Haiti

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Overview

By far the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the island nation of Haiti suffers from numerous domestic problems, such as extreme poverty, the spread of AIDS, unreliable electrical service and powerful gangs. Despite these problems, its location in the Caribbean has made it an important strategic target for the United States because of its proximity to Cuba. US involvement in the country’s internal affairs began in the early 19th Century when President Thomas Jefferson encouraged France to grant Haiti its independence. However, freedom, did not bring stability. For most of its history, Haiti has suffered from multiple dictatorships. In 1915, the assassination of its dictator prompted the US to send the Marines to restore order. They occupied Haiti until the 1930s, with American officials virtually ruling the country through a puppet government. Even when the Haitian people finally were given a chance at democracy and elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide president in 1991, a military coup quickly squashed its dreams of self-determination, forcing Aristide to flee to the US. After several UN peacekeeping efforts and an interim government, Haiti still faces rising food prices and a multitude of human rights violations. In January 2010, Haiti experienced a 7.0 earthquake that leveled the capital city, affected an estimated three million people, and killed more than 200,000 people.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Haiti is located on the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean (Cuba is larger). Nearly two thirds of the Haitian terrain is mountainous and unable to support crops. The warm, rainy tropical climate is moderated by trade winds.

Population: 8.9 million

Religions: Catholic 54.7%, Baptist 15.4%, Pentecostal 7.9%, Adventist 3.0%, Vodun (voodoo) 2.1%, Methodist 1.5%, Episcopalian 0.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 0.5%, Baha'i 0.2%, Mormon 0.07%, Muslim 0.02%, other 0.2%, non-religious 10.2%. Many Haitians are known to incorporate Vodun into their other religious beliefs.
 
Ethnic Groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%.
 
Languages: Haitian Creole French (official) 90.6%, French (official).
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History

During Columbus’s famed voyage in 1492, the explorer landed on the island of Hispaniola which was inhabited by the Arawaks. Disease and repression by the Spaniards decimated the Arawaks, who gave Haiti (“land of mountains”) its name. While establishing plantations on the eastern side of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic), the Spanish largely ignored the western part of the island, which became a base for French and English settlers. Gradually French colonists imported African slaves and developed sugar plantations on the northern coast. In 1697, the Spanish gave up control of Haiti (then called Saint-Dominque) to France.

 
Over the next 100 years Saint-Dominque became France’s most prosperous colony in the Americas and a key source of coffee and sugar. The island became populated with a stratified mix of Frenchmen, Creoles, freed blacks, black slaves and mulattoes, whose social status was indeterminate. When French-descended Creole planters sought to prevent mulatto representation in the French National Assembly and in local assemblies in Saint-Dominque, the mulattoes revolted under the leadership of Vincent Ogé. Blacks formed guerrilla bands led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave who had been made an officer of the French forces on Hispaniola.
 
When the English invaded Haiti in 1793 during the Napoleonic Wars, Toussaint maintained an uneasy alliance with the mulatto André Rigaud and cooperated with the remnant of French governmental authority. In 1801 Toussaint conquered the entire island of Hispaniola, abolished slavery, and proclaimed himself governor-general. Napoleon sent forces to recapture the island but was unsuccessful in regaining full control. During peace negotiations, the French imprisoned Toussaint, who later died in a French prison. But the revolt continued and eventually the French were forced to withdraw after its troops became ravaged by yellow fever. At this time the fledgling United States government led by President Thomas Jefferson stepped in and convinced France to allow Haiti to gain its independence in 1804, making it only the second nation in the Western Hemisphere, after the US, to win complete independence.
 
After independence the remaining French and Creoles were expelled, and ex-slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed himself emperor. His assassination in 1806 resulted in the division of Haiti into a black-controlled north under Emperor Henri Christophe and a mulatto-ruled south under President Alexandre Pétion. After their deaths Haiti was unified by Jean Pierre Boyer, who also brought Santo Domingo under Haitian control.
 
Boyer’s rule was ruinous for the Haitian economy, and he was forced into exile in 1843. The next 70 years was marred by political and social conflict. The upheaval prompted the US to step in with the US Marines in 1915 to restore order. Stability was restored but at the price of Haiti’s sovereignty. The US continued to exert control over Haitian affairs for the next 30 years.
 
Political instability again became a problem after World War II. The year 1957 marked the beginning of “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s ascension to power. He suppressed opposition through the creation of his paramilitary secret police, the Tonton Macoutes. In 1964 he proclaimed himself president for life. Upon his death in 1971 he was succeeded by his 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc,” who also became president for life. Corruption and cruelty became the hallmarks of the Duvalier family reign.
 
By 1986 Haiti was so wrought with problems that Baby Doc Duvalier lost his grip on power and was forced to flee the country.
 
In December 1990, a former priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, won 67% of the vote in a presidential election that international observers deemed largely free and fair. Aristide took office on February 7, 1991, but was overthrown that September in a violent coup led by army elements and supported by many of the country’s economic elite. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. From October 1991 to September 1994 a de facto military regime governed Haiti, during which several thousand Haitians were killed. The Organization of American States and the United Nations tried to end the political crisis through negotiation. When this failed, the US and the OAS responded with a trade embargo, and in 1993 a UN-sponsored oil embargo was imposed. An accord in 1993 providing for Aristide's return was repudiated by the army, which used terrorist violence to maintain power.
 
In 1994 the United Nations approved a nearly total trade embargo and later authorized the use of force to restore democratic rule. On Sept. 18, 1994, as US forces were poised to invade the island, an accord was negotiated. Haiti's military leaders relinquished power under an amnesty, and American Marines landed to oversee the transition. Aristide returned on Oct. 15 as president, and US troops were largely replaced by UN peacekeepers in March 1995. In the December presidential election that year, René Préval was elected to succeed Aristide.
 
In January 1999, following a series of disagreements with Haitian legislators, Préval declared that their terms had expired, and he began ruling by decree. Parliamentary elections were finally held in May–June 2000. The outcome gave Aristide’s Lavalas Family party an overwhelming majority in both houses, but the method of counting the votes was disputed. That November Aristide was again elected president, winning nearly 92% of the vote.
 
The following year Amnesty International said that human rights and the rule of law had diminished in Haiti, citing harassment of opposition politicians and attacks on journalists. There was a failed coup attempt against Aristide in December 2001. A political stalemate between Aristide and the opposition led to the freezing of foreign aid and ongoing economic hardship in Haiti.
 
Violence between supporters and opponents of Aristide increased in 2003, and several of the president’s cabinet ministers resigned by the end of the year. Parliamentary elections were not held as planned, resulting in the dissolution of parliament in January 2004 and leaving Aristide to rule by decree and sparking recurring anti-Aristide opposition demonstrations in the streets. In February an armed uprising began in Gonaïves, and by the end of the month armed rebels consisting of disaffected gangs formerly allied with the government, former soldiers, paramilitaries, police and others were on the verge of entering the capital.
 
Under pressure from the United States and France, Aristide resigned and went into exile, subsequently accusing US and French officials of duping, coercing, or kidnapping him. American, French, Canadian, and Chilean forces arrived to maintain order, and an interim government headed by Gérard Latortue, a former foreign minister, was established. The Caribbean Community, however, refused to recognize Latortue and called for a UN investigation into Aristide's resignation. In April 2004 Latortue announced that general elections for a new government would be held in 2005, but they were subsequently postponed several times. A UN peacekeeping force led by Brazil began replacing American, Canadian, and French forces in June 2004.
 
Unrest and lawlessness on the part of Aristide supporters and opponents continued to be a problem in the country, despite the presence of foreign peacekeepers. Elections were again postponed to 2006. When the presidential election was finally held in February 2006, René Préval handily led all other candidates (there were more than 30) but appeared to be falling short of the majority required to avoid a runoff. The former president and his supporters charged that there was electoral fraud, an accusation seemingly supported by an unusually high number of blank ballots and by the discovery of charred blank and Préval ballots in a dump near the capital.
 
Amid demonstrations and mounting tension, election officials agreed to assign the blank ballots proportionally to the candidates, giving Préval nearly 51% of the vote. Parliamentary elections were held at the same time, but the investigation of electoral complaints delayed the second round into April, and Préval was not sworn in until May 2006,
 
Armed gangs remain a significant problem in Haiti, and in October 2006, the United States partially lifted an arms embargo against Haiti so that the government could buy weapons and other equipment for the Haitian police. In February 2007, the mandate of the UN peacekeepers was again extended, and the Security Council called on UN forces to move more strongly against Haiti's criminal gangs. Although UN forces had successes against a number of urban gangs, some relocated to rural areas where they were less likely to be confronted by peacekeepers.
 
Rising food prices led to antigovernment and anti-UN protests and riots in a number of Haitian cities in April 2008. In Port-au-Prince rioters attempted to storm the presidential palace. The riots led the Senate to dismiss the prime minister, and Michèle Pierre-Louis was elected to the post in July.
 
A Country Study: Haiti (Library of Congress)
Synopsis of Haitian History (Discover Haiti.com)
Haiti under the Duvaliers (World History Archives)

Francois Duvalier, 1957-71

(Library of Congress)

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History of U.S. Relations with Haiti

The United States has a long history of being involved in Haiti’s domestic affairs. In the early 19th century, the administration of Thomas Jefferson became concerned that France’s presence on the island nation could afford the European power a jumping off point to invade the Louisiana Territory. When Napoleon’s forces struggled to suppress a Haitian uprising, Jefferson used the opportunity to encourage France to vacate the colony.

 
In the early 20th century, turmoil inside Haiti prompted President Woodrow Wilson to militarily intervene. After the dictator Guillaume Sam was killed in a popular uprising in 1915, the US Marines were sent in. Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, the mulatto president of the Senate, agreed to accept the presidency of Haiti after several other candidates had refused to cooperate with the Americans. Marine Corps commanders served as administrators in the provinces. Local institutions, however, continued to be run by Haitians, as was required under orders from President Wilson.
 
