Republic of Haiti (République d’Haïti)
Area: 10,714 sq. mi. (27,750 sq. km.).
Population: 7,929,048 (2003C); 10,067,000 (2008E). The 2003 figure does not include an adjustment for undernumeration.
Major Urban Centers (2005E): PORT-AU-PRINCE (1,249,000), Carrefour (446,000), Cap-Haïtien (112,000).
Official Languages: French, Creole.
Monetary Unit: Gourde (market rate December 1, 2009: 39.75 gourdes = $1US).
President: René PRÉVAL (Front for Hope); elected on February 7, 2006, and sworn in on May 14, succeeding acting president Boniface ALEXANDRE (nonparty).
Prime Minister: Michèle Duvivier PIERRE-LOUIS (nonparty); nominated by the president on June 23, 2008, and inaugurated (along with her new cabinet) on September 6 (following approval by the National Assembly) to succeed Jacques-Édouard ALEXIS (Front for Hope), who resigned (as required by the constitution) following a no-confidence vote in the Senate on April 12.
>Government and Politics
The economy has been handicapped by political instability, underdeveloped infrastructure, and a paucity of mineral resources. There remain bauxite deposits in the south, but large-scale extraction ceased in 1983. The manufacturing sector has grown, with an emphasis on the assembly and reexport of imported components. However, agriculture remains the country’s economic mainstay, drawing two-thirds of the workforce. The agricultural sector has suffered since the 1950s in the face of economic and ecological challenges and today contributes less than 30 percent of GDP. Important crops include sugarcane, cacao, sisal, and coffee, the principal commodity, which accounts for about 30 percent of export earnings. During the exile of President Aristide in 1991–1994, the economy came to a virtual standstill under the weight of trade and financial embargoes. Observers estimate that between 60 and 80 percent of the potential workforce remains outside formal employment, and more than half of primary school–age children are not attending school. Nearly half the population is illiterate, and the maternal mortality rate is considered the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, inequality is extreme: 1 percent of the population controls almost half of the country’s wealth. Remittances are the principal source of foreign exchange, equaling almost a quarter of GDP and double the earnings from exports. Two-thirds of the population subsists on less than $1 per day.
Economic growth averaged –5.2 percent annually in 1985–1995, and in 1996 the growth in real GDP reached a decade high of 2.9 percent. This figure remained relatively stable through 1999, before dropping to 0.9 percent in 2000, followed by a further period of political turmoil and GDP contraction (1.1 percent in 2001, 3.8 percent in 2004), with inflation reaching nearly 20 percent.
After several years of better growth, the economy was wracked in early 2008 by a dramatic increase in prices for fuel and imported food (particularly rice), which set off massive protest demonstrations. Later in the year a series of savage hurricanes devastated much of the country’s infrastructure and agricultural production. Growth of only 1 percent was projected for 2009 as the effects of the global economic downturn further exacerbated already dreadful conditions. For its part, the government, backed by substantial new aid and debt relief from international lenders and donors, pledged to pursue long-term structural reform to create jobs and increase food production.
With many of its opponents in exile, the Duvalier regime maintained a balance of terror using a blend of persuasion, voodoo symbolism, and a personal army of thugs and enforcers, the so-called Tontons Macoutes (Creole for “bogeymen”). In early 1971 Duvalier had the constitution amended to allow him to designate a successor; his son, Jean-Claude DUVALIER, was promptly named to the position and assumed the presidency following his father’s death on April 21.
The younger Duvalier proved popular internationally. By 1975 U.S. aid to Haiti had risen to over $35 million, up from an average of $3.8 million under his father’s rule. With the election in 1976 of Jimmy Carter, a U.S. president with a dedicated interest in human rights, Duvalier appeared to yield somewhat under continuing U.S. pressure to ameliorate the more corrupt and repressive aspects of his family’s two decades of rule. In November 1978 he ordered a series of budgetary and ministerial reforms in return for substantially increased U.S. aid.
In the legislative election of February 11, 1979, an independent candidate running on a human rights platform won a clear victory against a government-endorsed opponent, thus becoming the legislature’s first member who was not a Duvalier loyalist. In June, in an unprecedented act of public defiance, some 200 intellectuals issued a manifesto protesting the censorship of plays and films. However, the most remarkable development was the appearance at midyear of three new political parties (see Political Parties, below) after publication of a book by Grégoire EUGÈNE, a law professor, which pointed out that such organizations were technically permissible under the Haitian constitution. By the end of the year, however, any stirrings of liberalization appeared to have been beaten back, with the passing of a repressive press law and further Macoutes attacks on dissidents.
The first municipal elections in 26 years were held in mid-1983. No opposition candidates presented themselves, several potentials having disappeared before the balloting. In August the national legislature dissolved itself after accepting a new, presidentially drafted constitution. While balloting for a new chamber on February 12, 1984, resulted in the defeat of numerous Duvalierists, foreign observers became convinced that the government, wishing to create the appearance of change, had asked incumbents not to campaign vigorously. Six months later, a regime-supportive Progressive National Party (PNP) was launched under legislation permitting partisan activity by groups agreeing to the life presidency. In November the government announced the discovery of a “communist” plot against the regime, in what was widely perceived as another bid for support from anticommunist donor nations, particularly the United States.
In early 1985, under pressure from the United States and France (another major donor), the government released a number of political prisoners, and in April President Duvalier announced a series of “democratic” reforms. These included the legalization of political parties, increased power for the National Assembly, and provision for a new post of prime minister, to be filled by presidential appointment from the parliamentary majority. However, restrictions on party registration ensured the exclusion of known regime opponents, while the life presidency remained intact.
Riots and demonstrations began to multiply in late 1985, sparked by the killing of several teenagers during an antigovernment protest in Gonaïves. Not yet willing to relax its hold on the country, in December the Duvalier government moved to concentrate power among an inner circle of loyalists. The disturbances intensified, however. On January 8, 1986, schools and universities were closed in the wake of widespread student boycotts, and ten days later police dispersed the first major protest in the capital. With pressure for democratization building internationally as well as domestically, Duvalier on February 7 departed on a U.S. plane to France with an entourage of family and close associates.
Between 1986 and 1991, the army once again moved to the center of Haitian politics, throwing its weight behind a series of six short-lived, nondemocratic governments. The first of these was inaugurated when, immediately upon Duvalier’s departure, army chief of staff Gen. Henri NAMPHY assumed power as head of a five-member National Council of Government (Conseil National du Gouvernement—CNG) that included two other officers and two civilians. A 19-member provisional government, which initially contained a number of Duvalier loyalists, was announced on February 10. On March 20 the one prominent anti-Duvalierist in the new administration, human rights leader Gérard GOURGUE, resigned from both the CNG and the justice ministry, alleging “resistance” to liberalization. General Namphy responded by excluding Duvalierists from a reconstituted council that included himself, (then) Col. Williams REGALA (the interior and defense minister), and Jacques FRANÇOIS (succeeded as foreign minister in a cabinet reshuffle on March 24 by retired general Jean-Baptiste HILAIRE).
In June 1986, in the face of continued unrest, municipal elections were scheduled for July 1987, to be followed by presidential and legislative balloting in November, and the installation of a new government in February 1988. In September 1986 an election was held for 41 of 61 members of a Constituent Assembly charged with drafting Haiti’s 23rd constitution since independence. The new basic law, incorporating a number of safeguards to prevent the return of a Duvalier-type dictatorship, was overwhelmingly approved by a referendum on March 29, 1987. By mid-1987 the CNG had proven to be unwilling or unable to curb a mounting campaign of terror by disbanded Macoutes, and the promised local elections were postponed. Presidential and legislative balloting commenced on the morning of November 29, but within hours that voting was also called off because of widespread violence and voter intimidation. The four principal opposition leaders thereupon withdrew as presidential candidates, and Leslie MANIGAT, a self-proclaimed “democratic centralist” believed to have CNG backing, emerged from the rescheduled poll of January 17, 1988, with a declared majority of 50.3 percent.
On June 17, 1988, President Manigat attempted to remove General Namphy as army commander but was himself overthrown by a military coup two days later. On June 20 Namphy announced the formal deposition of the Manigat administration, declaring that he would thenceforth rule by decree as the country’s chief executive. Less than three months thereafter, a revolt by noncommissioned officers of the Presidential Guard, led by Sgt. Joseph HEBREUX, resulted in Namphy’s ouster, with power passing to Lt. Gen. Prosper AVRIL on September 18. Subsequently, Avril successfully resisted countercoup efforts by army units on April 2 and 5, 1989, and on September 24 he announced a series of local, national legislative, and presidential elections for 1990.
