and their descendants. However, outside of Haiti, there is only a minor historiography of the post-revolutionary period (with a few notable exceptions), and Anglophone interest typically jumps glibly from Haitian independence to the US occupation of 1915-30). These teleological accounts, framed as a story of failed government and continuous coups, easily slide into the dismal Duvalier years, Haiti’s plummeting impoverishment, and the recent instability of Haitian democracy (cf. Diederich & Burt 1986; Wilentz 1989; Weinstein & Segal 1992). Anthony and Maingot (1996) would even attribute Haiti’s ongoing political insecurity to the long-term failure of “national norms” as a result of the country’s violent decolonization. If some choose to see the Haitian Revolution as a critical step toward universal freedom (cf. James 1989), these more critical narratives imply that it left permanent scars that never healed.

  • What went wrong with Haiti’s self-liberation project? 

Unlike other groups freed from slavery who struggled to assert their new citizenship rights, the Haitian free peasantry is frequently described as politically apathetic, socially disorganized, and overly enamored of caudillo leaders (e.g., Mintz 1989:298; Stinchcombe 1995:252, 286). This conclusion is based in part on a reading of nineteenth-century sources, many of which concluded that the Haitian people were not ready to govern themselves. “Haiti is in its infancy,” British Consul General Charles Mackenzie (1970:xi) charged, “and the population formed out of discordant materials is precisely in the state that anyone conversant with the history of Mankind might have predicted.” According to this viewpoint, the Haitian Revolution was a triumph of African “barbarism” over French civilization, and the Haitians were accused of being politically immature and incapable of good governance (Sheller 1999; cf. Nicholls 1974). Even today, despite the best efforts of outside forces like the U.S. military to “uphold” or “restore” democracy in Haiti, the country’s “political culture” is frequently blamed for the country’s democratic failure.

The well-known account of Haiti since Duvalier by Amy Wilentz serves as a classic illustration of this narrative of failure. Wilentz (1989:207) claims that “cults of personality and a reliance on spoils and revenge have characterized Haitian politics,” regardless of how sympathetic she may be to the plight of the Haitian people. She criticizes those who have characterized this ineffectiveness and violence as “an African trait,” but she suggests that it originated in Haiti’s distinct history of “slave revolt,” which she asserts was led by men who had been purposefully denied an education by the French. Even today, despite the best efforts of outside forces like the U.S. military to “uphold” or “restore” democracy in Haiti, the country’s “political culture” is frequently blamed for the country’s democratic failure.

The well-known account of Haiti since Duvalier by Amy Wilentz serves as a classic illustration of this narrative of failure. Wilentz (1989:207) claims that “cults of personality and a reliance on spoils and revenge have characterized Haitian politics,” regardless of how sympathetic she may be to the plight of the Haitian people. She criticizes those who have characterized this ineffectiveness and violence as “an African trait,” but she suggests that it originated in Haiti’s distinct history of “slave revolt,” which she asserts was led by men who had been purposefully denied an education by the French.

It would appear that these benighted serfs are simple pickings for autocrats like Duvalier. In addition to ignoring Haiti’s lengthy constitutional history and its highly esteemed and accomplished nineteenth-century intellectuals, this account also ignores the social origins of democracy and bases its conception of Haitian political culture on a number of fundamental presuppositions. Here, Haiti’s (and the Hispanic Caribbean’s) limitations on democracy act as a counterpoint to the ostensibly deeply democratic political cultures of the British Commonwealth Caribbean or the United States (cf. Dominguez, Pastor & Worrell 1993).

Because of the British West Indies’ gradual process of emancipation, inherited British institutions, and colonial tutelage, democracy is seen as more viable there (Payne 1993). However, I would contend that this dominant interpretation of Haiti’s dysfunctional political culture is itself a byproduct of the hostile diplomatic response to the surprise of a successful slave revolution in the midst of a thriving slave-based transatlantic economy. The political evolution of Haiti after independence was influenced by a larger global anti-democratic reaction to the abolition of slavery in many post-slavery states in the Americas, including both the United States of America and British colonies like Jamaica. It has been acknowledged that colonial policy in the British West Indies resulted in restrictions on democracy, particularly through the implementation of Crown Colony Rule.Similarly, it is acknowledged in the United States that the post-Reconstruction reunification of North and South deprived freed slaves of the freedom they were promised (Foner 1988; DuBois 1992; Marx 1998). I want to argue that Haitian democracy was also curtailed (rather than simply being absent). Sidney Mintz (1989:297) was referring to the twentieth-century post-occupation period when he said, “Seemingly mute and invisible, apparently powerless, the peasantry of Haiti reminds one of Marx’s famous dictum that peasants possess organization only in the sense that the potatoes in a sack of potatoes are organized.” The author continues, “However, it is also clear that a century ago the national government was responsive to the peasantry in ways that it has not been since, and that peasant political resistance did, in fact, once manifest itself.” What effects does this earlier era of political strife have on our comprehension of Haiti’s democratic development and the post-slavery Americas more broadly? A closer look at the interactions between elite discourses on democracy and popular political movements suggests that the Haitian peasantry in the nineteenth century had a widespread radical democratic ideology. This essay aims to show that the original egalitarian, anti-colonial, and anti-slavery principles of the Haitian Revolution did not merely fade away in the years following independence. Peasant democratic republicanism survived the fallout of self-emancipation from slavery in the form of a popular vision of racial equality, civic fraternity, and national liberty that was expressed through the Piquet Rebellion and other instances of mass public mobilization in support of democratic citizenship.

This article will concentrate on Haitian discussions about popular political participation in the context of the Liberal Revolution of 1843 and the Piquet Rebellion of 1844. It is based in part on a larger comparative historical study of the roots of democracy in the post-slavery Caribbean (Sheller 2000). Political ideologies of freedom and democratic participation were fervently expressed during the liberal challenge to President Jean-Pierre Boyer’s authoritarian regime. During the revolutionary period of 1843–1844, a peasant movement demanding black civil and political rights and a more democratic constitutional government arose. They identified as “the Army of Sufferers,” and because of the sharpened pikes they used for self-defense, they later came to be known as the Piquets. In some ways, the events of this era were portrayed as a conflict between “black” and “mulatto” factions; however, this interpretation ignores other political issues that were at play, which are essential to comprehending Haiti’s teetering history of democracy. 