With Dartiguenave installed as a figurehead in the National Palace, US Admiral William Caperton declared martial law, a condition that persisted until 1929. A treaty passed by the Haitian legislature in November 1915 allowed Washington, DC, to assume complete control of Haiti's finances, and it gave the United States sole authority over the appointment of advisers and receivers. The treaty also gave the United States responsibility for establishing and running public-health and public-works programs and for supervising routine governmental affairs. Furthermore, the treaty established the Gendarmerie d'Haïti, the country’s first professional military force.
 
In 1917 President Dartiguenave dissolved the legislature after its members refused to approve a constitution purportedly authored by United States assistant secretary of the navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. A referendum subsequently approved the new constitution in 1918. The constitution allowed foreigners to purchase land, a controversial move in the eyes of Haitians.
 
An early period of unrest culminated in a 1918 rebellion by up to 40,000 former cacos and other disgruntled people. The scale of the uprising overwhelmed the Gendarmerie, but US Marine reinforcements helped put down the revolt at the estimated cost of 2,000 Haitian lives. According to the Library of Congress, civil order was “imposed largely by white foreigners with deep-seated racial prejudices and a disdain for the notion of self-determination by inhabitants of less-developed nations.”
 
While the US occupied Haiti, the country’s infrastructure was improved. Almost all roads were developed to lead to Port-au-Prince, resulting in a gradual concentration of economic activity in the capital. Bridges went up throughout the country, a telephone system began to function, several towns gained access to clean water and a construction boom helped restore wharves, lighthouses, schools, and hospitals. Public health improved, partially because of United States-directed campaigns against malaria and yaws (a crippling disease caused by a spirochete). The Haitian economy stabilized, keeping the country from defaulting on its foreign-debt payments like other Latin American nations of the time. American banks became Haiti's main creditors.
 
The occupation of Haiti continued after World War I, despite the embarrassment that it caused Woodrow Wilson at the Paris peace conference in 1919 and the scrutiny of a congressional inquiry in 1922. By 1930 President Herbert Hoover had become concerned about the effects of the occupation, particularly after a December 1929 incident in Les Cayes in which Marines killed at least 10 Haitian peasants during a march to protest local economic conditions. Hoover appointed two commissions to study the situation. A former governor general of the Philippines, W. Cameron Forbes, headed the more prominent of the two. The Forbes Commission praised the material improvements that the US occupation brought to Haiti, but it criticized the exclusion of Haitians from positions of real authority in the government and the constabulary, which had come to be known as the Garde d'Haïti. The commission further asserted that “the social forces that created [instability] still remain—poverty, ignorance, and the lack of a tradition or desire for orderly free government.”
 
The Hoover administration did not implement fully the recommendations of the Forbes Commission, but the US withdrawal was well under way by 1932 when Hoover lost the presidency to Roosevelt. The last contingent of Marines departed in mid-August.
 
In the early years of the Papa Doc Duvalier dictatorship, relations with the US became strained. Duvalier’s repressive and authoritarian rule bothered President John F. Kennedy, whose subordinates relayed concerns from Washington over allegations that Duvalier had blatantly misappropriated America aid money and that he intended to employ a Marine Corps mission to Haiti not to train the regular army but to strengthen the Tonton Macoutes. The Kennedy administration responded by suspending aid in mid-1962. Duvalier refused to accept United States demands for strict accounting procedures as a precondition of aid renewal. Duvalier then renounced all aid from Washington.
 
Renouncing the aid allowed the Duvalier to portray himself as a principled opponent of the US. The Duvalier government continued to receive multilateral contributions, however. After Kennedy's death in November 1963, pressure on Duvalier eased, and the United States adopted a policy of grudging acceptance of the Haitian regime because of the country's strategic location near communist Cuba. For the next three decades, Washington did little to stop the brutality that the Duvaliers, Papa Doc and Baby Doc, imposed on the Haitian people.
 
Even after the Duvalier’s were gone, their legacy of authoritarian rule continued to haunt the country. Popularly-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed On September 30, 1991, by an army coup led by Raoul Cédras. Aristide spent his exile first in Venezuela and then in the United States, where he lobbied the administration of Bill Clinton to help him return to power. In 1994, the US was on the verge of invading Haiti when Cedras capitulated and Aristide was able to return to Haiti under the protection of a US-centered multinational force that had been organized by the UN. Aristide completed his term in office, during which he disbanded the Haitian army and established a civilian police force.
 
Seven weeks after Aristide’s return, Republicans took control of Congress, and influential Republicans worked to block aid to Haiti or attach preconditions to it. The aid that came through was not enough to rebuild schools, healthcare infrastructure, roads, ports, telecommunications or airports.
 
Haiti in U.S. History: A Timeline (by Joel Dreyfuss, The Root)
 

Who Removed Aristide? (by Paul Farmer, London Review of Books)

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Current U.S. Relations with Haiti

Famous Haitian-Americans

Activist
William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B) Du Bois – He was a prominent American civil rights figure in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He wrote books such as The Souls of Black Folk and The Negro.
 
Entertainment
Wyclef Jean – He is a multi-platinum musician, rapper, and record producer. He also founded a humanitarian organization, Yéle Haiti, which intends to empower the people of Haiti and restore national pride.
 
Business
Reginald “Reggie” Fils-Aime – He serves as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Nintendo America.
 
Sports
Andre Berto – He is a professional boxer who won the WBC welterweight championship in 2008.
Josmer “Jozy” Altidore – Currently a soccer player for Hull City of England’s Premier League, he also plays for the U.S. national team. He was the youngest American to score in a World Cup qualifier and the first U.S. international to score in Spain’s La Liga.
Mario Elie – He is a former NBA player who played for the Houston Rocket’s championship teams in the 1990s.
Jonathan Vilma – He is an NFL player for the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted 12th overall by the New York Jets in 2004.
Pierre Garcon – He is a receiver for the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL.
 
Politics
Patrick Gaspard – He serves as the Director of the Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration. He was also a part of Obama’s transition team and his National Political Director during the presidential campaign
 
Recent relations between the US and Haiti have been contentious. Publicly, the Bush administration maintained a tempered level of support for the Aristide regime. But some have purported that the US played a role in destabilizing Aristide’s second run in power in 2004 through the International Republican Institute, a federally-funded, nonprofit political group backed by powerful Republicans close to President Bush. When Aristide was forced out of power in this second presidential term, the US and France assisted his flight to exile in Africa. After the controversial ousting, Aristide accused the United States of actually kidnapping him to get him out of power. He later graduated at the University of South Africa with a PhD in African Language Studies and expressed his desire to return to Haiti (See Controversies for more information).  
 
In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the US government headed the rescue and relief efforts in the country. President Barack Obama asked former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to co-lead the U.S. relief in Haiti, which sparked controversy given the presidents’ roles in Haitian history. Clinton supported economic policies that brought sweatshops to Haiti and transformed their marketplace economy into a lagging market economy. In Feburary 2004, Bush and his administration recognized the “free and fairly elected” Haitian president Aristide. Yet later that month, the US transported Aristide out of Haiti and allowed unelected rebel forces to seize power.  
 
 
As of January 2010, 535,000 Haitian immigrants live in the United States, which represents 5.5% of the total Haitian population. The large influx of Haitians into the U.S. began in the late 1980s because of poor living conditions due to the oppressive Duvalier dictatorship. Between 1980 and 2000, the Haitian-born population quadrupled to 419,000. The number of Haitian immigrants is expected to grow drastically due to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Currently, the majority of Haitians reside in two states: New York and Florida.  
 
According to a Migration Policy Institute study, Haitian immigrants were more likely to be naturalized US citizens than the overall foreign-born population, with 48.4% naturalization among Haitians and 43.0% nationalization among other nationalities. In 2008, two-thirds of Haitian immigrants were adults of working age, and almost half of Haitian foreign-born adults had some college education. 
Haitian Immigrants in the United States (by Aaron Terrazas, Migration Policy Institute)
 
The US remains Haiti’s largest trading partner. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and US currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of American firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and US-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.
 
Officially, 548,199 Haitians legally live in the US, though the actual number is believed to be much higher. The 1990 census found 290,000 Haitians residing in the US, however, anthropologists estimated that the number of people with Haitian ancestry was actually closer to 1.2 million. The highest concentrations of Haitians are in New York City, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Boston. 
 
In 2005, 77,047 Americans visited Haiti. There has been a gradual decline in the number of Americans visiting Haiti, with overall visits down from a high of 94,515 in 2003.
 
A total of 58,918 Haitians visited the US in 2006. The number of visitors has remained close to 60,000 since 2002.
 
United States Can't Let Haiti Slip Into Abyss (Council on Foreign Relations)
United States-Haiti Relations (Latin American Studies.org)
U.S.-Haiti Relations Defy Easy Summation (by Gary Dauphin, National Public Radio)
The Destabilization of Haiti (by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research)

George W. Bush Overthrew the Elected Leader of Haiti; Now He's Expected to Help?

(by David Wallechinsky, AllGov.com)

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Where Does the Money Flow

Haiti is a major provider of cheap labor for clothing manufacturers in the United States. This has resulted in apparel and household goods becoming the No. 1 import for the US from the island nation, increasing from $253 million in 2004 to $347 million in 2008. No other import comes close in terms of dollar value. Other top imports include fruits and frozen juices ($8.2 million); cocoa beans ($7.8 million); and tobacco, waxes, and nonfood oils   ($2.9 million).

 
The United States exports significantly more rice to Haiti than any other product. Haiti, one of the poorest and hungriest countries in the world, has increasingly bought more rice from the US this decade. In 2004 $80 million was purchased; in 2008 $199 million. Wheat was next the highest import, beginning at $43.9 million in 2004 to $64.6 million in 2008. Haiti’s imports of pharmaceutical products saw increases, importing only $25.6 million in 2004 but $40.3 in 2008.   Another key food export is meat and poultry, going from $15.6 million in 2003 to $33.8 million in 2007. The US also has sold an average of $13.9 million in vegetables and $26.8 million in “other foods” to Haiti. Other top sellers in 2008 were excavating machinery ($19.8 million) and trucks, buses and other vehicles ($18.2 million).
 
