Haiti profile-Added COMMENTARY By Haitian-Truth

Map of Haiti

Haiti became the world’s first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th century.

But chronic instability, dictatorships and natural disasters have left it as the poorest nation in the Americas.

UN peacekeepers were deployed in 2004 to restore order after an uprising, and more than 10,000 uniformed personnel remain on the ground. The mission has drawn controversy, including allegations of excessive force.

Moreover, many Haitians are struggling with the legacy of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake which devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, in January 2010. More than 250,000 people were killed. Hundreds of thousands more were left homeless, and many of them still live in tent cities.

Students at a Catholic school in Port-au-Prince Students take their lessons at a Catholic church in Haiti, which is still struggling to rebuild after the 2010 quake

These woes have been compounded by a subsequent cholera epidemic which has killed more than 7,000 people.

Continue reading the main story

At a glance

  • Politics: Democratic rule was restored in 2006, two years after a violent revolt ousted former leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide; bitter divisions persist. Presidential, parliamentary elections were held on 28 November 2010
  • Economy: Economy in ruins, unemployment chronic, deforestation severe
  • International: The UN has deployed peacekeepers; international aid is seen as key to recovery

Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring

Billions of dollars in aid, pledged to Haiti after the earthquake, have been slow to arrive amid donors’ concerns about corruption.

Poor infrastructure is another obstacle to investment and environmental degradation is a major concern. But officials have touted Haiti’s tourism potential and there has been some success with exports of crops, including mangoes.

Political volatility, civil unrest and crime pose serious challenges to development. And the huge wealth gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority remains unaddressed.

With unemployment running at around 40%, many Haitians seek work and a better life in the US or other Caribbean nations, including the neighbouring Dominican Republic, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants.

‘Independence debt’

Haiti’s independence came at a cost. It had to pay reparations to France, which demanded compensation for former slave owners. The 19th century “independence debt” was not paid off until 1947. There have been recent calls for France to repay the money.

Between 1915 and 1934, the US occupied Haiti with the aim of protecting American assets and stemming German influence in the region.

Haiti achieved notoriety from the late 1950s during the brutal dictatorships of the voodoo physician Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc”. Tens of thousands of people were killed under their 29-year rule.

The country moved towards democracy in the 1990s, but coups and rebellions continued to plague political life. Two-time President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest, was overthrown in a 1990 military coup and again by a popular uprising in 2004.

Haiti's presidential palace two years after being struck by an earthquake Laundry dries opposite the destroyed presidential palace two years after the earthquake of 2010, which killed thousands and left many more homeless


Here we go again.

Unless these false assumptions can be eradicated, from the game, there can be no realistic approach, based on facts as they exist in Haiti, not in the foreign media.

At least this BBC article does not claim Aristide to be the first democratically elected president in Haiti’s history. There were something like 5 before him, including Francois Duvalier.

Tens of thousands were not killed under the Duvalier governments. In fact, many people were murdered, by the government, under the Aristide/Preval presidencies. The Jean-Claude Duvalier Presidency was a period of peaceful stability, a period in which the country was moving forward.

As Ernest Preeg, the American ambassador to Haiti, during the early eighties, wrote in his monograph on the Caribbean Basin Initiative….”It can honestly be said that the Jean Claude Duvalier Presidency is the longest period of violence-free stability in the nation’s history…” This was written in 1984 for the University of Miami.

The Aristide/Preval periods were periods of chaos and violence, with little structure. We are now paying for this situation.

One cannot cure the patient if the wrong basic diagnosis is made, based upon flawed assumptions.

Jean Claude Duvalier is welcomed wherever he goes, in the Nation, traveling without security. Preval and Aristide are ignored, scorned by the population if and when they ever venture from their lairs, surrounded by heavily armed security.

There must be a lesson here but no one is paying any attention.


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1 thought on “Haiti profile-Added COMMENTARY By Haitian-Truth

  1. Martelly’s presidency is a disappointment in the area of security. He promised Haiti security, and education. He is failing in both areas.

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