Fixing Haiti

MINUSTAH and Beyond

image of Fixing Haiti
References to the land of the black Jacobins are almost always followed by the phrase the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere”. To that distinction, on 12 January 2010, Haiti added another, when it was hit by a devastating natural disaster, a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake. Since 2004, the United Nations has been in Haiti through MINUSTAH in an ambitious attempt to help Haiti raise itself by its bootstraps. This effort has now acquired additional urgency. Is Haiti a failed state? Does it deserve a Marshall-planlike programme? What will it take to address the Haitian predicament? In this book, some of the world’s leading experts on Haiti examine the challenges faced by the first black republic, the tasks undertaken by the United Nations, and the new role of hemispheric players like Argentina, Brazil and Chile, as well as that of Canada, France and the United States.



Haiti’s unending crisis of governance: Food, the constitution and the struggle for power

More than two decades after the collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship and the massive popular approval of a new and democratic constitution, Haiti remains in a state of crisis. The political system is still extremely fragile, lacking vital and functioning institutions; the economy is incapable of providing the most basic necessities to the population; and the personal safety of Haitians continues to be precarious. Moreover, rampant unemployment and old and obscene patterns of poverty and inequalities are as entrenched now as they have been in the past. Haiti has not moved away from the abyss of utter catastrophe; in fact, the country has moved closer to it under the combined and devastating impact of the recent food riots, four consecutive hurricanes – Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike – and the earthquake of January 2010. That President Préval has remained in office since 2006 and re-established a modicum of stability is largely due to the much maligned presence of international forces from the United Nations, the so-called United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Had it not been for the UN’s presence, the current situation would have easily degenerated into a chaotic Hobbesian world; in addition, had the Haitian military not been disbanded it is likely that a coup would have materialized.


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