Overall, the US sold $944 million in goods to Haiti in 2008, compared to $450 million in imports.
 
The U.S. sent Haiti $287.0 million in aid in 2009. Some of the largest recipient programs were Health ($129 million), Conflict Mitigation and Reconciliation ($25 million), Agriculture ($22 million), Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($16 million), Education ($12 million), Good Governance ($11 million) and Environment ($10 million). 
 
The 2010 budget request increased aid to Haiti to $292.8 million. Some of the programs from 2009 will increase. For example, Health will increase to $133 million, Agriculture to ($27 million), Conflict Mitigation and Resolution to $26 million, Environment to $21 million, Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform to $17 million, and Good Governance to $12 million.
 
Haiti will also receive funds through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) outside of the Foreign Operations budget.
 

Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (Pages 611-617)

(pdf)

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Controversies

Aristide Accuses US of Kidnapping Him

Shortly after fleeing his country in 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide said that he was forced by the United States to leave his country. He claimed he had signed documents relinquishing power because of fears that violence would erupt if he did not comply with the demands of US officials.
 
Friends of Aristide in the US alleged that the former president was indeed abducted by American agents. Aristide’s departure came at a time of growing civil disorder by opponents of the president.
 
In an interview with CNN television, Aristide said he had been in his palace in Port-au-Prince when “American agents” arrived to take him to the airport. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted that Aristide “was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth.”
 
According to some observers, the movement to overthrow Aristide may have been aided by the US. The National Liberation and Reconstruction Front was led by Guy Philippe, a former member of the Haitian armed forces and police chief. Philippe trained at one time with US Special Forces in Ecuador, along with a dozen other Haitian army officers.
 
Other claims included the assertion that the insurrection that toppled Aristide was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, which has connections with the CIA, and the International Republican Institute.
 
After living in South Africa since 2004, he graduated with a PhD in African Language Studies from the University of South Africa. In a February 2007, interview with the London Review of Books, he announced that he intended to return to Haiti as an educator instead of a politician. While current president René Prèval was open to the idea of Aristide returning, the US expressed concern about his return. 
The Destabilization of Haiti (by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research)
 
Haiti Seeks Trade Exemptions
Lobbyists working for the Haitian government and some members of Congress have tried repeatedly to secure passage of an initiative that would allow the Caribbean country to use non-American-made material in garments destined for the US, while still qualifying for duty-free access. Currently, Haitian garments must be made from material produced in the US, or in some cases from the Caribbean region, to get duty-free treatment. Using foreign-made fabric, such as from China, could significantly lower production costs for Haitian garments makers and make their goods more competitive in global markets.
 
Lawmakers from textile-heavy states have fought passage of the plan for fear that it would result in the widespread use of inexpensive Chinese fabric by Haitian garment makers. The Haitian government was supported by a diverse group that included the Catholic Church, American companies and musician Wyclef Jean.

Haiti's Trade Push Hits New Political Head Wind

(by Greg Hitt, Wall Street Journal)

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Human Rights

The State Department reports that despite some improvements, the Haitian government’s human rights record remained poor. The following human rights problems were reported: “failure to hold timely parliamentary elections; alleged unlawful killings by the Haitian National Police [HNP] officers; ineffective measures to address killings by members of gangs and other armed groups; HNP participation in kidnappings; overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; arbitrary threats and arrests; prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient judiciary subject to significant influence by the executive and legislative branches; severe corruption in all branches of government; violence and societal discrimination against women; child abuse, internal trafficking of children, and child domestic labor; and ineffective enforcement of worker rights.”

 
The Department of State reports that “Prisons and detention centers throughout the country remained overcrowded, poorly maintained, and often unsanitary. The destruction of three prisons in 2004 and the large number of pretrial detainees in custody resulted in severe overcrowding. There were credible reports that in some prisons, detainees slept and stood in shifts due to lack of space. Some prisons had no beds for detainees. Many prison facilities lacked basic services such as adequate kitchens, medical services, electricity, and medical isolation units for contagious patients. Most prisons also periodically lacked water.”
 
MINUSTAH, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, deploys 6,854 soldiers, 1,858 police officers, and 494 civilian UN officials, for training and supporting the national police force, provided disaster recovery assistance, and assisted the government in suppressing gang-related violence. The 8,546 member national police force is solely responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order; there are no military forces. The HNP is an officially autonomous civilian institution under the control of a director general, Ministry of Justice, and Secretary of State. 
 
The State Department found reports of corruption in the HNP. For instance, “affluent prisoners sometimes obtained favorable conditions of detention. A businessman arrested for fraud visited a local hospital for emergency medical services but he resided there many months after his recovery. The HNP conducted investigations of police malfeasance, leading to the arrest or termination of employment of some officers.”
 
In order to respond to these allegations, “The Inspector General's (IG) Office of the HNP accepts and investigates allegations from any complainant of police wrongdoing, including human rights violations, complicity in criminal acts, and other violations. The IG established two toll-free hot lines to accept citizen complaints--one directly to the HNP and one to MINUSTAH. Upon completion of investigations, the IG forwarded its findings to the director general of the HNP and high-level Ministry of Justice officials for appropriate action. IG investigations revealing criminal activity were referred to the regional prosecutor.”
 
In regards to fair public trials, the executive and legislative branches exerted significant influence on the judicial branch despite the law declaring an independent judiciary branch. Judges assigned to politically sensitive cases complained about interference from the executive branch. Credible reports of judicial corruption were commonplace. For example, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security fired two judges in Les Cayes for freeing drug traffickers in exchange for money in June 23, 2008.
 
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government and elected officials generally respected these rights in practice. However, there were a few incidents of government officers and elected officials harassing journalists and numerous reports of gang members killing or harassing journalists. The State Department reported that “the deputy mayor of Cap Haitien and his bodyguards attacked news correspondent Joachim Marcel and destroyed his equipment in radio station Signal FM's Cap Haitien office, allegedly in retaliation for Marcel's investigation of voting corruption. The public prosecutor’s office had not developed the case as of year's end.”
 
“The government reported displacement of approximately 150,000 persons from their homes due to two hurricanes and two tropical storms that ravaged much of the country during a three-week period in August and September. Large-scale international and NGO humanitarian assistance efforts were actively solicited and accommodated by the national government to provide emergency aid to displaced persons and storm victims. Emergency legislation enabled the national government to redirect nearly $180 million of accrued oil revenues toward emergency aid efforts.
 
Haitian law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, government corruption was a severe problem. Corruption remained widespread in all branches and at all levels of government. The constitution mandates that high-level officials and parliament members accused of official corruption be prosecuted before the Senate, not within the judicial system. However, the Senate brought no such cases of corruption. Poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and weak governmental institutions (especially relating to law enforcement and the judiciary) contributed to widespread corruption.
 
Women’s rights remain a troubling issue in Haiti. The State Department found that, “The law prohibits and provides penalties for rape but does not recognize spousal rape as a crime. The penalty for rape is a minimum of 10 years of forced labor, increasing to a mandatory 15 years if the victim was less than 16 years old. In the case of gang rape, the maximum penalty is forced labor for life. Sentences were often less rigorous. The criminal code excuses a husband who kills his wife or her partner found engaging in an act of adultery in his home, but a wife who kills her husband under similar circumstances is subject to prosecution. Anecdotal evidence suggested that some younger women were detained after violently resisting sexual attackers, sometimes family members. Amnesty International confirmed that rape remained commonplace and underreported. Kidnappers often raped their female abductees. In July MINUSTAH’s Child Protection Unit reported numerous incidents of gang rape and sexual violence against women and children in the ‘No Law’ areas.”
 
The constitution is supposed to provide free and compulsory public primary education to its children, but in practice, they did not have access due to the insufficient number of public schools and lack of necessary documentation. According to the government, 40 percent of children never attended school. Of those who did, less than 15 percent graduated from secondary school. Religious institutions, community organizations, and NGOs managed nearly 90 percent of the country's approximately 15,000 schools. Poorer families sometimes rationed education money and sent only some of their children to school. 
 
Human trafficking also remains problematic. The country was a source for persons trafficked to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the U.S., Europe, and Canada. According to the Department of State, “Trafficked citizens reported conditions of bonded servitude, slavery, and forced labor. Extreme poverty and lack of employment were among key risk factors supporting human trafficking. Women from the Dominican Republic were trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation. Traffickers also used the country as a transit point for third-country nationals.”
 

Amnesty International

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Debate

After the January 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, What are the Options for Rebuilding Haiti?

 
International Cooperation
Bernard Kouchner, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, believes that the opportunity after a catastrophic event must not be wasted. In his Washington Post column, he writes about aiming to achieve lasting, practical, and political reconstruction by proposing joint conference with the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and the E.U. on reconstruction and development in Haiti. Using the damage assessments provided by Haitian authorities, the conference intends to assess what long-term requirements will be needed. Kouchner wants to not only rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure but also reform its public institutions by creating a coalition of foreign governments, NGOs, and the Haitian Diaspora.
 
Long-Term Domestic Control of Development
Angel Parham looks to rebuild Haiti by using history as a guideline for proceeding further in Haitian long-term development. She first points out the assistance of U.S. troops in Haiti in providing valuable emergency assistance. However she cautions people to be wary of extended periods of time of U.S. occupancy due to the contentious occupation between 1915-1934, when U.S. soldiers were largely unpopular. Parham fears that U.S. occupation could lead to a long occupation with the U.S. possibly taking over the Haitian Treasury and installing a puppet government, similar to the previous 19-year occupation. 
 