Following the assassination of a Presidential Guard colonel on January 19, 1990, General Avril declared a nationwide state of siege and instituted a roundup of opposition leaders, some of whom were deported after being brutalized by police. While the emergency decree was rescinded on January 30, popular unrest continued, forcing the general’s resignation on March 10. His acting successor, Army Chief of Staff Herard ABRAHAM, promised to remain in office for no more than 72 hours, and on March 13 Supreme Court justice Ertha PASCAL-TROUILLOT was sworn in (also on an acting basis) as the country’s first female president and its fifth chief executive since the Duvalier ouster.
Presidential and legislative elections, initially scheduled for September 1990, were deferred due to voter-registration problems until December 16. Fr. Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE, a radical Catholic priest who had been expelled from his order two years earlier, won a landslide victory with 67 percent of the vote, in what was, given the country’s electoral record, an atypically democratic and peaceful process. However, Aristide’s somewhat hastily organized coalition, the National Front for Change and Democracy (Front National pour le Changement et la Démocratie—FNCD), was able to nominate only 50 candidates for the 110 seats in the two legislative houses. Following his inauguration on February 7, 1991, the new head of state was obliged to settle for his second-choice candidate for prime minister, the politically inexperienced René PRÉVAL, who took office on February 13.
On September 30, 1991, scarcely more than seven months after his installation as Haiti’s first democratically elected chief executive, Aristide was ousted and sent into exile in a bloody coup headed (although reportedly not instigated) by the armed forces commander, Brig. Gen. Raoul CÉDRAS. On October 8 a rump group of senators was induced to declare the presidency vacant and approve the installation of Supreme Court president Joseph NERETTE as interim head of state. Nerette, in turn, named Jean-Jacques HONORAT, a former diplomat and government official who had been exiled by the younger Duvalier in 1981, to head a government formed on October 16.
On October 29, 1991, the United States imposed strict economic sanctions, which induced the military-backed regime to enter into negotiations with a mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) aimed at restoring Aristide to office. By late November the talks were at an impasse, with the Haitians demanding an end to the embargo but refusing to reinstate the ousted president. Honorat then challenged the OAS by announcing that new elections would be held in early January, although most of December was spent in an effort to find a prime ministerial candidate who would be acceptable to Aristide, Cédras, and Haitian political and business leaders.
In January 1992 a compromise reached in Caracas, Venezuela, that called for the appointment of René THEODORE, secretary general of the Unified Party of Haitian Communists (Parti Unifié des Communistes Haïtiens—PUCH), as prime minister was repudiated by the military leadership. In an understanding reached in Washington, D.C., on February 23 among Aristide, Theodore, and a Haitian parliamentary delegation, Aristide dropped a demand for Cédras’s removal and offered immunity from prosecution for all those involved in the coup. Subsequently, however, Aristide withdrew the pledge, while the military-dominated National Assembly refused to endorse the plan after Nerette had characterized it as “unconstitutional.”
On May 9, 1992, military, government, and legislative leaders in Port-au-Prince proposed the appointment of a new government and Nerette’s resignation “at a suitable moment,” with no mention of a successor. Pro-Aristide deputies succeeded in blocking passage of the unilateral scheme, but a more specific version was approved on May 20 that provided for Nerette’s departure upon the installation of a new administration, with no presidential replacement until an overall political solution had been reached. Accordingly, Nerette on June 2 named conservative businessperson and former World Bank official Marc Louis BAZIN to head a government that was installed on June 19.
In early July 1992 Aristide demanded a UN presence in Haiti and declared that he would meet with Bazin only after the latter had relinquished office. On the other hand, the head of Aristide’s “presidential commission,” Rev. Antoine ADRIEN, and Bazin’s foreign minister, François BENOIT, met in Washington, D.C., on September 1 with the Haitian regime, agreeing on September 12 to the deployment of 18 human rights observers (3 per department, as contrasted with 18 per department sought by Aristide). However, in mid-December, after being permitted only one brief probe beyond Port-au-Prince, the UN team was charged by the Bazin government as having “no legal basis” to continue its activities. Subsequently, under strong pressure from both the United States and the UN, the government reversed track, and in mid-March the first of several hundred observers arrived under the leadership of UN mediator Dante Caputo.
In mid-April 1993 Caputo left Port-au-Prince after failing to obtain General Cédras’s assent to a UN/U.S. plan by which the general would step down in return for an amnesty for his involvement in Aristide’s ouster. The regime’s intransigence was further reflected by its refusal on May 24 to accept a multilateral military force to supervise Aristide’s return to office. On June 15 the Haitian legislature agreed to Aristide’s reinstatement as president but set no date for his return and attached conditions (including a general amnesty for his military opponents) that he had long declared unacceptable. Shortly thereafter, the army agreed to “proximity talks” between General Cédras and Aristide, which began on June 27 in New York. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bazin was obliged to submit his resignation after four of his ministers refused to step down in what appeared to be a failed autogolpe (self-coup).
The New York meeting in June 1993 yielded an agreement that provided for Aristide’s return to Haiti on October 30, assuming the following sequence of events: (1) a “dialogue” under UN and OAS auspices of Haiti’s parties, leading to the annulment of a partial senatorial election that had been conducted, despite an opposition boycott, in January; (2) the naming by Aristide of a prime minister; (3) acceptance of the nominee by the “normalized” Haitian parliament; (4) the lifting of UN and OAS sanctions against Haiti; (5) the modernizing of Haiti’s armed forces, with the assistance of a 2,000-member international force (half from the United States); (6) an amnesty for those involved in the 1991 coup; (7) the creation of a new police force under an Aristide-appointed commander; and (8) General Cédras’s “early retirement.”
On August 3, 1993, it was announced that Robert MALVAL, a wealthy Port-au-Prince businessman, had been asked by President Aristide to become the next prime minister. Malval, characterized as a “profoundly reluctant public figure,” was reported to have accepted the job on condition that he play a purely transitional role and be replaced by a permanent successor no later than December 15. On August 25 the Haitian parliament, after extensive wrangling between pro- and anti-Aristide blocs, approved the appointment of Malval, who was sworn in by the exiled president five days later at the Haitian embassy in Washington. However, the military, headed by General Cédras but apparently under the effective control of police chief Michel FRANÇOIS, mounted a concerted effort to block Aristide’s return. Perhaps most importantly, it refused to counter a wave of domestic violence by thousands of armed military “attachés” modeled after the Macoutes.
On October 15, 1993, U.S. president Bill Clinton dispatched a flotilla of six warships to Haitian waters to enforce an oil and arms embargo ordered by the UN Security Council after a contingent of American and Canadian advisers for a UN peacekeeping force had been prevented from disembarking in Port-au-Prince. The military responded by pressing for completion of the first major highway linking Haiti to the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Prime Minister Malval’s formal resignation on December 15, 1993, coincided with the conclusion of a two-week foreign trip, during which he failed in an attempt to mount a national conference to break the country’s political stalemate. Although initially supporting the initiative during a meeting with Malval and President Clinton at the White House, Aristide subsequently reversed his position, drawing from Malval the criticism that he possessed “a serious ego problem.” Malval went on to characterize the impasse between Cédras and Aristide as involving “a man who refuses to resign and a man who has made a choice to remain abroad as a sort of flag bearer, a mystic symbol.”
On January 11, 1994, anti-Aristide upper house members attempted to dismiss the Senate president by lowering the number required for a quorum from 11 to 9. Two days later the Chamber of Deputies employed a less questionable procedure in dismissing its pro-Aristide speaker, Antoine JOSEPH, in favor of Frantz Robert MONDE, a former Tontons Macoutes leader.
On February 15, 1994, Aristide rejected a U.S.-backed peace plan that called for the appointment of a broad-based government without setting dates for the exiled president’s return or a military stepdown. Another U.S. plan in late March that called for Cédras’s removal, but not that of François, was also rejected by Aristide. Washington then called for a global trade embargo of Haiti, which, along with a freeze on the foreign assets of about 600 army officers, was approved by the UN Security Council, effective May 22. Meanwhile, anti-Aristide legislators had on May 11 declared the presidency vacant, thus permitting the 80-year-old president of the Supreme Court, Émile JONASSAINT, to assume the office on a “provisional” basis. On June 24 direct flights to and from the United States were terminated, with all international commercial flights ending on July 30. Finally, on July 30 the Security Council authorized a U.S.-led invasion if Haiti’s military attempted to continue in office.
