Haiti

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HAITI

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS HAITIANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Haiti
République d'Haïti

CAPITAL: Port-au-Prince

FLAG: The upper half is blue, the lower half is red.

ANTHEM: La Dessalinienne (Song of Dessalines).

MONETARY UNIT: The gourde (g) is a paper currency of 100 centimes. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 250, and 500 gourdes. Silver (5, 10, and 25 gourdes) and gold (20, 50, 100, 200, 1,000 gourdes) coins have also been minted. US paper currency also circulates freely throughout Haiti. g1 = $0.02555 (or $1 = g39.14) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is official for customs purposes, but French colonial units and US weights also are used.

HOLIDAYS: Independence and New Year's Day, 1 January; Forefathers Day, 2 January; Pan American Day, 14 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Flag and University Day, 18 May; National Sovereignty Day, 22 May; Assumption, 15 August; Anniversary of the Death of Dessalines, 17 October; UN Day, 24 October; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Commemoration of the Battle of Vertières and Armed Forces Day, 18 November; Discovery of Haiti, 5 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Carnival (three days before Ash Wednesday) and Good Friday.

TIME: 7 am = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Occupying the western third of the island of Hispaniola, Haiti has an area of 27,750 sq km (10,714 sq mi) including the islands of Tortuga (La Tortue), Gonâve, Les Cayemites, and Vache. Comparatively, the area occupied by Haiti is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. Extending roughly 485 km (300 mi) enewsw and 385 km (240 mi) ssennw, Haiti is bounded on the n by the Atlantic Ocean, on the e by the Dominican Republic, on the s by the Caribbean Sea, and on the w by the Windward Passage and the Gulf of Gonâve, with a total land boundary length of 360 km (224 mi) and a coastline of 1,771 km (1,100 mi). Haiti claims Navassa Island, an uninhabited US possession about 50 km (31 mi) west of Hispaniola.

Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince is located on Hispaniola's west coast.

TOPOGRAPHY

The coastline of Haiti is irregular and forms a long southern peninsula and a shorter northern one, between which lies the Gulf of Gonâve. Rising from the coastal plains to a peak height at La Selle of 2,680 m (8,793 ft) and covering two-thirds of the interior, three principal mountain ranges stretch across the country; one runs east and west along the southern peninsula, while the others stretch northwestward across the mainland. Once-fertile plains run inland between the mountains: the Plaine du Nord, extending in the northeast to the Dominican border, and the Artibonite and Cul-de-Sac plains reaching west to the Gulf of Gonâve. Of the many small rivers, the Artibonite, which empties into the Gulf of Gonâve, and L'Estère are navigable for some distance.

CLIMATE

The climate is tropical, with some variation depending on altitude. Port-au-Prince ranges in January from an average minimum of 23°c (73°f) to an average maximum of 31°c (88°f); in July, from 2535°c (7795°f). The rainfall pattern is varied, with rain heavier in some of the lowlands and on the northern and eastern slopes of the mountains. Port-au-Prince receives an average annual rainfall of 137 cm (54 in). There are two rainy seasons, AprilJune and OctoberNovember. Haiti is subject to periodic droughts and floods, made more severe by deforestation. Hurricanes are also a menace.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Tropical and semitropical plants and animals are characterized more by their variety than by their abundance. In the rain forest of the upper mountain ranges, pine and ferns as well as mahogany, cedar, rosewood, and sapin are found. Coffee, cacao, and coconut trees and native tropical fruits such as avocado, orange, lime, and mango grow wild.

Many species of insects abound, but there are no large mammals or poisonous snakes. Ducks, guinea hens, and four varieties of wild pigeons are plentiful. Egrets and flamingos live on the inland lakes. Reptile life includes three varieties of crocodile, numerous small lizards, and the rose boa. Tarpon, barracuda, kingfish, jack, and red snapper abound in the coastal waters.

As of 2002, there were at least 20 species of mammals, 62 species of birds, and over 5,200 species of plants throughout the country.

ENVIRONMENT

The virgin forests that once covered the entire country have now been reduced to 4% of the total land area. Deforestation has had a disastrous effect on soil fertility, because the steep hillsides on which so many Haitian farmers work are particularly susceptible to erosion. From 19902000, the rate of deforestation was about 5.7% per year. The nation loses 1.35 tons of soil per square kilometer yearly. Agricultural chemicals, such as DDT, are widely used in Haiti. These pollutants plus the use of oil with high lead content are a significant source of pollution. Not only has much of the topsoil been washed away, but the eroded slopes retain little rainfall and are vulnerable to flooding.

The chief impediment to reforestation is the fact that Haiti is so intensely cultivated that allocation of land for forests means a reduction in the land available for crop growing and grazing. Foreign organizations have attempted to alleviate these problems. In 1981, an $8 million Agroforestry Outreach Project, funded primarily by the United States, helped farmers plant trees throughout Haitiover 4.5 million seedlings by 1983. The government also agreed to set up the nation's first two national parks with funding from the US Agency for International Development. However, as of 2003, only 0.4% of Haiti's total land area was protected.

Water quality is also a serious environmental problem. Haiti has 13 cu km of renewable water resources with 94% used for farming activity. About 91% of the nation's city dwellers and 59% of the rural population have access to improved water sources.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 4 types of mammals, 15 species of birds, 9 types of reptiles, 46 species of amphibians, 12 species of fish, 5 species of invertebrates, and 208 species of plants. Endangered species in Haiti included the tundra peregrine falcon, Haitian solenodon, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, and American crocodile. At least 13 species have become extinct, including the Caribbean monk seal, imposter hutia, and the Haitian edible rat.

POPULATION

The population of Haiti in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 8,288,000, which placed it at number 91 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 42% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.9%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The government reinstated the Population Secretariat in 1997, which attempted to address the high fertility rate (4.5 births per woman); however, as of 2005 little progress had been made. The projected population for the year 2025 was 12,887,000. The population density was 299 per sq km (774 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 36% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.95%. The capital city, Port-au-Prince, had a population of 1,961,000 in that year. Other major cities and their estimated populations are Jacmel (216,600) and Les Cayes (214,606).

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Haiti. The UN estimated that 7.7% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.

MIGRATION

Emigration from Haiti has been mainly to Cuba, other Caribbean states, Canada, and the United States; illegal emigration to the United States has been substantial since the 1960s. Between 1972 and 1981 more than 55,000 (perhaps as many as 100,000) Haitian "boat people" arrived in Florida. During 198185, some 43,312 Haitians were admitted legally to the United States. In September 1981, the US and Haitian governments agreed to work together to halt the flow of refugees, and these efforts apparently met with success. Over the next 10 years only 28 of the 22,716 Haitians intercepted at sea were admitted to the United States.

Several thousand Haitian migratory workers travel to the Dominican Republic each year during the cane-harvest season; many more change their residences permanently.

Following the 1991 coup (which overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide) many Haitians left for the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Suriname, Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico. Between 199193, 43,000 Haitians tried to reach the United States by boat, but were interdicted and held at Guantanamo Bay, the US naval base in Cuba. In October 1994, soon after Aristide's return to power, Haitians began repatriating, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helped repatriate 8,052 persons from various countries. From the United States, some 16,500 repatriated voluntarily. The UNHCR office in Haiti was closed in April 1996. After disputed legislative elections in 2000, Haiti was politically and economically paralyzed. In February 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced to resign. Again, US troops arrived and the US warned Haitians that if intercepted on their way to Florida, they would be returned to Haiti, or be detained in Guantanamo. In 2004, 5,389 Haitians entered the United States as refugees.

In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as -1.68 migrants per 1,000 population. The total number of migrants living in Haiti in 2000 was 26,000. The government viewed the emigration level as too high.

ETHNIC GROUPS

For the vast majority of Haiti's people, the African ethnic influence is dominant. About 95% of the inhabitants are of African descent; mulattos and whites make up the remaining 5% of the population.

LANGUAGES

The official languages of Haiti are French and Creole. French is only spoken by about 1020% of the population. Virtually all the people speak Creole, a mixture of early 17th-century provincial French and African tongues, with infusions of English, Spanish, and Amerindian words. English is used in the capital and to a lesser extent in the provincial cities, and along the Dominican border a Spanish Creole is spoken.

RELIGIONS

For many years Roman Catholicism was the official religion of Haiti. Its official status was repealed with the enactment of the 1987 constitution; however, neither the government nor the Vatican has renounced the 1860 Concordat that serves as a basis for relations between the two. Roman Catholicism retains a position of honor, but Haitians are guaranteed the freedom to practice all religions by the constitution.

Roman Catholics represent about 5055% of the population. Most of the remainder belong to various Protestant denominations, the largest being the Baptist and Pentecostal churches. Other significant denominations include Methodists, Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Orthodox Christians. Other religious groups include Jews, Muslims, Rastafarians, and Baha'is. Voodoo, a traditional religion that is partially derived from West African beliefs, is still widely practiced, often in tandem with Christianity. Voodoo became an officially recognized church in 2003 with the establishment of the Eglise Voudou d'Ayiti (the Voodoo Church of Haiti) and has had a growing attendance since then.

TRANSPORTATION

In 2002, Haiti had 4,160 km (2,585 mi) of roads, 1,011 km (628 mi) of which were paved. Farm-to-market roads are few, and most produce for the local market is transported by burro or carried on foot by women. In 1980, a new highway linking Port-au-Prince with Les Cayes was opened, and several road improvement projects have been completed; overall, however, road conditions continue to deteriorate because of flooding. There were some 34,800 passenger cars and 34,325 commercial vehicles in 2003. In that same year, Haiti had a ratio of 223.3 inhabitants per registered vehicle, the highest ratio of any country in the Western Hemisphere. Two railroad systems, the National Railroad of Haiti and the Culde-Sac Railroad, with a combined trackage of 301 km (187 mi), originally operated lines from Port-au-Prince to Verrettes and to Léogâne, and from Cap-Haïtien south to Bahon. By 1982, however, most of the system had become inoperative; the 40 km (25 mi) of lines that remained in 1999 were being used only for sugarcane transport.

The commercial shipping fleet consists of a few hundred small sailing vessels engaged in coastal trade and a few motorized vessels of light tonnage. The island depends chiefly on foreign shipping. During the early 1980s, the IBRD sought to stimulate intercoastal trade by building port facilities at Jérémie, Port-au-Prince, and Port-de-Paix. Other ports and harbors include Cap-Haïtien, Gonaives, Jacmel, Les Cayes, Miragoane, and Saint-Marc.

In 2004 there were an estimated 13 airports, of which 4 had paved runways as of 2005. Domestic air service is supplied by the privately owned Air Haiti, which connects principal cities on regular scheduled flights. An international airport at Port-au-Prince opened in 1965; the other international airport is at Cap-Haïtien. Carriers serving Port-au-Prince are ALM, American Airlines, Air Canada, Canada 3000, Caribintair, Tropical Airways, Haiti International airlines, Air France, and COPA.

HISTORY

In 1492, Christopher Columbus made the European discovery of the island of Hispaniola and established a settlement near the present city of Cap-Haïtien. Within 25 years, the native Arawak, a peace-loving, agricultural people, were virtually annihilated by the Spanish settlers. Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas, a missionary to the Amerindians, who had originally come to Hispaniola as a planter in 1502, proposed that African slaves be imported for plantation labor. Starting after 1517 a forced migration of Africans gave Haiti its black population.

About 1625, French and English privateers and buccaneers, preying on Spanish Caribbean shipping, made the small island of Tortuga their base. The French soon also established a colonial presence on nearby mainland coasts and competed with the Spaniards. In the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), Spain ceded the western third of the island (Haiti) to the French. Under French rule it became one of the wealthiest of the Caribbean communities. This prosperity, stemming from forestry and sugar-related industries, came at a heavy cost in human misery and environmental degradation.

The French Revolution in 1789 outlawed slavery in France, which inspired Haiti's nearly half million black slaves to revolt. In a series of violent uprisings, slaves killed white planters and razed estates. Although they suffered cruel reprisals, they fought on under the direction of Toussaint L'Ouverture, an ex-slave who had risen to the rank of general in the French army. By 1801 Toussaint controlled the entire island, and promulgated a constitution, which abolished slavery. The emperor Napoleon did not accept this move, and sent 70 warships and 25,000 men to suppress the movement. Toussaint was captured, and died in a French prison.

Jean Jacques Dessalines, another black general who rose from the ranks, continued the struggle, and in 1803 the disease-decimated French army surrendered. On 1 January 1804, Dessalines proclaimed Haiti's independence. Dessalines, after assuming the title of emperor in 1804, was assassinated in 1806, and Haiti was divided into a northern monarchy and a southern republic. Under both regimes, the plantations were distributed among former slaves, and Haiti became a nation of small farmers. Haiti was reunited by Jean Pierre Boyer in 1820, and in 1822 the Haitian army conquered Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). For 22 years there was one republic for the entire island. In 1844, however, one year after Boyer was overthrown, the Dominican Republic proclaimed its independence from Haiti. In 1849, the president of Haiti, Faustin Elie Soulouque, proclaimed himself Emperor Faustin I. He was dethroned by a revolution headed by Nicholas Fabre Geffrard, who reestablished the republic and became president. In 1860, Geffrard negotiated a concordat with the Holy See that established Roman Catholicism as the national religion, although freedom of worship was retained.

A long period of political instability between 1843 and 1915, during which time Haiti had 22 dictators, culminated in the assassination of President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam and was followed by US military occupation. The occupation, which lasted 19 years, terminated in 1934 during the administration of President Sténio Vincent (193041), who in 1935 proclaimed a new constitution.

After World War II, another period of political instability reached a peak in a 1950 coup d'etat that brought Gen. Paul Magloire to power. Magloire's economic policies led to a serious depression. In December 1956 a national sit-down strike, organized jointly by business, labor, and professional leaders, forced Magloire into exile. A period of chaos ensued in which seven governments attempted to establish control.

In a September 1957 election filled with irregularities, François Duvalier, a middle-class black physician known to his followers as Papa Doc, became president. He began to rule by decree in 1958, and in May 1961, he had himself elected for another six years. On 22 June 1964, Duvalier was formally elected president for life. Despite several attempted revolts, he consolidated his position, ruling largely through his security force, the Tontons Macoutes ("bogeymen"). Political opposition was ruthlessly suppressed, and thousands of suspected dissidents "disappeared." Also murdered were some 3,000 supporters of Daniel Fignolé, leader of the Peasant Workers Movement (Mouvement Ouvrier Paysan) and Duvalier's most effective opponent.

Political life under the Papa Doc regime was characterized by plots against the government and governmental counterterrorism, the latter was entrusted to the Tontons Macoutes and to other thugs known as cagoulards. Opposition leaders went into hiding or exile. The Haitian Revolutionary Movement (Mouvement Révolutionnaire Haïtien), led by Haitian exiles Luc B. Innocent and Paul G. Argelin, began operations in Colombia in February 1961.

The National Democratic Union (Union Démocratique Nationale) was founded in Puerto Rico in April 1962 by former Ambassador Pierre Rigaud, with a branch in Venezuela organized by Paul Verna and an underground movement operating in Haiti. Invasions in 1964, 1969, and 1970 met with no success. Haitian exiles in New York, Montréal, Chicago, and Washington mounted an influential anti-Duvalier campaign during the 1960s. Throughout this period, no party operated openly in Haiti except the Duvalierist Party of National Unity (Parti de l'Unité Nationale).

On 22 January 1971, Duvalier named his son Jean-Claude to be his successor. Papa Doc died on 21 April 1971, and Jean-Claude, at the age of 19, became president for life the following day. The younger Duvalier sought to ease political tensions, encouraged tourism and foreign investment, and contributed to the beginnings of an economic revival. However, political arrests did not wholly cease, and there were severe economic reversals in the mid- and late-1970s.