Secondly, Parham fears the “short-supply of long-term memory.” Examining Hurricane Katrina, she highlights the reduced priority in rebuilding the region after a few weeks of non-stop attention, despite the impressive financial support Louisiana first received. For that reason, she argues that the United States and other nations must show long-term commitment to Haiti. 
Lastly, Parham expresses a fear of rebuilding of Haiti with ineffective methods shown in previous development endeavors in developing nations. She claims that far too often, the “rebuilding” creates only larger revenue streams to U.S. citizens and organizations. Instead, Parham wants long-term training and employment for Haitian citizens.   

Relief Efforts Should Look to Past

(by Angel Parham, The Maroon)

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Past Ambassadors

Benjamin F. Whidden

State of Residency: New Hampshire
Title: Commissioner/Consul General
Appointment: Jul 12, 1862
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 1, 1862
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 23, 1865
 
H.E. Peck
Appointment: Mar 14, 1865
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1865
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Jun 9, 1867
C.O. Loomis
Note: Not commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
Gideon H. Hollister
State of Residency: Connecticut
Title: Minister Resident/Consul General
Appointment: Feb 5, 1868
Presentation of Credentials: On or shortly before Jun 6, 1868
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 7–8, 1869
 
Ebenezer D. Bassett
Appointment: Apr 16, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: 7-Sep 8, 1869
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 27, 1877
 
John M. Langston
Appointment: Sep 28, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 27, 1877
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jun 30, 1885
Note: Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 23, 1877.
 
George W. Williams
Appointment: Mar 2, 1885
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post.
 
John E. W. Thompson
Appointment: May 7, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 30, 1885
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge about Oct 17, 1889
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 13, 1886. Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
Frederick Douglass
Appointment: Jun 26, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 14, 1889
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 1891
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 16, 1889. Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
John S. Durham
Appointment: Sep 3, 1891
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 3, 1891
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 7, 1893
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 23, 1891. Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
Henry M. Smythe
Appointment: Sep 15, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1893
Termination of Mission: Left post on or shortly after Mar 9, 1897
Note: Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
William F. Powell
Appointment: Jun 17, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 20, 1897
Termination of Mission: Left post about Nov 30, 1905
Note: Accredited also to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
Henry W. Furniss
Appointment: Nov 23, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 30, 1905
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 17, 1913
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 13, 1905.
 
Madison R. Smith
Appointment: Aug 15, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 8, 1914
 
Arthur Bailly-Blanchard
Appointment: May 22, 1914
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 15, 1915
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1921
 
Note: During 1921–1930 each of the following officers served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim: James C. Dunn (Apr. 1922–Feb. 1924), George R. Merrell, Jr. (Mar 1924–Oct 1926), Christian Gross (Oct 1926–Nov 1927; also Apr-Dec 1928), and Stuart E. Grummon (Dec 1928–Nov 1930).
 
Dana G. Munro
Appointment: Jun 28, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 16, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 14, 1932
 
Norman Armour
Appointment: Jul 25, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1932
Termination of Mission: Recess appointment expired, Mar 4, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Armour left post Mar 4, 1933; he returned Mar 8, and presented a copy of his letter of credence under his new appointment, Mar 23, 1933.
 
Norman Armour
Appointment: Mar 17, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 11, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 21, 1935
 
George A. Gordon
Appointment: Jun 5, 1935
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 6, 1935
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 21, 1937
 
Ferdinand L. Mayer
Appointment: Jul 13, 1937
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 29, 1940
 
John Campbell White
Appointment: Nov 29, 1940
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 24, 1944
 
Orme Wilson
Appointment: Mar 21, 1944
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 2, 1944
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 22, 1946
 
Harold H. Tittmann, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 12, 1946
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 20, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 17, 1948
 
William E. DeCourcy
Appointment: Jun 18, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1948
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Dec 9, 1950
 
Howard K. Travers
Appointment: Oct 3, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 25, 1952
 
Roy Tasco Davis
Appointment: Jul 6, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1953
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Mar 9, 1957
 
Gerald A. Drew
Appointment: Apr 17, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: May 15, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 16, 1960
 
Robert Newbegin
Appointment: Aug 27, 1960
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 4, 1960
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 10, 1961
 
Raymond L. Thurston
Appointment: Dec 7, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 4, 1962
Termination of Mission: Normal relations interrupted, May 15, 1963; relations not yet resumed when Thurston left post, May 26, 1963
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 30, 1962. On Jun 14, 1963 the Government of Haiti requested Thurston's recall, and he did not return to post.
 
Benson E.L. Timmons III
Appointment: Nov 30, 1963
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 16, 1964
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 28, 1967
 
Claude G. Ross
Appointment: Apr 19, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 20, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 17, 1969
 
Clinton E. Knox
Appointment: Oct 9, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 13, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 26, 1973
 
Heyward Isham
Appointment: Dec 19, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 31, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 8, 1977
 
William B. Jones
Appointment: Aug 3, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 12, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 12, 1980
 
Henry L. Kimelman
Appointment: Aug 27, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 16, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 18, 1981
 
Ernest H. Preeg
Appointment: Jun 20, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 28, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 20, 1983
 
Clayton E. McManaway, Jr.
Appointment: Nov 18, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 10, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 18, 1986
 
Brunson McKinley
Appointment: Sep 12, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 9, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 13, 1989
 
Alvin P. Adams, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 10, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1989
Termination of Mission: Recalled, Aug 1, 1992
Note: The following served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim: Leslie M. Alexander (Aug 1992–Jul 1993), and Vicki J. Huddleston (Jul–Oct. 1993).
 
William Lacy Swing
Appointment: Oct 8, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 5, 1998
 
Timothy Michael Carney
Appointment: Nov 12, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 11, 1999
 
Brian Dean Curran
Appointment: Dec 28, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post May 16, 2003
 
James B. Foley
Appointment: May 27, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 18, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 2005
 
Janet A. Sanderson
Appointment: February 21, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: May 16, 2006
Termination of Mission: June 26, 2009?
 
 

U.S. Embassy in Haiti

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Haiti's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Altidor, Paul

An economist and international development specialist, Paul G. Altidor was named as Haiti’s ambassador to the United States in January 2012 and presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on May 2.

 

Altidor, 39, was born in the port city of Jérémie, Haiti. He was educated in the U.S. after his family moved to Boston when he was a teenager. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Boston College and a master’s in international development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also did graduate work in economics and law in France at Paris X Nanterre (now known as Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense).

 

Early in his career, Altidor headed a non-profit organization, taught at the École Supérieure Catholique de Droit de Jérémie, a law school in his home town and started a small motorcycle business. Then he went to work at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. In this role he advised foreign governments on public-private partnerships, including a deal involving Vietnam’s government-run telecommunications company, Viettel, investing in Haiti’s state-owned telephone operation.

 

Prior to becoming ambassador to Washington, Altidor served as vice president of programs and investments for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Created in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit the Caribbean island nation in 2010, the fund was established with the support of President Barack Obama and co-chaired by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

 

Official Biography (Embassy of Haiti)

With a New Ambassador at the Helm, Haiti’s Embassy Gets a Facelift (by Manolia Charlotin, Haitian Times)

Haiti’s New Ambassador To U.S. Takes Office (by Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald)

De la ville de Jérémie à Washington : Paul Altidor nommé ambassadeur (referencefm.com)

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Haiti's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

 Haiti's Embassy in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Ricardo 1 year ago
I'm so glad you are still thinking about Haiti. I agree that dcootrs are a major necessity, but it's not the only one. I just talked today to a priest who arrived from Haiti yesterday and he says that the tents where people live are made with bed sheets and thy are not enough protection for the sun. They are desperate for tents or covers like the ones used in trucks to make sturdier shelters. It would be great to make a campaign about it.
Tati 1 year ago
I have volunteered as an RN to Haiti with Project Medishare in February 2010 after the erhuaqtaqe. It was a heart broken and enjoyable experience that I would love to continue doing. I am presentely living in Florida and I am planning to relocate to Haiti soon. I would like to know if Project Medishare does not have RN positions open for international applicants. Please let me know so I can forward my resume.Thank you,

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti

White, Pamela
ambassador-image

The Caribbean nation of Haiti, which is still suffering from the effects of the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, will soon have a new ambassador with extensive experience in economic development. Pamela A. White, who previously served in Haiti as executive director for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs there, was nominated by President Obama on January 23. She was confirmed by the Senate on March 29, 2012.
 
The daughter of Richard and Muriel Murphy, White was born in 1948 in Lewiston, Maine. She grew up in Auburn, where she graduated from Edward Little High School in 1967. She earned a B.A. in Journalism at the University of Maine at Orono in 1971. Later, she attended the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she earned a master’s degree in international development. She also is a 1999 graduate of the international development program at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, DC.
 
White began her public service as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Cameroon from 1971 to 1973. After working several years in education and research, she joined USAID in 1978. At USAID she served as community liaison officer in Burkina Faso, deputy director executive officer in Senegal and Haiti and executive officer in Haiti, Egypt and South Africa. As deputy director for East Africa in Washington, DC, she coordinated the delivery of food to Ethiopia and Eritrea, helped to develop a six-year strategy for Uganda and oversaw the expansion of programs in Sudan and Congo.
 
In Mali, White worked as deputy and mission director for USAID from 2001 to 2005. After that she was appointed mission director in Tanzania, where she managed a $130 million aid program focused on HIV/AIDs prevention, malaria control, primary education, conservation of natural resources and control of corruption. She oversaw the start of health initiatives, including the President’s Malaria Initiative, and helped the country receive one of the largest Millennium Challenge Corporation grants. From September 2008 to July 2010, she served as mission director for USAID in Liberia, where she managed the agency’s second largest development budget in Africa, averaging more than $200 million a year. She was then named to her first ambassadorship, to Gambia, where she served starting in October 2010.
 