On September 17, 1994, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, U.S. armed forces chief of staff Gen. Colin Powell, and Senator Sam Nunn flew to Port-au-Prince for a “last best effort” meeting with Cédras and Jonassaint. The talks yielded an agreement signed by Carter and Jonassaint the following day that provided for the “honorable retirement” of “certain military officers of the Haitian armed forces,” the approval of a general amnesty by the Haitian parliament, the lifting of economic sanctions “in accordance with United Nations resolutions” (which required President Aristide’s return), coordination by U.S. and Haitian military units, and formal approval of the accord by the U.S. and Haitian governments.
On September 19, 1994, an initial contingent of 2,000 U.S. troops landed without incident on Haitian soil. On October 10 General Cédras resigned his command, and he flew to exile in Panama three days later. On October 15 President Aristide received an exuberant welcome on his return to Haiti, and on October 18 he appointed wealthy U.S.-educated businessman Smark MICHEL as prime minister. A new government was named by Michel on November 6 and sworn in November 8 amid pledges to revitalize the economy, in part by privatizing most large industries. Other objectives included “relaunching” the agricultural sector, improving tax collection, creating an autonomous university, and establishing a “truth commission” to investigate human rights abuses during the period of military-backed rule. For his part, President Aristide, bowing to pressure from the Catholic hierarchy, agreed on November 16 to leave the priesthood.
In two-stage balloting for partial Senate replenishment and a new Chamber of Deputies (originally scheduled for June 4 and 25, 1995, but not completed until September 17), President Aristide’s Lavalas Political Organization (Organisation Politique Lavalas—OPL) gained control of both houses by wide margins.
By mid-1995 Prime Minister Michel was warning of “drastic consequences” if the economic program backed by the IMF should fail. He also reportedly complained of President Aristide’s lack of support for one of the plan’s crucial components: the privatization of nine state enterprises. Michel resigned on October 16, 1995, and was succeeded by the (then) foreign minister, Claudette WERLEIGH, who was believed to share the president’s doubts about divestiture, particularly in view of the anticipated loss of 6,000 jobs.
Despite considerable uncertainty as to his intentions, President Aristide on November 30, 1995, reiterated an earlier pledge that he would not attempt to extend his term to discount his years in exile, and on December 17 the Lavalas candidate, René Préval, secured an overwhelming mandate, albeit on a turnout of substantially less than half of the electorate, as Haiti’s next head of state. Although Préval reportedly favored the installation of former Lavalas leader Gérard PIERRE-CHARLES as prime minister, the selection was vetoed by the outgoing president, who preferred retention of the incumbent. It was not until March 6 that Rosny SMARTH, having secured legislative approval, was sworn in as the new head of government.
Subsequently, a rift emerged between the essentially populist Aristide and Prime Minister Smarth, who sought to implement an IMF-approved structural-adjustment program that included substantial privatization. In November 1996 the former president broke with the existing Lavalas organization by forming a competing Lavalas Family movement that applied for registration as a party in early 1997. While Smarth survived a no-confidence vote on March 27, he felt obliged to submit his resignation on June 9 amid a mounting wave of strikes and demonstrations against his policies. On June 25 President Préval named an economist, Ericq PIERRE, as Smarth’s successor. However, Pierre failed to secure legislative approval, and on August 20 Smarth announced that he would no longer continue in a “caretaker” capacity. On November 3 Préval nominated another economist, Hervé DENIS, as the next prime minister, but Denis was also rejected by the legislature, on December 23. A third nominee, Jacques-Édouard ALEXIS, was declared eligible by the two houses of Parliament in December 1998, but he fell two votes short of approval by the Chamber of Deputies in early January 1999.
On January 12, 1999, President Préval ruled that the term of office of nearly all members of the National Assembly (as well as those of mayors and many other municipal officers) had expired the previous day under the law governing the 1995 election. He therefore declared the assembly dissolved and announced he would rule by decree, with Alexis serving as prime minister, pending negotiations with various political groups regarding new elections. Discussions with opposition parties yielded an agreement in early March on a transition government, which was sworn in on March 26 under the leadership of Alexis, and establishment of a nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil Electoral Provisoire—CEP) to oversee balloting that the government hoped to conduct before the end of the year.
In June 1999 the CEP set aside the 1997 legislative election results and called for a new poll the following November. The date was subsequently changed to March 21, 2000, then to April 9, and finally to May 21, at which time first-round balloting was conducted for municipal councils, the full Chamber of Deputies, and 19 Senate seats. Opposition parties, many having coalesced under the banner of the Democratic Convergence (Convergence Démocratique—CD), charged the government with fraud in counting the votes from the May 21 balloting and called for a boycott of second-round balloting on July 9, arguing that only complete new elections would expunge the irregularities. Meanwhile, on June 17 the CEP president, Léon MANUS, fled the country because of alleged threats over his refusal to certify the May 21 results.
On August 16, 2000, the CEP announced that the Lavalas Family had won 72 of the lower house seats, 18 of the contested Senate seats, and about 80 percent of the municipal seats. The CD-led opposition also boycotted the presidential balloting of November 26, at which Aristide was credited with 92 percent of the vote over six other candidates. Following his inauguration on February 7, 2001, Aristide appointed Jean-Marie CHÉRESTAL, a former finance minister and trade negotiator, to form a new government, which was installed on March 2. However, in light of the continued debilitating impasse with the opposition and rapid economic decline, Chérestal in January 2002 announced his intention to resign as prime minister. He was succeeded on March 14 by Yvon NEPTUNE, theretofore president of the Senate.
During the ensuing two years, the Aristide regime encountered a mounting wave of strikes and mass protests, culminating in an armed uprising that yielded the fall of Haiti’s fourth largest city, Goncaïves, to insurgents on February 5, 2004. On February 22, Haiti’s second largest city, Cap-Haïtien, also fell. With rebel forces led by Guy PHILIPPE and Louis-Jodel CHAMBLAIN approaching the capital, President Aristide resigned on February 29 and was flown into exile (under duress, he subsequently maintained) on a U.S. aircraft. Concurrently, U.S. president George W. Bush ordered the dispatch of 500 marines to Port-au-Prince, with France announcing that 200 of its troops would be similarly deployed and the UN Security Council authorizing the formation of a multinational interim peacekeeping force.
In the wake of Aristide’s departure, his constitutionally designated successor, Supreme Court president Boniface ALEXANDRE, was sworn in as acting head of state on March 8, 2004. On March 9 a U.S.-backed Council of Elders announced that it had appointed as interim prime minister Gérard LATORTUE, who proceeded to name a largely nonpartisan cabinet. On December 9 Latortue stated that he would not contest the presidential balloting originally scheduled for November 2005.
After four postponements, presidential and legislative elections were held on February 7, 2006. Former president René Préval won the presidential balloting, narrowly avoiding a runoff with 51.2 percent of the vote. However, his installation was delayed until May 14 because of inconclusive legislative results that necessitated a runoff poll on April 21 in which a mere 15–20 percent of eligible voters were reported to have participated. Préval took office on May 14, and three days later nominated Alexis to serve again as prime minister, a nomination that was ratified almost unanimously by parliament. Alexis’s new cabinet comprised members of five parties.
In the wake of massive protest demonstrations ignited by dramatic price increases on food, fuel, and other basic goods, Prime Minister Alexis lost a censure motion (the equivalent of a nonconfidence vote) by a 16-1 vote in the Senate on April 12, 2008, and was thereby constitutionally required to resign. Following the legislative rejection of President Préval’s first two nominees (see Current issues, below), Michèle PIERRE-LOUIS, a nonparty economist, was inaugurated as the country’s second female prime minister on September 6; her new cabinet contained members of Préval’s Front for Hope (Fwon Lespwa/Front de l’Espoir), Aristide’s The Lavalas Family (La Fanmi Lavalas), and several smaller parties.
Constitution and government. The 1987 constitution, repudiated by General Namphy in July 1988, was restored by President Pascal-Trouillot in 1990 and remained nominally intact after the 1991 coup. (Haiti returned to constitutional rule in October 2004, but the constitution was not properly enforced until May 2006.) The document provides for a directly elected president, who may serve no more than two nonsequential five-year terms, and a prime minister, who is responsible to a legislature composed of a Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The president negotiates and signs all treaties and presides over the Council of Ministers; the prime minister must come from the legislative majority or, if there is none, be appointed after consultation with the chamber presidents, subject to parliamentary endorsement. Constitutional amendments, which must be supported by a two-thirds majority in each house and approved by a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast in a joint legislative sitting, can come into effect only after the installation of the next elected president. The judiciary encompasses a Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), whose president serves as acting head of state in the event of a vacancy; courts of appeal; courts of first instance; justices of the peace; and special courts as prescribed by law.