In February 1979, elections to the National Assembly took place amid allegations of government fraud. Opposition groups were then arrested, tried, and convicted of subversion, but later released. In January and March 1982, two small exile groups tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the government by staging armed invasions. The first municipal elections of the Duvalier period were held in spring 1983. The voting resulted, for the most part, in victories for the government, partly because several opposition figures had been arrested during the campaign.

Jean-Claude proved to be an ineffectual leader and tensions mounted as the economy stagnated after 1980. When civil disorder began to break out in the mid-1980s, the president became increasingly reclusive. In February 1986, following a series of demonstrations and protests, Jean-Claude and his family fled to France, and the National Governing Council (Conseil National de GouvernementCNG), led by Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, seized power. Namphy's declared purpose was to provide a transition to a democratically elected government. A constituent assembly, convened in October 1986, drafted a new constitution that was approved by referendum in March 1987.

Hopes for the restoration of democracy soon faded. The presidential election scheduled for November 1987 was postponed as gangs of thugs and soldiers killed at least 34 persons. The CNG attempted new elections and a new government, but those governments had no legitimacy at home or abroad. In December 1990 a Roman Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was elected with 67.5% of the votes cast. The immediate aftermath of the CNG's takeover was euphoric. Political prisoners were released and the dreaded Tontons Macoute (Duvalier's clandestine secret police) were disbanded.

Aristide had an ideology, a sort of egalitarian Catholic doctrine, and a political coalition of 15 parties, the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD). But, he did not have the confidence of the military. Upset by his popularity and his foreign policy, which favored stronger hemispheric relations at the expense of US-Haitian relations, the military under Gen. Raoul Cédras ousted him in October 1991. From exile, Aristide did not relent, and appealed to international organizations for help. The UN and OAS forged an agreement between Cédras and Aristide to return Aristide to the presidency in October 1993, but the military balked. Aristide promptly appealed to the Clinton administration, even as he criticized US policy, and the Clinton administration responded with sanctions against the Haitian regime in May and June of 1994. However, the impasse persisted.

In September 1994, as a last resort, the Clinton administration secured international support for a military invasion of Haiti to force Cédras from power. A US invasion force was assembled and war seemed imminent. However, in the 11th hour, Clinton sent a special delegation, headed by former US president Jimmy Carter, to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis. As US fighter planes were about to take off for Haiti, the Carter team reached an agreement with Cédras and war was diverted. American forces peacefully took control of the country and, in October 1994, restored Aristide to power.

Returning to the country after a three-year absence, Aristide faced two major challenges: rescuing the country's economy, which was in dire straits following the international embargo that had been imposed on it, and curbing the rampant violent street crime, gang activity, and vigilantism that had developed in the absence of an adequate justice system. To cope with the security vacuum created by the departure of the military regime, UN peacekeeping forces arrived in March of 1995.

In June 1995 elections for local and legislative office, though marred by mismanagement and requiring additional rounds of voting, remained free of state-sponsored violence and were generally regarded as a sign of success for the nation's fledgling democracy. Although there was strong sentiment among many Haitians in favor of having Aristide remain in office beyond the end of his designated single term as president (most of which had been usurped by military rule), US support remained contingent on adhering to the terms of the 1987 constitution, which barred the president from seeking a second consecutive term. Aristide himself wavered about honoring this provision but ultimately stepped down, endorsing a close associate, René Préval, to succeed him in office. Préval was elected on 17 December 1995, with 88% of the vote. In February 1996 he took office, becoming Haiti's second democratically elected president in the country's 191-year history as an independent nation. The presence of both a UN peacekeeping force of over 1,000 and several hundred US troops was extended through November 1997. In July 1997 Haiti became a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Even under relatively stable political conditions, Haiti's economic and security problems proved intractable. Poverty and unemploymentestimated at 80%remained endemic. In May 1996 Préval agreed to economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund, including privatization of state-owned enterprises, a measure previously resisted by his government. However, former president Aristide opposed the privatization plans and in 1997 formed a new political grouping of his own. After failing to win parliamentary approval for three nominees for prime minister in 1998, President Préval dissolved parliament in January 1999 and unilaterally appointed a new prime minister, provoking civil unrest in the streets. Through the rest of 1999 and into early 2000, Préval repeatedly postponed promised legislative elections, leaving the country without a fully operating government. A wave of violence escalated and eventually claimed the life of the country's most prominent radio journalist, Jean Leopold Dominique, who was murdered in April 2000.

In the presidential election held in November 2000, former president Aristide easily won the election with 91.8% of the vote. His party, the Fanmi Lavalas (FLLavalas Family), won 83 of the 93 seats in the National Assembly. After taking office in early 2001, Aristide was accused of developing a highly personalist and authoritarian government. He concentrated power in his own hands and failed to build and consolidate democratic institutions. The economy continued its downward spiral, with negative growth in 2001 and 2002 and more than 80% of Haitians living in poverty. In addition, international organizations expressed concern over the growing violence in the country and the little respect for human rights shown by the Aristide government. Rebellion, escalating in early 2003, coupled with international pressure, led to the resignation of Aristide on 29 February 2004, who then went into exile in South Africa. The same day, Boniface Alexandre, a Supreme Court justice, was sworn in as president of an interim government. The rebels, made up largely of personnel from the disbanded military, continued sporadic violence as UN forces attempted to control security by confiscating weapons; Aristide supporters also protested, sometimes in violent support for his return. Rebels almost began another attempt to oust the interim government, but money began flowing into the country again when loans and aid were released after about a four-year freeze. The interim government was able to make some payments to appease the rebels, who demanded that the military be reinstated with 10 years of back pay, but organizational hurdles twice postponed elections originally slated for October.

On 7 February 2006, general elections were held for the first time since Aristide was overthrown in 2004. Former President René Préval was declared the winner of the highly contested presidential election, with 51% of the vote. Préval was declared the winner after election officials agreed to discount thousands of blank ballots. Préval's supporters had taken to the streets, rejecting initial vote tallies, which would have led to a second round of voting. Préval took office on 14 May 2006.

GOVERNMENT

Under Article 197 of the 1964 constitution, François Duvalier was appointed president for life, with the stipulation that this article be approved in a nationwide plebiscite. On 14 June 1964, the voters were declared to have "almost unanimously" given their consent. He was granted power to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and the cabinet and to govern by decree in case of grave conflict. A constitutional amendment in January 1971 allowed the president to choose his successor. Jean-Claude Duvalier became president for life in April 1971 and was chief of state and head of government until early 1986.

The constitution adopted in March 1987 established a president elected to a five-year term as head of state and restricted to no more than two nonconsecutive terms in office. The head of government was to be the prime minister, appointed by the president from the party holding the majority in both houses of the legislature, which is made up of a 27-member Senate and a Chamber of Deputies with 83 members. Supporters of the Duvaliers were barred from holding political office for 10 years. Senators are elected for six years and deputies for four.

Since its passage, the constitution was suspended in June 1988 and reinstated in March 1989. The leaders of the coup of October 1991 claimed to be observing the constitution and Marc Bazin was named head of a caretaker government. But to all observers, nothing approaching a political system was present in Haiti until the restoration of the democratically elected Aristide government in late 1994. Because of an agreement with the United States, Aristide was unable to seek a second consecutive term and endorsed René Préval to succeed him in office. Préval was elected on 17 December 1995 as the country's second democratically elected president. In 2000, Aristide was elected president again, marking the first time that a democratically elected president completed his term without interruption and handed power over to another democratically elected leader. In 2004, however, Aristide resigned following a violent uprising; he went into exile in South Africa. The country was thrown into chaos and UN peacekeepers arrived to provide security for the country. In February 2006, former President René Préval was elected with 51% of the vote in the first round.

POLITICAL PARTIES

From the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, two major political parties, the Liberals and the Nationalists, were predominant. The Liberals, composed mainly of the wealthier and better-educated mulatto minority, advocated legislative control of government, while the Nationalists, composed mainly of the lower- and middle-class black majority, favored a strong executive. The traditional mulatto hegemony, whose wealth was inherited from the departed French colonists, was ended by Duvalier, who used the mulattoes as scapegoats.

After Jean-Claude Duvalier became president in 1971, some political activity was allowed, but by 1982 most dissidents had again been silenced. In 1979, an opposition Haitian Christian Democratic Party (Parti Démocratique Chrétien d'HaïtiPDCH) was founded, but its leader, Sylvio Claude, was arrested in October 1980. In the 1979 legislative elections only one antigovernment candidate won a seat; he resigned in July 1981. The PDCH dropped out of the municipal election campaign in 1983 following the arrest of several party members on national security charges.

Dozens of parties emerged after the CNG ousted Jean-Claude Duvalier in February 1986, most prominently, the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD), which backed Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the 1990 elections, but from which he later disassociated himself. Other groups include the National Congress of Democratic Movements (CONACOM), the Rally of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP), the Revolutionary Progressive Nationalist Party (PANPRA), and the Movement for the Installation of Democracy in Haiti (MIDH), under former Prime Minister Marc Bazin.

By 1995 the dominant party, and the one associated with Aristide, was the Lavalas Political Platform, an alliance of the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL) and the Movement for the Organization of the Country (MOP). Backed by Aristide and Lavalas, René Préval was elected president in the December 1995 elections with 88% of the vote. In the mid-1995 legislative elections, all but one of the 18 vacated Senate seats were won by Lavalas candidates and the party also swept the election in the lower house, with 12 seats going to candidates of other groups, including independents. In 1997, former president Bertrand Aristide formally registered a new partyFanmi Lavalas (FLLavalas Family)which broke ranks with the existing Lavalas government before the 2000 elections. The legislative elections, initially scheduled for June 1999, were postponed repeatedly throughout the rest of 1999 and the first half of 2000. They were eventually held, together with the presidential elections, in November 2000. The FL dominated the elections, which were boycotted by the opposition. Parliamentary elections were due to be held in 2003, but they were not. Large protests were held against Aristide's rule, which eventually turned into a rebellion which, along with international pressure, ousted him on 29 February 2004.

A first round of legislative elections was held on 7 February 2006, but only two deputies were elected. A second round of legislative elections was held on 21 April 2006. René Préval's alliance Front for Hope or L'ESPWA won 11 seats in the Senate. Other parties winning Senate seats included: Struggling People's Organization (OPL), 4; Fanmi Lavalas (FL), 3; Merging of Haitian Social Democratic Parties (FUSION), 3; Artibonite in Action (LAAA), 2; National Christian Union for the Reconstruction of Haiti (UNCRH), 2; Democratic Alliance (ALYANS) 1; For Us All (PONT), 1; 3 seats were subject to a run-off election. In the Chamber of Deputies, seats by party were: L'ESPWA 19; FUSION 15; ALYANS 10; OPL 8; FL 6; UNCRH 6; Mobilization for Haiti's Development (MPH), 4; Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP), 4; LAAA 3; Cooperative Action to Build Haiti (KONBA), 3; National Front for the Reconstruction of Hait (FRN) 1; New Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHRENHA), 1; Movement for National Reconstruction (MRN), 1; Heads Together (Tet-Ansanm), 1; Independent Movement for National Reconciliation (MIRN), 1; Justice for Peace and National Development (JPDN), 1; Union of Nationalist and Progressive Haitians (UNITE), 1; Liberal Party of Haiti (PLH), 1; 13 seats were subject to a run-off election by June 2006.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

As of 1999, Haiti was divided into nine departments and subdivided into arrondissements and communes. Each department is headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. Under the constitution, a commune is headed by an elected mayor, whose powers are strictly circumscribed. Local government is limited and all taxes collected by the communes are paid directly into the national treasury. The first open municipal elections in 26 years took place in 1983. Local mayoral and council elections were held in December 1995. In January 1999 President René Préval began appointing mayors and other local officials because political violence and instability had resulted in the delay of local elections. Since taking office, President Aristide has replaced many of the mayors elected by Préval. By late 2002, most government officials and authorities were loyal to Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party. Opposition leaders were prevented from having power in local governments.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The judiciary consists of four levels: the Court of Cassation, courts of appeal, civil courts, and magistrates' courts. Judges of the Court of Cassation are appointed by the president for 10-year terms. Government prosecutors, appointed by the courts, act in both civil and criminal cases. There are also land, labor, and children's courts. Military courts function in both military and civilian cases when the constitution is suspended. The legal system is based upon the French Napoleonic Code.

Until 1995, the Haitian armed forces controlled law enforcement and public security even though the constitution called for separation of the police and military. The 1987 constitution was put into effect in 1995. Although the constitution also calls for an independent judiciary, all judges since 1986 have been appointed and removed at the will of the government and political pressures affect the judiciary at all levels. The justices of peace issue warrants and adjudicate minor infractions. The Supreme Court deals with questions of procedure and constitutionality. Haiti accepts compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. On 9 June 2003, a treaty was ratified to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), with the first session of the CCJ scheduled for November 2003. Although Haiti was not among the eight nations to officially approve the CCJ, it did agree to use the CCJ for resolution of trade disputes.

ARMED FORCES

In 1994, a civilian administration replaced the military government. The armed forces and police were disbanded and they were replaced with a National Police Force, which had an estimated 5,300 members. Since 1 June 2004 there have been no active armed forces, replaced instead, by a UN stabilization force, with 6,700 authorized personnel. A National Police Force of around 2,000 personnel remains operational. Security expenditures in 2000 (the latest year for which data was available) were $50 million.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Haiti is a charter member of the United Nations, having joined on 24 October 1945; it is part of ECLAC and several specialized UN agencies, such as FAO, IAEA, ILO, IMF, IFC, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and the World Bank. Haiti joined the WTO in 1996. The country is also a member of the ACP Group, G-77, the Inter-American development Bank, the Latin American Economic System (LAES), CARICOM, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the OAS.

During the 199194 period of de facto military rule, the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) was formed (1993), with a total of 38 countries participating, to restore legitimate government and create a secure and stable political environment within the country. In 1994, the UN Security Council authorized deployment of a US-led multinational force to accomplish this task. From 19942001, other peacekeeping missions were established, including the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH). The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was established in 2004, at the resignation of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to support the efforts of the transitional government. A total of 20 countries have offered support to MINUSTAH.

Haiti is a signatory of the 1947 Río Treaty, an inter-American security agreement. The nation also participates in the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) and is a signatory to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In environmental protection, Haiti is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the London Convention, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

One of the richest colonial possessions based on its slave-operated sugar plantations, and site of the world's first successful slave revolt, Haiti is now one of the world's poorest countries, separated on the island of Hispanola from the prospering Dominican Republic by racial and linguistic divisions, and a river named Massacre. About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty, engaged mainly in subsistence agriculture. The economy is basically agricultural: coffee, mangoes, sugar, rice, corn, sorghum, and wood are the main products. Some cottage industries were developed in the mid 1940s, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s the mining sector, particularly bauxite and copper, grew to provide important export items. By the early 1980s, however, mining was losing its importance, and light export-oriented industry, based on cheap labor, was the main growing area. The informal market is growing including the black market transshipment of cocaine. In 2003, Haiti remains one of the 23 countries on the US government's list of major drug-producing or drug-transit countries.

Haiti has suffered a series of natural and political setbacks. Hurricanes have often destroyed substantial parts of the coffee and sugar crops. During 196070, the real GDP declined annually by 0.2%. The accession of Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1971 improved the economy, and between 1970 and 1979, the average annual growth of the GDP was 4%. The economy took a downward turn in the early 1980s, growing by only 0.90% between 1977 and 1987.

On 30 September 1991 a military coup headed by General Cedras deposed the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The OAS and the United States imposed several economic sanctions following this military coup. The accumulated contraction in the economy from 199194 amounted to about 30%, leaving per capita income at about $260. A UN-mediated agreement called for President Aristide's return to power, which occurred in 1994.