My research suggests that Haitians have long struggled to enact democracy from the bottom up, in contrast to notions of democracy in the Americas as a top-down process of “tutelage” or as a managed “transition” fostered by external economic or military intervention. In Haiti in the first half of the nineteenth century, the ideology, institutions, value, and desire for democracy were all in place and functioning. Therefore, the apparent failure of democracy in Haiti cannot be attributed to the absence of democratic instruction (which was allegedly available in the British West Indies). This article traces the popular movement for constitutional reform and democratization in Boyer’s Haiti and makes the argument that, contrary to what is implied in all theories of democratic tutelage, the reason why democracy failed in Haiti was not because of popular apathy or uneducated ignorance, but rather because of institutional failure to subject the military to civil control. This militarization was primarily a result of the international situation, which called for a defensive reaction to the Great Powers’ hostile diplomacy, rather than being an inherent aspect of Haitian political culture. The identification of the national and international forces that have worked to keep Haiti impoverished and backward has received far too little scholarly attention, as Mintz (1989:267) notes. The country’s disadvantageous standing within a global economic and political system that was founded on slavery, colonialism, and militarism provides the best justification for the apparent “failure” of democracy in Haiti. It was that system that failed democracy throughout the Americas, not just in Haiti. I hope to demonstrate how political actors in Haiti debated various institutional setups and worked to enact a constitution that was even more democratic than the one in the United States at the time by focusing on a period of intense debate over democratization and popular rights in the Republic of Haiti. I follow the Haitian fight for democracy through three stages of the revolutionary situation of 1843–1844, starting with the ideological and institutional contexts for a democratic alliance opposed to President Boyer. First, the liberal revolution itself, which forced Boyer from office and sparked a brief resurgence of democracy. Then came the “revolution within the revolution,” in which a powerful black landowner family inspired the smaller southern landowners and farmers to oppose racial injustice and the persisted “aristocracy of the skin.” In the third phase, armed peasants took the initiative and demanded economic reform, land reform, and protection of their constitutional rights as Haitian citizens. This movement was led by a charismatic popular leader named Jean-Jacques Acaau. The sad paradox of Haitian history is that the country’s successful struggle to end slavery left the new republic with all the necessary components for democracy, save for one, and that is the most essential one: the submission of the military to civil authority. The international context clearly had a significant impact, just as it has in more recent attempts at democratization. If we take a step back and consider why the military was such an important part of the Haitian government in the nineteenth century (Rueschemeyer, Stephens & Stephens 1992; Paige 1997). The French government was under intense pressure from the old colons and their resentful heirs, who floated plans for the military conquest of Haiti up until the 1840s, and France refused to recognize Haiti’s independence.Following suit, the United States held out until 1863 following its own emancipation proclamation and exerted pressure on the South American republics to isolate Haiti. Britain followed suit and would not recognize Haiti until 1838, after it had abolished slavery. The construction of high tariff barriers against Haitian exports like coffee strengthened this international diplomatic quarantine of the “black republic.” As a result of these policies, countries that controlled the global economy based on the slave trade—countries that were seriously threatened by the existence of a free society—were able to thwart the indigenous democracy in Haiti African Republic (see Sheller 1999).Therefore, treacherous diplomacy, the imposition of debt, and harsh European and North American policies of selective economic embargo and protective tariff walls choked Haiti’s experiment in republican self-government. In this way, Haiti served as a testing ground for future North-South relations as well as a guide for how to restrain anticolonial emancipation movements.While this has been happening, attention has been diverted from the role of the so-called “champions” of democracy in stifling democratization where it was a blatant threat to colonial interests by portrayals of Haiti in Europe and North America as primitive and politically immature, incapable of establishing “modern” political institutions. Sidney Mintz (1989:297) notes that North American hegemony “may have played a bigger role than has generally been recognized in the isolation of the Haitian peasantry from national decision-making” with regard to the twentieth century in Haiti. Reclaiming Haiti’s long history of popular democratic struggle—and the Western powers’ steadfast opposition to that struggle—puts the history of democracy in the Americas in a fresh perspective. When we re-calibrate the narrative and concentrate on hidden turning points, the plot thickens in contrast to the temporal and spatial construct of “Western democracy,” from which the anachronistic “backward” islands of the Caribbean have been excluded. According to Barrington Moore (1966), the fight between an ascendant bourgeois class and an agrarian elite is not the only prerequisite for the establishment of democracy (cf. Paige 1997). The post-slavery peasantry in Haiti vociferously defended democracy.Democratization always takes place within an international framework in which several causal mechanisms interact, rather than being just an internal process of class conflict. Secondly, rather than being a straightforward progressive linear story, it has an uneven temporal development, taking both backward and forward steps. Thirdly, rather than constantly emerging from either the national or the global “center” out to the periphery, its ideological and social beginnings lie in a wide range of dispersed places and splintered conflicts in many different regions of the world, including the Caribbean post-slavery.

  • Repression And The Rule Of Law’s Failure

A new Constitution that established a social compact between the Haitian government and its inhabitants was approved by a large majority of Haitians in 1987. The 1987 Constitution of Haiti, which was largely a result of the post-Duvalier euphoria, includes the typical protections for human rights seen in a contemporary state.   All international treaties ratified by Haiti are included in Haitian law according to Article 276.2, which also guarantees the rights to life (Article 19), freedom of expression (Article 28), freedom of association, and assembly (Article 31). For instance, Jean-Claude Duvalier endorsed the American Convention on Human Rights in 1977, and it is now incorporated into Haitian legislation. The Code of Criminal Procedure, which was first adopted in 1835 and still serves as the theoretical foundation for Haiti’s criminal justice system today, is based on the Napoleonic Code, which is the legal code that governs the country’s courts.But this justice system hasn’t worked so effectively. Philippe Texier, a UN Special Rapporteur on Haiti, came to the following conclusions:

The traditional justice system… failed to fulfill its function. The judicial authorities’ independence is poorly protected, and their authority is severely constrained. They have failed to exonerate anyone for any of the innumerable atrocities that have been committed over the previous few years.

In his 1994 report to the UN General Assembly, Dr. Bruni Celli, the UN Special Rapporteur on Haiti, made essentially the same argument. The virtually total lack of independence of the court and the police from the Haitian military forces is masked by the many other causes of this failure, including the poor education and training of judges and the cheap wages that encourage corruption. Only the two largest cities, Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien, have a police force that is theoretically distinct, and in these police units, both the commanders and the agents are military personnel. The nation lacks a police academy.

The Haitian army regulations assign the duty of upholding law and order to the section chief, the lowest level of the army hierarchy, in rural areas that are divided into 515 communal parts. Understanding the army’s influence over Haitian society since the Duvaliers depends on these section leaders. A section head has the authority to decide a resident’s life or death, hence they are also essential to the study of human rights violations in that section. For the areas under his control, he frequently acts as the de facto executive, legislature, and judiciary. Instead of referring matters to the courts, section heads make arrests, hold detainees, hold trials, and arbitrate disagreements.

The chief usually hired a number of attachés in order to recuperate the initial expenditure because the position was frequently obtained through bribery. The section chief was paid by the attachés in exchange for the opportunity to work for him and afterwards benefit from the position of power it provided. Extortion networks, receiving money in exchange for the release of prisoners, and imposing arbitrary fines all became accepted methods of income generation for the attachés and the section chief.

President Aristide was able to appoint the end of the section chief system during his limited time in office. It was going to be replaced with a rural police force that would be governed by the Ministry of Justice. However, he was overthrown before parliament adopted the statute establishing the new system. By November 1991, the section chiefs had been reinstated by the de facto government. The section chiefs then started gradually expanding their role. The murders, disappearances, rapes, and other human rights crimes that were prevalent in Haiti after the coup d’état were frequently committed by the attachés.

After the coup d’état, tens of thousands of attachés, frequently ex-Tontons Macoutes, reportedly joined the 7,000 members of the armed forces. Under the Duvaliers, the army and the Macoutes were balanced against one another to maintain the dictator’s personal power; however, over the past three years, with the suspension of the constitution, these two forces have effectively combined to form an unified machinery of repression. They were effectively united by a common foe, those who backed President Aristide.

A political arm of the repression was established in the final year of the de facto regime. The Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti (Front pour l’Avancement et le Progrès d’Haiti, or FRAPH) was established by Emmanuel Constant, the son of a François Duvalier army commander, Jodel Chamblain, a former soldier, and Tonton Macoute, who is alleged to have participated in the November 1987 election massacre. According to the army, FRAPH openly supports François Duvalier, and “its operations, including public demonstrations, violent thuggery, and assassinations, are condoned”Small parties that supported the de facto regime were tolerated, but the political opposition was suppressed, most notably those who supported President Aristide, giving FRAPH an unopposed platform on the streets and in rural areas. Since FRAPH is present in every communal area of the nation, many people enlisted as a sort of paramilitary protection. Many members are attachés and former Tontons Macoutes.



What is decentralization?

Decentralization is the “transfer of responsibility for planning, management, and the raising and allocating of resources from the central government and its agencies to field units of government agencies, subordinate units or levels of government, semi-autonomous public authorities or corporations, area-wide, regional, or functional authorities, or non-governmental private or voluntary organizations,” according to Rondinelli (1989). In essence, decentralization broadly refers to any transfer of power from the national level of government to sub-national levels with the ultimate objective of enhancing resource allocation and improving governmental responsiveness to local demands (Bardhan, 2002; Conyers, 1984; Oates, 2006; Ramirez et al., 2006).

The roles and responsibilities of various government actors can also be redefined thanks to decentralization, allowing for “the development of a comprehensive national policy framework that, while allowing adequate scope for local governments to adopt strategies that reflect local conditions and preferences, will ensure broad coherence and direction in regard to national development” In Miller (2000)

  • The Dichotomy:Centralization-Decentralization

Hutchcroft (2001) argues that while decentralization policies are frequently desired to support democratic and developmental goals, they are frequently implemented by policy players without first “defini[ing] more clearly what is meant by the terms ‘centralization’ and ‘decentralization'” (Hutchcroft, 2001). Currently, literature has a propensity to portray centralization and decentralization as either-or political realities, despite the fact that real-world situations frequently show a combination of the two (Kee, 1977). The concern, according to several studies (Azfar et al., 1999; Miller, 2002; Oates, 2006; Prud’homme, 1995; Rondinelli, 1990), is less about whether or not decentralization should take place and more about which governmental tasks should be decentralized, within which sectors, and to what location. All governments, in actuality, “have a mixture of centralized and decentralized functions” Despite this, there is no general consensus over the precise nature of decentralization or the best method to employ. Thus, it appears that the contradiction between centralization and decentralization is untrue.

One of the above-mentioned worries about decentralization is that it can be vulnerable to local capture, in which a strong local elite takes control of the expanded authority that has been transferred to subnational governments (Brutzkus, 1975; Smoke, 2001; Weingast, 2009). This serves as another evidence that any decentralization strategy must be successfully implemented for a strong central government to exist. To offer oversight in stopping damaging opportunistic actions on the part of local interests, a powerful central authority is required. Decentralization, according to Bardhan (2002), is crucial for transitional and developing economies since unitary governments’ need for complexity to manage vast regions frequently results in ineffective or corrupt governments.