The 1987 basic law divided the traditionally monolithic armed forces into distinct military and police components; accorded the universally spoken Creole language official status in addition to French; banned Duvalierists from public office for ten years; authorized an independent commission to supervise elections; asserted the previously nonexistent rights of free education, decent housing, and a fair wage; and eliminated sanctions (theretofore largely ignored) against the practice of voodoo.
Haiti is presently divided into ten departments, each headed by a presidentially appointed prefect and subdivided into arrondisements and communes.
Foreign relations. Despite its membership in a number of international bodies, Haiti has avoided close ties with neighboring countries, and before joining the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), founded in 1994, had distanced itself from most moves toward Caribbean economic and political integration. Its historically most sensitive foreign affairs issue, the border relationship with the Dominican Republic, has been periodically aggravated by activities of political exiles from both countries. Relations with the United States, which were briefly suspended in 1963, have fluctuated, the Duvalier government frequently using its votes in international bodies to bargain for increased foreign assistance from Washington.
In early 1983 long-standing litigation regarding the rights of Haitian refugee “boat people” being detained in Florida was resolved by a U.S. landmark decision, which allowed about 1,700 detainees to apply for political asylum while establishing constitutional protection for those remaining incarcerated. In September 1985 Haiti concluded an agreement with the Bahamas that would require all illegal immigrants to register with Bahamian authorities, with only those resident in the islands before December 30, 1980, married to Bahamians, or owning real estate being permitted to remain.
In the wake of President Aristide’s ouster in 1991, a new wave of Haitians attempted to flee by boat to the United States. By early 1992 several thousand had been picked up at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and accorded temporary refuge in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. By midyear the exodus had largely ended, in the wake of an order by President George H. W. Bush on May 24 that all Haitians intercepted at sea be returned immediately to their homeland without determination of whether they qualified for political asylum. The order was overturned on July 26 by a New York appeals court but upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on August 1. In early 1993 it was estimated that of more than 40,000 Haitians attempting to reach the United States since the 1991 coup, nearly three-quarters had been returned by the U.S. Coast Guard. By mid-1994 the Clinton administration had demonstrated considerable ambivalence on the matter, initially adhering to the Bush policy of repatriation, then supporting ship-based processing of refugees for possible transfer to third countries. However, a less-than-enthusiastic response to the latter policy, particularly from Panama, led, in early July, to an announcement that the processing facilities in Guantánamo would be reactivated. Thus, despite the ease with which Cubans had thenceforth been able to claim eligibility for asylum in the United States, the number of Haitians that could look forward to such status was held to approximately 5 percent.
The United States, which had favored the conservative Bazin in the 1991 presidential poll, joined the OAS embargo against the military-backed government and was a prime mover in the June 1993 talks that established the original timetable for Aristide’s return to office. By the end of September 1994, the U.S. military intervention involved 20,000 troops, with their eventual replacement, a 6,900-member UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), being assembled in Puerto Rico. By late December the U.S. contingent had been reduced to approximately 9,000 personnel, of whom only 5,000 remained upon transfer of responsibility for Haitian security to the UNMIH on March 31, 1995. The balance of the U.S. force, apart from about 200 noncombatant personnel, withdrew on January 18, 2000.
The UNMIH mandate was extended for six months from March 1, 1996, albeit only after China (which objected to Haitian relations with Taiwan) had insisted on a reduction to 1,200 troops; however, Canada announced that it would provide an additional 700 personnel at its own expense to bring the total up to the Security Council’s target of 1,900. The peacekeeping mission was renewed for an additional five months on July 1 (and renamed the UN Support Mission in Haiti, or UNSMIH), after China had dictated a new cut to 600 (exclusive of 700 from Canada, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, funded jointly by Canada and the United States). In early December the Security Council voted to extend the UNSMIH until May 31, 1997, subject to renewal at that time for two additional months. Although it had been agreed that the mission would not continue past July 31, the mandate was further extended to November 30, with the last UN troops departing during the ensuing month, save for a 300-member police monitoring unit (the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti/Mission de Police Civile des Nations Unies en Haïti—MIPONUH) that was to remain for another year.
In March 1996 President Préval met with his counterpart from the Dominican Republic in the first visit by a Haitian president to the neighboring state in more than six decades. Despite the rapprochement, more than 15,000 Haitians were expelled from the Dominican Republic in late January and early February 1997. In an effort to avert a crisis, the two presidents agreed during a summit of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) on February 20–21 to an immediate halt to large-scale repatriation, while acknowledging the right of the Dominican Republic to deport illegal immigrants. Despite the accord, Haitian officials claimed in November that as many as 40,000 Haitians (of an estimated 500,000 without legal status) had been forced to leave the Dominican Republic during the year.
Reciprocating Préval’s 1996 visit to the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández on June 18–20, 1998, became the first Dominican head of state to visit Haiti since Rafael Trujillo in 1936. A meeting of the two presidents was preceded by a session of a joint Dominican–Haitian commission, which reached agreement in a number of areas without resolving such major issues as migration and trade.
The U.S. military presence in the wake of Aristide’s second departure from office in 2004 quickly grew to a 3,600-member force, which on June 1 formally transferred its peacekeeping mandate to a UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haïti—MINUSTAH), which had 7,413 troops and civilian police deployed as of April 2005. (The mandate for MINUSTAH, focused to a large degree on quelling urban gang warfare, has been extended routinely since 2006, most recently in October 2008 for one year, with the Security Council stating its intention to renew the force for later periods.)
Tension with the Dominican Republic reescalated in mid-2005 with the withdrawal of the Haitian ambassador after the lynching of three Haitians in Santo Domingo. The Dominicans responded by deporting 1,000 illegals on August 15 and, shortly thereafter, 1,000 more of an estimated 1 million Haitians said to be living in the country.
In March 2007 Venezuela and Cuba announced the creation of a $1 billion fund to aid Haiti, while Venezuelan president Chávez, during a visit to Port-au-Prince, promised additional assistance, including an increase in oil shipments from 3,000 to 14,000 barrels per day. Venezuela also provided aid to help Haiti cope with the economic shocks of price increases and hurricanes in 2008, as did the United States and other donors. Among other things, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in 2009 offered substantial debt relief to Haiti, setting the stage for additional relief from other intergovernmental and commercial lenders. Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon named former U.S. president Bill Clinton as his special envoy to Haiti in mid-2009 in support of the government’s economic recovery program.
Current Issues. René Préval was accorded a narrow first-round victory in the 2006 presidential race only after the CEF, on somewhat dubious legal ground, eliminated about 85,000 blank ballots from the tabulation. The move drew intense opposition criticism, even though the second-place contender, former president Leslie Manigat, secured only 12.4 percent of the vote. While Préval’s Lespwa formation won only 22 of 99 lower house seats, the new president was able to secure support from other parties (in return for cabinet posts) for the designation of Prime Minister Alexis and legislative officers.
Préval’s return to office left Aristide’s status uncertain. The Fanmi Lavalas had been divided over support for the former president’s one-time protégé, while Préval himself hedged on Aristide’s return, stating only that the constitution did not allow for the banishment of any Haitian. For his part, in a videotaped message broadcast on the Internet, Aristide declared that despite voting for “hope” (the name of Préval’s party), Haitians had found only “hopelessness.”
In a speech at the National Palace in October 2007, President Préval proposed constitutional changes to allow the government greater flexibility to target corruption, promote development, and prepare for the eventual departure of UN peacekeepers. Préval called for parliament to initiate amendments to allow a president to serve for two consecutive terms, as opposed to the nonconsecutive terms currently permitted. He also proposed that future elections be held at five-year intervals and recommended the creation of a constitutional court, as well as the expansion of presidential powers to include the right to dismiss the prime minister, a prerogative currently reserved for parliament. Recognizing that his call for an expansion of presidential authority could raise suspicions about his intentions, Préval reiterated that his tenure would “end on [February] 7, 2011, period.” However, Préval’s proposals failed to gain sufficient support in the legislature and never reached the floor for a vote.