In 1995, GDP growth reached a recent high of 4.5% due mainly to public investment equal to 7.2% of GDP (compared to 0.6% in 1994). Inflation fell to 30.2%, down from 36.1% in 1994. In 1996, GDP growth moderated to 2.78% as inflation fell to 20%. From 1997 to 1999, annual GDP growth averaged 2.1% and inflation fell to single digits, 8.3% in 1998 and 9.9% in 1999. With extensions of credit under the IMF's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF), the government initiated fiscal policy and structural reforms. After Aristide was voted out of office in 1996, the prime minister resigned in 1997, and the legislature broke up in 1999; all these factors contributed to a cessation of economic reforms. In 2000, violence, civil unrest and fraud that marred the presidential election and led donor countries to put a hold on about $500 million of economic assistance, helped bring GDP growth down to a negligible 0.9% as inflation increased to 15.3%. A new agreement in November 2000 with the IMF was voted down by the legislature. In 2001, continued political unrest, the freezing of over $1 billion in credits from international financial institutions, and the deterioration in the external economy following recession in the United States and the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks brought on Haiti's first contraction since 1994 as GDP fell 1.1%. In 2002, the US government (George W. Bush administration) continued to block aid to Haiti on condition that political reforms, specific arrests, and disarmament would first have to be carried out, and sent assistance to the Dominican Republic to help their military seal their border against Haitian refugees along the Massacre River.

Economic growth for 2002 was -0.9%, with inflation at 9.9%. Unemployment was an estimated 60%. In 2003 the GDP growth rate recovered slightly at 0.5%, but in 2004 it relapsed again, reaching -3.8%; in 2005 the economy was expected to expand by 2%. Inflation went out of control, reaching 39.3% in 2003, and 22.8% in 2004; it was expected to fall to 15% in 2005. Haiti suffers from lack of investments, and a severe trade deficit. In addition, civil conflict and natural disasters, in 2004, added to the problems of an already impoverished country. Foreign aid flows have started to pick up in past years that not at a pace that would offer immediate economic relief.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Haiti's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $12.9 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,600. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.5%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 13.3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 30% of GDP, industry 20%, and services 50%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $811 million or about $96 per capita and accounted for approximately 27.8% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $200 million or about $24 per capita and accounted for approximately 6.9% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Haiti totaled $2.69 billion or about $316 per capita based on a GDP of $2.9 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1980 to 1990 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 0.9%. It was estimated that in 2003 about 80% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

In the latest years for which data was available, Haiti's labor force in 1998 was estimated at three million. Of that total, agriculture employed 66%; industry, 9%; and services, 25%. Unemployment and underemployment in Haiti is widespread, As of 2002, it was estimated that more than two-thirds of the country's labor force did not have formal employment of any kind.

Because the proportion of wage earners is relatively small, the labor movement is weak. In 2002, there were nine principal labor federations, representing about 5% of the total labor force. Unions are independent of the government and political parties, but they must register to achieve legal recognition. Strikes are permitted, but participation in strike activity is low. Collective bargaining does not occur.

The minimum age for employment is legally set at 15 years with the exception of domestic service. Child labor is not problematic in the formal sector due to job competition, however it remains prevalent in the informal economy. In industry and service organizations, the legal standard is an eight-hour day with a 48-hour week and 24-hour rest on Sunday. The legal daily minimum wage in 2002 was $1.52, which does not provide a decent standard of living for a family. This only applies to the formal wage-earners, and does not apply to agricultural workers or the informal sector of the economy.

AGRICULTURE

With 62% of the laboring population deriving its living exclusively from the soil, farming is the mainstay of the Haitian economy. Although only about one-third of the country's land is considered suitable for cultivation because of the rugged terrain, 40% of the land was actually being used for crop and feed production and pasture in 2003. Nevertheless, population growth outstripped agricultural growth during the 1970s, and a drought in 1985 affected the production of such important staple crops as rice, maize, and beans. Consequently, foodstuffs have had to be imported in increasing quantity.

Production of coffee in 2004 totaled 28,000 tons, as compared with the record-high of 43,600 tons in 1962. Sugarcane is the second major cash crop, but production has been declining; in 1976, Haiti became a net importer of sugar. Sugarcane production in 2004 was 1,080,000 tons. Other agricultural production figures for the 2004 growing season (in thousands of tons) were bananas, 290; corn, 180; rice, 102; sorghum, 85; dry beans, 33; and cocoa beans, 4.4. Haitian agriculture is characterized by numerous small plots averaging slightly over one hectare (2.5 acres) per family, on which peasants grow most of their food crops and a few other crops for cash sale; few farms exceed 12 hectares (30 acres). Haiti employs an unusual form of farming called arboriculture. Combinations of fruit trees and various roots, particularly the manioc plant, the traditional Haitian bread staple, replace the grain culture of the usual subsistence-economy farming. Crops are cultivated with simple hand tools; the plow or animal power is only rarely employed, except on sugarcane plantations. Coffee is grown on humid mountain slopes, cotton on the semiarid plateaus and sealevel plains, and bananas as well as sugar on the irrigated plains, which covered about 57,000 hectares (140,800 acres) in 2004. Rice has become a basic staple for Haitians, but local production only meets a little more than 20% of demand.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Stock raising is generally a supplementary activity on small farms. In 2005 there were 1,456,000 head of cattle, 1,000,000 hogs, 1,900,000 goats, 500,000 horses, 153,500 sheep, and 5,500,000 poultry. The hog population was decimated by African swine fever in 1979, and careful efforts at replacement have been unsuccessful. In the mid-1990s, the poultry industry contracted from over 100 commercial producers to less than 10. In addition to the embargo and political uncertainty, the industry is under competitive pressure of low cost poultry imports from the United States. Poultry production has not risen enough to fill the vacuum in the rural diet. Extension work directed by the Department of Agriculture's educational center at Damien has helped to stabilize animal husbandry. Poultry production slowly increased from about 6,000 tons per year in the mid-1990s to 8,400 tons by 2005. Native stock has been upgraded by the introduction of hogs and cattle from abroad, particularly the zebu, which does well in the hot, dry plains. Two major stock-feeding centers operate at Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien. Livestock products in 2005 included 99,893 tons of meat, 25,200 tons of goat's milk, 44,500 tons of cow's milk, and 5,050 tons of eggs.

FISHING

While the proximity of Haiti to the Windward Passage and the north-flowing currents off the Venezuelan coast place it in the path of major fish migrations, including tuna, marlin, bonito, and sardines, the commercial fishing industry is not developed. Reef fish, including giant grouper and rock lobster, are important food sources because deep-sea fishing is limited. Fisheries have been successfully developed in the small ponds and in the irrigation and drainage ditches of the Artibonite Plain. Carp and tertar, a native fish, are abundant, but lack of transport and other facilities limits this important food source to local consumption. The catch was estimated at 5,010 tons in 2003, including 200 tons of Caribbean spiny lobster and 300 tons of conch.

FORESTRY

Originally, Haiti was endowed with abundant forest resources. Excellent stands of pine were located in the mountain rain forests of La Hotte Massif and in the Massif du Nord. (Haitian pine is high in turpentine and rosin content, making it suitable for naval stores.) Major stands of mahogany grew in the Fer à Cheval region, and small stands occurred in the island's lower mountain ranges. Tropical oak, cedar, rosewood, and taverneaux also were widespread; hardwoods included lavan (mahogany), narra, tindalo, and ipil. The intensive use of the forests for fuel, both in colonial times and in the modern era, and the clearing of woodlands for agriculture resulted in a decline of Haiti's forestland from over 2.7 million hectares (6.7 million acres) before the coming of Columbus to about 88,000 hectares (217,000 acres) by 2000, the majority of which was privately owned. Such deforestation has created a problem with soil erosion. Reforestation efforts have been more ambitious in design than successful in execution. Haiti had an annual average deforestation rate of 5.7% during 19902000, the highest in the world. Of the estimated 2,231,000 cu m (78,784,000 cu ft) of wood cut in 2004, almost 89% was used for fuel.

MINING

The mining sector played a minor role in Haiti's economy. In 2003, mining was limited to sand, gravel, and marble. Cement was also produced in 2003. Asphalt, lime, and salt may also have been produced. The marble industry was being developed for export possibilities.

In 2003, cement production totaled 290,300 metric tons. Sand and gravel production that same year each totaled an estimated 450,000 and 2 million cu m, respectively. Marble output in 2003 was estimated at 131 cu m.

There were small, undeveloped deposits in northern Haiti of chromite, copper (both sedimentary and in veins, in the Massif du Nord), gold, iron ore, lead, manganese (in the Morne Macat section of the Massif du Nord), silver, sulfur, tin, and zinc. There were also bauxite deposits near Miragoâne, and deposits of antimony, gypsum, nickel, and porphyry. The Canadian company St. Genevieve Resources estimated that two small gold mines near Cap-Haïtien could yield at least $100 million over 10 years. The Canadian company KWG Resources, Inc. had two properties with gold and copper resourcesGrand Bois and Morne Bossa.

All subsoil rights belonged to the state; private ownership of mining companies was permitted, and mineral exploration has generally been conducted by foreign enterprises. Private gold mining was permitted, but the metal had to be sold to the National Bank. Production of bauxite ceased with the 1985 closing of the Reynolds mine; production peaked at 613,000 tons in 1979, and exports were worth $14.9 million in 1982. Copper mining was suspended in 1971, because it became unprofitable.

ENERGY AND POWER

Haiti has no known proven reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, or any oil refining capacity. As a result the country must import whatever refined petroleum products or fossil fuels it consumes. In 2002, imports and consumption of refined petroleum products averaged 11,610 barrels per day in 2002. There were no imports or consumption of natural gas or coal for that same year.

Haiti's electric power sector is marked by reliance upon fossil fuels and hydropower to generate electricity. In 2002, conventional thermal fueled generating capacity totaled 0.244 million kW, with hydropower accounting for 0.063 million kW and fossil fuel plants 0.181 million kW. Electric power production in that year totaled 0.609 billion kWh, with hydropower and conventional thermal accounting for 0.298 billion kWh and 0.311 kWh, respectively. Total power demand in 2002 totaled 0.566 billion kWh. Although power represented the government's top investment priority in the early 1970s, as of July 2005, the electricity supply remains erratic and inadequate. Most industrial plants have standby generators.

INDUSTRY

Industry has traditionally been primarily devoted to the processing of agricultural and forestry products, although the assembly of imported components for export to the United States and other markets has grown into a substantial industry. During 197078, the industrial sector grew by 8.3% annually; between 1977 and 1987, growth was null; and between 1988 and 1998 the sector declined by 3.1% annually. The parastatal flour refinery and cement factory were sold to foreign interests in 1999. The flour refinery had been out of service for five years before it began operations again in 1998. The cement factory was undergoing restructuring in 1999, and thus was closed. Since the flour refinery and cement factory were privatized in 1999, privatization has stalled. Other industries produce aluminum, enamelware, garments and hats, essential oils, plastic, soap, pharmaceuticals, and paint. A steel plant commenced operations in 1974, converting imported scrap into steel sections. Haitian plants assemble US-made components to create electronic devices, toys, and leather goods. In 1986, before the trade embargo, some 140 export assembly firms employed about 40,000 people. The figure was only 400 in 1994, but five years later 25,000 people were employed in such firms.

Industry grew by 6% annually in 1997 and 1998. However, a growing trade imbalance preempted a more robust recovery, and the global economic slowdown in the United States that began in 2001 negatively affected the Haitian economy. Construction has been consistently more dynamic than agriculture and manufacturing, which realized only moderate output increases.

Industry made up 20% of the economy in 2001, and it employed only 9% of the labor force; services represented 30% of the overall GDP, and employed 25% of the workforce; agriculture was the biggest employer, at 66%, and contributed with 30% to the overall GDP.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The National Council for Scientific Research, founded in 1963, coordinates scientific activities in Haiti, especially in the public health field. Four colleges and universities, including the University of Haiti, offer degrees in basic and applied sciences.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Port-au-Prince, a free port, is the commercial center of Haiti, with Cap-Haïtien second in importance. Most Haitian products are sold in regional markets, which meet on traditional established days, once or twice a week. The Croix-de-Bossales market in Port-au-Prince is the largest market in the country, handling about two-thirds of the food and manufactures used in the capital.

Imported goods usually are sold in small stalls (boutiques), but there are some modern supermarkets. Specialty goods and articles for the tourist trade are offered by merchants who are generally franchised to handle specific brands. Some larger franchised stores, including Sears, Radio Shack, NAPA Auto Parts, and Domino's Pizza, have found a market with the help of Haitian business managers. Although foreign imports, motion pictures, and soft drinks are advertised in newspapers, radio is the principal advertising medium.

Stores are generally open on weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm in the winter, with some shops open until about 7 pm. In summer, closing time is set by law at 4 pm; on Saturdays, stores close at noon. Banks are open from 9 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday.

FOREIGN TRADE

Coffee has been supplanted as the main export by manufactured articles assembled in Haiti. The high deficit in the trade balance, with a marginal increase in exports and continued high import buoyancy in the late 1990s, reflects pent-up aggregate demand that is not satisfied by domestic production. Narrowing the trade deficit will therefore require a policy mix that prioritizes exportoriented productive sectors.

The light manufacture of clothes in Haiti accounts for the majority of commodity exports (56%). Other exports include essential oils (5.6%), coffee (5.4%), tropical fruits and vegetables (5.4%), and paper products (4.8%). Haiti's biggest export market is, by far, the United States.

In 2004, exports reached $338 million (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $1.1 billion (FOB). The bulk of exports went to the United States (81.2%), the Dominican Republic (7.3%), and Canada (4.1%). Imports included food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, and raw materials, and mainly came from the United States (34.8%), the Netherlands Antilles (18%), Malaysia (5.1%), and Colombia (4.7%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Haiti's external trade position worsened from 1991 to 1994 following the imposition of the trade embargo. As all but humanitarian foreign aid was suspended during those years, balance of

Current Account -13.1
   Balance on goods -782.7
     Imports -1,115.8
     Exports 333.2
   Balance on services -123.0
   Balance on income -14.3
   Current transfers 906.8
Capital Account
Financial Account -76.5
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Haiti
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -98.0
   Other investment liabilities 13.7
Net Errors and Omissions 85.0
Reserves and Related Items 4.6
() data not available or not significant.

payments deficits reflected the decline in net capital inflows. Once a constitutional government was returned to power in 1994, however, imports increased, due to high domestic demand. As a result of aid flows and remittances from Haitians living abroad, imports in the 1990s and into the early 2000s grew steadily. Haiti's ability to generate export revenue depends upon a revival of the assembly sector.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Haiti's exports was $326.6 million while imports totaled $977.5 million resulting in a trade deficit of $650.9 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1998 Haiti had exports of goods totaling $299 million and imports totaling $641 million. The services credit totaled $180 million and debit $381 million.

Exports of goods and services reached $502 million in 2004, up from $461 million in 2003. Imports grew from $1.4 billion in 2003, to $1.5 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative in both years, worsening from -$939 million in 2003, to -$953 million in 2004. The current account balance was also negative, slightly improving from -$140 million in 2003, to - $98 million in 2004.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The national bank of the Republic of Haiti (Banque Nationale de la République d'Haïti-BRH), the sole bank of issue and government depository, was founded in 1880 and acquired from US interests in 1934 and became the fiscal agent of Haiti in 1947. As the nation's principal commercial bank, it participates in the national lottery, the national printing office and plant, the National Archives, banana development, the tobacco and sugar monopolies, the Agricultural and Industrial Development Institute, and the Agricultural Credit Bureau; it is also a depositor with the IMF and IBRD.

The first private Haitian bank, the Bank of the Haitian Union, opened in 1973. In 2002, nine other commercial banks were in operation; including one of them Haitian (Banque Industrielle et Commerciale d'Haiti), one US (Citibank), and one Canadian (Bank of Nova Scotia). There are two state-owned banks, Banque Nationale de Crédit and Banque Populaire Haitienne. Other banks included Promobank, Unibank, Sogebank, Socabank, and Capital Bank. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $434.3 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $1.4 billion.

There is no securities exchange in Haiti. Trading in Haitian corporations that make public offerings of their bonds or equity shares is conducted on the New York over-the-counter market.