Decentralization opponents claim that while more centralized forms of administration are better suited to produce economies of scale, decentralization has the potential to widen regional imbalances (Azfar et al., 1999; Kee, 1977; Prud’homme, 1995). According to the theory, while local governments can work to reduce income disparities within their communities, regional disparities across different jurisdictions are best addressed by the federal government due to the potential for spillover effects under centralization (Bird, 2003; Oates, 2006). Decentralization is also thought to encourage interjurisdictional competition, which can exacerbate regional imbalances (Prud’homme, 1995).The majority of developing nations’ central governments are not focused on providing efficient services, nor do they “perceive citizens as their customer and as a result they do not define their principal functions as meeting citizens’ needs and desires” (Rondinelli, 1989). Instead, central administrations continue to be preoccupied with the creation of capital-intensive infrastructure without much care for the upkeep of these projects after their terms in power (Rondinelli, 1989). The decentralization theorem presents a hurdle since decentralization proponents presume that the federal government cannot or is unwilling to deliver varied public goods in accordance with local interests. The majority of central governments in developing countries do not prioritize providing efficient services or “perceive citizens as their customer and as a result they do not define their principal functions as meeting citizens’ needs and desires,” which prevents them from defining these as their primary goals (Rondinelli, 1989). Instead, central governments continue to be focused with building capital-intensive infrastructure while showing little concern for maintaining these initiatives after their tenure in office (Rondinelli, 1989). Since decentralization proponents assume that the federal government cannot or is unwilling to provide a variety of public goods in accordance with local interests, the decentralization theorem provides a challenge.

However, eschewing the dichotomy between centralization and decentralization provides an opportunity to “reshape interactions between capital and rural in diverse situations around the world” (Hutchcroft, 2001). It’s critical to remember that decentralization does not render the central authority obsolete. It also doesn’t want to lessen its importance. In fact, the possibility of decentralization’s success is increased by a powerful center. Prud’homme (1995) asserts that a sizable section of the literature on public finance supports the view that the central government should continue to be solely responsible for the redistribution of wealth, despite opposition from researchers like Bird (1993). Therefore, transferring responsibility and power to local governments is crucial.“that have the critical mass required to use them effectively” and “the powers transferred from central to local 25 governments [do] not jeopardize the efficiency of the central government”

  • The Port-au-Prince Republic

As the first black republic in history, Haiti broke away from the colonial world order in 1804 when it proclaimed its independence from France. However, there are still examples of urban primacy in pre- and post-colonial Haiti that are similar to the patterns of spatial development seen throughout the Caribbean (Laguerre, 1987). However, the legacy of racial and socioeconomic stratification left behind by the post-colonial period in Haiti led to the development of a newly independent but problematically classist society, which Lundahl (1989) and Fatton (2002) identify as a predatory state. In this system, the state’s outward appearance served mainly to serve a small, light-skinned elite who used patronage to amass wealth and power, leaving darker-skinned Haitians to fend for themselves and allowing personal gain to take precedence over the long-term advancement of society (Fatton, 2006). The poor black masses, known as moun andeyo, were consigned to rural areas as a spatial consequence of Haiti’s socioeconomic and sociohistorical reality, while the wealthy elite, known as moun lavil, ruled Haiti’s central city (Cross, 1979; Truillot, 2000). Despite the fact that their agricultural output continued to play a significant role in the Haitian economy, members of the rural people of Haiti were effectively excluded from capital city decision-making processes and did not receive full citizenship rights. Additionally, “it seemed [to be] part of the political élite’s policy to leave the roads in disrepair and the rural districts cut off from the capital and the outside world…[as] an effective vehicle for social and political control” (Yarrington, 2015). It is still unclear how to resolve these significant and enduring intergroup conflicts in Haiti’s postcolonial regime. The concentration of governmental institutions and resources in Port-au-Prince today serves to perpetuate the city’s dominance, which in turn promotes urbanization trends that force poor, rural Haitians to seek out marginal jobs in the city (Fatton, 2006). For these reasons, Lundahl (1992) contends that a thorough analysis of the political and socioeconomic factors that have shaped the Haitian state is necessary in order to examine modern-day Haiti. However, it is crucial to recognize the geographical manifestation of these truths.

The primate city’s “functions both as a core where rural migrants relocate to and as a periphery from which urbanites migrate to the United States” is another crucial aspect of the city (Laguerre, 1987). Without a doubt, Port-au-Prince serves as the principal entry point for immigrants seeking to move to diasporic areas in cities like Miami, New York, Montreal, and Paris, among others. Additionally, it serves as the entry point for the majority of foreign companies that operate in the country’s business and nonprofit sectors (Laguerre, 1987). To better comprehend “the structure of local economies and labor forces, trade composition and flow, foreign investment and its forward and backward linkages, municipal political systems, and so forth,” close attention to these network dynamics is required (Kasarda and Crenshaw, 1991). The creation of “viable secondary and tertiary cities,” which will lead to “the decentralization of public services,” will ultimately have to be a key factor to take into account for the Haitian state to better serve its existing populations (Kasarda and Crenshaw, 1991). 

Decentralization, State Reform, and Haiti’s 1987 Constitution

Bird (2003) and Schroeder and Smoke (2003) emphasize that “before studying any component of the process,” the objectives and context of decentralization within a country, as well as the component portions of the systems and dynamics inherent in that country, must be understood (Bird, 2003). Decentralization as a development mechanism rose to prominence in Haiti with the fall of the 29-year father-son Duvalier regime in February 1986 (Lundahl, 1991; Truillot, 1990). The succeeding 1987 Constitution calls for a reconstruction of the Haitian state in order to move away from its dictatorship past. Decentralization and participatory democracy are cited in the constitution as being essential to this reform (Cantave et al., 2000). Decentralization’s pledge to “ensure the separation and the harmonious distribution of the authorities of the state at the service of the fundamental interests and priorities of the Nation” is announced in the constitution’s preamble (Constitution of 1987; Smucker et al., 2000). The Constitution calls for a new Haitian state that aims to serve these communities and their respective populations through administrative and territorial reforms, acknowledging that the concentration of power and resources in the hands of a select few has resulted in the disenfranchisement of rural areas outside of the capital.

The language of the agreement is meant to guarantee that every area of the nation has access to fundamental public services and the right to fully participate in governmental matters. Decentralization in the context of Haiti is thus defined as: 

  • The central government sharing its authority with local and regional authorities as well as providing them with the resources (technical and financial) required for them to participate in the state’s decision-making processes; 
  • The establishment of local and regional assemblies and councils to be presided over by leaders for whom the populace has the unhindered and legitimate right to vote; The establishment of local and regional councils to be headed by representatives from the private sector;
  • The ability of local and regional leaders to actively participate in developing and implementing development plans for their territories in order to improve public service delivery, as well as the right of these localities to generate revenue from their populations in support of these communal development plans while receiving financial and technical support from the central government in these efforts;

A complete reform of the Haitian state that profoundly alters the relationship between the government and the governed, resulting in the full participation of all Haitian people in all aspects of Haitian life (Cantave et al., 2000, Articles 71 and 84.4).

  • 1987’S Creation of Territorial Collectivities

Haiti’s decentralization will be based on the Constitution of 1987’s creation of collectivities territoriales (Constitution of 1987-Article 61; Cantave et al., 2000). The collectivities were established to improve the way the state provides services and to give people a way to interact more directly with elected officials at all levels of government through the central government itself. The collectivities are physical boundaries that establish local and regional jurisdictions with corresponding assemblies and councils. In contrast to communes, which are made up of several communal sections, and departments, which are most like counties in the United States, section communales, or communal sections, are the most local geographic units in Haiti.

The Constitution of 1987 states that each collectivity was intended to function separately from but in conjunction with the others. The constitution established a council for the administration of the communal sections (konsèy seksyon kominal – KASEK or CASEC) at the level of the community section (seksyon kominal), as well as an assembly of the communal sections (asanble seksyon kominal – ASEK or ASEC).

During general elections, voters will choose representatives for each of these. A commune’s administration was to be overseen by a council known as the konsèy minisipal. General elections were also scheduled to include the konsèy minister.