Hurricanes in August and October 2007 devastated harvests, prompting the start of a food crisis that grew extremely severe in early 2008 as the result of worldwide increases in commodity prices (the country imports most of its fuel and food, including 80 percent of its rice, the primary basic food). Unrest erupted in the southwestern town of Les Cayes in early April 2008 and spread rapidly to other areas, including Port-au-Prince. Several deaths were reported during ten days of rioting and looting, and Prime Minister Alexis was censured by the Senate on April 12 for his administration’s perceived ineffectiveness in dealing with the crisis. (Among other things, Alexis had misjudged the extent of popular discontent by initially blaming the demonstrations on drug traffickers.) With the departure of Alexis, the incumbent members of the cabinet remained in place, but in a caretaker capacity, leaving the Préval government unable to take major policy initiatives. Late in the month President Préval nominated Ericq Pierre, the nation’s representative to the Inter-American Development Bank, for prime minister, but the Chamber of Deputies rejected Pierre (as had happened in 1997) because he could not produce a birth certificate for one of his grandmothers (prime ministers must be descended from native-born Haitians). Préval’s second choice, Robert MANUEL (a former minister of public security and the manager of Préval’s 2006 campaign), was also blocked in the Chamber in June, ostensibly on technical grounds, including the fact that Manuel had not lived in Haiti for five consecutive years (as constitutionally required), had only recently registered to vote, and did not own property in Haiti. (Manuel’s supporters argued that drug traffickers and other criminals had “paid off” deputies to reject Manuel.) As had been the case with Pierre, much of the opposition to Manuel in the Chamber came from the recently formed Conference of Progressive Parliamentarians (Concertation des Parlementaires Progressistes—CPP) in the Chamber, which, reflecting deep divisions with Préval’s Lespwa, included many Lespwa deputies.
On June 23, 2008, Préval nominated a third prime ministerial candidate, Michèle Pierre-Louis. A respected economist and grassroots advocate for Haiti’s poor and youth, Pierre-Louis was the director of FOKAL, a nongovernmental organization focused on education and culture and financed by internationalist billionaire George Soros. Her nomination was ratified by the Chamber of Deputies on July 17, with 61 deputies voting in favor, 1 against, and 20 abstaining. On July 31, Pierre-Louis was approved by the Senate by a 12-5 vote.
Pierre-Louis was still expected to face difficulties in forming a cabinet and gaining the necessary approval for her policy goals within the fractious legislature. However, political considerations dwindled when Hurricane Gustav and two other storms killed upwards of a thousand people, inflicted an estimated $1.5 billion in damage, and left more than 1 million people food-deprived and homeless. Préval called for massive international assistance, arguing that Haiti had reached the “tipping point” and could become a “base for terrorism” or a regional “hub for drug trafficking” if total collapse occurred. For her part, Prime Minister Pierre-Louis promised a “cohesive” and “responsible” government, a pledge that critics said was undercut by the CEP’s decision not to permit FL candidates to contest the 2009 Senate elections (see FL under Political Parties, below).
In March 1987 it was reported that more than 60 new parties had been formed. Two months earlier, a National Congress of Democratic Movements (Congrès National des Mouvements Démocratiques—CNMD/Konakom) had been organized in opposition to the Namphy regime by delegates from nearly 300 political groups, trade unions, peasants’ and students’ organizations, and human rights associations. Subsequently, the CNMD became the core of a loosely organized “Group of 57” that organized a variety of antigovernment protests (including a general strike in Port-au-Prince on June 29) before being amalgamated into a National Front for Concerted Action (Front National de Concertation—FNC) in September. The FNC joined the PDCH in boycotting the election of January 1988.
Although a large number of groups participated in the December 1990 balloting, the FNCD (under Alyans, below), Panpra (under PFSDH, below), and the MIDH (below) emerged as the principal formations. By 1995 the PPL (under OPL, below) had become the dominant group, most opposition groups boycotting the legislative balloting of June–August and the December presidential poll; in late 1997, however, the PPL’s dominance was challenged by the Lavalas Family (La Fanmi Lavalas), a new formation launched by former president Aristide.
Following the disputed first-round elections of May 21, 2000, about 15 opposition parties formed the Democratic Convergence (Convergence Démocratique—CD), which became the primary anti-Aristide coalition. United primarily (if not solely) by their “common hatred” of Aristide, the CD parties boycotted the second round of balloting on July 3 as well as the presidential and Senate polls on November 26. Calling the Aristide government “illegitimate,” the CD in February 2001 announced that it had named Gérard Gourgue of the FNC (below) as “alternative president.” The CD declined an offer to join the government of Prime Minister Neptune in March 2002, demanding instead the installation of a “consensus” administration to oversee new presidential and legislative elections.
About 70 political groups existed before the 2006 elections, of which 10–50 were active in the run-up to the first-round poll on February 7, with numerous changes occurring before the second-round legislative balloting on April 21.
In 2008 a new lower chamber cross-party voting bloc, the Conference of Progressive Parliamentarians (Concertation des Parlementaires Progressistes—CPP) was formed to protest the upper house’s decision to dismiss Prime Minister Alexis. Bringing together 53 of the 99 deputies, including around 20 dissident Lespwa members, the new bloc was seen as a challenge to the authority of President Préval and put an end to his lower house coalition. In June one of the leaders of the new group, Levaillant LOUIS-JEUNE, stated in an interview with Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste that its goals included the renewal of the country’s political class. In the Chamber poll held on May 12, 2008, the 20 CPP members of Préval’s party voted against their leader’s first chosen prime ministerial candidate, Ericq Pierre, who subsequently alleged that CPP members had wanted him to buy their support. The CPP also opposed Robert Manuel (Préval’s second nominee) but endorsed Michèle Pierre-Louis for the premiership.
Front for Hope (Fwon Lespwa/Front de l’Espoir—Lespwa). Lespwa was launched by René Préval (theretofore a member of Lavalas) in his successful bid for a second presidential term in 2006. Upon completion of the legislative balloting in December, it held a plurality of 22 seats, although the party was fractured (at least temporarily) by the participation of Lespwa deputies in the CPP (see above). Lespwa won 6 of the 11 contested seats in the 2009 Senate elections, bringing its total to 12, enough to convince some analysts that Préval might be able to cobble together a coalition within the Senate sufficient to endorse his proposed constitutional changes.
Leader: René PRÉVAL (President of the Republic).
Haitian Social-Democratic Fusion Party (Parti Fusion des Sociaux-Démocrates Haïtiens—PFSDH or Fusion). Fusion was launched before the 2006 elections by Serge Gilles, who had previously led the Nationalist Revolutionary Progressive Party (Parti National Progressiste Révolucionnaire—Panpra) that in 1989 became the first Haitian party to be admitted to the Socialist International. In 2004 Gilles organized the Haitian Socialist Grand Party (Grand Parti Socialiste Haïtien—GPSH), which became a component of Fusion.
Fusion was runner-up to Lespwa in the 2006 Chamber of Deputies balloting. In 2007–2008 Micha Gaillard, a professor and the former spokesperson for the anti-Aristide coalition CD, emerged as a key voice within Fusion. Gaillard has been a critic of the perceived slow pace of social change in Haiti under President Préval and of the government’s response to spiking food costs. In May 2007 Gaillard called a deal signed between the United States and Australia to swap refugees “immoral,” insofar as it could spur an increased number of Haitian asylum seekers to head for the U.S. coast under the largely mistaken impression that they might then be resettled in Australia.
Leaders: Victor BENOIT (Chair), Serge GILLES (2006 presidential candidate), Micha GAILLARD (Spokesperson).
Democratic Alliance Party (Alliance Démocratique—AD/Alyans). Alyans originated in 2006 as an electoral alliance formed by the Convention for Democratic Unity (Komite Inite Demokratik—KID), led by Evans Paul, and the People’s Party for Haiti’s Rebirth (Parti Populaire Du Renouveau Haïtien—PPRH), led by Claude ROUMAIN. The PPRH had been forged in January 2005 as a merger of Roumain’s party Generation 2004 and the Haitian Liberal and Social Party.
Paul, who was campaign manager for Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990, had formerly been the head of the National Front for Change and Democracy (Front National pour le Changement et la Démocratie—FNCD), formed in late 1990 as an alliance of more than a dozen left-of-center groups supporting Aristide. In 1999 he launched the Harmonious Space for Preservation of Democracy (Espace de Concertation pour la Sauvegarde de la Démocratie—EC/Espace) as an alliance of the FNCD and other groups to contest the legislative balloting conducted on May 21, 2000. Alyans placed third in the 2006 lower house poll.