INSURANCE

Major world insurance companies maintain agencies or branches in Haiti, the most prominent being Sun Life of Canada, the first to enter into life insurance. The insurance classes covered are life, accident, sickness, fire, and motor.

PUBLIC FINANCE

In the mid to late 1990s, Haiti, under President Préval, undertook a program of economic reform. The agenda included trade liberalization, increasing fiscal responsibility, downsizing civil service, financial sector reform, and privatization of some state-owned enterprises. The privatization program stalled in 2001, a year in which GDP fell by 2.1% due to political uncertainty, low investment, a high budget deficit, and reduced capital inflow from abroad.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Haiti's central government took in revenues of approximately $400 million and had expenditures of $600.8 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$200.8 million. Total external debt was $1.3 billion.

TAXATION

Corporate and personal incomes are both taxed according to a progressive scale ranging from 10% to 35%. Since 1951, new corporations, if placed on the government's list of recommended new industries have benefited from special tax concessions, including customs duties exemption and a five-year corporate income tax exemption. The progressive income tax is the most important direct tax. The first band, 10%, implicitly exempts the first 20,000 gourde of income (about $509) from taxation, and runs to 100,000 gourde ($2,542). The 15% band covers the next increment of income to 250,000 gourde ($6,360); the 25% band covers the next increment to 750,000 gourde ($19,076), and the highest band, 30%, applies to all income above $19,076. The highest property tax rate is reportedly 15%. Indirect taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) with a 10% standard rate, raised from 7% in 1985. There are also numerous excise taxes at various rates.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

In February 1987, a new tariff structure replaced all remaining specific duties with ad valorem tariffs and introduced new rates of between zero and 15%, except for higher rates on rice, maize, millet, flour, and gasoline, and lower rates for sugar and cement. All imports are subject to a 10% VAT and 4% verification fee. Fuel imports are subject to various additional excise taxes.

Haiti was voted into CARICOM in July 1999 and is working towards full integration by 2006. The country is also a part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), allowing duty-free entry of exports to the United States, and is a signatory to the Lomè Convention, allowing mostly free exporting to the European Union.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The government welcomes foreign investment, granting important concessions to new industries not competing with local production. Such enterprises are exempt from import and export duties for the life of the enterprise and enjoy a full tax exception for the first five years of operation. Companies locating in the industrial park are entitled to tax exception for a further three years. For companies that locate outside the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area there is a 100% income tax exemption for 5 to 15 years with 1520% of the income tax payable thereafter. Additionally, for export and import oriented business, there is an exemption without time limit from customs duties on imported machinery, equipment, raw materials, and accessories needed for production. Foreign capital enjoys equal status treatment with Haitian capital. The National Office for Investment Promotion is in charge of foreign investment.

Substantial foreign investment in Haiti began during World War II as a means of stimulating production of goods considered essential to the United States war effort. Agricultural development was financed largely by the US Export-Import Bank and the World Bank, supplemented with private foreign capital.

In October 1996, the IMF approved a $131 million loan to Haiti. The credit, to be provided over a three-year period, is aimed at supporting a national economic reform program. The international donor community committed $2 billion in concessional loans and grants to Haiti for the 199599 period, including $390 million from the World Bank. Unfortunately, the political impasse of 2000 caused a freeze on international donations.

Foreign direct investment (FDI), since the lifting of the trade embargo in 1995, has increased only moderately. By 1998, annual FDI inflow to Haiti reached almost $11 million, up from $4.4 million in 1997, and in 1999, FDI inflow peaked at $30 million. The disputed elections in 2000 and continuing political uncertainty helped bring FDI flows down to $13.2 million in 2000 and less than $3 million in 2001. In 2003, Haiti was one of 23 countries that remained on the US "majors" list of countries involved in illicit drug processing and/or illicit drug transit.

Most investment comes from petroleum companies (Texaco, Shell, Esso, and Elf). Other major foreign investors include American Airlines, American Rice Corporation, Citibank, Compagnie Tabac, Continental Grain, Seaboard Marine, and Western Wireless, from the United States; and Royal Caribbean and Scotiabank.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Although its annual national revenue covers basic necessities, the government supports development programs by encouraging loans and by requiring private enterprises to finance development projects. Aided by the United States and various international aid organizations, the government has supported the construction of tourist facilities, public works, and irrigation and the creation of monopolies in cement, sugar marketing, tobacco and lumbering.

The framework for economic policy in 1996 was determined mainly by the passage of a structural reform program and the agreement signed between the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance to curtail financing of the fiscal deficit by the Central Bank. Passage of the structural reform program (which forms the basis for international financial support and includes Civil Service Reform and Modernization of Public Enterprises), proved slow and difficult. The Civil Service Reform prescribed the modalities for a reduction of the civil service by 7,500 employees over a period of 18 months. The Modernization of Public Enterprises program established a legal framework for private sector participation in the state-owned enterprises, in the form of either concession, management contract, and/or capitalization.

Macroeconomic stability, structural and institutional reforms, and poverty alleviation are still the main objectives in Haiti's agenda for the future. The administration has demonstrated its commitment through programs with the International Monetary Fund (IMF); the passage of laws pertaining to structural reforms; coordinated efforts with multilateral and national institutions to design the modernization of the state program; and continuation of programs for poverty alleviation such as the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement. In exchange for the IMF assistance, Haiti in 2003 pledged to reduce spending and stabilize its currency, moves that were expected to pave the way for other financial institutions to release suspended funds to the country (funds were suspended due to flawed legislative elections in 2000, and due to Haiti's state of arrears on its debts).

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, experienced worsening economic and social conditions from 200103. About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Nearly 70% of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming and employs about two-thirds of the economically active work force. The country has experienced only moderate job creation in recent years. Failure to reach agreement with multilateral lenders in late 1995 led to rising deficit spending, subsequently increasing inflation, and a drop in the value of the Haitian currency in the final months of 1995. Potential investors, both foreign and domestic, have been reluctant to risk their capital. The government will have to grapple with implementing necessary, although unpopular, economic reforms in order to obtain badly needed foreign aid and improve Haiti's ability to attract foreign capital if the Haitian economy is to gain momentum. Haiti will continue to depend heavily on foreign aid in the medium term.

Foreign aid flows have mainly targeted the garment assembly industry, and were doubled by remittances from abroad (which are estimated to represent over 20% of the country's GDP). The economy was expected to expand by around 2% in 2005, a rate that is far from what is needed to improve the economic situation for the population that is living in abject poverty.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

A social welfare program covers employees of industrial, commercial, and agricultural firms funded equally from employee and employer contributions. The government funds any deficit. Retirement is set at age 55. Pensions are also available for survivors and disability. Work injury insurance is funded by the employer. Maternity benefits were first introduced in 1999. A funeral grant of one month's earnings is provided.

Women do not enjoy the same economic and social status as men. Women's rights groups reported in 2004 that rape and other abuses against women increased. The government provides no services for victims of sexual violence. Although the government signed the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the abuse of children is widespread. Many children in Haiti are forced to work as domestic servants in the homes of middle and upper class families.

Haiti has an extremely poor human rights record.

HEALTH

In general, sanitation facilities in Haiti are among the poorest in Latin America. Haiti lacks water in both quantity and quality, with only 46% of the urban population having access to safe water in 2000. City sewerage systems are inadequate and business and residential areas often make use of septic tanks. In 2000, only 28% of Haiti's population had access to adequate sanitation.

As of 2004, there were an estimated 25 physicians, 11 nurses, and 1 dentist per 100,000 people. Half the doctors are in Port-au-Prince and a fourth are in other principal towns, leaving a minimum of medical services for the rural population. In 1999, the government entered into an agreement with Cuba under which 120 Haitians are studying medicine in Cuba, while 500 Cuban health care professionals provide services to Haitians.

Malaria and yaws have been combated by the World Health Organization, while other health programs have been conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Sanitary Mission. Tuberculosis has long been a serious health problem; in 1999, there were about 361 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 inhabitants. Malnutrition and gastrointestinal diseases are responsible for more than half of all deaths. Children may receive vaccinations, but the statistics are very low. Haiti's government did not pay for routine vaccines. Children were vaccinated against tuberculosis, 40%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 35%; polio, 32%; and measles, 30%. Goiter was present in 12.4% of schoolage children in 1996. Some 27% of children were underweight between 1989 and 1995.

Haiti has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the Americas. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 5.60 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 280,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 24,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

The fertility rate has declined from 6.3 in 1960 to 4.3 children per woman in 2000. An estimated 15% of all births were considered low birth weight. Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Americas, with 525 maternal deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate fell from 182 per 1,000 live births in 1960 to 73.45 in 2005 and the general mortality rate was estimated at 14.8 per 1,000 in 2002. During 2005, the average life expectancy was estimated at 52.92 years. The birth rate was an estimated 31.4 per 1,000 people in 2002. As of 2000, 28% of women (ages 15 to 49) used some form of contraception. Less than half the population had access to health care services. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 4.2% of GDP.

HOUSING

Although housing projects have been constructed in Port-au-Prince and in Cap-Haïtien, there is an increasing shortage of low-cost housing. Migration to the major cities has compounded the urban housing problem. Natural disaster including cyclones, floods, droughts, and earthquake have had serious effects on the housing situation as well.

Outside the capital and some other cities, housing facilities are generally primitive and almost universally without sanitation. Wooden huts are the prevalent standard for the countryside. The average household includes about five or six people, often living on a two- or three-room dwelling. Over 40% of all homes have dirt floors. About 63% of the population do not have access to clean water or sanitary restroom facilities. The housing deficit has been estimated at one million homes and growing.

By presidential decree, the National Housing Office was established in 1966. Housing built in the 1970s in Port-au-Prince for about 18,000 people merely replaced demolished units. A new cooperative project, supervised by the National Housing Office and financed by UNDP, was initiated in 1979 in St. Martin, on the out-skirts of Port-au-Prince. Housing construction is reported to have proceeded at a steady pace since that time. According to the latest available statistical information, total housing units numbered 890,000, with 6.1 people per dwelling.

EDUCATION

Although 80% of the students speak Creole and have only rudimentary knowledge of French, educational programs are mostly conducted in French. The Office of National Literacy and Community Action has the major responsibility for literacy programs throughout the country. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 51.9%, with 53.8% for men and 50% for women. In 1990, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.4% of GDP.

Education is compulsory for six years (ages 6 to 12). There are two systems of public education. In the traditional (French) system, primary school covers six years and secondary school covers seven years. In the reform system, there are nine years of primary school followed by three years of secondary school. At about age 15, some students may choose to attend a three-year technical school instead of following the classical or professional education tracks of the other systems. The academic year runs from October to June. Primary school enrollment in 1999 was estimated at about 81% of age-eligible students. The student-to-teacher ratio in 1999 was about 31:1 for primary schools.

The Université d'État d'Haïti (Port-au-Prince), dating from 1920, offers the following schools: administration and management, agronomy, economics, ethnology, law, medicine and pharmacy, science, and surveying. There are about two dozen other universities in Haiti, including the Université Jacques Theodore Holly. There are also several vocational training centers and trade schools.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The library of the Brothers of St.-Louis de Gonzage, the finest in Haiti, includes bound newspaper collections covering the 19th and 20th centuries and many rare works of the colonial and republican eras. The Bibliothèque Nationale contains about 26,000 volumes. Le Petit Séminaire, a parochial college, has an excellent library. The government has a wealth of library material dating back to colonial Saint-Domingue in the National Archives and rare papers on the Napoleonic expedition in Haiti in the famous Rochambeau Collection. Private libraries, notably the Mangones Library in Pétionville, make important contributions to Haitian scholarship. There is a French Institute and an American Institute library in Port-au-Prince. The University of Haiti has an important agricultural collection.

The National Museum in Port-au-Prince dates from 1938. The Museum of the Haitian People, also in the capital, has anthropological and folklore collections, and the College of St. Pierre houses the Museum of Haitian Art, which opened in 1972. There is a historical and public affairs museum in the capital as well.

MEDIA

The government owns and operates domestic telephone and telegraph communications. All America Radio and Cables, RCA Global Communications, and Western Union International provide international telephone and telegraph service. In 2003, there were an estimated 17 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 38 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

With low literacy rates and limited television broadcasting, radio is the most important medium for news and information. A 1997 law designates the government as the sole owner of the airwaves; however, the government provides broadcast leases to private operators. In 2004, there were about 307 licensed radio stations and at least 133 unlicensed stations. Most broadcast in French; some offer programming in Creole. In 2005, there were at least three television stations. Television Nationale d'Haiti is a government-owned cultural television station offering programs in Creole, French, and Spanish. Trans-America and PVS Antenne are private stations broadcasting in French. In 2003, there were an estimated 18 radios and 60 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, about 18 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were five secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The principal Haitian newspapers (all published in Port-au-Prince) are the three dailies, Le Matin, (2002 circulation, 5,000), Le Nouvelliste (6,000), and L'Union (7,000). Le Moniteur, the official gazette, is published three times a week.

The constitution guarantees free speech and a free press, and the government is said to uphold these freedoms with few exceptions.

ORGANIZATIONS

Organizational activity in Haiti is limited. The Credit Cooperative of Les Cayes, the only cooperative of any significance, has maintained a sizable membership. There is a chamber of commerce in Port-au-Prince. The Center d'Art, an informal artists' cooperative founded in 1944, has exhibited Haitian artists locally and internationally. There are some professional associations in the country, such as the Association Medicale Haitienne, which serves as both a physician network and an advocacy group for research and education in medicine and healthcare industries.

A national student movement is organized through the National Federation of Haitian Students. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts programs are available, as are branches of the YMCA. There are some sports associations in the country representing a variety of pastimes.

There are branches of the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Rotary, Lion's Club, and the Masonic Order.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Port-au-Prince is a free port for a variety of luxury items. Tourist attractions include white sand beaches, numerous colonial buildings in Port-au-Prince and other cities, and the early 19th-century Citadelle and Sans Souci Palace in Cap-Haïtien. Rapid divorcesgranted in 24 to 48 hoursand casino gambling are among the attractions for US residents. Football (soccer) is the national sport, and cockfighting is very popular. Tourist resorts offer facilities for water sports and tennis.

For entry to Haiti, visitors must have a valid passport. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days. In the 1980s and 1990s, tourism was adversely affected by the island's generally depressed economy, political turbulence, and by the alleged link between Haitians and AIDS. The political and civil unrest in 2004 caused the tourism industry to suffer further.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Port-au-Prince at $235. Other areas were as low as $129.

FAMOUS HAITIANS

The national heroes of Haiti include Pierre Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture (17431803), the Precursor; Jean Jacques Dessalines (17581806), who defeated Napoleon's army and proclaimed Haitian independence; Alexandre Sabès Pétion (17701818), first president of the republic established in southern Haiti; and Henri Christophe (17671820), king of Haiti (181120), who built the famous Citadelle and Sans Souci Palace. François Duvalier ("Papa Doc," 190771), originally trained as a physician, was elected president in 1957 and in 1964 became president for life. His son Jean-Claude Duvalier (b.1951) inherited his father's title in 1971 but was ousted in 1986. Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (b.1943) was the first woman to hold the post of president of Haiti. She held the position for nearly a year, from 1990 to 1991. Jean-Bertrand Aristide (b.1953), a former Roman Catholic priest, succeeded her in 1991, and served again from 1994 to 1996, and then from 2001 to 2004, when he was overthrown in a popular rebellion.

John James Audubon (17851851), an artist and ornithologist, was born in Haiti. The writers Éméric Bergeaud (181858), Oswald Durand (18401906), Philippe Thoby-Marcelin (190475), Jacques Roumain (190744), and Jean Fernand Brierre (190992) have won international literary recognition. Noted poets include the dramatist Pierre Faubert (180368), Corolian Ardouin (181235), Alibée Féry (181996), and Charles-Seguy Villavaleix (18351923). Haitian artists include the sculptor Edmond Laforestière (18371904); the primitive painter Héctor Hippolyte (18901948), leader of the Afro-Art Renaissance in the Caribbean; Wilson Big-aud (b.1931); and Jacques Enguérrand Gourge (19311996). Haitian composers include Occide Jeanty (18601936) and Justin Elie (18831931); Ludovic Lamothe (18821953) used voodoo music in his compositions.