However, the communal assemblies (asanble minisipal) were to include all of the village representatives in addition to a representative who was indirectly chosen from each ASEC (delege du ville). (Cantave et al., 2000; Constitution of 1987, Article 87.2; Ramirez et al., 2006) The departmental assembly (asanble depatmantal) was to be made up of members indirectly chosen from the communal assemblies of each of Haiti’s ten departments, and the departmental assembly4 would then elect one of its members to serve on the departmental council (konsèy depatmantal). In addition, the departmental council would designate one of its members to join the interdepartmental council (konsèy entèdepatmantal). As stated in Article 87.2 of the Constitution of 1987, the interdepartmental council is tasked with working with the executive branch of government to develop studies, plans, and projects that will advance the “decentralization and development of the country from a social, economic, commercial, agricultural, and industrial standpoint.” This task furthers the spatial and administrative dimension of decentralization.

The territorial collectivities were established by the constitution as a means of decentralization throughout Haiti, but it did not specify their roles, the procedures for their councils and assemblies, or the resources they would use to carry out their development plans (Cantave et al., 2000; Ramirez et al., 2006). The actual councils and assemblies have never been created (Ramirez et al., 2006). This is especially troubling because “the Constitution strongly relies on the installation of assemblies as the key to decentralized governance, and to the diminution of executive power at the center” (Smucker et al., 2000). According to Ramirez et al. (2006), “the [Interdepartmental Council] has direct access to the executive and the national cabinet without going through Parliament and is one of the most feared institutions of the decentralization framework because of its impact in both the executive and legislative branches of the government” (Ramirez et al., 2006). One of the main reasons that the political will for decentralization as a concept is difficult to come by among central government officials is that the Interdepartmental Council would present both real and perceived challenges to the concentration of power at the central level (within both the executive and legislative branches). This is true even though “political will is without a doubt the pivotal factor in decentralization” (Smucker et al., 2000; Interviewees 2017). In general, it was believed that decentralization would increase power sharing between levels of government and territories, advance governmental development goals, and improve the provision of public services across the board in post-Duvalier Haiti. Decentralization is frequently desired in emerging nations generally due to the ultimate accomplishment of such goals. However, decentralization in Haiti has not yet been fully put into practice. The political will to implement these changes has also been hindered by the fact that most local government regulations passed since the 1987 Constitution are frequently conflicting and occasionally insufficient (USAID, 2018). Many of them have features that are unlawful because they directly conflict with the Constitution’s mandate for more local autonomy, such as mandating that the federal government oversee development money. Other legislation have only been enforced partially.

  • 1996 Decentralization Laws

The 46th legislature benefited from a sense of hope and a renewed commitment to democracy following the 1994 return of President Jean-Betrand Aristide from exile and the peaceful elections that took place in 1995, but before the crippling political crises that would emerge in the late 1990s (Olson et al., 1999; Ramirez et al., 2006; Smucker et al., 2000). Nevertheless, notwithstanding the exuberance of that time, the emergence of three decentralization laws in 1996 shows how challenging it is to realize the constitutional promise of a decentralized Haitian state.

First, the April 4th, 1996 Law on the Organization of Communal Sections aimed to put into practice the constitutional obligations for local representation and enhance local governance. The primary problem with the bill was that it was dependent on the passing of other pieces of legislation, making it ineffective on its own. Other difficulties include “an electoral requirement to elect slates (cartels) rather than individuals…[which] tends to undermine the principle of localism and locality representation with the section,” in that external factors like national political affiliations take precedence over local interests (Smucker et al., 2000). Additionally, winning cartels are frequently rife with internal strife and disagreements, which limits their capacity to effectively govern (Smucker et al., 2000; USAID 2012; Interviewee 2017). This is because three-member mayoral cartels frequently form entirely on the basis of power consolidation rather than, for example, on the basis of shared philosophical leanings. The law’s vagueness on how much independence local authorities are allowed to have in light of other provisions mandating central government oversight is one of its other flaws. Concerns about the lawmakers’ commitment to decentralization for Haiti’s urban areas are also raised by the rules pertaining to the organization of communal section governance, which do not provide an analogous framework for urban communities (Smucker et al., 2000).

The Fils-Aimé Law of 1996, which established the intergovernmental transfer Fonds de Gestion et Développement de Collectivités Territoriales (FGDCT), or “the fund for the operation and development of the territorial collectivities,” was the most important decentralization law of this period (Ramirez et al., 2006; USAID, 2018). The act was initially introduced by Alix Fils-Aimé, who was the deputé (parliamentarian) for the Port-au-Prince communes of Kenscoff and Petionville6. First, the law was intended to redefine administrative procedures and duties across the whole Haitian state, together with its explicit budgets and compensation. Second, Fils-Aimé made an effort to improve local funding for planning studies that may promote growth across each of Haiti’s ten geographic divisions. Thirdly, the law was intended to promote investments based on business alliances with Haiti’s diaspora inhabitants, taking advantage of their steadfast connections to the communities they left behind through, for example, hometown associations, neighborhood projects, and constant remittances. In a May 2017 interview, Fils-Aimé revealed to me that the core of what he proposed was that, as a starting point, it was necessary to provide the financial means to stimulate development. After the creation of the departmental development plans, however, his intention was to deal more directly with decentralizing the state. According to Fils-Aimé, decentralization is a technique used to unite populations and give them chances to responsibly pursue their own development. Since the 1987 Constitution, Fils-proposed Aimé’s law was the first overt attempt to improve the autonomy and development of Haiti’s communities. Prior to its implementation, local governments lacked the authority to determine their financing sources and the amount of money they could anticipate from the federal government each year (Olson et al., 1999). The FilsAimé bill was also the first proposal by a politician in Haitian history.

Contrary to his initial proposal, Fils-FGDCT Aimé’s law was actually a general-purpose intergovernmental transfer with the aim of assisting administrative management training programs and the administration of ill-defined development plans. It was published in Le Moniteur on July 18, 1996, under the name Fils-FGDCT Aimé’s law. A decision was taken at the executive level to include Fils-proposal Aimé’s in the budgeting process rather than consider it as a stand-alone law since it was believed that the executive arm of government in Haiti alone had the authority to make financial decisions. As a result, Fils-Aimé was not given the chance to present a case or win support for his idea in parliament; just parts of what he offered — parts chosen by the executive branch — were enacted into law.

The third of the 1996 laws, which was released in September of that same year, contained particular information about how the FGDCT would be financed as well as how the funds would be distributed (Ramirez et al., 2006; Republic of Haiti, 1996; Smucker et al., 2000).Curiously, the law that established the FGDCT also required an eleven-member committee to oversee it (although this provision was eliminated by presidential order on January 11, 1999), and transferred responsibility for managing this intergovernmental transfer to the Ministry of Interior (Smucker et al., 2000). Since the Interior Ministry “does not apply any criteria to allocate FGDCT resources,” Ramirez et al. (2000) conclude that the FGDCT is not only ineffective in meeting the needs of local governments, but also that “the [Interior] Ministry never has distributed the total amount of allocated resources.”FGDCT has transformed from being a line item in the central government, subject to the whim of decision makers at the expense of the communes it was initially intended to support, into a line item that hinders local development as opposed to fostering it as intended (Denizé, 2002; USAID, 2012; USAID, 2018).

According to Smucker et al. (2000), the “central government allocation of cash is the definitive litmus test of central government political will” when discussing the effects of fiscal decentralization and enhanced local governance in Haiti (Smucker et al., 2000). Surprisingly, the authors assert that “without waiting for new enabling legislation to be passed, Parliament may considerably advance the cause of decentralization via the budgetary process alone” (Smucker et al., 2000). According to Smucker et al. (2000), the financial process is also the easiest tool to use to encourage decentralization at the center.This idea calls into question whether fiscal decentralization in Haiti is possible in the absence of a political framework, on the basis of efficiency and better allocation.

 United States-led decentralization efforts in Haiti


Bilateral support for decentralization in Haiti from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began in the 1990s with the launch of its Democracy Enhancement Project (DEP), which ran until 2000 and included at least two local governance programs, including PACTE (Programme Appui aux Collectivités Territoriales) from 1995 to 2000. Despite multiple instances of political unrest and instability in the late 1990s and early 2000s, USAID has recently helped Haiti decentralize through the LOKAL (Limiyé ak ganizasyon pou Kolektivity yo Ale Lwen) program.In the “2005–2010 plan under the Governing More Effectively and Democratically Strategic Objective with the more focused objective of making local governments more democratic, transparent, and effective in providing services to their communities,” LOKAL was one of the USAID/Haiti initiatives (USAID, 2012). The program cost a total of $13,683,091.8 from December 2007 to January 31st, 2011. LOKAL prioritized enhancing the policy and legal framework for decentralization, supporting local government stakeholders’ capacity to effectively manage local affairs and provide public services, and encouraging citizen participation as a way to boost transparency in the program’s target communities. The program was plagued by political unrest at the beginning of 2008, then three subsequent tropical storms that year, and finally the disastrous January 2010 earthquake that occurred at the start of the program’s third year. After the earthquake, LOKAL redirected funding towards a nine-month Municipal Recovery program, assisting in restoring the operational capacity of the program’s participating communities in the quake-affected areas while establishing efficient means for local stakeholders to quickly disseminate public information (USAID, 2012). The earthquake highlighted the crucial role of local actors since they could more easily determine the needs and wants of their communities in the early aftermath of the quake, when central government functions were severely hindered (Interviewee 2017).