White and her husband, Steven Cowper, have two sons. Cowper is also a member of the Foreign Service and has served with USAID.
-Matt Bewig
 

 

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Overview

By far the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the island nation of Haiti suffers from numerous domestic problems, such as extreme poverty, the spread of AIDS, unreliable electrical service and powerful gangs. Despite these problems, its location in the Caribbean has made it an important strategic target for the United States because of its proximity to Cuba. US involvement in the country’s internal affairs began in the early 19th Century when President Thomas Jefferson encouraged France to grant Haiti its independence. However, freedom, did not bring stability. For most of its history, Haiti has suffered from multiple dictatorships. In 1915, the assassination of its dictator prompted the US to send the Marines to restore order. They occupied Haiti until the 1930s, with American officials virtually ruling the country through a puppet government. Even when the Haitian people finally were given a chance at democracy and elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide president in 1991, a military coup quickly squashed its dreams of self-determination, forcing Aristide to flee to the US. After several UN peacekeeping efforts and an interim government, Haiti still faces rising food prices and a multitude of human rights violations. In January 2010, Haiti experienced a 7.0 earthquake that leveled the capital city, affected an estimated three million people, and killed more than 200,000 people.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Haiti is located on the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean (Cuba is larger). Nearly two thirds of the Haitian terrain is mountainous and unable to support crops. The warm, rainy tropical climate is moderated by trade winds.

Population: 8.9 million

Religions: Catholic 54.7%, Baptist 15.4%, Pentecostal 7.9%, Adventist 3.0%, Vodun (voodoo) 2.1%, Methodist 1.5%, Episcopalian 0.7%, Jehovah's Witnesses 0.5%, Baha'i 0.2%, Mormon 0.07%, Muslim 0.02%, other 0.2%, non-religious 10.2%. Many Haitians are known to incorporate Vodun into their other religious beliefs.
 
Ethnic Groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%.
 
Languages: Haitian Creole French (official) 90.6%, French (official).
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History

During Columbus’s famed voyage in 1492, the explorer landed on the island of Hispaniola which was inhabited by the Arawaks. Disease and repression by the Spaniards decimated the Arawaks, who gave Haiti (“land of mountains”) its name. While establishing plantations on the eastern side of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic), the Spanish largely ignored the western part of the island, which became a base for French and English settlers. Gradually French colonists imported African slaves and developed sugar plantations on the northern coast. In 1697, the Spanish gave up control of Haiti (then called Saint-Dominque) to France.

 
Over the next 100 years Saint-Dominque became France’s most prosperous colony in the Americas and a key source of coffee and sugar. The island became populated with a stratified mix of Frenchmen, Creoles, freed blacks, black slaves and mulattoes, whose social status was indeterminate. When French-descended Creole planters sought to prevent mulatto representation in the French National Assembly and in local assemblies in Saint-Dominque, the mulattoes revolted under the leadership of Vincent Ogé. Blacks formed guerrilla bands led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave who had been made an officer of the French forces on Hispaniola.
 
When the English invaded Haiti in 1793 during the Napoleonic Wars, Toussaint maintained an uneasy alliance with the mulatto André Rigaud and cooperated with the remnant of French governmental authority. In 1801 Toussaint conquered the entire island of Hispaniola, abolished slavery, and proclaimed himself governor-general. Napoleon sent forces to recapture the island but was unsuccessful in regaining full control. During peace negotiations, the French imprisoned Toussaint, who later died in a French prison. But the revolt continued and eventually the French were forced to withdraw after its troops became ravaged by yellow fever. At this time the fledgling United States government led by President Thomas Jefferson stepped in and convinced France to allow Haiti to gain its independence in 1804, making it only the second nation in the Western Hemisphere, after the US, to win complete independence.
 
After independence the remaining French and Creoles were expelled, and ex-slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed himself emperor. His assassination in 1806 resulted in the division of Haiti into a black-controlled north under Emperor Henri Christophe and a mulatto-ruled south under President Alexandre Pétion. After their deaths Haiti was unified by Jean Pierre Boyer, who also brought Santo Domingo under Haitian control.
 
Boyer’s rule was ruinous for the Haitian economy, and he was forced into exile in 1843. The next 70 years was marred by political and social conflict. The upheaval prompted the US to step in with the US Marines in 1915 to restore order. Stability was restored but at the price of Haiti’s sovereignty. The US continued to exert control over Haitian affairs for the next 30 years.
 
Political instability again became a problem after World War II. The year 1957 marked the beginning of “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s ascension to power. He suppressed opposition through the creation of his paramilitary secret police, the Tonton Macoutes. In 1964 he proclaimed himself president for life. Upon his death in 1971 he was succeeded by his 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc,” who also became president for life. Corruption and cruelty became the hallmarks of the Duvalier family reign.
 
By 1986 Haiti was so wrought with problems that Baby Doc Duvalier lost his grip on power and was forced to flee the country.
 
In December 1990, a former priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, won 67% of the vote in a presidential election that international observers deemed largely free and fair. Aristide took office on February 7, 1991, but was overthrown that September in a violent coup led by army elements and supported by many of the country’s economic elite. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. From October 1991 to September 1994 a de facto military regime governed Haiti, during which several thousand Haitians were killed. The Organization of American States and the United Nations tried to end the political crisis through negotiation. When this failed, the US and the OAS responded with a trade embargo, and in 1993 a UN-sponsored oil embargo was imposed. An accord in 1993 providing for Aristide's return was repudiated by the army, which used terrorist violence to maintain power.
 
In 1994 the United Nations approved a nearly total trade embargo and later authorized the use of force to restore democratic rule. On Sept. 18, 1994, as US forces were poised to invade the island, an accord was negotiated. Haiti's military leaders relinquished power under an amnesty, and American Marines landed to oversee the transition. Aristide returned on Oct. 15 as president, and US troops were largely replaced by UN peacekeepers in March 1995. In the December presidential election that year, René Préval was elected to succeed Aristide.
 
In January 1999, following a series of disagreements with Haitian legislators, Préval declared that their terms had expired, and he began ruling by decree. Parliamentary elections were finally held in May–June 2000. The outcome gave Aristide’s Lavalas Family party an overwhelming majority in both houses, but the method of counting the votes was disputed. That November Aristide was again elected president, winning nearly 92% of the vote.
 
The following year Amnesty International said that human rights and the rule of law had diminished in Haiti, citing harassment of opposition politicians and attacks on journalists. There was a failed coup attempt against Aristide in December 2001. A political stalemate between Aristide and the opposition led to the freezing of foreign aid and ongoing economic hardship in Haiti.
 
Violence between supporters and opponents of Aristide increased in 2003, and several of the president’s cabinet ministers resigned by the end of the year. Parliamentary elections were not held as planned, resulting in the dissolution of parliament in January 2004 and leaving Aristide to rule by decree and sparking recurring anti-Aristide opposition demonstrations in the streets. In February an armed uprising began in Gonaïves, and by the end of the month armed rebels consisting of disaffected gangs formerly allied with the government, former soldiers, paramilitaries, police and others were on the verge of entering the capital.
 
Under pressure from the United States and France, Aristide resigned and went into exile, subsequently accusing US and French officials of duping, coercing, or kidnapping him. American, French, Canadian, and Chilean forces arrived to maintain order, and an interim government headed by Gérard Latortue, a former foreign minister, was established. The Caribbean Community, however, refused to recognize Latortue and called for a UN investigation into Aristide's resignation. In April 2004 Latortue announced that general elections for a new government would be held in 2005, but they were subsequently postponed several times. A UN peacekeeping force led by Brazil began replacing American, Canadian, and French forces in June 2004.
 
Unrest and lawlessness on the part of Aristide supporters and opponents continued to be a problem in the country, despite the presence of foreign peacekeepers. Elections were again postponed to 2006. When the presidential election was finally held in February 2006, René Préval handily led all other candidates (there were more than 30) but appeared to be falling short of the majority required to avoid a runoff. The former president and his supporters charged that there was electoral fraud, an accusation seemingly supported by an unusually high number of blank ballots and by the discovery of charred blank and Préval ballots in a dump near the capital.
 
Amid demonstrations and mounting tension, election officials agreed to assign the blank ballots proportionally to the candidates, giving Préval nearly 51% of the vote. Parliamentary elections were held at the same time, but the investigation of electoral complaints delayed the second round into April, and Préval was not sworn in until May 2006,
 
Armed gangs remain a significant problem in Haiti, and in October 2006, the United States partially lifted an arms embargo against Haiti so that the government could buy weapons and other equipment for the Haitian police. In February 2007, the mandate of the UN peacekeepers was again extended, and the Security Council called on UN forces to move more strongly against Haiti's criminal gangs. Although UN forces had successes against a number of urban gangs, some relocated to rural areas where they were less likely to be confronted by peacekeepers.
 
Rising food prices led to antigovernment and anti-UN protests and riots in a number of Haitian cities in April 2008. In Port-au-Prince rioters attempted to storm the presidential palace. The riots led the Senate to dismiss the prime minister, and Michèle Pierre-Louis was elected to the post in July.
 
A Country Study: Haiti (Library of Congress)
Synopsis of Haitian History (Discover Haiti.com)
Haiti under the Duvaliers (World History Archives)

Francois Duvalier, 1957-71

(Library of Congress)

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History of U.S. Relations with Haiti

The United States has a long history of being involved in Haiti’s domestic affairs. In the early 19th century, the administration of Thomas Jefferson became concerned that France’s presence on the island nation could afford the European power a jumping off point to invade the Louisiana Territory. When Napoleon’s forces struggled to suppress a Haitian uprising, Jefferson used the opportunity to encourage France to vacate the colony.

 
In the early 20th century, turmoil inside Haiti prompted President Woodrow Wilson to militarily intervene. After the dictator Guillaume Sam was killed in a popular uprising in 1915, the US Marines were sent in. Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, the mulatto president of the Senate, agreed to accept the presidency of Haiti after several other candidates had refused to cooperate with the Americans. Marine Corps commanders served as administrators in the provinces. Local institutions, however, continued to be run by Haitians, as was required under orders from President Wilson.
 