Leader: Evans PAUL (Former Mayor of Port-au-Prince).
Organization of the Struggling People (Organisation du Peuple en Lutte—OPL). The current OPL is an offshoot of the center-left Lavalas Political Organization (Organisation Politique Lavalas—OPL), which emerged after its founding in 1991 as the principal pro-Aristide formation. In 1995 the latter group launched the Lavalas Political Platform (Plateforme Politique Lavalas—PPL) as an alliance that also included the PLB (below) and the Movement for the Organization of the Country (Mouvement d’Organisation du Pays—MOP), a center-right formation whose leader, Jean MOLIERE, had been the third-ranked presidential candidate in 1988.
In 1996 the original OPL split into two groups—the pro-Aristide FL (below) and the Organization of the Struggling People, which retained the OPL abbreviation and became a “bitter opponent” of Aristide and a leading rival of the FL. The OPL initially joined the Democratic Consultation Group in negotiations with President Préval in February 1999. However, it withdrew from the group following the assassination of OPL senator Jean-Yvon TOUSSAINT in early March, demanding that the crime be solved as a prerequisite to the party’s return to discussions with the government. Consequently, the OPL was not represented in the new cabinet installed in late March. The OPL was one of the leading parties in the election scheduled for late 1999, postponed to May 21, 2000.
OPL leader Paul Denis headed an inquiry that in 2005 accused Aristide of misusing $50 million in public money. Denis ran for president unsuccessfully in 2006, and in 2008, after the exit of Prime Minister Alexis, he was suggested as a potential prime ministerial nominee. However, despite Denis’s experience as a former senator and as an adviser to President Préval, analysts suggested that his anti-Lavalas credentials rendered him too controversial to secure the position.
When Ericq Pierre received the prime ministerial nomination from Préval, the OPL worked unsuccessfully to form a majority in favor of ratification. Subsequently, the OPL strongly objected to decisions made by the CEP in regard to the 2009 Senate elections.
Leaders: Paul DENIS (2006 presidential candidate), Edgard LEBLANC (Coordinator).
The Lavalas Family (La Fanmi Lavalas—FL). The FL was launched by former president Aristide in November 1996. While Aristide denied that the new group was intended as an “instrument of division,” it reflected his growing disenchantment with President Préval’s economic policies and served as a vehicle for his return to the presidency in November 2000.
Activist and a former priest Gérard JEAN-JUSTE, the FL’s initial 2006 presidential candidate, was disqualified by the CEP for not personally submitting his registration by the deadline (which would have been impossible, as he was imprisoned at the time). The party formally boycotted the election, although a portion of its membership endorsed Préval.
On April 30, 2008, four years after the latest ouster of Aristide, 5,000 of his supporters marched in the streets of Port-au-Prince to demand his return from exile. In July speculation resurfaced that Jean-Juste was planning a presidential bid: “I am not a candidate,’’ Jean-Juste was reported as saying, “but if the Lavalas party offered me or asked me to be a candidate, I would consider it.”
Reflecting longstanding internal divisions within the FL, two separate FL candidate lists were initially presented for the 2009 Senate elections, prompting the CEP to reject both lists and seek endorsement of a candidate list from Aristide, who called the election a sham and declined to be involved in the process. The competing FL factions subsequently agreed on a single list, which was again rejected by the CEP because of the lack of Aristide’s signature on accompanying documents. FL officials noted that such formalities had not surfaced for the 2006 balloting and argued that Aristide had “not been actively making decisions about the party’s activities for several years now.” The FL, which had been expected to perform well in the Senate balloting, called for a boycott of the elections, while many international observers described the party’s exclusion as a setback for democratization.
Leaders: Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE (Former President of the Republic, in exile), Luis GÉRARD-GILLES (2006 presidential candidate).
National Christian Union for the Reconstruction of Haiti (Union Nationale Chrétienne pour la Reconstruction d’Haïti—UNCRH). The UNCRH candidate, Jean Chevannes Jeune, a pastor and civil engineer, placed fourth in the 2006 presidential balloting with a vote share of 5.6 percent.
Leaders: Jean Chavannes JEUNE (2006 presidential candidate), Maryse NARCISSE (Head of Executive Council), Yvon BUISSERETH, Annette AUGUSTE (leader of anti-Narcisse faction).
Mobilization for Haiti’s Progress (Mobilisation pour le Progrès d’Haïti—MPH). The MPH won four lower house seats in 2006.
Leader: Samir Georges MOURRA.
Rally of Progressive National Democrats (Rassemblement des Démocrates Nationaux Progressistes—RDNP). The RDNP was organized by Leslie Manigat while an exile in Venezuela during the 1970s. Strongly anticommunist, Manigat called in mid-1986 for a “solidarity pact” between centrist parties. The lack of an effective response was attributed, in part, to Manigat’s reputation as a noiriste, hence a threat to the country’s powerful biracial elite. He was credited with securing a bare majority of the presidential vote in the highly controversial balloting of January 17, 1988, but was ousted in a coup on June 19. He returned from exile in 1990 but was barred from another presidential bid. In 2002 Manigat was reported to have organized a four-party opposition coalition styled the Patriotic Union (Union Patriotique—UP) that was followed in 2004 by a National Democratic Progressive Coalition (Coalition des Démocrates Nationaux Progressistes—CDNP).
Manigat placed second in the 2006 presidential race, with 12.4 percent of the vote.
In April 2008 RDNP secretary general and former first lady Myrlande Hyppolite Manigat joined the voices of those involved in the food and fuel price demonstrations, expressing disappointment that the government, and in particular Préval, had not done enough to answer people’s concerns.
Leaders: Leslie François MANIGAT (Former President of the Republic and 2006 presidential candidate), Myrlande Hyppolite MANIGAT (Secretary General).
Haiti in Action (Ayiti an Aksyon—AAA). The AAA is the rubric recently adopted by the party formerly called Standard-Bearer in Action (Latibonit an Aksyon/l’Arbonite en Action—LAAA). The LAAA was formed prior to the 2006 poll, at which it won two senate and four chamber seats. Party leader Youri Latortue was the leading voice among the 16 senators who removed Alexis from office in April 2008. Latortue said that legislators ousted the prime minister because he failed to boost food production, protect people against crime, establish a national security force, and set a timetable for the departure of UN peacekeepers.
Leader: Youri LATORTUE.
Christian Movement for a New Haiti (Mouvement Chrétien pour une Nouvelle Haïti—Mochrena). A center-right party formed in 1991 by evangelical Protestant churches (reportedly with financial support from their U.S. counterparts), Mochrena won three seats in the 2000 balloting for the Chamber of Deputies, all of which were retained in 2006. Its 2006 presidential candidate, Luc Mésadieu, placed fifth with a 3.4 percent vote share.
Leaders: Luc MÉSADIEU (2006 presidential candidate), Gilbert N. LEGER.
Cooperative Action to Build Haiti (Konbit pou Bati Ayiti—Konba). Konba, which means “fight” or “combat” in Creole, won three lower house seats in 2006.
Leader: Chavannes JEAN-BAPTISTE.
National Reconstruction Front (Front de la Reconstruction Nationale—FRN). The FRN was launched in late February 2004 by a group of former rebels led by Guy Philippe, who played a significant role in the ouster of President Aristide. Despite being wanted on drug charges by both U.S. and Haitian authorities, Philippe openly presented himself as a candidate for the 2009 Senate elections; his application was rejected by the CEP.
Leaders: Buteur METAYER (President), Guy PHILIPPE (Secretary General).
Bridge (Pont). The Bridge party won two northwest Senate seats in 2006.
Leader: Evallière BEAUPLAN.
Movement for National Reconstruction (Mouvement pour la Reconstruction Nationale—MRN). Launched in 1991 by René Théodore, the leader theretofore of the Unified Party of Haitian Communists (Parti Unifié des Communistes Haïtiens—PUCH), the MRN was prohibited from participating in the 1995 elections, ostensibly because of a dispute as to whether Théodore or Jacques Rony MODESTIN (also of the MRN) controlled the party name. Subsequently, Théodore, once an Aristide ally, called for annulment of the election results.
The party secured one lower house seat in 2006.
Leaders: René THÉODORE, Jean-Enol BUTEAU.
Heads Together (Tèt Ansanm). Tèt Ansanm won a lower house seat in 2006, although the Electoral Council rejected the candidacy of its leader on the grounds that he was a U.S. citizen.