Therefore, attempts to improve participatory planning, municipal budgeting, and income mobilization were revived in the final year of LOKAL’s operations, with measurable progress (USAID, 2012). Given that tax rolls in Haiti are frequently out-of-date due to shortcomings in information management, a lack of public administration tools and technical expertise, and a lack of coordination between the tax authority and local governments, attempts at revenue mobilization highlighted local tax collection as a potential area for gains. The two primary revenue sources for municipal governments are business taxes (patente) and property taxes (Contributions Foncières sur les Propriétés Bâties [CFPB]), so it makes sense that “increasing revenues from these taxes holds great potential for allowing municipal governments to fulfill their service delivery and public investment responsibilities,” particularly in light of the aforementioned lack of transparency and insufficient allocation of the FGDCT i. (USAID, 2012).The LOKAL program developed a methodology and set of technologies to support fiscal management and tax collection at the local level using the commune of Saint Marc and Carrefour as pilot locations. Conducting a property census and valuation, computerizing tax rolls and management systems, and providing technical help to improve the operating capability of the tax office were among the tasks (USAID, 2012). This increased Saint Marc’s tax roll from a starting point of 6,000 homes to 18,943 properties, resulting in a 159 percent increase in property tax revenue in the fiscal year 2011. Business tax receipts rose from $10,636 to $23,693 in fiscal year 2011—an increase of almost 123 percent. Comparatively to the $40,376 it had collected at that point the year before, Carrefour was able to produce almost $117,154 in property taxes during the first quarter of fiscal year 2012. (USAID, 2012). With regard to the institutionalization of annual budget preparation and revision at the municipal level, this significant move even led to collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Interior and Territorial Collectivities (USAID, 2012).Through participatory planning and the creation of municipal assistance initiatives, LOKAL made early attempts to answer the question of whether these increases in local revenue actually led to better public service delivery. A chance to gain “practical experience in the design and implementation of public service improvement initiatives” was intended to be given to local stakeholders (USAID, 2012). Additionally, transparent local public financial management, development planning, and project implementation were to be achieved through mutually reinforcing components of the municipal investment planning process and project development (USAID, 2012).The 2012 LOKAL final report notes that the “most accurate assessment of increased local government capacity would have been time-series data during the course of the project including a control group” (USAID, 2012). Therefore, despite having a distinct design, my study is innovative in its attempt to address the question of whether USAID’s initiatives to boost local revenue have truly increased local authorities’ capacity to provide their populations with better public services.


The five-year, $19.8 million LOKAL+ program worked closely with nine municipalities to improve tax collection, management, and service delivery. It also collaborated with central government organizations to strengthen the legal foundation for tax collecting. The goals of the program were more explicitly to:

▪ reinforce the capacity of local governments to provide services, 

▪ mobilize fiscal resources to pay for public services, 

▪ improve access to central government funds and resources, 

▪ improve the national legislative framework for decentralization, and 

▪ increase transparency, oversight and accountability of local governments (USAID Haiti, 2015; USAID, 2018).

LOKAL+ functioned over a “turbulent period of time disturbed by an inordinately protracted electoral process,” despite the fact that the majority of its activities required the involvement of local politicians (USAID, 2018). Local elections that were supposed to take place in October 2010 were postponed until 2011 as a result of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which had a magnitude of 7.0. When he assumed office in early 2011, Haiti’s then-newly elected president Michel Martelly decided against holding these crucial elections and instead appointed interim executive agents in mayoral positions all around the nation.  LOKAL+ functioned over a “turbulent period of time disturbed by an inordinately protracted electoral process,” despite the fact that the majority of its activities required the involvement of local politicians (USAID, 2018). Local elections that were supposed to take place in October 2010 were postponed until 2011 as a result of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which had a magnitude of 7.0. When he assumed office in early 2011, Haiti’s then-newly elected president Michel Martelly decided against holding these crucial elections and instead appointed interim executive agents in mayoral positions all around the nation.A decentralization framework bill was passed by the Senate in 2013 at the national level, but “the bill languished in the Chamber of Deputies for the rest of the year and all of 2014” (Interviewee, 2017; Interviewee, 2018; USAID 2014). Due to the late 2016 holding of the national and local elections, Parliament was dissolved in 2015. Despite being placed to the legislative calendar of the Parliament in May 2017, the decentralization framework law had not yet been put to a vote as of November 2018. (USAID, 2018). Additionally, “elections for these offices were 10 years late” when local elections for the CASECs, ASECs, and delege du ville were eventually held in 2016. (USAID, 2018). Last but not least, there are a number of additional international aid organizations trying to improve local government capabilities across Haiti, and their initiatives also include a local income mobilization component (Interviewees, 2018;Joseph, 2018). These organizations include the French government, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Haiti, the World Bank, the European Union, the Canadian government, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) (Interviewee, 2018; Joseph, 2018). At the same time, a representative of the central government and each of the four LOKAL+ stakeholders firmly asserted that USAID was the first international organization to support local income mobilization in Haiti through the LOKAL+ initiative.Additionally, according to a report by Oxfam International, “It also seems that other funders have taken use of the PACTE11- LOKAL+ experience in incorporating the tax aspect to better develop their programs in terms of local government” (Joseph, 2018).

How US-backed foreign intervention contributed to Haiti’s disaster?

Throughout its history, the United States has been involved in various foreign interventions, and in some cases, they have made conditions worse than they found them. Haiti is one such country. Justifications for US intervention overlook the fact that Haiti has rarely, if ever, been permitted to govern its own affairs.

Disaster or foreign intervention—which occurs first in Haiti? 

According to conventional knowledge, or first-world wisdom, calamity always strikes first.

It is assumed that Haitians are unable to run their own affairs. Either the government is inefficient, corrupt, or both. If left unattended, Haiti would deteriorate into a humanitarian crisis with disease, violence, and death. At that point, Haiti’s so-called allies from around the world—primarily the US, along with Canada and France—are compelled to send their most powerful and specialized forces to the country’s aid.

That’s the way people are currently thinking. A “multinational fast action force” would be sent to Haiti by the international community, and another UN peacekeeping mission would follow in the medium term. The US has already provided people, armored vehicles, and undisclosed “items” to help the Haitian police fight a coalition of criminals that has taken over the nation. It’s possible that the US will send troops to the fast response force. If history is any indication, many innocent bystanders will be caught in the crossfire.

From Haiti, the perspective is often different: foreign intervention leads to catastrophe. Although this concept may seem illogical and unsettling to most Americans, it has the wonderful advantage of being supported by actual data. After all, Haiti was founded by enslaved people who were determined to free themselves from the French’s genocidal yoke, also known as foreign enslavement. Since then, it has had a great deal of invasions and intrusions, including a 19-year US occupation from 1915 to 1934. The US occupation argued that it was for Haiti’s own benefit. Its effects included enriching American elites and preparing the way for the Duvalier dictatorship to take power.

Without a doubt, Haiti is experiencing a dire crisis—possibly the worst in our lifetimes. The key petroleum terminal for the nation is blocked by the gang conglomerate, which has effectively stopped all activity. Without gasoline, nothing works. A sizable water bottling company briefly stopped operations. Hospitals have lowered capacity or closed their doors. The majority of people can no longer afford the skyrocketing costs of necessities like rice. The ministry of health declared the return of cholera earlier this month. Some of my acquaintances who are still in Haiti (those with some means have left) have expressed their desire for intervention and the return of order.

However, essential information is ignored by the narratives the US employs to support intervention: Haiti has rarely, if ever, been permitted to run its own affairs.

In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a guy strolls past two automobiles being used as barricades to close off a thoroughfare.

More gunshots mean more bloodshed. Aid organizations in Haiti caution against calling for foreign forces

The intervention has been requested by Haiti, according to headlines. That is incorrect. Ariel Henry, the premier of Haiti, has asked for it. After President Jovenel Mose was assassinated in July of last year, Henry essentially anointed himself prime minister. He was involved in the murder of Moses but has never held any constitutional authority.

He is despised by the people he purports to speak for. His sole supporters are outside of the nation. The US has pushed for the previous 15 months that the opposition, a coalition of leaders, activists, and well-known groups from civil society, negotiate with him.