DEPENDENCIES

Haiti has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abbott, Elizabeth. Haiti: The Duvaliers and their Legacy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Calvert, Peter. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Latin America. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2004.

Dash, J. Michael. Culture and Customs of Haiti. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Dupuy, Alex. Haiti in the New World Order: The Limits of the Democratic Revolution. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997.

Girard, Philippe R. Clinton in Haiti: The 1994 U.S. Invasion in Haiti. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

. Paradise Lost: Haiti's Tumultuous Journey from Pearl of the Caribbean to Third World Hot Spot. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.

Heinl, Robert Debs. Written in Blood: The Story of the Haitian People, 14921995. Lanham: University Press of America, 1996.

McElrath, Karen, (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Metz, Helen Chapin, (ed.). Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001.

Nicholls, David. From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996.

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HAITI

Compiled from the February 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Hathi


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland. Ile de la Gonave and Ile de la Tortue comprise Haiti's principal offshore territories.

Cities:

Capital—Port-au-Prince (pop. 2 million). Other cities—Cap Haitien (pop. 600,000).

Terrain:

Rugged mountains with small coastal plains and river valleys, and a large east-central elevated plateau.

Climate:

Warm, semiarid, high humidity in many coastal areas.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Haitian(s).

Population (2001 est.):

8.1 million.

Annual population Growth rate:

1975–2001, 1.9%; 2000–2015 (est.): 1.3%.

Ethnic groups:

African descent 95%, African and European descent 5%.

Religion:

Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, voudou (voodoo) practices pervasive.

Language:

French (official), Creole (official).

Education:

Years compulsory—6. Adult literacy (2001 est.)-50.8%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—79/1000. Life expectancy—49.1 yrs.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Independence:

January 1,1804.

Constitution:

March 1987.

Branches:

Executive—President. Legislative—Senate (27 Seats), Chamber of Deputies (83 seats). Judicial—Court of Cassation.

Administrative subdivisions:

Nine departments (a law creating a 10th department, approved by Parliament and signed by then-President Aristide, was awaiting publication to become law in November 2003).

Political parties and coalitions:

Fanmi Lavalas (FL), Struggling People's Organization (OPL), Open the Gate Party (PLB), Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHRENHA), Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), Popular Solidarity Alliance (ESKANP), several others. The Democratic Convergence is a coalition of most leading opposition parties formed to protest the results of May 2000 legislative and local elections.

Suffrage:

Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP (FY 2002):

$3.5 billion.

Real GDP growth rate (FY 2002):

−0.9%.

Per capita GNP (FY 2002):

$425.

GDP by sector (2002):

Agriculture—27%; industry—14%; services—52%; indirect and import taxes—7%.

Inflation (2002 CPI yearly):

14.8%.

Natural resources:

Bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble.

Agriculture (27% of GDP):

Products—coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, cacao, sorghum, pulses, other fruits and vegetables.

Industry (15.5% of GDP):

Types—apparel, handicrafts, electronics assembly, food processing, beverages, tobacco products, furniture, printing, chemicals, steel.

Services (52% of GDP):

Commerce, government, tourism.

Trade (2002):

Total exports f.o.b.—$248 million: apparel, mangoes, leather and raw hides, seafood, electrical. Major market—U.S. ($244 million). Imports—$870 million c.i.f. From U.S. $674 million—grains, soybean oil, motor vehicles, machinery, meat, vegetables, plastics, petroleum. Note: There are serious problems with national accounts in Haiti, including incomplete coverage and the questionable accuracy of raw data.


PEOPLE

Although Haiti averages about 290 people per square kilometer (748 per sq. mi.). Its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. About two-thirds of the population live in rural areas.

French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country's other official language. English is increasingly used as a second language among the young and in the business sector.

The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Increasing numbers of Haitians have converted to Protestantism through the work of missionaries active throughout the country. Much of the population also practices voudou (voodoo), recognized by the government as a religion in April 2003. Haitians tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs coexisting with Christian faith.

Although public education is free, the cost is still quite high for Haitian families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks, supplies, and other inputs. Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for approximately 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school and primary school enrollment is dropping due to economic factors. Remittances sent by Haitians living abroad are important in paying educational costs.

Large-scale emigration, principally to the U.S.—but also to Canada, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and other Caribbean neighbors, and France—has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth Department or the Diaspora. About one of every eight Haitians lives abroad.


HISTORY

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the "pearl of the Antilles"—one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted—led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe—and gained control of the northern part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the French.

By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the independent nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere's first regional meeting of independent nations, in Panama in 1826, and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.

Two separate regimes—north and south—emerged after independence but were unified in 1820. Two years later, Haiti occupied Santo Domingo, the eastern, Spanish-speaking part of Hispaniola. In 1844, however, Santo Domingo broke away from Haiti and became the Dominican Republic. With 22 changes of government from 1843 to 1915, Haiti experienced numerous periods of intense political and economic disorder, prompting the United States military intervention of 1915. Following a 19-year occupation, U.S. military forces were withdrawn in 1934, and Haiti regained sovereign rule.

From February 7, 1986—when the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended—until 1991, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional governments. In March 1987, a constitution was ratified that provides for an elected, bicameral parliament; an elected president that serves as head of state; and a prime minister, cabinet, ministers, and supreme court appointed by the president with parliament's consent. The Haitian Constitution also provides for political decentralization through the election of mayors and administrative bodies responsible for local government.

1991–1994: An Interrupted Transition

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic priest, 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 dissatisfied elements of the army and supported by many of the country's economic elite. Following the coup, Aristide began a 3-year exile in the U.S. Several thousand Haitians may have been killed during the de facto military rule. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a total of 41,342 Haitians at sea during 1991 and 1992, more than the number of rescued boat people from the previous 10 years combined.

From October 1991 to September 1994 an unconstitutional military de facto regime governed Haiti. Various OAS and UN initiatives to end the political crisis through the peaceful restoration of the constitutionally elected government, including the Governor's Island Agreement of July

1993, failed. When the military refused to uphold its end of the agreements, the de facto authorities refused to allow a return to constitutional government, even though the economy was collapsing and the country's infrastructure deteriorated from neglect.

1994: International Intervention

On July 31, 1994, as repression mounted in Haiti and a UN-OAS civilian human rights monitoring mission (MICIVIH) was expelled from the country, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 940. UNSC Resolution 940 authorized member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and to restore Haiti's constitutionally elected government to power.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MFN) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a military intervention. In mid-September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti by force, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to persuade the de facto authorities to step aside and allow for the return of constitutional rule. With intervening troops already airborne, Gen. Raoul Cedras and other top leaders agreed to accept the intervention of the MNF. On September 19, 1994, the first contingents of what became a 21,000-member international force touched down in Haiti to oversee the end of military rule and the restoration of the constitutional government. By early October, the three de facto leaders—Cedras, Gen. Philippe Biamby, and Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois—and their families had departed Haiti. President Aristide and other elected officials in exile returned on October 15.

Under the watchful eyes of international peacekeepers, restored Haitian authorities organized nationwide local and parliamentary elections in June 1995. A pro-Aristide, multi-party coalition called the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL) swept into power at all levels. With his term ending in February 1996 and barred by the constitution from succeeding himself, President Aristide agreed to step aside and support a presidential election in December 1995. Rene Preval, a prominent Aristide political ally, who had been Aristide's Prime Minister in 1991, took 88% of the vote, and was sworn in to a 5-year term on February 7, 1996, during what was Haiti's first-ever transition between two democratically elected presidents.

Political Gridlock

In late 1996, former President Aristide broke from the OPL and created a new political party, the Lavalas Family (FL). The OPL, holding the majority of the Parliament, renamed itself the Struggling People's Organization, maintaining the OPL acronym. Elections in April 1997 for the renewal of one-third of the Senate and creation of commune-level assemblies and town delegations provided the first opportunity for the former political allies to compete for elected office. Although preliminary results indicated victories for FL candidates in most races, the elections, which drew only about 5% of registered voters, were plagued with allegations of fraud and not certified by most international observers as free and fair. Partisan rancor from the election dispute led to deep divisions within Parliament and between the legislative and executive branches, resulting in almost total governmental gridlock. In June 1997, Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned. Two successors proposed by President Preval were rejected by the legislature. Eventually, in December 1998, Jacques Edouard Alexis was confirmed as Prime Minister.

During this gridlock period, the government was unable to organize the local and parliamentary elections due in late 1998. In early January 1999, President Preval dismissed legislators whose terms had expired—the entire Chamber of Deputies and all but nine members of the Senate—and converted local elected officials into state employees. The President and Prime Minister then ruled by decree, establishing a cabinet composed almost entirely of FL partisans. Under pressure from a new political coalition called the Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), the government allocated three seats of the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to opposition groups and mandated the CEP to organize the overdue elections for the end of 1999. Following several delays, the first round of elections for local councils—ASEC and CASEC, municipal governments, town delegates, the Chamber of Deputies, and two-thirds of the Senate took place on May 21, 2000. The election drew the participation of a multitude of candidates from a wide array of political parties and a voter turnout of more than 60%.

The Electoral Crisis

Controversy mired the good start, however, when the CEP used a flawed methodology to determine the winners of the Senate races, thus avoiding run-off elections for eight seats and giving the FL a virtual sweep in the first round. The flawed vote count, combined with the CEP's failure to investigate alleged irregularities and fraud, undercut the credibility of that body. The CEP President fled Haiti and two members eventually resigned rather than accede to government pressure to release the erroneous results. Nonetheless, on August 28, 2000, Haiti's new Parliament, including the contested Senators accorded victory under the flawed vote count, was convened.

Through a number of diplomatic missions by the OAS, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the United States, the international community had sought to delay Parliament's seating until the electoral problems could be rectified. When these efforts were rebuffed, Haiti's main bilateral donors announced the end of "business as usual." They moved to re-channel their assistance away from the government and announced they would not support or send observers to the November elections. Concurrently, most opposition parties regrouped in an alliance that became the Democratic Convergence. The Convergence asserted that the May elections were so fraudulent that they should be annulled and held again under a new CEP. Elections for President and nine Senators took place on November 26, 2000. All major opposition parties boycotted these elections in which voter participation was estimated at 5%. Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the easy victor of these controversial elections, and the candidates of his FL party swept all contested Senate seats. On February 6, 2001, the Democratic Convergence named respected lawyer and human rights activist Gerard Gourgue as provisional president of their "alternative government." Gourgue called the act "symbolic," designed to protest flawed elections. On February 7, 2001, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as President. Notwithstanding the previous year's electoral controversy, the inauguration marked the first time in the country's history that a full-term president peacefully transferred power to an incoming president.

It did not, however, put an end to the political stalemate. OAS-mediated negotiations began in April 2001 to find a resolution, focusing on the on possible makeup of a new electoral council, a timetable for new elections, security for political parties, and other confidence-building measures. These negotiations made some progress, but were suspended in mid-July without a final agreement. On July 28, 2001, unknown gunmen attacked police facilities in Port-au-Prince and the provinces. A subsequent government crackdown on opposition party members and former soldiers further increased tensions between Lavalas and Convergence. On December 17, 2001, unidentified gunmen attacked the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Following the assault, pro-government groups attacked the offices and homes of several opposition leaders. One opposition member was killed. Negotiations between FL and Democratic Convergence, already on hold following the July violence, were suspended indefinitely.

In January 2002, the OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 806 on Haiti that called for government action to address the political stalemate, growing violence, and deterioration in respect for human rights. It also authorized OAS establishment of a Special Mission in Haiti to support implementation of steps called for in Resolution 806.

The OAS Special Mission began operations in March 2002, working with the government on plans to strengthen Haiti's democratic institutions in security, justice, human rights, and governance. Nevertheless, the climate of security deteriorated and a rapidly weakening economy created risks of a humanitarian disaster.

The OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 822, September 4, 2002, which set a new course for resolving the crisis by: committing the Haitian government to a series of steps leading to an improved climate of security for free and fair elections in 2003; supporting Haiti's resumption of normal relations with the International Financial Institutions; and strengthening the mandate of the OAS to monitor as well as support GOH efforts to comply with OAS resolutions. It also conferred new mandates related to conduct of elections and disarmament.

Protest strikes and attacks on opposition demonstrations by government-supported gangs between November 2002 and February 2003 hardened attitudes on both sides. The opposition issued a public call for Aristide's removal and announced plans for a transitional government. In March, 2003, a high-level joint delegation of the OAS and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented specific demands to President Aristide to restore public security and create confidence necessary to move toward elections: select new leadership for the Haitian National Police in consultation with the OAS; arrest Amiot Metayer, a notorious gang leader; and disarm the security forces used by government politicians to intimidate opponents.

Since then, a new police chief, appointed June 9 in consultation with the OAS, resigned and fled the country June 23 after being ordered to give up his authority over budget and personnel; government-paid thugs violently disrupted a civil society public ceremony July 12 in Cité Soleil; police attacked civil society marches in Cap Haitien August 30 and September 14 and prevented an opposition march scheduled for October 5. Amiot Metayer was murdered September 21 (it is widely believed the government ordered the murder to prevent release of compromising information). The government announced August 13 that it was reactivating a defunct CEP in what many have interpreted as a move toward holding elections outside the framework of OAS Resolution 822.

The OAS and other foreign observers, including the U.S., have denounced these steps. To re-invigorate the process envisioned in Resolution 822, the OAS designated a Special Envoy for Dialogue in Haiti, Terence Todman, a retired U.S. Career Ambassador. Todman, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, undertook three negotiating missions to Haiti in September-October 2003.

Political instability grew throughout fall 2003. In Gonaives, Metayer's followers, hitherto pro-Aristide, led a violent rebellion against government authorities in the city. Government-sponsored repression of opposition protests reached a nadir when on December 5 pro-government gangs entered Haiti's state university campus and broke the legs of the Rector.

Following a meeting with Aristide at the Summit of the Americas in January 2004, Caribbean Community leaders proposed a plan to resolve the political crisis. President Aristide stated he accepted the plan at a meeting January 31. However, as the plan remained unimplemented, a high-level international delegation came to Haiti February 21 to obtain agreement on specific implementation timetable. President Aristide agreed, but the opposition "Democratic Platform" group of political parties and civil society expressed reservations.

Meanwhile, the violence in Gonaives culminated February 5 in the former Cannibal Army, now called the Artibonite Resistance Front, seizing control of the city. Other armed groups opposed to the Aristide government quickly emerged and succeeded in seizing control of many towns, mostly with little resistance from government authorities. By February 28, a rebel group led by a former police chief, Guy Philippe, had advanced to within 25 miles of the capital.

A New Government Following the Departure of Aristide

On February 29, 2004 Aristide submitted his resignation as President of Haiti and flew on a chartered plane to the Central African Republic. Boniface Alexandre, President (chief justice) of Haiti's Supreme Court, assumed office as interim President in accordance with Haiti's constitution. On recommendation from the Council of Elders, the President chose Gerard Latortue as interim Prime Minister.

International Presence 1995–2004

After the transition of the 21,000-strong MNF into a peacekeeping force on March 31, 1995, the presence of international military forces that helped restore constitutional government to power was gradually ended. Initially, the U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force numbered 6,000 troops, but that number was scaled back progressively over the next 4 years as a series of UN technical missions succeeded the peacekeeping force. By January 2000, all U.S. troops stationed in Haiti had departed. In March 2000, the UN peacekeeping mission transitioned into a peace-building mission, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH). MICAH consisted of some 80 non-uniformed UN technical advisers providing advice and material assistance in policing, justice, and human rights to the Haitian Government. MICAH's mandate ended on February 7, 2001, coinciding with the end of the Preval administration. The OAS Special Mission has some 25 international police advisors who arrived in summer 2003; is in addition to observing and reporting Haitian police performance, they provide limited technical assistance.