Leader: Dumarsais SIMÉUS.
Other groups winning one lower house seat each in 2006 were the Haitian Democratic and Reform Movement (Mouvement Démocratique et Renovateur d’Haïti—Modereh), led by Dany TOUSSANT and Prince Pierre SONSON; the Independent Movement for National Reconciliation (Mouvement Indépendent pour la Réconciliation Nationale—MIRN), led by Luc FLEURINORD; the Justice for Peace and National Development (Justice pour la Paix et le Développement National—JPDN), led by Rigaud DUPLAN; the Liberal Party of Haiti (Parti Liberal Haïtien—PLH), led by Gehy MICHEL; and the Union of National and Progressive Haitians (UNITE), led by Edouard FRANCIQUE.
Respect (Respè/Respect). Respect is a small group launched before the 2006 presidential poll, at which its leader won third place with 8.2 percent of the vote.
Leader: Charles Henri BAKER (2006 presidential candidate).
Open the Gate Party (Parti Louvri Barye—PLB). Originally launched as a pro-Aristide party in mid-1992, the PLB won two seats in the 2000 balloting for the Chamber of Deputies. It was subsequently perceived as adopting a middle ground in the nation’s political impasse, calling for negotiations between the FL and CD.
Leaders: Renaud BERNARDIN, François PIERRE-LOUIS (Secretary General).
Movement for the Installation of Democracy in Haiti (Mouvement pour l’Instauration de la Démocratie en Haïti—MIDH). The MIDH was founded in 1986 by the conservative Marc Louis Bazin, a former World Bank official, who participated in the 1988 boycott. As the 1990 presidential candidate of the National Alliance for Democracy and Progress (Alliance Nationale pour la Démocratie et la Progrès—ANDP) that also included Panpra, Bazin was runner-up to Aristide with a 15 percent vote share, while the ANDP ran second to the FNCD in the legislative poll.
Bazin subsequently endorsed the September 1991 coup that resulted in Aristide’s ouster, and was named prime minister by Interim President Nerette on June 2, 1992. He resigned from the position on June 8, 1993. The MIDH boycotted the 1995 legislative poll but participated (unsuccessfully) in the 2000 balloting.
Leader: Marc Louis BAZIN (Former Prime Minister).
Patriotic Movement for National Salvage (Mouvement Patriotique pour le Sauvetage National—MPSN). The MPSN was formed in 1999 as a coalition of right-wing groups led by the Duvalierist head of the MDN (below). The MPSN participated unsuccessfully in the 2000 legislative balloting, decrying the government’s “inappropriate control” of the electoral process.
Leader: Hubert de RONCERAY.
Mobilization for National Development (Mobilisation pour le Développement National—MDN). The runner-up to Leslie Manigat in the 1988 presidential balloting and subsequently one of the most outspoken critics of General Avril, MDN leader Hubert de Ronceray was among those expelled from the country in January 1990. He supported Aristide’s ouster in 1991, and the MDN became prominent in the opposition following his return in 1994. In August 1996 two leading MDN members were shot dead in Port-au-Prince by unknown assailants. De Ronceray again went into temporary exile in October 1997 following the late August assassination of MDN deputy leader Pastor Antoine LEROY.
Leaders: Hubert de RONCERAY (President), Max CARRÉ (Secretary General).
Haitian Social Christian Party (Parti Social Chrétien d’Haïti—PSCH). The PSCH was launched on July 5, 1979, as one of two parties styling themselves the Haitian Christian Democratic Party (see PDCH, below). The party subsequently added the issue date of its manifesto to its name (PDCH–27 Juin), before becoming commonly identified by the Social Christian label. Its leader, Grégoire EUGÈNE, was deported to the United States in December 1980 and prohibited from returning until after the February 1984 election, when he resumed his position as professor of constitutional and international law at Haiti University. For the remainder of the Duvalier era, he and his daughter, Marie, were sporadically subjected to either detention or house arrest. Eugène was credited with running fourth in the 1988 presidential poll. The party is now led by Eugène’s son.
Leader: Grégoire EUGÈNE Jr.
Haitian Civic and Political Front (Front Civico-Politique d’Haïtien—Fronciph). Fronciph was launched on September 15, 1999, as a right-wing electoral alliance of the PDCH and PAIN (see below) and about 30 other parties and civic organizations, including the National Cooperative Movement (Mouvement Koumbite National—MKN), led by Volvick Rémy JOSEPH, and the National Party of Labor (Parti National du Travail—PNT), led by Thomas DESULMÉ.
Haitian Christian Democratic Party (Parti Démocratique Chrétien d’Haïti—PDCH). The PDCH was formed on July 5, 1979, by Silvio CLAUDE, who had been arrested and deported to Colombia after standing unsuccessfully for election to the legislature in February. Rearrested on his return to Haiti, he was sentenced in August 1981 to a 15-year prison term for attempting to create “a climate of disorder.” Although the sentence was annulled in February 1982, periods of arrest and/or detention continued for the remainder of the Duvalier era. The PDCH refused to participate in the election of January 1988, while its leader placed fourth in the 1990 presidential balloting. A forceful critic of Aristide, Claude was killed in an act of apparent retribution by followers of the ousted president during the 1991 coup. His daughter Marie Denise Claude later became a leading member of the party, although she ran for a Senate seat in 2006 under the Fusion banner.National Front for Concerted Action (Front National de Concertation—FNC). The FNC was organized in September 1987 through a merger of the “Group of 57” with a number of other moderate left-wing formations. Led by Gérard Gourgue, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who had resigned as minister of justice in the Namphy administration in March 1986, the party joined the PDCH in boycotting the January 1988 balloting.
Leaders: Marie Denise CLAUDE (Leader), Osner FEVRY (Branch Leader).
National Agricultural and Industrial Party (Parti Agricole et Industriel National—PAIN). PAIN was formed by Louis Déjoie, the son of a prominent Duvalier opponent, who participated in the 1988 boycott. Déjoie ran third in the 1990 presidential race with a 5 percent vote share. Although PAIN endorsed the overthrow of the Aristide government in 1991, its leader, Louis DÉJOIE II (Déjoie’s son) was named Malval’s minister of commerce and industry in September 1993. The elder Déjoie died in early 1998.
Leader: Toussaint DESROSIERS (Spokesperson).
On February 6, 2001, the opposition party group, Democratic Convergence (Convergence Démocratique—CD), named Gourge the provisional president of their “alternative government,” a symbolic gesture to protest what the CD regarded as the flawed process that led to the election of Aristide.
Leader: Gérard GOURGUE.