The previous significant intervention was likewise sparked by a “request” from an unelected official. In response, the UN sent Minustah, a peacekeeping force, to “stabilize” Haiti following the US-supported overthrow of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. For 13 years, it remained.

It is now difficult to distinguish between the humanitarian catastrophe and international intervention in Haiti. They are caught in an endless circle. A clear example is cholera. Despite several class action lawsuits, the UN has never made up for the harms it caused even when it apologized. (These were rejected in the US based on the immunity of the UN.) As a form of voluntary restitution, the UN established a $400 million trust fund to aid cholera sufferers and upgrade sanitary systems, but only a sliver of that amount was raised.

Subtly, intervention – or the threat of it – has been utilized during the past ten years to support leaders that do not reflect the will of the Haitian people. President René Preval was given a forced exile threat in 2010 by the head of the UN mission in Haiti if he did not accept the disputed results of a first-round election. Michel Martelly was elected president as a result of that election, and it was later discovered that his administration had misused or improperly managed billions of dollars in PetroCaribe program funds.

Over the past ten years, intervention has been subtly used, or the threat of it, to assist leaders who do not represent the will of the Haitian people. In 2010, the chief of the UN mission in Haiti threatened to exile President René Preval if he did not accept the disputed results of a first-round election. Afterwards, it was determined that Michel Martelly’s administration had mismanaged or handled inappropriately billions of dollars in PetroCaribe program funds, leading to his election as president.

Since its independence from France, Haiti’s progress has been threatened by forces ranging from foreign involvement to domestic political wrongdoing, natural calamities, and diseases;

  • Foreign intervention and debt

 Liberation from France in 1804 did not signify the end of foreign intervention in Haiti. France only recognized an independent Haiti in 1825, when its former colony agreed to pay reparations totaling $22 billion in today’s dollars. Over the next 120 years, up to 80% of Haiti’s GDP was used to repay the debt. Only in 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln was supporting emancipation both at home and abroad, did the United States acknowledge Haiti. Subsequent US administrations saw Haiti primarily from a strategic standpoint. At the start of World War I, fearful of expanding German power in the Caribbean, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched Marines to Haiti, ostensibly to restore political stability. Seven Haitian presidents had been deposed or slain in the previous five years.The US handled Haiti’s security and finances during the almost two-decade occupation. It also imposed racial segregation, forced labor, and press censorship, as well as deposed presidents and legislatures that opposed the presence of the United States. Approximately 15,000 Haitians were slain in rebellions against the US authority, the worst of which took place in 1919 and 1929. 

As part of his Good Neighbor Policy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt withdrew US soldiers in 1934.

  • Political unrest

 The withdrawal of the United States was followed by a series of unstable governments, culminating in 1957 with the installation of a dictatorship led by François Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude. Their twenty-nine-year administration was marked by corruption that drained the nation’s resources and human rights violations that killed or disappeared thirty thousand people.Massive demonstrations and international pressure prompted the younger Duvalier to abandon the country in 1986, paving the way for a new constitution and democratic institutions.

However, political unrest remained. The country’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was toppled in coups in 1991 and 2004. Both triggered United Nations-backed military invasions by the United States.

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which was commanded by Brazil, was established in 2004 with the goal of restoring order following the overthrow of the Aristide administration. Allegations of American interference on Michel Martelly’s favor cast doubt on his victory in the 2011 presidential election. After twice delaying the presidential election and more than a year of rule by decree, he eventually announced his resignation. When Jovenel Mose’s official election was delayed until early 2017 due to charges of fraud against Martelly’s successor, Haiti was left in a political void.

Massive demonstrations and requests for his resignation occurred throughout Moise’s presidency in response to rising petrol costs, the elimination of government subsidies, accusations of corruption, a deteriorating economic crisis, and questions about the legitimacy of his administration. Moise was assassinated on July 7, 2021, which was the culmination of the protracted societal turmoil. Initially, numerous mercenaries, many of whom had undergone U.S. military training, were detained by U.S. officials on suspicion of being involved in the murder. However, only three men have been charged thus far because Haiti’s own investigation has stalled. Massive demonstrations and requests for his resignation occurred throughout Mose’s presidency in response to rising petrol costs, the elimination of government subsidies, accusations of corruption, a deteriorating economic crisis, and questions about the legitimacy of his administration. On July 7, 2021, Moïse was assassinated as a result of the significant civil unrest. A number of mercenaries, many of whom had undergone U.S. military training, were first detained by U.S. officials on suspicion of taking part in the murder, but as Haiti’s own investigation has stagnated, only three men have been charged as of yet. Ariel Henry, who was appointed prime minister just days before the murder, assumed office as president in the interim. Henry has now drawn suspicion after Haiti’s senior prosecutor said that Henry was in contact with a major suspect.Henry himself was the target of an assassination attempt in January 2022. A presidential election was planned by the government, but it was repeatedly postponed.

  • Natural catastrophes

Compared to other Caribbean countries, Haiti experiences more natural disasters due to its location on a geological fault line in an area vulnerable to powerful storms. Due to extensive deforestation, Haiti now experiences mudslides and flooding twice as frequently as the Dominican Republic.

Additionally, a variety of variables, such as a dearth of urban planning, poor housing and infrastructure, huge coastal populations, and a pronounced reliance on subsistence farming, increase the impact of disasters.A significant earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 near the capital left 1.5 million people homeless and killed roughly 220,000 people. Basic reconstruction expenditures exceeded the nation’s yearly GDP at $8 billion. Drought caused crop losses of 70% between 2015 and 2017, and Hurricane Matthew destroyed the nation’s infrastructure, livestock, and houses in 2016. In August 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastated the southern peninsula of Haiti, damaging 30% of local dwellings, killing over 2,000 people, and forcing tens of thousands more to flee their homes. Days later, Tropical Storm Grace worsened the damage by dumping copious amounts of rain, causing flash flooding, and setting off landslides.Mismanagement of aid programs and epidemics have made things more difficult. Malaria and dengue are rife, and following the 2010 earthquake, UN peacekeepers from Nepal brought cholera with them. Since then, cholera has killed 10,000 people and sickened nearly one million more. Meanwhile, detractors claim that nongovernmental organizations mismanaged billions of dollars in charity.



UNCTAD argues this policy on a new approach to the rebuilding and reconstruction of Haiti’s economy after the 2010 earthquake;

External shocks, even minor natural calamities, have consistently posed a risk to the stability of Haiti’s economy. The magnitude of the earthquake in 2010 was different. In addition to the enormous immediate destruction, there had been three decades of stagnant development, during which time salaries had fallen, and more than a million Haitians, or 11% of the population, had left their country. The combined effect tipped Haiti into a position of socioeconomic crisis from which it will be challenging to emerge without a new beginning. Contrarily, the earthquake offers a chance to learn from the past and forward a more strategic and inclusive policy agenda, one that aspires to transition the economy from recovery to a more sustainable path of economic growth and development.

  • Future-oriented Lessons

Any long-term development strategy must take into account the current local conditions, resources, and limitations. After a catastrophic shock, national ownership and policy flexibility should be prioritized in order to promote experimentation and learning in keeping with the reality of functioning in a precarious and unreliable socioeconomic environment. Midway through the 1980s, Haiti was granted a conditional multilateral loan, as part of which the nation had to lower its tariff protection on rice and other agricultural exports and open its markets to global competition. In 1995, a second round of tariff reductions became effective. Haiti reduced import duties on rice from 50% to 3% in a decade, making it the Caribbean region’s most open nation. As a result, massively subsidised rice from the United States flooded the marketplace, driving down prices and quickly reducing local rice production. Similar trends were observed in other sectors of the rural economy, such as the dairy industry, where imports of milk grew 30-fold between the middle of the 1980s and the late 1990s while domestic production fell precipitously.

With an average MFN tax of just 2.8%, Haiti has one of the most lenient import regimes worldwide. Although the applicable tariff level has been fixed and will be further decreased on a preferential basis under the new CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, the MFN bound rates are higher.