International Presence 2004-Present

At the request of the interim government and the UN, the U.S.-led Multi-lateral Interim Force, made up of troops from the U.S., Canada, France, and Chile, arrived in Port-au-Prince to ensure stability until the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force.

In April 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1542, which created the UN Stability Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Stability Mission is authorized at 6,700 troops and 1,622 civilian police.

Principal MINUSTAH Officials

Special Representative of the Secretary General—Juan Gabriel Valdes (Chile)
Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General—Adama Guindo (Mali)
Force Commander—Lieutenant General Augusto Heleno Ribero Pereira (Brazil)
Police Commissioner—Dave Beer (Canada)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

On February 29, 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide submitted his resignation as President of Haiti and flew on a chartered plane to the Central African Republic. Boniface Alexandre, President (chief justice) of Haiti's Supreme Court, assumed office as interim President in accordance with Haiti's constitution.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/18/2005

Interim President: Boniface ALEXANDRE
Interim Prime Minister: Gerard LATORTUE
Min. of Agriculture: Philippe MATHIEU
Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Tourism: Jacques-Fritz KENOL
Min. of the Economy & Finance: Henri BAZIN
Min. of Education & Culture: Pierre BUTEAU
Min. of Environment: Yves Andre WAINWRIGHT
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Herard ABRAHAM
Min. of Haitians Living Abroad: Alix BAPTISTE
Min. of Interior: Paul MAGLOIRE
Min. of Justice & Public Security: Henri DORLEANS
Min. of Planning, Environment, & External Cooperation: Roland PIERRE
Min. of Public Health: Josette BIJOUX, M.D.
Min. of Public Works, Transportation, & Communications: Fritz ADRIEN
Min. of Social Affairs: Franck CHARLES
Min. of Women's Affairs: Adeline Magloire CHANCY
Sec. of State for Culture: Cecile Coulanges BANATTE
Sec. of State for Finance: Andre LeMercier GEORGES
Sec. of State for Public Security: David BAZILE
Sec. of State for Youth, Sports, & Civic Service: Paul BERNIE
Governor, Central Bank: Raymond MAGLOIRE
Ambassador to the US:
Permanent Representative to the UN, NewYork: Leo MERORES

The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).


ECONOMY

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti now ranks 150th of 175 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. Haiti's economic stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental deterioration, continued reliance on traditional technologies, under-capitalization and lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large portions of the skilled population, a weak national savings rate, and the lack of a functioning judicial system.

The 1991 coup and the irresponsible economic and financial policies of the de facto regime resulted in a sharp economic decline from 1991–94. Following the coup, the United States adopted mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, heavily dependent on U.S. markets, employed nearly 80,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell below 17,000. Private domestic and foreign investment has returned to Haiti slowly. Since the embargo's end, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered to about 30,000, but further growth has been stalled by investor concerns over safety and political instability.

Under President Préval (1996–2001), the country's economic agenda included trade/tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, financial sector reform, and the modernization of two out of nine state-owned enterprises through their sale to private investors, the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with international financial institutions (IFIs) intended to create conditions for private sector growth proved only partly successful, however.

Haiti's real GDP growth turned negative in FY 2001 after six years of growth. Real GDP fell by 1.1% in FY 2001 and 0.9% in FY 2002. Macroeconomic stability was adversely affected by political uncertainty, the collapse of informal banking cooperatives, high budget deficits, low investment, and reduced international capital flows, including suspension of IFI lending as Haiti fell into arrears with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank.

Haiti's economy stabilized in 2003. Although FY 2003 began with the rapid decline of the gourde due to rumors that U.S. dollar deposit accounts would be nationalized and the withdrawal of fuel subsidies, the government successfully stabilized the gourde as it took the politically difficult decisions to float fuel prices freely according to world market prices and to raise interest rates. Government agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a staff monitored program (SMP), followed by its payment of its $32 million arrears to the IDB in July, paved the way for renewed IDB lending. The IDB disbursed $35 million of a $50 million policy-based loan in July and began disbursing four previously approved project loans totaling $146 million. The IDB, IMF, and World Bank also discussed new lending with the government. Much of this would be contingent on government adherence to fiscal and monetary targets and policy reforms, such as those begun under the SMP, and Haiti's payment of its World Bank arrears ($30 million at 9/30/03).

The IMF estimates real GDP was flat in FY 2003 and projects 1% real GDP growth for FY 2004. However, GDP per capita—$425 in FY 2002—will continue to decline as population growth is estimated at 1.3% p.a. While implementation of governance reforms and peaceful resolution of the political stalemate are key to long-term growth, external support remains critical in avoiding economic collapse. The major element is foreign remittances, reported as $931 million in 2002, primarily from the U.S. Foreign assistance, meanwhile, was $130 million in FY 2002. Overall foreign assistance levels have declined since FY 1995, the year elected government was restored to power under a UN mandate, when over $600 million in aid was provided by the international community.

Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association. Unionization is protected by the labor code. A legal minimum wage of 70 gourdes a day (about U.S. $1.70) applies to most workers in the formal sector.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies, as well as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). It maintains diplomatic relations with several dozen countries.

The international community rallied to Haiti's defense during the 1991–94 period of de facto military rule. Thirty-one countries participated in the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) which, acting under UN auspices, intervened in September 1994 to help restore the legitimate government and create a secure and stable environment in Haiti. At its peak, the MNF included roughly 21,000 troops, mostly Americans, and more than 1,000 international police monitors. Within 6 months, the troop level was gradually reduced as the MNF transitioned to a 6,000-strong peacekeeping force, the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). UNMIH was charged with maintaining the secure environment which the MNF had helped establish as well as nurturing Haiti's new police force through the presence of 900 police advisers. A total of 38 countries participated in UNMIH.

To spur Haiti's social and economic recovery from decades of misrule before that, international donors pledged in 1994 to provide more than $2 billion over five years in total assistance. Most bilateral assistance is now channeled through non-governmental organizations. Major bilateral donors are led by the United States, with the largest program, and include Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Cuba provides highly visible, low-cost medical and technical experts. Multilateral aid is provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the UN and its agencies. All aid is coordinated informally by the World Bank.

In July 2004, $1.085 billion was pledged through 2006 at the World Bank Donors' Conference. Donors include the U.S., Canada, the EU, France, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Mexico, and Ireland. The IDB and the World Bank pledged multilateral aid.


U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS; see "Key OAS Issues"), particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group (originally a UN group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country's geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 13,000 annually in FY 1999–2003), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991–94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. Neighboring Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, continue to interdict Haitian migrants as well. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.

U.S. Economic and Development Assistance

Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti's governments to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. These funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems. Among the programs are:

Food assistance:

(P.L. 480 Title II) for nutritional well-being and food security, especially children under five and nursing mothers.

Health:

A US-supported network of over 30 local organizations serves 2.5 million Haitians. In US-assisted areas, child immunization rates are nearly double the national average. Child malnutrition rates fell from 32% to 22% in 1995–2000. The national percentage of women seeking prenatal consultation increased from 68% to 79%. The national contraceptive use rate increased as part of our expanded AIDS prevention program.

Democracy:

Programs increase political party professionalism, strengthen independent media and civil society organizations, promote judicial reform and human rights, and support independent election observation groups. Public diplomacy programs bring Haitian government officials, journalists, and academics to the U.S. to learn about U.S. public policies and programs.

Education:

Programs increase pass rates for second, third, and fourth grade students through training for teachers, school directors and parent teacher associations, improved instruction in math and Creole reading, provision of books, teaching aids, and curriculum guides.

Economic Growth:

Programs increase income for the poor through small business loans to urban micro-entrepreneurs; assistance to small farmers in marketing valuable export crops such as coffee, cacao, and mangos; and help to Haitian artisans to find niche export markets. Beneficiaries include small entrepreneurs (80% women), 25,000 hillside farmers, and 2,000 artisans.

In 2004, the U.S. pledged $230 million in aid through fiscal year 2006. These funds will be provided in a variety of areas:

Job Creation and Economic Growth:

$22 million

Budget Support and Technical Assistance to Haitian Government Ministries:

$45 million

Security Improvement:

$26 million

Health, Nutrition and Education:

$122 million

Elections:

$15 million.

In addition to financial support, the U.S. provides human resources. U.S. Peace Corps volunteers are largely focused on health- and income-generation programs in Haiti's rural areas. Many private U.S. citizens travel regularly to Haiti or reside there for extended periods to work on humanitarian projects.

Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of 80,000 in 1986 to fewer than 17,000 in 1994, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.

Combating Drug Trafficking

Haiti is n a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including signing a counternarcotics letter of agreement with the Government of Haiti in May 2002, vetting and training the counternarcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States. Although Haiti did not meet counternarcotics certification criteria the past three years, the country was provided a waiver of any sanctions on grounds of vital national security interest.

U.S. Business Opportunities

The U.S. remains Haiti's largest trading partner. Port-au-Prince is less than 2 hours by air from Miami, with several daily direct flights. A daily flight also connects Port-au-Prince with New York, and a new Port-au-Prince-Fort Lauderdale flight started in 2003. Both Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien on the north coast have deep-water port facilities. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti's primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)—which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, chicken, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.

Establishing a Business

Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.

Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary.

Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure, a high-cost port, an irregular supply of electricity, and Customs delays. The government places a 30% withholding tax on all profits received. There is little direct investment.

Foreign investment protection is provided by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses caused by war, revolution, or insurrection. The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The two governments also signed a bilateral investment treaty in December 1983, but it was not ratified.

Additional information on establishing a business in Haiti can be found at www.usatrade.gov, then to market research, then Country Commercial Guide.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT AU PRINCE (E) Address: 5, Harry Truman Blvd.; Phone: (509) 222-0200; Fax: (509) 223-1641; Work-week: 0700 - 1530

AMB:Timothy M. Carney
AMB OMS:Christine Fulena
DCM:Douglas Griffiths
CG:Jay Smith
POL:Jeffrey Salaiz (a.i.)
MGT:Paul A. Folmsbee
AFSA:Dana Banks
AID:Erna Kerst
APHIS:Eduardo Diaz (a.i.)
CLO:(vacant)
DAO:Christopher Grieg
DEA:Gerald Graves
ECO:David Reimer
EEO:Leslie Imes
FMO:Morgan Byrnes
GSO:Jay Zimmerman (a.i.)
ICASS Chair:(Vacant)
IMO:Kathryn Clement
IPO:Kathryn Clement
ISO:Kathryn Clement
ISSO:Ed Warrick
MLO:Larry Jones
NAS:Richard Hawkins (in Santo
Domingo)
PAO:Carolyn Cooley, a.i.
RSO:Paul Houston
State ICASS:David Reimer
Last Updated: 8/24/2005

Other Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service does not have a separate office in Haiti. Commercial matters are handled by the Embassy economic section: Tel: (509) 223-1477; Fax: (509) 223-9038; Cell: (509) 409-1441.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation
1615 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20527
Tel: (202) 457-7200
Fax: (202) 331-4234

U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: (202) 482-0704
Fax: (202) 482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075

Association des Industries d'Haiti
Bldg. Le Triangle Delmas 31, #139
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 246-4509/4510 or 2211

Centre Pour la Libre Entreprise et la Democratie
37, Avenue Marie-Jeanne,
No. 8 B.P. 1316
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 244-0901 or (509) 245-6039
Fax: (509) 222-8252

Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie d'Haiti
P.O. Box 982
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 222-0281 or (509) 222-2475

Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Rue Oge, A-5
Petionville
Republic of Haiti
Tel: (509) 511-3024, fax not available


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 10, 2005

Country Description:

Haiti is one of the least developed and least stable countries in the Western Hemisphere. The availability of consumer goods and services is barely adequate in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but other parts of the country experience chronic shortages. Most consumer products are imported and expensive. Some tourism facilities in the large cities and resort areas are satisfactory, but many are rudimentary at best, and are difficult to find in most rural areas and small towns.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

Haitian law requires U.S. citizens to have a passport to enter Haiti. In the past, officials have sometimes waived this requirement if travelers had a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines will not board passengers for return to the United States unless they are in possession of a valid passport. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. Once in Haiti, an undocumented U.S. citizen can experience delays of several weeks for the issuance of a passport, as it is often more difficult to establish identity and citizenship overseas than in the United States. The Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a departure fee. U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti for more details regarding current entry, departure and customs requirements for Haiti. The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; the telephone number is (202) 332-4090, and the Internet address is http://www.haiti.org/. There are Haitian consulates in Miami, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; New York, N.Y. Chicago, Illinois and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Safety and Security:

U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Haiti at this time. Those who feel they must visit Haiti should exercise extreme caution and are strongly encouraged to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs or at the Consular Annex of the U.S. Embassy prior to or immediately upon their arrival.

Throughout 2004, Haiti experienced continuing civil and political unrest. Protests and demonstrations occurred frequently throughout the country, and were often violent. Private organizations and businesses were the targets of demonstrations or take-over attempts related to business disputes or extortion demands. Rural areas also became more dangerous.

Although there was a change in government in Haiti in late February 2004, many pockets of instability remain throughout the country. Travel in Haiti is dangerous and not recommended. Some cities and towns are controlled by rogue elements and ordinary services such as water, electricity, police protection and government services are either very limited or unavailable. Violent incidents take place without warning including attacks against government facilities and random shootings. While U.N. personnel from several countries have been in Haiti since the change in government, there are relatively few of them and their mission in Haiti does not include guaranteeing the safety of visitors.

During the first 11 months of 2004, the Embassy issued approximately fifty-five security related messages warning U.S. citizens in Haiti of violent or unstable conditions. On occasion, the U.S. mission in Haiti was forced to suspend service to the public or closed because of security concerns. These concerns have also prevented Embassy personnel from traveling to or through some areas. Since October 2004 Embassy personnel have been prohibited from entering central Port-au-Prince after dark due to lawlessness. The Embassy has also imposed a curfew on its officers from time to time. In situations where the Embassy must suspend operations or when officers are unable to circulate freely, the Embassy will continue to be available by telephone to offer emergency services to U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens in Haiti should avoid all large gatherings, as crowd behavior can be unpredictable. Visitors encountering roadblocks, demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart the area quickly and without confrontation. Assistance from Haitian officials, such as the police, is often unavailable. Overseas visitors must be particularly cautious on the days of planned political activities. U.S. citizens are urged to take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

There are no "safe areas" in Haiti. Crime, already a problem, has mushroomed in recent years. The U.S. estimates that up to 8% of the cocaine entering the United States passes through Haiti. The state of law and order has steadily deteriorated as a result. Reports of death threats, murders, drug-related shoot-outs, kidnappings, armed robberies, break-ins or carjackings occur almost daily. These crimes are primarily Haitian against Haitian, though some foreigners and U.S. citizens of Haitian origin have been victimized. At the same time, the number of murders of U.S. citizens increased from two in 2003 to seven in the first eleven months of 2004. While there was only one kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in 2003, nine kidnappings involving U.S. citizens have already been reported during 2004.

U.S. citizens who must travel to Haiti should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. Travelers should keep valuables well hidden, ensure possessions are not left in parked vehicles, use private transportation, alternate travel routes, and keep doors and windows in homes and vehicles closed and locked. U.S. citizens should avoid all nighttime travel due to poor road conditions and increased criminal activity after dark. They should be alert for suspicious onlookers when entering and exiting banks, as criminals often watch and subsequently attack bank customers. Withdrawals of large amounts of cash should be avoided.

Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of two to four individuals, and are disposed occasionally to be confrontational and gratuitously violent. Criminals sometimes will seriously injure or kill those who resist their attempts to commit crime. In robberies or home invasions, it is not uncommon for the assailants to beat or shoot the victim in order to limit the victim's ability to resist. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance without resistance. Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution at all times and review basic personal security procedures frequently.