Other parties and groups include the Alliance for the Liberation and Advancement of Haiti (Alliance pour la Libération et l’Avancement d’Haïti—ALAH), led by Reynold GEORGES; the Alternative for Change (L’Alternative pour le Changement—AC), led by Gérard BLOT; the Alternative for the Development of Haiti Party (L’Alternative pour le Développement d’Haïti—ADH), led by attorney Gerard DALVIUS, the Citizens Union of Haitians for Development, Democracy, and Education (Union des Citoyens Ayisyen pour le Développement, la Démocratie, et L’Education—UCADDE) whose executive secretary, Jeantel JOSEPH, charged the CEP with inappropriate conduct in declaring the UCADDE candidate the loser in a closely contested Senate race in 2009; Credo, a right-wing party led by Prosper AVRIL; Democratic Action to Build Haiti (L’Action Démocratique de Bâtir Haïti—Adebha), led by René JULIEN; the Democratic Revolutionary Party of Haiti (Parti Révolutionnaire Démocratique d’Haïti—PRDH), led by François LATORTUE; the Effort of Solidarity to Build a National and Popular Alternative (Effort de Solidarité pour la Construction d’une Alternative Nationale et Populaire—ESCANP), a party based in the western region of Grand-Anse that cooperates with the influential grassroots group called the Resistance Committee of Grand-Anse (Komite Reziztans Grand-Anse—KOREGA); the Grand Rally for the Evolution of Haiti (Grand Rassemblement pour l’Évolution d’Haïti—GREH), led by Himmler REBU; the anti-FL Haitian Democrats’ Party (Parti des Démocrates Haïtiens—PADEMH), led by Jean-Jacques Clark PARENT; the far-left Haitian National Popular Party (Parti Populaire National Haïtien—PPNH), a pro-Aristide group formerly led by Bernard SANSARICQ (who narrowly escaped death in a shooting incident with government troops in August 1987) and now led by Ben DUPUY, the editor of the weekly Haiti Progress; the Konbit National Movement (Mouvman Konbit Nasyonal—MKN), led by Volvick Remy JOSEPH; the Movement for the Advancement, Development, and Innovation of Democracy in Haiti (Mouvement pour l’Avancement, le Développement, et l’Innovation de la Démocratie en Haïti—MADIDH), led by Marc Antoine DESTIN; the National and Patriotic Movement of November 28 (Mouvement Nationale et Patriotique du 28 Novembre—MNP-28), led by former Senate president Déjean BÉLIZAIRE; the anti-FL National Progressive Democratic Party of Haiti (Parti National Démocratique Progressiste d’Haïti—PNDPH), led by Turneb DELPE; the National Unity Party (Parti de l’Unité Nationale—PUN), a remnant of the Duvalierist party of the 1960s that has reportedly been gaining new followers recently following Jean-Claude Duvalier’s apology (from exile) in 2007 for “wrongs” committed by his administration; the National Unity Movement (Mouvement d’Unité National—MUN), led by Georges SAATI; the Organization for the Advancement of Haiti and of Haitians (Organisation pour l’Avancement d’Haïti et des Haïtiens—OLAHH), led by Joel BORGELLA; the extreme-right Organization for Democracy in Haiti (Organisation pour la Démocratie en Haïti—OPDH), whose leader, Carl DENIS, was arrested in August 1995 for allegedly plotting against the government; the Papaye Peasants Movement (Mouvement Paysan de Papaye—MPP), described as the nation’s largest peasant organization and a member, under the leadership of former Aristide supporter Chavannes JEAN-BAPTISTE, of the CD; the Party for a Development Alternative (Parti pour un Développement Alternatif—Pada), led by Gerard DALVIUS; the Party of Haitian Manufacturers, Workers, Merchants and Development Agents (Parti des Industriels, Travailleurs, Commercants et Agents du Développement d’Haïti—PITACH), led by Jean Jacques SYLVAIN; the Party for the National Evolution of Haiti (Parti pour l’Évolution Nationale d’Haïti—PENH), led by Yves SAINT-LOUIS; the Party of the Patriotic Camp and of the Haitian Alliance (Parti du Camp Patriotique et de l’Alliance Haïtienne—Paca-Palah), led by Franck François ROMAIN; Popular Star, a “people’s organization” led by Alexis CLAIRIUS, a supporter of the CD; the Rally of Christian Democrats (Rassemblement des Démocrates Chrétiens—RDC), led by Eddy VOLEI; the Social Renovation Party (Parti Social Rénovation—PSR), led by François PIERRE-LOUIS; the Union for National Reconstruction (Union pour la Reconstruction Nationale—URN), led by neo-Duvalierist Evans NICOLAS, a presidential candidate in 2000; and the Union of Democratic Patriots (Union des Patriotes Démocratiques—UPD), led by Rockefeller GUERRE.
Senate (Sénat). The upper house comprises 30 members (3 senators per department), elected via majoritarian voting for six-year terms, with rotation of one-third of the members every two years. Balloting was erratic in the 1990s due to the nation’s political turmoil, and the 1997 election results were set aside by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Consequently, new elections for 19 seats were conducted on May 21 and July 9, 2000. However, most opposition parties boycotted the second-round voting to protest perceived improper calculation of first-round results by the government. The Lavalas Family (FL) was credited with winning 18 of the seats, with 1 going to an independent. The FL was also declared the winner of 8 additional seats contested on November 26, 2000, in a contest boycotted by the major opposition parties. The Senate stopped functioning in January 2004 when the mandates of two-thirds of its members expired, and new balloting was postponed amid the turmoil surrounding the ouster of President Aristide.
First round balloting for all 30 seats (increased from 27) was held on February 7, 2006. Following a second round of balloting on April 21, 2006, coupled with deferred voting for 3 seats on December 3, the Front for Hope (Lespwa) held 11 seats; the Haitian Social-Democratic Fusion Party (Fusion), 5; the Organization of the Struggling People (OPL), 4; the Lavalas Family (FL), 3; the Bridge Party, 2; the National Christian Union for the Reconstruction of Haiti, 2; the Standard-Bearer in Action (LAAA), 2; and the Democratic Action Party, 1.
The mandates for ten senators expired on May 11, 2008, elections to fill those seats having been postponed in late 2007 due to turmoil within the CEP and subsequent consideration of proposed electoral law revisions. The balloting for those seats and one other unfilled seat was held on April 19 (first round) and June 21, 2009. (Voting for one other unfilled seat was postponed due to disturbances at polling places.) Of the 11 contested seats, Lespwa secured 6; Fusion, 1; OPL, 1; Cooperative Action to Build Haiti, 1; Haiti in Action (as the LAAA had been renamed); 1; and independent, 1.
President: Kelly BASTIEN.
Chamber of Deputies (Chambre des Députés). The lower house is currently composed of 99 members, directly elected for four-year terms via majoritarian voting in 99 single-member districts. Following second-round balloting on April 21, 2006, coupled with deferred voting for 11 seats on December 3, the Front for Hope held 22 seats; the Haitian Social-Democratic Fusion Party, 16; the Democratic Alliance Party, 11; the Organization of the Struggling People, 10; the Lavalas Family, 6; the National Christian Union for the Reconstruction of Haiti, 6, the Mobilization for Haiti’s Progress, 4; the Rally of Progressive National Democrats, 4; the Standard-Bearer in Action, 4; the Christian Movement for a New Haiti, 3; the Cooperative Action to Build Haiti, 3; the National Reconstruction Front, 2; and the Haitian Democratic and Reform Movement, Heads Together, the Independent Movement for National Reconciliation, the Justice for Peace and National Development, the Liberal Party of Haiti, the Movement for National Reconstruction, and the Union of National and Progressive Haitians, 1 each, with 1 vacancy.
President: Pierre Eric JEAN-JACQUES.
Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development: Joanas GuéSecretaries of State:
Commerce and Industry: Marie Josée Garnier [f]
Culture and Communications: Olsen Jean Julien
Environment: Jean-Marie Claude Germain
Finance and Economy: Daniel Dorsainvil
Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs: Alrich Nicolas
Haitians Living Abroad: Charles Manigat
Interior and Territorial Collectives: Paul Antoine Bien-Aimé
Justice and Public Security: Jean Joseph Exumé
National Education and Professional Training: Joël Desrosiers Jean-Pierre
Planning and External Cooperation: Jean-Max Bellerive
Prime Minister’s Office in Charge of Relations with Parliament: Joseph Jasmin
Public Health and Population: Alex Larsen
Public Works, Transport, and Communication: Jacques Gabriel
Social Affairs and Labor: Gabrielle Prévillon Baudin [f]
Tourism: Patrick Delatour
Women’s Affairs and Women’s Rights: Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue [f]
Youth, Sport, and Civil Action: Evans Lescouflair
Agricultural Production: Jean-Claude Délicé[f] = female
Animal Production: Michel Chancy
Finance: Sylvain Lafalaise
Judicial Reform: Daniel Jean
Literacy: Carol Joseph [f]
People with Special Needs: Michel A. Péan
Public Security: Luc Eucher Joseph
Public Works: Frantz Y. Joseph
Press. The following are French-language dailies published in Port-au-Prince, unless otherwise noted: L’Union (7,000); Le Nouvelliste (6,000); Le Matin (5,000); Le Moniteur (2,000), twice-weekly official gazette; Le Septentrion (2,000), weekly.
News agencies. A Haitian Press Agency (Agence Haïtienne de Press—AHP), operating in collaboration with Agence France-Presse, was launched in 1981.
Broadcasting and computing. The media-rights body Reporters Without Borders observed a dramatic increase in press freedom following the ouster of former president Aristide. Radio remains the main source of information in Haiti, which has more than 250 private radio stations. Télé Haïti, a private commercial company, broadcasts over 13 channels in French, Spanish, and English. In addition, the government-owned Télévision Nationale d’Haïti offers cultural programming in Creole, French, and Spanish. As of 2005 there were approximately 2 Internet users per 1,000 people. As of that same year there were about 49 cellular mobile subscribers per 1,000 people.
Ambassador to the U.S.: Raymond Alcide JOSEPH.
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti: Kenneth H. MERTEN.
Permanent Representative to the UN: Léo MÉRORÈS.
IGO Memberships (Non-UN): ACS, Caricom, CDB, IADB, Interpol, IOM, OAS, OIF, OPANAL, PCA, SELA, WCO, WTO.