With Dartiguenave installed as a figurehead in the National Palace, US Admiral William Caperton declared martial law, a condition that persisted until 1929. A treaty passed by the Haitian legislature in November 1915 allowed Washington, DC, to assume complete control of Haiti's finances, and it gave the United States sole authority over the appointment of advisers and receivers. The treaty also gave the United States responsibility for establishing and running public-health and public-works programs and for supervising routine governmental affairs. Furthermore, the treaty established the Gendarmerie d'Haïti, the country’s first professional military force.
 
In 1917 President Dartiguenave dissolved the legislature after its members refused to approve a constitution purportedly authored by United States assistant secretary of the navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. A referendum subsequently approved the new constitution in 1918. The constitution allowed foreigners to purchase land, a controversial move in the eyes of Haitians.
 
An early period of unrest culminated in a 1918 rebellion by up to 40,000 former cacos and other disgruntled people. The scale of the uprising overwhelmed the Gendarmerie, but US Marine reinforcements helped put down the revolt at the estimated cost of 2,000 Haitian lives. According to the Library of Congress, civil order was “imposed largely by white foreigners with deep-seated racial prejudices and a disdain for the notion of self-determination by inhabitants of less-developed nations.”
 
While the US occupied Haiti, the country’s infrastructure was improved. Almost all roads were developed to lead to Port-au-Prince, resulting in a gradual concentration of economic activity in the capital. Bridges went up throughout the country, a telephone system began to function, several towns gained access to clean water and a construction boom helped restore wharves, lighthouses, schools, and hospitals. Public health improved, partially because of United States-directed campaigns against malaria and yaws (a crippling disease caused by a spirochete). The Haitian economy stabilized, keeping the country from defaulting on its foreign-debt payments like other Latin American nations of the time. American banks became Haiti's main creditors.
 
The occupation of Haiti continued after World War I, despite the embarrassment that it caused Woodrow Wilson at the Paris peace conference in 1919 and the scrutiny of a congressional inquiry in 1922. By 1930 President Herbert Hoover had become concerned about the effects of the occupation, particularly after a December 1929 incident in Les Cayes in which Marines killed at least 10 Haitian peasants during a march to protest local economic conditions. Hoover appointed two commissions to study the situation. A former governor general of the Philippines, W. Cameron Forbes, headed the more prominent of the two. The Forbes Commission praised the material improvements that the US occupation brought to Haiti, but it criticized the exclusion of Haitians from positions of real authority in the government and the constabulary, which had come to be known as the Garde d'Haïti. The commission further asserted that “the social forces that created [instability] still remain—poverty, ignorance, and the lack of a tradition or desire for orderly free government.”
 
The Hoover administration did not implement fully the recommendations of the Forbes Commission, but the US withdrawal was well under way by 1932 when Hoover lost the presidency to Roosevelt. The last contingent of Marines departed in mid-August.
 
In the early years of the Papa Doc Duvalier dictatorship, relations with the US became strained. Duvalier’s repressive and authoritarian rule bothered President John F. Kennedy, whose subordinates relayed concerns from Washington over allegations that Duvalier had blatantly misappropriated America aid money and that he intended to employ a Marine Corps mission to Haiti not to train the regular army but to strengthen the Tonton Macoutes. The Kennedy administration responded by suspending aid in mid-1962. Duvalier refused to accept United States demands for strict accounting procedures as a precondition of aid renewal. Duvalier then renounced all aid from Washington.
 
Renouncing the aid allowed the Duvalier to portray himself as a principled opponent of the US. The Duvalier government continued to receive multilateral contributions, however. After Kennedy's death in November 1963, pressure on Duvalier eased, and the United States adopted a policy of grudging acceptance of the Haitian regime because of the country's strategic location near communist Cuba. For the next three decades, Washington did little to stop the brutality that the Duvaliers, Papa Doc and Baby Doc, imposed on the Haitian people.
 
Even after the Duvalier’s were gone, their legacy of authoritarian rule continued to haunt the country. Popularly-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed On September 30, 1991, by an army coup led by Raoul Cédras. Aristide spent his exile first in Venezuela and then in the United States, where he lobbied the administration of Bill Clinton to help him return to power. In 1994, the US was on the verge of invading Haiti when Cedras capitulated and Aristide was able to return to Haiti under the protection of a US-centered multinational force that had been organized by the UN. Aristide completed his term in office, during which he disbanded the Haitian army and established a civilian police force.
 
Seven weeks after Aristide’s return, Republicans took control of Congress, and influential Republicans worked to block aid to Haiti or attach preconditions to it. The aid that came through was not enough to rebuild schools, healthcare infrastructure, roads, ports, telecommunications or airports.
 
Haiti in U.S. History: A Timeline (by Joel Dreyfuss, The Root)
 

Who Removed Aristide? (by Paul Farmer, London Review of Books)

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Current U.S. Relations with Haiti

Famous Haitian-Americans

Activist
William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B) Du Bois – He was a prominent American civil rights figure in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He wrote books such as The Souls of Black Folk and The Negro.
 
Entertainment
Wyclef Jean – He is a multi-platinum musician, rapper, and record producer. He also founded a humanitarian organization, Yéle Haiti, which intends to empower the people of Haiti and restore national pride.
 
Business
Reginald “Reggie” Fils-Aime – He serves as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Nintendo America.
 
Sports
Andre Berto – He is a professional boxer who won the WBC welterweight championship in 2008.
Josmer “Jozy” Altidore – Currently a soccer player for Hull City of England’s Premier League, he also plays for the U.S. national team. He was the youngest American to score in a World Cup qualifier and the first U.S. international to score in Spain’s La Liga.
Mario Elie – He is a former NBA player who played for the Houston Rocket’s championship teams in the 1990s.
Jonathan Vilma – He is an NFL player for the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted 12th overall by the New York Jets in 2004.
Pierre Garcon – He is a receiver for the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL.
 
Politics
Patrick Gaspard – He serves as the Director of the Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration. He was also a part of Obama’s transition team and his National Political Director during the presidential campaign
 
Recent relations between the US and Haiti have been contentious. Publicly, the Bush administration maintained a tempered level of support for the Aristide regime. But some have purported that the US played a role in destabilizing Aristide’s second run in power in 2004 through the International Republican Institute, a federally-funded, nonprofit political group backed by powerful Republicans close to President Bush. When Aristide was forced out of power in this second presidential term, the US and France assisted his flight to exile in Africa. After the controversial ousting, Aristide accused the United States of actually kidnapping him to get him out of power. He later graduated at the University of South Africa with a PhD in African Language Studies and expressed his desire to return to Haiti (See Controversies for more information).  
 
In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the US government headed the rescue and relief efforts in the country. President Barack Obama asked former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to co-lead the U.S. relief in Haiti, which sparked controversy given the presidents’ roles in Haitian history. Clinton supported economic policies that brought sweatshops to Haiti and transformed their marketplace economy into a lagging market economy. In Feburary 2004, Bush and his administration recognized the “free and fairly elected” Haitian president Aristide. Yet later that month, the US transported Aristide out of Haiti and allowed unelected rebel forces to seize power.  
 
 
As of January 2010, 535,000 Haitian immigrants live in the United States, which represents 5.5% of the total Haitian population. The large influx of Haitians into the U.S. began in the late 1980s because of poor living conditions due to the oppressive Duvalier dictatorship. Between 1980 and 2000, the Haitian-born population quadrupled to 419,000. The number of Haitian immigrants is expected to grow drastically due to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Currently, the majority of Haitians reside in two states: New York and Florida.  
 
According to a Migration Policy Institute study, Haitian immigrants were more likely to be naturalized US citizens than the overall foreign-born population, with 48.4% naturalization among Haitians and 43.0% nationalization among other nationalities. In 2008, two-thirds of Haitian immigrants were adults of working age, and almost half of Haitian foreign-born adults had some college education. 
Haitian Immigrants in the United States (by Aaron Terrazas, Migration Policy Institute)
 
The US remains Haiti’s largest trading partner. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and US currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of American firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and US-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.
 
Officially, 548,199 Haitians legally live in the US, though the actual number is believed to be much higher. The 1990 census found 290,000 Haitians residing in the US, however, anthropologists estimated that the number of people with Haitian ancestry was actually closer to 1.2 million. The highest concentrations of Haitians are in New York City, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Boston. 
 
In 2005, 77,047 Americans visited Haiti. There has been a gradual decline in the number of Americans visiting Haiti, with overall visits down from a high of 94,515 in 2003.
 
A total of 58,918 Haitians visited the US in 2006. The number of visitors has remained close to 60,000 since 2002.
 
United States Can't Let Haiti Slip Into Abyss (Council on Foreign Relations)
United States-Haiti Relations (Latin American Studies.org)
U.S.-Haiti Relations Defy Easy Summation (by Gary Dauphin, National Public Radio)
The Destabilization of Haiti (by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research)

George W. Bush Overthrew the Elected Leader of Haiti; Now He's Expected to Help?

(by David Wallechinsky, AllGov.com)

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Where Does the Money Flow

Haiti is a major provider of cheap labor for clothing manufacturers in the United States. This has resulted in apparel and household goods becoming the No. 1 import for the US from the island nation, increasing from $253 million in 2004 to $347 million in 2008. No other import comes close in terms of dollar value. Other top imports include fruits and frozen juices ($8.2 million); cocoa beans ($7.8 million); and tobacco, waxes, and nonfood oils   ($2.9 million).

 
The United States exports significantly more rice to Haiti than any other product. Haiti, one of the poorest and hungriest countries in the world, has increasingly bought more rice from the US this decade. In 2004 $80 million was purchased; in 2008 $199 million. Wheat was next the highest import, beginning at $43.9 million in 2004 to $64.6 million in 2008. Haiti’s imports of pharmaceutical products saw increases, importing only $25.6 million in 2004 but $40.3 in 2008.   Another key food export is meat and poultry, going from $15.6 million in 2003 to $33.8 million in 2007. The US also has sold an average of $13.9 million in vegetables and $26.8 million in “other foods” to Haiti. Other top sellers in 2008 were excavating machinery ($19.8 million) and trucks, buses and other vehicles ($18.2 million).
 