But trade still makes up a small portion of Haiti’s GDP. For instance, only 13% of the country’s income came from international trade in 2008. Exports are still mostly reliant on the US market and a small number of garment products, making the nation extremely sensitive to outside shocks.International trade, notably through regional and South-South linkages, will be crucial to the rebuilding process. In order to restore and reorganize its trade-related institutions and regulatory frameworks in accordance with local requirements and capacities, Haiti must develop a comprehensive trade policy. To assist build a more dynamic investment-export nexus, this will entail breaking with recent policy practice and forging considerably tighter connections between trade, industrial, and macroeconomic policies. It will also entail the need to swiftly identify export-oriented sectors in the aftermath of a disaster, particularly those that may help the poor by providing employment and income and having the ability to produce the surplus required to fund the development of productive capacity. These industries would need active assistance from the government and the international community.The international community should take prompt measures to increase market access for Haitian exports, especially by offering extensive and active support to assist Haiti in utilizing current duty-free and quota-free status. To increase Haiti’s export and production capabilities, the international community should also take into account offering complete flexibility in the application of trade-related rules. Before the recent earthquake, a substantial population shift from rural to urban areas—especially Portau-Prince—was encouraged by the agriculture sector’s continuous collapse.

The government provided incentives (tax holidays, duty-free imports, and the establishment of four industrial parks), but expectations that the service sector and the nascent garment and assembly industries would grow to match the huge rise in job seekers proved to be overly optimistic. Additionally, there were few connections between these industries and the rest of the economy because most producers chose imported inputs, which were invariably more affordable and of higher quality. Few plants used domestically manufactured glue, thread, sisal, and textiles.Lower tariff revenues as a result of all of this have significantly affected resource mobilization. According to estimates, low-income nations like Haiti often only recover 30 cents of every dollar lost in trade tax revenues through other means. The very drastic reduction in average tariffs has had a particularly large impact on Haiti. The rather predictable outcome has been economic stagnation—in fact, real per capita incomes actually decreased by 40% between 1985 and 2007—a vast informal economy and rising unemployment, a gap between the rich and the poor that is only growing, and a constant undercurrent of political tension and sporadic violence.

  • Rebuilding state capability

A new development strategy for Haiti needs to place economic security as its main objective. That will probably include extending economic prospects (in both the rural and urban sectors) outside of Port-au-Prince in the medium term and adding construction jobs. The disaster’s most significant aftereffect has been the estimated 500,000 individuals who have returned to their rural homes. This is a significant chance to revive agriculture and undo the harm caused by premature trade liberalization and the disregard for domestic productive capacities.

At least until the local ability to provide essential commodities and services has been restored, cash transfers to impacted households, like the UNDP’s newly implemented and already successful “cash for work programme,” may be one urgent solution to assist enhance security. These enable households to identify their most pressing needs, can provide support in a quicker, more transparent, and more affordable manner, and are better able to maintain recovery.

To generate quick and more inclusive growth, investment levels must be increased in both the public and private sectors. Infrastructure development, increased farm productivity, support for low-skilled manufacturing, and the provision of basic services could provide the links and synergies needed to create a more positive cycle of development.

Rebuilding the State’s ability to generate revenue will be a key challenge. The State won’t be able to finance funding for new democratic institutions, improvements to human welfare, increased public security, lowered social tensions, and an investment push without a solid domestic fiscal base. This is a significant difficulty in a nation where before the earthquake, tax revenue made up barely 11% of GDP. The increase in the average tariff that occurred in early 2010 as a result of Haiti implementing the CARICOM common external tariff should be beneficial. Modernizing customs with the aid of UNCTAD’s ASYCUDA program can also have a significant impact.But donors must also act promptly to enhance fiduciary capability and responsibility and route a larger portion of their money through the State’s budget allocation mechanism.

  • A new approach to international cooperation

While Haiti’s ability to mobilize local resources will be crucial to its long-term growth, bridging the immediate resource deficit will largely depend on outside financial and development aid. As a result, both the Haitian government and its citizens as well as international aid organizations from both rich and developing nations will share responsibility for Haiti’s recovery. However, if recovery is to last, it is crucial that development cooperation be planned so that accountability gradually passes to the Haitian State. In order to bridge the gap between national rates of saving and the high rates of investment necessary to accomplish Haiti’s development goals, particularly the MDGs, development aid should be utilized.

International cooperation will need to be generous in order to have an impact, and it should avoid accruing any additional debt. In a previous policy brief, UNCTAD recommended that any future funding attempts begin with canceling Haiti’s existing multilateral debt. The greatest multilateral donor to Haiti, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the finance ministers of the major industrialized nations have indicated their desire to go in that route. The cost of reconstruction in Haiti has since been projected by the government to be $11.5 billion, and it is crucial that the majority of this money come in the form of grants.

However, a successful recovery strategy includes more than just the generosity of donors. A piecemeal approach will not work because the entire process will take some time. An integrated strategy to macroeconomic, industrial, and trade policy is required to repair the harm to productive capacities, kick-start economic recovery, and encourage investment dynamism while also regulating aid flows. Additionally, it should demonstrate Haiti’s ownership of the process and take into account the sensibilities, interests, and skill sets of the Haitian people. Ownership and political wiggle room are important to Haiti just as they are to any other nation.

As an LDC, Haiti currently benefits from some trade preferences, but as was previously mentioned, these should be expanded and incorporated into a more comprehensive set of development strategies. Services where the nation already has a competitive edge should receive special consideration right away, especially those that involve the mobility of people. An estimated 20% (US$ 1.4 billion) of Haiti’s GDP comes from remittances generated by industries like construction, healthcare, entertainment, tourism, business, and professional services. The size of the Haitian diaspora is undoubtedly a loss for the nation, but the remittances they send home can be a vital source of funding for its recovery. However, doing so will necessitate policies that lower remittance transaction costs and direct them toward profitable industries.

By increasing access to capital and opening up new market opportunities, this would make the productive sectors more competitive on a national and international scale. Additionally, it might support amplifying Haiti’s voice in key multilateral and regional economic talks.

Cooperation among emerging nations is becoming increasingly important to the new global cooperation. Since the earthquake, several other developing nations, including China, India, and Mexico, have pledged major support. In the case of Haiti, a number of developing nations from the area, including Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela, have contributed technical aid and support in kind. The largest bilateral creditor to Haiti, Venezuela, has stated that it plans to erase its $300 million in debt.

Brazil has been especially quick to mobilize the international community in support of a more integrated approach to security, humanitarian aid, and social and economic development—an approach that is also mindful of local ownership—and to scale up support to its already sizable commitment under MINUSTAH. Many individuals have realized that the earthquake presents a chance to reorient Haiti’s development, put it on a path toward inclusive growth, and enable it to depend more and more on its own productive capabilities. But for such a road to be established, Haiti and its international partners require a plan with benchmarks that are appropriate to the immediate situation but clearly indicate a structural transition over the long term. It will be crucial to learn from the past and look beyond the conventional development cooperation box while creating a blueprint.

  • Rethinking Peace Building in Haiti

In their article, Timothy Donais and Amy Knorr examined the most effective means of achieving peacebuilding in Haiti;

The timing is right to reevaluate Haiti’s peacebuilding challenge more than three years after a devastating earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince. As was already established, the earthquake and the ensuing humanitarian crisis understandably took peacebuilding off of both the international and domestic agendas, but the root causes of Haiti’s ongoing instability are still largely unaddressed, and armed conflict is increasing, especially in the urban slums of Port-au-Prince (Muggah and Kolbe 2012).

Coming to terms with the conflict’s unusual nature is essential to comprehending the task of establishing peace in Haiti. Although the nation “has had to deal with many of its effects: human rights abuses, population displacements, a devastated economy, and protracted stretches of international intervention,” as Yasmine Shamsie has remarked, Haiti has never actually been at war (Shamsie 2008, 414). Class has traditionally been the most noticeable and destabilizing division in Haitian culture. The stark class disparity in Haiti, one of the most unequal countries on the planet, has been a major cause of social and political unrest ever since Duvalier’s death. Class conflict in Haiti has become more latent than manifest with the expulsion of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the political scene and the dissolution of his Fanmi Lavalas movement (the movement, which encouraged the political mobilization of Haiti’s urban and rural poor but became the bane of much of the elite and middle class in the country). However, the nation’s urban slums, with their appalling socioeconomic conditions, continue to serve as an incubator for class conflict (Willman and Marcelin 2010).

Beyond the continuing realities of poverty and inequality, an often cited factor contributing to Haiti’s instability is the country’s weak, dysfunctional, and frequently predatory public institutions. Political competition in Haiti has long been seen as a zero-sum game between political elites vying for the right to, in Robert Fatton’s words, “devour public resources for their exclusive private gain,” as he has argued. The state in Haiti has long been seen as a place of private opportunity rather than public service (Fatton 2006, 122– 123).

