That assassination by Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in his home in a suburb of Port-au-Prince last Wednesday was the latest hotspot for the Caribbean nation already teeming on the brink of political and economic chaos.
“We have a very deep crisis, probably as pronounced as the one we had immediately after  earthquake, ”Robert Fatton, a Haitian policy expert at the University of Virginia and based in Haiti, told Yahoo News. “It simply came to our notice then. Almost all the institutions in the country are largely excluded. ”
In recent years, Haiti has been flooded with gang violence due to inadequate police leadership and long-standing distrust of its government, Fatton said. These factors have also played a role in weakening the country’s already uncertain economic fortunes.
But after seeing the disease by foreign interference in the past, Haitians want to correct their own wrongs, Jean Eddy Saint Paul, professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and founder of the CUNY Haitian Studies Institute, told Yahoo News.
“Give the Haitian people a chance to find their own solution, because … in Haiti there is a strong civil society,” Saint Paul said, raking back to the country’s origins more than two centuries ago when the Haitians held it. only successful antislavery movement in world history.
“They know what they need for the country,” Saint Paul added.
In 1804, former slave Africans in Haiti rebelled against their French colonizers and declared independence from France, making the western part of the island of Hispaniola the first black-led republic.
However, the international community refused to recognize Haiti as its own nation until the French did. In return for this concession, France demanded that the young country pay 150 million francs, equivalent to 21 billion US $ today, as compensation.
“The sum was intended to compensate the French colonists for their lost income from slavery,” Marlene Daut, a Haitian historian at the University of Virginia, wrote on the news organization’s website. the conversation. “Rejection of the order almost certainly meant war.”
Wanting to avoid another potentially deadly military conflict and with a French flotilla-threatening invasion, Haiti decided in 1825 to pay the sum in five equal installments, forcing the newly established country to take out loans which it was originally unable to repay. Haiti defaulted on the loans and it took 122 years to pay the debt.
Due to the long-term repayment of this debt, Haiti has never been able to build a strong economic foundation.
“With a gross domestic product (GDP) per With a population of US $ 1,149.50 and a human development index of 170 out of 189 countries by 2020, Haiti will remain the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean and among the poorest countries in the world, ”says the World Bank. on its website.
France, af comparison, has a GDP of US $ 2.7 trillion.
Connects Haiti’s economic challenges, the destruction from the catastrophic and deadly Earthquake in 2010 remains a crucial event for the nation. The disaster killed upwards of 250,000 people, injured more than 300,000 and left 1.5 million of the country’s 10 million citizens homeless. Haiti’s infrastructure has never really recovered.
And while the coronavirus pandemic persists and the Delta variant ravages the world, Haiti has still not administered a single COVID-19 vaccination according to New York Times.
Although Haiti is one of the birthplaces of democracy in modern world, inadequate and corrupt management has been the norm since the beginning.
“Corruption is no longer a secret, but an open and accepted practice, and whatever strip of public trust in the government has evaporated,” wrote reporter Jaqueline Charles in Miami Herald.
July 1 UN Security Council issued a statement expresses “deep concern at the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation in Haiti.” The Council stressed the need for a “free and fair legislative choice” this year, although many Haitians, including Fatton and Saint Paul, see the prospect of this as almost impossible.
“If you have elections now, it’s going to be a disaster,” Fatton said, noting that proper legislation must be in place and the threat of gang violence diminished.
Thanks to the spread of gang violence, as many as 5,000 Haitians were displaced during the first ten days of June, according to a UN report.
Critics of the assassinated president say he deserved much of the blame for Haiti’s current situation.
Moïse had been in the office since 2017 after one contested choices. He had no previous political experience, but became rich as a fruit exporter. He had ruled by decree for more than a year after refusing to resign after the end of his term in February. He was killed after dissolving Haiti’s parliament and failing to hold legislative elections. While many Haitians contested his leadership, critics say they wanted accountability, not murder.
“I was not a big fan of the president, but the Haitian people wanted to hold a politician accountable,” Saint Paul said. “He was not like a very popular president … but no one with any intention would ask to assassinate a president.”
“The murder of Mr. Moïse is the culmination of years of instability in the country, which has long been seized by lawlessness and violence, “wrote Natalie Kitroeff and Anatoly Kurmanaev in New York Times.
Despite Haiti’s current situation, Fatton is cautiously optimistic that the country can turn things around, as it has in the past. He places the fate of Haiti on two main factors: the domestic political economy and the interference of international powers – mainly the United States and France.
The United States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 under President Woodrow Wilson and controlled the Haitian government. During that period, the United States structured Haiti’s economic and social policy into one strategic way to attract foreign investment. Twice in the last 30 years, the United States has sent Marines to restore order – once under President Bill Clinton and then again under President George W. Bush.
“My hope is that civil society can inject a kind of new blood into Haitian society that is not only competent but also interested in the development of the country without the kind of corruption we had before,” Fatton said.
While many in Washington are urging President Biden to send troops to the besieged nation, the administration has so far only committed to strengthening security at the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Saint Paul believes that Haitians should once again have the autonomy to correct their problems.
“This is the time for the United States to recognize that enough is enough,” Saint Paul said. “They need the United States to step back and let Haitian people figure out their own solution.”
Cover image photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Hector Retamal / AFP via Getty Images, Alejandro Cegarra / Bloomberg via Getty Images
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