Overall, the US sold $944 million in goods to Haiti in 2008, compared to $450 million in imports.
 
The U.S. sent Haiti $287.0 million in aid in 2009. Some of the largest recipient programs were Health ($129 million), Conflict Mitigation and Reconciliation ($25 million), Agriculture ($22 million), Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($16 million), Education ($12 million), Good Governance ($11 million) and Environment ($10 million). 
 
The 2010 budget request increased aid to Haiti to $292.8 million. Some of the programs from 2009 will increase. For example, Health will increase to $133 million, Agriculture to ($27 million), Conflict Mitigation and Resolution to $26 million, Environment to $21 million, Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform to $17 million, and Good Governance to $12 million.
 
Haiti will also receive funds through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) outside of the Foreign Operations budget.
 

Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (Pages 611-617)

(pdf)

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Controversies

Aristide Accuses US of Kidnapping Him

Shortly after fleeing his country in 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide said that he was forced by the United States to leave his country. He claimed he had signed documents relinquishing power because of fears that violence would erupt if he did not comply with the demands of US officials.
 
Friends of Aristide in the US alleged that the former president was indeed abducted by American agents. Aristide’s departure came at a time of growing civil disorder by opponents of the president.
 
In an interview with CNN television, Aristide said he had been in his palace in Port-au-Prince when “American agents” arrived to take him to the airport. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted that Aristide “was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth.”
 
According to some observers, the movement to overthrow Aristide may have been aided by the US. The National Liberation and Reconstruction Front was led by Guy Philippe, a former member of the Haitian armed forces and police chief. Philippe trained at one time with US Special Forces in Ecuador, along with a dozen other Haitian army officers.
 
Other claims included the assertion that the insurrection that toppled Aristide was supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, which has connections with the CIA, and the International Republican Institute.
 
After living in South Africa since 2004, he graduated with a PhD in African Language Studies from the University of South Africa. In a February 2007, interview with the London Review of Books, he announced that he intended to return to Haiti as an educator instead of a politician. While current president René Prèval was open to the idea of Aristide returning, the US expressed concern about his return. 
The Destabilization of Haiti (by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research)
 
Haiti Seeks Trade Exemptions
Lobbyists working for the Haitian government and some members of Congress have tried repeatedly to secure passage of an initiative that would allow the Caribbean country to use non-American-made material in garments destined for the US, while still qualifying for duty-free access. Currently, Haitian garments must be made from material produced in the US, or in some cases from the Caribbean region, to get duty-free treatment. Using foreign-made fabric, such as from China, could significantly lower production costs for Haitian garments makers and make their goods more competitive in global markets.
 
Lawmakers from textile-heavy states have fought passage of the plan for fear that it would result in the widespread use of inexpensive Chinese fabric by Haitian garment makers. The Haitian government was supported by a diverse group that included the Catholic Church, American companies and musician Wyclef Jean.

Haiti's Trade Push Hits New Political Head Wind

(by Greg Hitt, Wall Street Journal)

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Human Rights

The State Department reports that despite some improvements, the Haitian government’s human rights record remained poor. The following human rights problems were reported: “failure to hold timely parliamentary elections; alleged unlawful killings by the Haitian National Police [HNP] officers; ineffective measures to address killings by members of gangs and other armed groups; HNP participation in kidnappings; overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; arbitrary threats and arrests; prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient judiciary subject to significant influence by the executive and legislative branches; severe corruption in all branches of government; violence and societal discrimination against women; child abuse, internal trafficking of children, and child domestic labor; and ineffective enforcement of worker rights.”

 
The Department of State reports that “Prisons and detention centers throughout the country remained overcrowded, poorly maintained, and often unsanitary. The destruction of three prisons in 2004 and the large number of pretrial detainees in custody resulted in severe overcrowding. There were credible reports that in some prisons, detainees slept and stood in shifts due to lack of space. Some prisons had no beds for detainees. Many prison facilities lacked basic services such as adequate kitchens, medical services, electricity, and medical isolation units for contagious patients. Most prisons also periodically lacked water.”
 
MINUSTAH, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, deploys 6,854 soldiers, 1,858 police officers, and 494 civilian UN officials, for training and supporting the national police force, provided disaster recovery assistance, and assisted the government in suppressing gang-related violence. The 8,546 member national police force is solely responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order; there are no military forces. The HNP is an officially autonomous civilian institution under the control of a director general, Ministry of Justice, and Secretary of State. 
 
The State Department found reports of corruption in the HNP. For instance, “affluent prisoners sometimes obtained favorable conditions of detention. A businessman arrested for fraud visited a local hospital for emergency medical services but he resided there many months after his recovery. The HNP conducted investigations of police malfeasance, leading to the arrest or termination of employment of some officers.”
 
In order to respond to these allegations, “The Inspector General's (IG) Office of the HNP accepts and investigates allegations from any complainant of police wrongdoing, including human rights violations, complicity in criminal acts, and other violations. The IG established two toll-free hot lines to accept citizen complaints--one directly to the HNP and one to MINUSTAH. Upon completion of investigations, the IG forwarded its findings to the director general of the HNP and high-level Ministry of Justice officials for appropriate action. IG investigations revealing criminal activity were referred to the regional prosecutor.”
 
In regards to fair public trials, the executive and legislative branches exerted significant influence on the judicial branch despite the law declaring an independent judiciary branch. Judges assigned to politically sensitive cases complained about interference from the executive branch. Credible reports of judicial corruption were commonplace. For example, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security fired two judges in Les Cayes for freeing drug traffickers in exchange for money in June 23, 2008.
 
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government and elected officials generally respected these rights in practice. However, there were a few incidents of government officers and elected officials harassing journalists and numerous reports of gang members killing or harassing journalists. The State Department reported that “the deputy mayor of Cap Haitien and his bodyguards attacked news correspondent Joachim Marcel and destroyed his equipment in radio station Signal FM's Cap Haitien office, allegedly in retaliation for Marcel's investigation of voting corruption. The public prosecutor’s office had not developed the case as of year's end.”
 
“The government reported displacement of approximately 150,000 persons from their homes due to two hurricanes and two tropical storms that ravaged much of the country during a three-week period in August and September. Large-scale international and NGO humanitarian assistance efforts were actively solicited and accommodated by the national government to provide emergency aid to displaced persons and storm victims. Emergency legislation enabled the national government to redirect nearly $180 million of accrued oil revenues toward emergency aid efforts.
 
Haitian law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, government corruption was a severe problem. Corruption remained widespread in all branches and at all levels of government. The constitution mandates that high-level officials and parliament members accused of official corruption be prosecuted before the Senate, not within the judicial system. However, the Senate brought no such cases of corruption. Poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and weak governmental institutions (especially relating to law enforcement and the judiciary) contributed to widespread corruption.
 
Women’s rights remain a troubling issue in Haiti. The State Department found that, “The law prohibits and provides penalties for rape but does not recognize spousal rape as a crime. The penalty for rape is a minimum of 10 years of forced labor, increasing to a mandatory 15 years if the victim was less than 16 years old. In the case of gang rape, the maximum penalty is forced labor for life. Sentences were often less rigorous. The criminal code excuses a husband who kills his wife or her partner found engaging in an act of adultery in his home, but a wife who kills her husband under similar circumstances is subject to prosecution. Anecdotal evidence suggested that some younger women were detained after violently resisting sexual attackers, sometimes family members. Amnesty International confirmed that rape remained commonplace and underreported. Kidnappers often raped their female abductees. In July MINUSTAH’s Child Protection Unit reported numerous incidents of gang rape and sexual violence against women and children in the ‘No Law’ areas.”
 
The constitution is supposed to provide free and compulsory public primary education to its children, but in practice, they did not have access due to the insufficient number of public schools and lack of necessary documentation. According to the government, 40 percent of children never attended school. Of those who did, less than 15 percent graduated from secondary school. Religious institutions, community organizations, and NGOs managed nearly 90 percent of the country's approximately 15,000 schools. Poorer families sometimes rationed education money and sent only some of their children to school. 
 
Human trafficking also remains problematic. The country was a source for persons trafficked to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the U.S., Europe, and Canada. According to the Department of State, “Trafficked citizens reported conditions of bonded servitude, slavery, and forced labor. Extreme poverty and lack of employment were among key risk factors supporting human trafficking. Women from the Dominican Republic were trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation. Traffickers also used the country as a transit point for third-country nationals.”
 

Amnesty International

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Debate

After the January 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, What are the Options for Rebuilding Haiti?

 
International Cooperation
Bernard Kouchner, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, believes that the opportunity after a catastrophic event must not be wasted. In his Washington Post column, he writes about aiming to achieve lasting, practical, and political reconstruction by proposing joint conference with the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and the E.U. on reconstruction and development in Haiti. Using the damage assessments provided by Haitian authorities, the conference intends to assess what long-term requirements will be needed. Kouchner wants to not only rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure but also reform its public institutions by creating a coalition of foreign governments, NGOs, and the Haitian Diaspora.
 
Long-Term Domestic Control of Development
Angel Parham looks to rebuild Haiti by using history as a guideline for proceeding further in Haitian long-term development. She first points out the assistance of U.S. troops in Haiti in providing valuable emergency assistance. However she cautions people to be wary of extended periods of time of U.S. occupancy due to the contentious occupation between 1915-1934, when U.S. soldiers were largely unpopular. Parham fears that U.S. occupation could lead to a long occupation with the U.S. possibly taking over the Haitian Treasury and installing a puppet government, similar to the previous 19-year occupation. 
 
Secondly, Parham fears the “short-supply of long-term memory.” Examining Hurricane Katrina, she highlights the reduced priority in rebuilding the region after a few weeks of non-stop attention, despite the impressive financial support Louisiana first received. For that reason, she argues that the United States and other nations must show long-term commitment to Haiti. 
Lastly, Parham expresses a fear of rebuilding of Haiti with ineffective methods shown in previous development endeavors in developing nations. She claims that far too often, the “rebuilding” creates only larger revenue streams to U.S. citizens and organizations. Instead, Parham wants long-term training and employment for Haitian citizens.   