More recently, when political parties have used the disenfranchised and underprivileged for their own political objectives, the zero-sum character of political contestation in Haiti has mixed with grassroots poverty in explosive ways. Urban gangs in Port-au-Prince emerged as a phenomenon that was inherently political, according to Michael Dziedzic and Robert Perito, who claim that “powerful elites from across the political spectrum, from… Aristide to the bourgeoisie, exploited gangs as instruments of political warfare, providing arms, funding, and protection from arrest” (Dziedzic and Perito 2008, 2). Even though UN peacekeepers’ aggressive intervention in key Port-au-Prince slums like Cite’ Soleil beginning in 2006 disrupted complex systems of patronage between political elites and gang leaders, many of the key gang leaders who were apprehended and imprisoned during this time later escaped in the confusion of the 2010 earthquake, sparking a resurgence of gang activity.

The Haitian conflict is fundamentally a continual crisis in the relationship between the state and society, resulting from the historical absence of a social compact that would have allowed for the management and, if not complete resolution, of social conflict. The emergence of stable democratic politics in Haiti has long been thwarted by the interaction of macro-level political instability with micro-level, gang-dominated violence, on top of a social context of extreme inequality, severe poverty, and chronic underdevelopment. If these issues are not addressed, they may continue to do so.There is a strong case to be made for a parallel, ideally complementary strategy of social reconciliation and repair while the establishment of effective, public service-oriented institutions, such as the Haitian National Police (HNP), remains a key component of any broader peacebuilding strategy in Haiti.

Understanding the causal processes that allow for progressive social, political, and economic development is equally as crucial as understanding the root causes of conflict and instability in Haiti. In reality, one of the major theoretical gaps in the current peacebuilding attempt may be the lack of a compelling and widely recognized theory of how peace is produced. There are numerous ideas of “peace causation” in the absence of a single unifying theory. In the prevalent liberal narrative, for instance, peace develops when liberal democracy’s institutional underpinnings are gradually put in place and start to channel conflict in nonviolent ways while also influencing the larger political culture in favor of peace. Institutional transformation is an important corollary that promotes economic growth and decreases conflict as people find gainful employment and start to take an active role in the development of the new political order (Sambanis 2010, 154). According to these ideas, the international effort to create a stable, lasting peace in Haiti has historically been top-down, with the majority of outside aid going toward creating a state level with capable, responsive, and democratically accountable institutions. Even though Haiti has had its fair share of bad luck lately, the fact that the overall strategy of peacebuilding through institution building has generally produced dismal results cannot be ignored.With a few notable exceptions, like the Ministry of Health, Haiti’s governmental institutions continue to be ineffectual, inefficient, and universally despised; at the same time, it is still extremely difficult to achieve self-sustaining economic growth.

Liberal ideas of peaceful change diverge significantly from those developing in the broader field of conflict resolution, which place a greater emphasis on sociological theories of individual, interpersonal, and intergroup transformation. As parties and individuals in conflict are persuaded to think differently about themselves and about those with whom they are in conflict, such theories tend to situate change at the attitudinal level.The main goal of conflict transformation, according to Lederach (2003), is not to discover quick fixes for urgent situations but rather to develop innovative platforms that may simultaneously treat surface issues and alter underlying social structures and relational patterns. Conflict resolution must start with changing relationships because conflict is fundamentally a relational idea, mostly through discussion processes. Although these theories can be used at all conflict levels, they have gained particular importance as a way to involve non-elites at the grassroots or community level (through so-called Track II or Track III procedures) in more extensive peacebuilding efforts.

While the liberal peacebuilding paradigm’s institutional focus may be replaced by a focus on the individual and the interpersonal as the fundamental starting point for sustainable peacebuilding, there are still concerns about the practical ability of microlevel approaches to collectively add up to produce macrolevel change (Twose 2009, 140). For instance, Sandrine Lefranc (2011, 34) questions the “underlying, individualist, relationalist notion of social functioning and transformation” present in many bottom-up strategies, especially those where dialogue assumes a key position. Bottom-up approaches tacitly adopt a “flat” image of society, as consisting of little more than a myriad of interrelated individuals, she argues, which generally ignores deeper structural circumstances that perpetuate inequality and injustice.According to her, bottom-up approaches undermine any transformative potential they may have by prioritizing a peace practice based on the idea of transforming relationships rather than one focused on addressing larger structural barriers to peace. By doing this, she claims, bottom-up approaches leave existing, conflict-generating systems of power unchallenged and intact. There is a significant risk that bottom-up peacebuilding efforts in a situation like Haiti, where the relationship between violence and poverty is profoundly entwined in structural forces mostly at the national and international levels, would have palliative rather than transformative effects.Mary Anderson and Lara Olson make a similar distinction between individual/interpersonal and socio/political levels of engagement in their discussion of community-based peace practice, concluding that “the single most important connection for significant change is that whatever is done be translated into socio/political action.” Without such action, it appears that significant and long-lasting reforms necessary for peace would not take place (Anderson and Olson 2003, 58). Putting the “up” in bottom-up peacebuilding (Hemmer et al. 2006) through integration tactics that connect grassroots activities to higher-level dynamics and processes is necessary to overcome such limits.

An developing perspective concentrating on state-society connections and democratic citizenship practices falls between and possibly connects these two theoretical orientations towards change, one focused on altering institutions and the other on transforming social relations.Although the liberal peacebuilding model places a strong emphasis on democratization, post-conflict peacebuilding efforts have more success in creating new governments than in ensuring that those governments are answerable to and subject to accountability by the very citizens they are meant to represent. From the standpoint of democratic citizenship, then, governing the governors is just as crucial as choosing them in the first place, and making sure that political power is not only enabled but also controlled takes democracy beyond the electoralism common in most contemporary contexts for peacebuilding, including Haiti. This entails creating effective institutions of governance as well as changing incentive structures to ensure that governments pay more attention to social needs and the larger public interest. At the same time, this implies giving citizens the power to hold their governments more accountable for their actions and to demand more from them.According to this definition, peace results from “an effective democratic process that allows citizens and the government to negotiate shared demands, commitments, and expectations” (Menocal 2010, 4). There have been increasing requests in recent years for the state-society nexus to be given greater and more explicit attention by the peacebuilding enterprise. Kora Andreiu, for instance, makes the case that in order to increase local legitimacy for the larger peacebuilding enterprise, “one… needs to go beyond state-building and towards an intentional strategy of what we can call “society-building”” (Andreiu 2010, 547).


The promise of upward dynamism inherent in the very idea of “bottom-up” peacebuilding has proven difficult for community-level peacebuilding efforts to realize, just as conventional peacebuilding processes have struggled to bring the benefits of state-level institution building down to the local level. In fact, as the dialogue-development nexus in St. Martin shows, even in the absence of the larger ambition of advancing “peace writ large,” the objective of fostering peace and enhancing peacebuilding capacity at the local level cannot be easily achieved without strategically interacting with higher-level political and economic issues and actors. In other words, even while partner communities’ internal dynamics are unavoidably complicated, community-level peacebuilders cannot afford to be only focused on them. The need for integrated peacebuilding is just as important at the local level as it is at the national level.

Those involved in grassroots peace work must also be fully aware that the comparatively bland language of “engagement” may in fact conceal the inherently contentious – and frequently fiercely contested – politics at the core of any peacebuilding enterprise. They must also be aware that those negotiating on behalf of “the local” typically do so from positions of weakness rather than strength. Political power and life will very certainly need to be reorganized in order to achieve durable peace, and individuals in positions of control are unlikely to relinquish either without a fight. Similar to this, given the power imbalances present, vertical integration may easily lead to the top co-opting the bottom, depriving the former of its crucial advantage and transformative potential. However, recent research on hybridity and peacebuilding reveals that the liberal peacebuilding agenda is far from omnipotent and is virtually always adapted and adjusted in response to local and national dynamics (Mac Ginty 2011). In order to better engage communities and other collectivities in peacebuilding as an evolutionary process as opposed to a revolutionary one, bottom-up techniques may be seen as a strategy. However, as we’ve attempted to show, bridging the gap between the local and the liberal will require more candor on the part of national and international actors regarding local processes and actors, as well as a willingness to allow, as Oliver Richmond (2009b, 339) has suggested, “the non-liberal and the liberal to engage with each other to produce a new hybrid, rather than the attempted removal of the local and its substitution by the liberal.”

In the particular case of Haiti, recent years have seen an increase in the focus on local dynamics as a vital component of long-term peacebuilding, and this trend is likely to be reinforced by the growing understanding of the significance of state-society relations in peacebuilding and statebuilding contexts. As we have demonstrated, however, bottom-up peacebuilding efforts in Haiti continue to be largely fragmented; they are neither vertically integrated with the larger statebuilding effort nor horizontally across the various communities involved. This raises concerns that the overall impact of peacebuilding efforts in Haiti will be significantly less than the sum of its parts. Bringing the different components of the peacebuilding web much closer together may be the crucial next step in the practice’s continued evolution, both in Haiti and worldwide.

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