U.S. citizens in Haiti must be particularly alert when arriving from overseas at the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies. Some recent incidents have resulted in death. The use of public transportation, including "tap-taps" (private transportation used for commercial purposes), is not recommended. Visitors to Haiti should arrange for someone known to them to meet them at the airport.

U.S. citizens should decline all requests to carry items for others to or from Haiti. Traffickers of illegal drugs have duped unsuspecting travelers into helping transport narcotics aboard commercial airlines.

Certain high-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area should be avoided, including Carrefour, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale #1, the airport road (Boulevard Toussaint L'Ouverture) and its adjoining connectors to the New ("American") Road via Route Nationale #1 (which should also be avoided). This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Embassy employees are prohibited from remaining in the downtown area after dark or entering Cite Soleil and La Saline and their surrounding environs due to significant criminal activity, and are strongly urged to avoid Delmas 105 between Delmas 95 and Rue Jacob. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area and Petionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.

Cameras and video cameras should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent incidents have followed unwelcome photography. Their use should be avoided altogether in high-crime areas.

Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in violent crime. Haiti's Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. People attending Carnival events or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured and killed. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent. Roving musical bands called "raras" operate during the period from New Year's Day through Carnival. Being caught in a rara event may begin as an enjoyable experience, but the potential for injury and the destruction of property is high. A mob mentality can develop unexpectedly leaving people and cars engulfed and at risk. During Carnival, raras continuously form without warning; some raras have identified themselves with political entities, lending further potential for violence.

The Haitian police are understaffed, poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. Police complicity, if not involvement, in violent crime in Haiti as well as in the illegal drug trade and kidnapping was regularly alleged under the previous government; the current interim government's efforts to eradicate these problems have borne uneven results to date. The unsatis-factory response and enforcement capabilities of the Haitian national police and the weakness of the judiciary frustrate many victims of crime in Haiti. In the past, U.S. citizens involved in business and property disputes in Haiti have been arrested and detained without charge, and have been released only after intervention at high levels of the Haitian Government.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities in Haiti are scarce and for the most part sub-standard; outside the capital standards are even lower. Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and the level of community sanitation is extremely low. Life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Haiti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Cars are supposed to be driven on the right side of the road in Haiti, but few roads have lane indicators and drivers use whatever part of the road is open to them, even if it is not the correct side of the road. Traffic is extremely congested in urban areas, and hours-long traffic jams develop throughout the country.

Driving in Haiti must be undertaken with extreme caution. The situation on the roads can be described as chaotic at best, and it is advisable for those with no knowledge of Haitian roads and traffic customs to hire a driver through a local hotel. Roads are generally unmarked, and detailed and accurate maps are not widely available. Lanes are not marked and signs indicating the direction of traffic flow seldom exist. This lack of organization, along with huge potholes that occur without warning, may cause drivers to execute unpredictable and dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic. The Haitian government lacks adequate resources to assist drivers in distress or to clear the road of accidents or broken-down vehicles blocking the flow of traffic. Drinking and driving is illegal in Haiti, but people frequently drive after drinking, especially at night.

Public transportation as it is usually defined does not exist in Haiti. While Haitians use buses, "taptaps" and taxis, which may observe regular routes, much like public transportation, none of these should be considered reliable. The Embassy strongly discourages their use.

Those who drive in Haiti should do so defensively and conservatively, avoid confrontations such as jockeying for position, and remain aware of the vehicles around them. Drivers should carry the phone numbers of people to call for assistance in an emergency, as Haitian authorities are unlikely to respond to requests for assistance. When traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, drivers should caravan with other vehicles to avoid being stranded in the event of an accident or breakdown.

As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify for driver's licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied. Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all drivers use turn indicators or international hand signals properly. For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions, including turning right and stopping in the road, and others flap their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Drivers do not always verify that the road is clear before switching lanes, turning, or merging.

Speed limits are seldom posted and are generally ignored. Speeding is the cause of many of the fatal traffic accidents in Haiti, as are overloaded vehicles on winding, mountainous roads and vehicles without brakes. Poor maintenance and mechanical failures often cause accidents as well. Drivers should be particularly cautious at night, as unlighted vehicles can appear without warning.

Right of way is not widely observed in Haiti, and there are few operational traffic lights or traffic signs. It is advisable at most intersections to stop and verify that there is no oncoming traffic even if it appears that you have the right of way. Drivers can be quite aggressive and will seldom yield. Walls built to the edge of roads frequently make it impossible to see around corners, forcing drivers to edge their cars into the road at intersections to check for oncoming traffic.

In addition to vehicles, a variety of other objects may appear on the road in Haiti, such as wooden carts dragged by people, small ice cream carts, animals, mechanics with vehicles, and even vendors and their wares. Vehicles are often abandoned in the road or by the side of the road. There are few marked crosswalks and sidewalks, and pedestrians often wend their way through traffic in urban areas.

For specific information concerning Haitian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Haitian Ministry of Tourism by email at [email protected] or via the Internet at www.haititourisme.org.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Haiti as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Haiti's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm. Additionally, On December 22, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the international airport in Port Au Prince does not meet international security standards, and has taken action to warn travelers of this security deficiency. U.S. and foreign air carriers that fly directly between the United States and Port Au Prince are temporarily providing additional security measures that counter the deficiencies identified at the airport. For more information regarding this action, travelers may visit the DHS internet web site at www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/theme_home8.jsp.

Special Circumstances:

The official currency of Haiti is the gourde, which has a variable exchange rate. Visitors will notice that most establishments in Haiti price items in an unofficial currency known as the "Haitian dollar." (One Haitian dollar is equivalent to five gourdes.) Others give prices in gourdes or even in U.S. dollars. It is always a good idea to clarify with vendors which currency—the gourde, Haitian dollar, or U.S. dollar—is being used in a given transaction, as price tags often bear a number without indicating currency. The currency itself shows a value in gourdes.

Travelers' checks are often difficult to change in Haiti, but credit cards are widely accepted and some establishments accept or cash personal checks. At least one local bank chain has ATMs around Port-au-Prince that are compatible with some U.S. ATM cards. These ATMs are frequently out-of-order, and there have been reports of over-charging accounts.

Haiti, like most Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1 - November 30 each year. Extensive flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past. Daily weather information in Haiti is available from national and international media. The Haitian meteorological service provides hurricane warnings via national radio. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Haiti's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Haiti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The judicial process in Haiti can be extremely long; progress is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific case. Detainees may wait months or years for their cases to be heard before a judge or to have legal decisions acted upon by the authorities. Bond is not usually available to those arrested for serious crimes with the result that often suspects remain in custody for many months before formal indictment. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Haiti are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Haiti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is [email protected] Hours are 7:30 am to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Thursdays, 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Blvd. Harry Truman, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 222-0200, 222-0354, 223-0955 or 222-0269; fax (509) 223-1641. Internet: http://usembassy.state.gov/haiti/wwwhc00e.html.

Travel Warning

November 22, 2005

This Travel Warning is being issued to warn American citizens of the continued dangers of travel to Haiti. Due to the volatile security situation earlier this year, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel and family members in May 2005. The Ordered Departure has now been lifted for non-emergency employees and adult dependents. Dependents under age 21 still are not permitted to travel to or remain in Haiti. In light of continuing instability, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Haiti at this time and urges American citizens to exercise caution and security awareness if they must travel to or reside in Haiti. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued May 26, 2005.

Americans are reminded of the potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent confrontations between armed groups. Visitors and residents must remain vigilant due to the absence of an effective police force in much of Haiti; the potential for looting; the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police; and the possibility of random violent crime, including car-jacking and assault. Kidnapping for ransom remains a particular threat, with over 25 American citizens including children kidnapped over the past year. National elections have been scheduled for late 2005 and early 2006. These elections may become a stimulus for further social tension, which could include violence.

Travel can be hazardous within Port-au-Prince. Some areas are off-limits to embassy staff, including downtown Port-au-Prince after dark. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an embassy-imposed curfew and must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the curfew. The embassy has limited travel by its staff outside of Port-au-Prince and therefore its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince is constrained. The UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) is fully deployed and is assisting the government of Haiti in providing security. They have challenged violent gangs and have moved into some gang enclaves.

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Haiti despite this Travel Warning must remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and are strongly advised to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The Consular Section can be reached at (509) 223-7011, fax number (509) 223-9665, or e-mail address [email protected] Travelers should also consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Haiti and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States or Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from overseas. In Haiti citizens can call 509/222-0200, ext. 2000.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2003: 250
FY 2002: 187
FY 2001: 192
FY 2000: 130
FY 1999: 96

Adoption Authority in Haiti:

The Haitian courts issue adoption decrees and other legal documents, and the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Research (IBESR) provides authorization to adopt. The IBESR is also responsible for accrediting adoption agents and orphanages in Haiti. Documentation from both the Haitian courts and from the IBESR is essential if you are planning to adopt a child in Haiti.

Haiti's immigration authorities require Haitian passports for all Haitian children leaving the country. The wait for a Haitian passport can be as long as two or three months, depending on Haitian bureaucratic processing. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy cannot issue U.S. passports to Haitian children, as U.S. passports are available only to U.S. citizens.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents:

Under Haitian law, a prospective adopting parent must be older than age 35; for married couples, one prospective parent may be under age 35, provided the couple has been married for 10 years and has no children together. Pursuant to the terms of the United Nations Convention on Children, the Haitian Government may lower its age requirement. Requests to have the age requirement waived must submitted in writing to IBESR.

Haitian law permits adoptions by single parents. Adoptions by married couples require the consent of both spouses. This restriction can be waived with permission from the Haitian president.

Residential Requirements:

Haitian law does not require prospective parents to reside in Haiti. Haitian courts and/or the IBESR may require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti before the adoption is finalized.

Time Frame:

The adoption process can require an average of two to six months time, primarily because of Haitian legal intricacies. Adoption applications can take more than one year in certain cases. Once an adoption case has cleared the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the process of obtaining an immigrant visa for the United States can take from two days to a week, depending on circumstances. Travelers are therefore encouraged to plan accordingly, and to purchase open-ended return tickets whenever possible.

Traveling To Haiti:

There are several air carriers that service Port-au-Prince from the United States. American Airlines has daily flights from both Miami International Airport and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Air France has a daily flight from Miami, and in partnership with Delta Airlines, offers special adoption fares with open-ended tickets. Air France's departure time out of Port-au-Prince is also later in the day, allowing adopting parents to leave on the same day the visa is issued. Visa interviews take place at 7:30am from Monday through Friday at the US Consular Annex in Port-au-Prince. If all documentation is complete, parents then return to the Consular Annex on the same day between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. to pick up the visa.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

Successful and speedier adoptions generally require the services of a Haitian attorney. Lists of Haitian attorneys are available from the U.S. Embassy or the Department of State, Office of American Citizen Services.

Adoption Fees in Haiti:

Haiti's courts charge for judicial services, though fees are not fixed. Adopting parents should expect to pay varying court fees and expenses. The IBESR charges approximately $170. The approximate amount of fees charged by adoption agencies to adopt a child in Haiti is $3,000, exclusive of airfare (some adoptive parents report paying larger sums). Note: Haitian and U.S. law prohibits any payments to the child's natural parent(s) or guardian by the prospective adoptive parents or their agents.

Adoption Procedures:

Haitian law does not allow adoptive parents to take a child out of the country until that child first has been adopted in Haiti. Applications for guardianship for the purposes of taking children out of Haiti for adoption in another country are not permitted. A checklist of required documents for Haitian adoptions is provided at the end of this flyer.

Adopting a child under Haitian law involves three steps. First, the prospective parents must obtain from the Tribunal de Paix (Justice of the Peace) having jurisdiction over the residence of the child the proper release (known as the "Extrait des Minutes des Greffes") from the surviving parent(s) or from whomever has legal custody of the child. Second, this legal document must be submitted to the IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective parents and child. If the IBESR approves the adoption, it will issue a document known as the "Autorisation d'Adoption." Note: only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption; IBESR regional offices do not have this authority. Third, the adopting parents or their legal representative must present the authorization from the IBESR to the Tribunal Civil (Civil Court) having jurisdiction over the residence of the child, and obtain from that court a Haitian legal document known as the "Acte d'Adoption," which serves as the official adoption decree.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Documents Required for Adoption in Haiti:

Prospective adoptive parents or their attorney should be prepared to present the following documents to the Haitian courts and/or the IBESR:

  • The birth certificates of the adoptive parents;
  • The child's birth certificate;
  • The marriage certificate of the adoptive parents; and if the natural parents of the child are deceased, their death certificates.
  • Tax returns and police clearances from the prospective parents,
  • Medical and psychological reports for the adopting parents and child

The Embassy will send prospective parents a list of the IBESR documentary requirements when the Embassy receives from DHS an approved Form I-600 or I-600A.

Authenticating U.S. Documents to be Used Abroad:

Haiti is not a party of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, so the Legalization Convention "apostille" certificate should not be used for documents to be presented in Haiti. Instead, the "chain authentication method" will be used to authenticate documents for Haiti. Visit the State Department website at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Haiti Embassy and Consulates in the United States:

Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202.332.4090
Fax: 202.745.7215
E-mail: [email protected]

Consulates are located in Florida (305/859-2003), Massachusetts (617/266-3660), New York (212/697-9767), Puerto Rico (809/764-1392), and Illinois (312/922-4004).

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Applying for a Visa for Your Child at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti:

Prospective parents should meet with the consular officer for an immigrant visa interview only after they have an approved I600 petition. Additionally, if the I600 is approved in the United States, the visa interview should be requested only after the DNA results have been received at the Consular section. The prospective adoptive parents must schedule interviews in advance. These will take place beginning at 7:30am Monday through Friday. The prospective parents and the child should report to Gate 2 of the Consular Annex and explain that they have come to process an adoption. The parents will then be directed to the cashier's booth to pay the required fees ($335.00 for the visa and $525.00 for the I600 if required by DHS).

At the interview, the consular officer must see the adopted child. If the documents are in order and the application is approved, a visa will be issued to the adopting parents or their representative generally on the same business day. Visas are handed out between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on regular business days. The Embassy cannot guarantee issuance of the visa in advance of the interview. The Consular Section recommends that adopting parents purchase open airline tickets to allow for unforeseen delays. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Haiti:

The Consulate Section is located at:
104 Rue Oswald Durand
Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Telephone: 011-509-223-6440
Fax: 011-509-223-9665.

Additional Information:

Specific questions about adoption in Haiti may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4 th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

Haitian Legal Requirements Adoption Checklist:

The following is a list of documents required by the Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), the Haitian Government agency which investigates and approves adoptions in Haiti. Note: All documents written in English must be a) translated into French and b) notarized by a Haitian consul in the U.S.

For the child being adopted:

  • Three identity photos
  • A Haitian legal document called the "Certificate of Abandonment" for biological mother and father (if known)
  • The child's birth certificate
  • The natural parent(s) death certificate(s), if applicable
  • The child's "social history," which is a statement prepared by a social worker appointed by IBESR, stating how the child became an abandoned child
  • A psychological evaluation of the child
  • The natural parents' relinquishment of parental rights. If the parents are deceased, the surviving relatives or legal guardian must issue this document
  • A complete medical report that includes tests for tuberculosis, HIV and sickle cell anemia

For the Adopting Parents

(These requirements may be satisfied by the items in your home study.)