Relief Efforts Should Look to Past

(by Angel Parham, The Maroon)

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Past Ambassadors

Benjamin F. Whidden

State of Residency: New Hampshire
Title: Commissioner/Consul General
Appointment: Jul 12, 1862
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 1, 1862
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 23, 1865
 
H.E. Peck
Appointment: Mar 14, 1865
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1865
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Jun 9, 1867
C.O. Loomis
Note: Not commissioned; nomination rejected by the Senate.
 
Gideon H. Hollister
State of Residency: Connecticut
Title: Minister Resident/Consul General
Appointment: Feb 5, 1868
Presentation of Credentials: On or shortly before Jun 6, 1868
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 7–8, 1869
 
Ebenezer D. Bassett
Appointment: Apr 16, 1869
Presentation of Credentials: 7-Sep 8, 1869
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 27, 1877
 
John M. Langston
Appointment: Sep 28, 1877
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 27, 1877
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Jun 30, 1885
Note: Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 23, 1877.
 
George W. Williams
Appointment: Mar 2, 1885
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post.
 
John E. W. Thompson
Appointment: May 7, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 30, 1885
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge about Oct 17, 1889
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 13, 1886. Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
Frederick Douglass
Appointment: Jun 26, 1889
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 14, 1889
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 1891
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 16, 1889. Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
John S. Durham
Appointment: Sep 3, 1891
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 3, 1891
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Nov 7, 1893
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 23, 1891. Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
Henry M. Smythe
Appointment: Sep 15, 1893
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1893
Termination of Mission: Left post on or shortly after Mar 9, 1897
Note: Also accredited to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
William F. Powell
Appointment: Jun 17, 1897
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 20, 1897
Termination of Mission: Left post about Nov 30, 1905
Note: Accredited also to Santo Domingo; resident at Port-au-Prince.
 
Henry W. Furniss
Appointment: Nov 23, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 30, 1905
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Sep 17, 1913
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 13, 1905.
 
Madison R. Smith
Appointment: Aug 15, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 8, 1914
 
Arthur Bailly-Blanchard
Appointment: May 22, 1914
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 15, 1915
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 26, 1921
 
Note: During 1921–1930 each of the following officers served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim: James C. Dunn (Apr. 1922–Feb. 1924), George R. Merrell, Jr. (Mar 1924–Oct 1926), Christian Gross (Oct 1926–Nov 1927; also Apr-Dec 1928), and Stuart E. Grummon (Dec 1928–Nov 1930).
 
Dana G. Munro
Appointment: Jun 28, 1930
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 16, 1930
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 14, 1932
 
Norman Armour
Appointment: Jul 25, 1932
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 7, 1932
Termination of Mission: Recess appointment expired, Mar 4, 1933
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate. Armour left post Mar 4, 1933; he returned Mar 8, and presented a copy of his letter of credence under his new appointment, Mar 23, 1933.
 
Norman Armour
Appointment: Mar 17, 1933
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 11, 1933
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 21, 1935
 
George A. Gordon
Appointment: Jun 5, 1935
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 6, 1935
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 21, 1937
 
Ferdinand L. Mayer
Appointment: Jul 13, 1937
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1937
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 29, 1940
 
John Campbell White
Appointment: Nov 29, 1940
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 24, 1944
 
Orme Wilson
Appointment: Mar 21, 1944
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 2, 1944
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 22, 1946
 
Harold H. Tittmann, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 12, 1946
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 20, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 17, 1948
 
William E. DeCourcy
Appointment: Jun 18, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1948
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Dec 9, 1950
 
Howard K. Travers
Appointment: Oct 3, 1951
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 30, 1951
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 25, 1952
 
Roy Tasco Davis
Appointment: Jul 6, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1953
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Mar 9, 1957
 
Gerald A. Drew
Appointment: Apr 17, 1957
Presentation of Credentials: May 15, 1957
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 16, 1960
 
Robert Newbegin
Appointment: Aug 27, 1960
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 4, 1960
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 10, 1961
 
Raymond L. Thurston
Appointment: Dec 7, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 4, 1962
Termination of Mission: Normal relations interrupted, May 15, 1963; relations not yet resumed when Thurston left post, May 26, 1963
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 30, 1962. On Jun 14, 1963 the Government of Haiti requested Thurston's recall, and he did not return to post.
 
Benson E.L. Timmons III
Appointment: Nov 30, 1963
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 16, 1964
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 28, 1967
 
Claude G. Ross
Appointment: Apr 19, 1967
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 20, 1967
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 17, 1969
 
Clinton E. Knox
Appointment: Oct 9, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 13, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 26, 1973
 
Heyward Isham
Appointment: Dec 19, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 31, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 8, 1977
 
William B. Jones
Appointment: Aug 3, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 12, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 12, 1980
 
Henry L. Kimelman
Appointment: Aug 27, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 16, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 18, 1981
 
Ernest H. Preeg
Appointment: Jun 20, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 28, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 20, 1983
 
Clayton E. McManaway, Jr.
Appointment: Nov 18, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 10, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 18, 1986
 
Brunson McKinley
Appointment: Sep 12, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 9, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post Nov 13, 1989
 
Alvin P. Adams, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 10, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1989
Termination of Mission: Recalled, Aug 1, 1992
Note: The following served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim: Leslie M. Alexander (Aug 1992–Jul 1993), and Vicki J. Huddleston (Jul–Oct. 1993).
 
William Lacy Swing
Appointment: Oct 8, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 13, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 5, 1998
 
Timothy Michael Carney
Appointment: Nov 12, 1997
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 14, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 11, 1999
 
Brian Dean Curran
Appointment: Dec 28, 2000
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 12, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post May 16, 2003
 
James B. Foley
Appointment: May 27, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 18, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 14, 2005
 
Janet A. Sanderson
Appointment: February 21, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: May 16, 2006
Termination of Mission: June 26, 2009?
 
 

U.S. Embassy in Haiti

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Haiti's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Altidor, Paul

An economist and international development specialist, Paul G. Altidor was named as Haiti’s ambassador to the United States in January 2012 and presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on May 2.

 

Altidor, 39, was born in the port city of Jérémie, Haiti. He was educated in the U.S. after his family moved to Boston when he was a teenager. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Boston College and a master’s in international development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also did graduate work in economics and law in France at Paris X Nanterre (now known as Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense).

 

Early in his career, Altidor headed a non-profit organization, taught at the École Supérieure Catholique de Droit de Jérémie, a law school in his home town and started a small motorcycle business. Then he went to work at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. In this role he advised foreign governments on public-private partnerships, including a deal involving Vietnam’s government-run telecommunications company, Viettel, investing in Haiti’s state-owned telephone operation.

 

Prior to becoming ambassador to Washington, Altidor served as vice president of programs and investments for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Created in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit the Caribbean island nation in 2010, the fund was established with the support of President Barack Obama and co-chaired by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

 

Official Biography (Embassy of Haiti)

With a New Ambassador at the Helm, Haiti’s Embassy Gets a Facelift (by Manolia Charlotin, Haitian Times)

Haiti’s New Ambassador To U.S. Takes Office (by Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald)

De la ville de Jérémie à Washington : Paul Altidor nommé ambassadeur (referencefm.com)

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Haiti's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

 Haiti's Embassy in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Ricardo 1 year ago
I'm so glad you are still thinking about Haiti. I agree that dcootrs are a major necessity, but it's not the only one. I just talked today to a priest who arrived from Haiti yesterday and he says that the tents where people live are made with bed sheets and thy are not enough protection for the sun. They are desperate for tents or covers like the ones used in trucks to make sturdier shelters. It would be great to make a campaign about it.
Tati 1 year ago
I have volunteered as an RN to Haiti with Project Medishare in February 2010 after the erhuaqtaqe. It was a heart broken and enjoyable experience that I would love to continue doing. I am presentely living in Florida and I am planning to relocate to Haiti soon. I would like to know if Project Medishare does not have RN positions open for international applicants. Please let me know so I can forward my resume.Thank you,

Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti

White, Pamela
ambassador-image

The Caribbean nation of Haiti, which is still suffering from the effects of the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, will soon have a new ambassador with extensive experience in economic development. Pamela A. White, who previously served in Haiti as executive director for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs there, was nominated by President Obama on January 23. She was confirmed by the Senate on March 29, 2012.
 
The daughter of Richard and Muriel Murphy, White was born in 1948 in Lewiston, Maine. She grew up in Auburn, where she graduated from Edward Little High School in 1967. She earned a B.A. in Journalism at the University of Maine at Orono in 1971. Later, she attended the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she earned a master’s degree in international development. She also is a 1999 graduate of the international development program at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, DC.
 
White began her public service as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Cameroon from 1971 to 1973. After working several years in education and research, she joined USAID in 1978. At USAID she served as community liaison officer in Burkina Faso, deputy director executive officer in Senegal and Haiti and executive officer in Haiti, Egypt and South Africa. As deputy director for East Africa in Washington, DC, she coordinated the delivery of food to Ethiopia and Eritrea, helped to develop a six-year strategy for Uganda and oversaw the expansion of programs in Sudan and Congo.
 
In Mali, White worked as deputy and mission director for USAID from 2001 to 2005. After that she was appointed mission director in Tanzania, where she managed a $130 million aid program focused on HIV/AIDs prevention, malaria control, primary education, conservation of natural resources and control of corruption. She oversaw the start of health initiatives, including the President’s Malaria Initiative, and helped the country receive one of the largest Millennium Challenge Corporation grants. From September 2008 to July 2010, she served as mission director for USAID in Liberia, where she managed the agency’s second largest development budget in Africa, averaging more than $200 million a year. She was then named to her first ambassadorship, to Gambia, where she served starting in October 2010.
 
White and her husband, Steven Cowper, have two sons. Cowper is also a member of the Foreign Service and has served with USAID.
-Matt Bewig
 

 

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