  • A statement from the adoptive parents that they plan to adopt a child in Haiti
  • Three identity photos of the parents
  • Each parent(s) birth certificate
  • The parent(s) marriage certificate (not required of single adoptive parents)
  • An original notarized power of attorney to whomever is acting on the parents' behalf in Haiti (a fax copy is not sufficient)
  • A report from the adoptive parent's U.S. state of residence indicating that they are authorized to adopt a child
  • Financial documents, including tax returns, job letters, notarized bank account documents and copies of deeds and mortgages (we suggest forwarding your Form I-864 Affidavit of Support with the requisite attachments)
  • An evaluation of the household environment in which the adoptive child will live
  • A statement from a competent police authority in the adoptive parent(s) town of residence indicating the absence of a criminal record
  • Medical examination reports for both adoptive parents
  • A psychological evaluation report of the adoptive parents
  • Two reference letters

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2006

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General Information:

Haiti is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Haiti and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Haiti place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Haiti with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes:

Normally, in Haiti, parents who are legally married share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is decided by a court. The rights of the designated parent will be set within the scope of the court order. Culture, ethnicity, and gender do not have an impact in custody disputes. However, morality, financial resources, dependability, and availability are essential elements that are taken into account in custody disputes. Parental kidnapping is considered a crime and the length of imprisonment depends on the age of the child abducted.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments:

Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforced in Haiti.

Visitation Rights:

In cases where legal custody has been granted and the judgment has been rendered, the non-custodial parent can petition the court for visitation rights within the court ordered decision or come to a verbal agreement with the custodial parent.

Dual Nationality:

Dual nationality is not recognized under Haitian law.

Criminal Remedies:

For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Haitian court should retain an attorney in Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by requesting one from the Embassy at: U.S. Embassy Port-Au-Prince Consular Section 5 Harry Truman Blvd P O Box 1761 Port-au-Prince Haiti; Telephone: (509) 223-7011; Fax: [509] 223-9665; Web site: http://usembassy.state.gov.

Questions involving Haitian law should be addressed to a Haitian attorney or to the Embassy of Haiti in the United States at: Embassy of Haiti 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20008; Telephone: (202) 332-4090; http://www.haiti.org.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to: Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: (202) 736-9090; ax: (202) 312-9743.

views updated

Haiti

Compiled from the January 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Haiti

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland. Ile de la Gonave and Ile de la Tortue comprise Haiti’s principal offshore territories.

Cities: Capital—Port-au-Prince (pop. 2 million). Other cities—Cap Haitien (pop. 600,000).

Terrain: Rugged mountains with small coastal plains and river valleys, and a large east-central elevated plateau.

Climate: Warm, semiarid, high humidity in many coastal areas.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Haitian(s).

Population: (2006 census) 8.5 million.

Annual population growth rate: 1975-2001, 1.9%; 2.5% per year.

Ethnic groups: African descent 95%, African and European descent 5%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, voudou (voodoo) practices pervasive.

Languages: French (official), Creole (official).

Education: Years compulsory—6. Adult literacy (2006 census)—56%.

Health: Child mortality—1 out of 8 children die before they reach the age of five. Life expectancy—56 years (women), 52 years (men).

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: January 1, 1804.

Constitution: March 1987.

Government branches: Executive—President. Legislative—Senate (30 seats), Chamber of Deputies (99 seats). Judicial—Court of Cassation.

Political subdivisions: Ten departments.

Political parties: Lespwa, Fanmi Lavalas (FL), Struggling People’s Organization (OPL), Open the Gate Party (PLB), Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHRENHA), Tet Ansam, Fusion of Socialist Democrats (FUSION), Grand Center Right Front Coalition, Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RNDP), Union to Save Haiti, Mobilization for Haiti’s progress, Haitian Democratic and Reform Movement, several others.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $4.3 billion.

Real GDP growth rate: (2006) 2.5%.

Per capita GNP: (2005) $490.

GDP by sector: (2002) Agriculture—27%; industry—14%; services—52%; indirect and import taxes—7%.

Inflation: (2005 est.) 15%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble.

Agriculture: (27% of GDP) Products—coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, cacao, sorghum, pulses, other fruits and vegetables.

Industry: (14% of GDP) Types—apparel, handicrafts, electronics assembly, food processing, beverages, tobacco products, furniture, printing, chemicals, steel.

Services: (52% of GDP) Commerce, government, tourism.

Trade: (2005 est.) Total exports f.o.b.—$416 million: apparel, mangoes, leather and raw hides, seafood, electrical. Major market—U.S. Imports—$547 million c.i.f.: grains, soybean oil, motor vehicles, machinery, meat, vegetables, plastics, petroleum.

Note: There are serious problems with national accounts in Haiti, including incomplete coverage and the questionable accuracy of raw data.

PEOPLE

Although Haiti averages about 302 people per square kilometer. Its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. Sixty percent of the population lives in rural areas.

French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country’s other official language. English is increasingly used as a second language among the young and in the business sector.

The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Increasing numbers of Haitians have converted to Protestantism through the work of missionaries active throughout the country. Much of the population also practices voudou (voodoo), recognized by the government as a religion in April 2003. Haitians tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs coexisting with Christian faith.

Although public education is free, the cost is still quite high for Haitian families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks, supplies, and other inputs. Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for approximately 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school and primary school enrollment is dropping due to economic factors. Remittances sent by Haitians living abroad are important in paying educational costs.

Large-scale emigration, principally to the U.S.—but also to Canada, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and other Caribbean neighbors, and France—has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth Department or the Diaspora. About one of every eight Haitians lives abroad.

HISTORY

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the “pearl of the Antilles”—one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted—led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe—and gained control of the northern part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the French.

By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to Napoleon’s decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Haiti is the world’s oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the independent nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere’s first regional meeting of independent nations, in Panama in 1826, and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.

Two separate regimes—north and south—emerged after independence but were unified in 1820. Two years later, Haiti occupied Santo Domingo, the eastern, Spanish-speaking part of Hispaniola. In 1844, however, Santo Domingo broke away from Haiti and became the Dominican Republic. With 22 changes of government from 1843 to 1915, Haiti experienced numerous periods of intense political and economic disorder, prompting the United States military intervention of 1915. Following a 19-year occupation, U.S. military forces were withdrawn in 1934, and Haiti regained sovereign rule.

From February 7, 1986—when the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended—until 1991, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional governments. In March 1987, a constitution was ratified that provides for an elected, bicameral parliament; an elected president that serves as head of state; and a prime minister, cabinet, ministers, and supreme court appointed by the president with parliament’s consent. The Haitian Constitution also provides for political decentralization through the election of mayors and administrative bodies responsible for local government.

1991–1994—An Interrupted Transition

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic priest, 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 dissatisfied elements of the army and supported by many of the country’s economic elite. Following the coup, Aristide began a 3-year exile in the U.S. Several thousand Haitians may have been killed during the de facto military rule. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a total of 41,342 Haitians at sea during 1991 and 1992, more than the number of rescued boat people from the previous 10 years combined.

From October 1991 to September 1994 an unconstitutional military de facto regime governed Haiti. Various OAS and UN initiatives to end the political crisis through the peaceful restoration of the constitutionally elected government, including the Governor’s Island Agreement of July

1993, failed. When the military refused to uphold its end of the agreements, the de facto authorities refused to allow a return to constitutional government, even though the economy was collapsing and the country’s infrastructure deteriorated from neglect.

1994—International Intervention

On July 31, 1994, as repression mounted in Haiti and a UN-OAS civilian human rights monitoring mission (MICIVIH) was expelled from the country, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 940. UNSC Resolution 940 authorized member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure of Haiti’s military leadership and to restore Haiti’s constitutionally elected government to power.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MNF) to carry out the UN’s mandate by means of a military intervention. In mid-September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti by force, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to persuade the de facto authorities to step aside and allow for the return of constitutional rule. With intervening troops already airborne, Gen. Raoul Cedras and other top leaders agreed to accept the intervention of the MNF. On September 19, 1994, the first contingents of what became a 21,000-member international force touched down in Haiti to oversee the end of military rule and the restoration of the constitutional government. By early October, the three de facto leaders—Cedras, Gen. Philippe Biamby, and Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois—and their families had departed Haiti. President Aristide and other elected officials in exile returned on October 15. Under the watchful eyes of international peacekeepers, restored Haitian authorities organized nationwide local and parliamentary elections in June 1995. A pro-Aristide, multiparty coalition called the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL) swept into power at all levels. With his term ending in February 1996 and barred by the constitution from succeeding himself, President Aristide agreed to step aside and support a presidential election in December 1995. Rene Preval, a prominent Aristide political ally, who had been Aristide’s Prime Minister in 1991, took 88% of the vote, and was sworn in to a 5-year term on February 7, 1996, during what was Haiti’s first-ever transition between two democratically elected presidents.

1996–2000—Political Gridlock

In late 1996, former President Aristide broke from the OPL and created a new political party, the Lavalas Family (FL). The OPL, holding the majority of the Parliament, renamed itself the Struggling People’s Organization, maintaining the OPL acronym. Elections in April 1997 for the renewal of one-third of the Senate and creation of commune-level assemblies and town delegations provided the first opportunity for the former political allies to compete for elected office. Although preliminary results indicated victories for FL candidates in most races, the elections, which drew only about 5% of registered voters, were plagued with allegations of fraud and not certified by most international observers as free and fair. Partisan rancor from the election dispute led to deep divisions within Parliament and between the legislative and executive branches, resulting in almost total governmental gridlock. In June 1997, Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned. Two successors proposed by President Preval were rejected by the legislature. Eventually, in December 1998, Jacques Edouard Alexis was confirmed as Prime Minister.

During this gridlock period, the government was unable to organize the local and parliamentary elections due in late 1998. In early January 1999, President Preval dismissed legislators whose terms had expired—the entire Chamber of Deputies and all but nine members of the Senate—and converted local elected officials into state employees. The President and Prime Minister then ruled by decree, establishing a cabinet composed almost entirely of FL partisans. Under pressure from a new political coalition called the Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), the government allocated three seats of the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to opposition groups and mandated the CEP to organize the overdue elections for the end of 1999. Following several delays, the first round of elections for local councils—ASEC and CASEC, municipal governments, town delegates, the Chamber of Deputies, and two-thirds of the Senate took place on May 21, 2000. The election drew the participation of a multitude of candidates from a wide array of political parties and a voter turnout of more than 60%.

2000 Electoral Crisis Leads to Aristide Departure

Controversy mired the good start, however, when the CEP used a flawed methodology to determine the winners of the Senate races, thus avoiding run-off elections for eight seats and giving the FL a virtual sweep in the first round. The flawed vote count, combined with the CEP’s failure to investigate alleged irregularities and fraud, undercut the credibility of that body. The CEP President fled Haiti and two members eventually resigned rather than accede to government pressure to release the erroneous results. Nonetheless, on August 28, 2000, Haiti’s new Parliament, including the contested Senators accorded victory under the flawed vote count, was convened.

Through a number of diplomatic missions by the OAS, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the United States, the international community had sought to delay Parliament’s seating until the electoral problems could be rectified. When these efforts were rebuffed, Haiti’s main bilateral donors announced the end of “business as usual.” They moved to re-channel their assistance away from the government and announced they would not support or send observers to the November elections. Concurrently, most opposition parties regrouped in an alliance that became the Democratic Convergence. The Convergence asserted that the May elections were so fraudulent that they should be annulled and held again under a new CEP. Elections for President and nine Senators took place on November 26, 2000. All major opposition parties boycotted these elections in which voter participation was estimated at 5%. Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the easy victor of these controversial elections, and the candidates of his FL party swept all contested Senate seats. On February 6, 2001, the Democratic Convergence named respected lawyer and human rights activist Gerard Gourgue as provisional president of their “alternative government.” Gourgue called the act “symbolic,” designed to protest flawed elections. On February 7, 2001, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as President. Notwithstanding the previous year’s electoral controversy, the inauguration marked the first time in the country’s history that a full-term president peacefully transferred power to an incoming president.

It did not, however, put an end to the political stalemate. OAS-mediated negotiations began in April 2001 to find a resolution, focusing on the on possible makeup of a new electoral council, a timetable for new elections, security for political parties, and other confidence-building measures. These negotiations made some progress, but were suspended in mid-July without a final agreement. On July 28, 2001, unknown gunmen attacked police facilities in Port-au-Prince and the provinces. A subsequent government crackdown on opposition party members and former soldiers further increased tensions between Lavalas and Convergence. On December 17, 2001, unidentified gunmen attacked the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Following the assault, pro-government groups attacked the offices and homes of several opposition leaders. One opposition member was killed. Negotiations between FL and Democratic Convergence, already on hold following the July violence, were suspended indefinitely.

In January 2002, the OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 806 on Haiti that called for government action to address the political stalemate, growing violence, and deterioration in respect for human rights. It also authorized OAS establishment of a Special Mission in Haiti to support implementation of steps called for in Resolution 806. The OAS Special Mission began operations in March 2002, working with the government on plans to strengthen Haiti’s democratic institutions in security, justice, human rights, and governance. Nevertheless, the climate of security deteriorated and a rapidly weakening economy created risks of a humanitarian disaster. The OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 822, September 4, 2002, which set a new course for resolving the crisis by: committing the Haitian government to a series of steps leading to an improved climate of security for free and fair elections in 2003; supporting Haiti’s resumption of normal relations with the International Financial Institutions; and strengthening the mandate of the OAS to monitor as well as support Haitian government efforts to comply with OAS resolutions. It also conferred new mandates related to conduct of elections and disarmament.

Protest strikes and attacks on opposition demonstrations by government-supported gangs between November 2002 and February 2003 hardened attitudes on both sides. The opposition issued a public call for Aristide’s removal and announced plans for a transitional government. In March 2003, a high-level joint delegation of the OAS and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented specific demands to President Aristide to restore public security and create confidence necessary to move toward elections: select new leadership for the Haitian National Police in consultation with the OAS; arrest Amiot Metayer, a notorious gang leader; and disarm the security forces used by government politicians to intimidate opponents.

Events spiraled downward: In June 2003 the new police chief, appointed in consultation with the OAS, resigned and fled the country 14 days later after being ordered to give up his authority over budget and personnel; government-paid thugs violently disrupted a civil society public ceremony July 12 in Cité Soleil; police attacked civil society marches in Cap Haitien August 30 and September 14 and prevented an opposition march scheduled for October 5. Amiot Metayer was murdered September 21 (it is widely believed the government ordered the murder to prevent release of compromising information). The government announced August 13 that it was re-activating a defunct CEP in what many interpreted as a move toward holding elections outside the framework of OAS Resolution 822. The OAS and other foreign observers, including the U.S., denounced these steps. To re-invigorate the process envisioned in Resolution 822, the OAS designated a Special Envoy for Dialogue in Haiti, Terence Todman, a retired U.S. Career Ambassador. Todman, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, undertook three negotiating missions to Haiti in September-October 2003. Political instability grew throughout fall 2003. In Gonaives, Metayer’s followers, hitherto pro-Aristide, led a violent rebellion against government authorities in the city. Government-sponsored repression of opposition protests reached a nadir when on December 5 pro-government gangs entered Haiti’s state university campus and broke the legs of the Rector.

Following a meeting with Aristide at the Summit of the Americas in January 2004, Caribbean Community leaders proposed a plan to resolve the political crisis. President Aristide stated he accepted the plan at a meeting January 31. However, as the plan remained unimplemented, a high-level international delegation came to Haiti February 21 to obtain agreement on specific implementation timetable. President Aristide agreed, but the opposition “Democratic Platform” group of political parties and civil society expressed reservations. Meanwhile, the violence in Gonaives culminated February 5 in the former Cannibal Army, now called the Artibonite Resistance Front, seizing control of the city. Other armed groups opposed to the Aristide government quickly emerged and succeeded in seizing control of many towns, mostly with little resistance from government authorities. By February 28, 2004, a rebel group led by a former police chief, Guy Philippe, had advanced to within 25 miles of the capital. On February 29, 2004 Aristide submitted his resignation as President of Haiti and flew on a chartered plane to South Africa.

2004–2007—Interim Government Prepares the Way for a New Democracy

Following the constitutional line of succession, Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre assumed the presidency and Gerard Latortue was appointed prime minister of the Interim Government of Haiti (IGOH) with the mandate of organizing elections to choose a new government. Despite significant delays and controversies over who was Haitian enough to run for President, the interim government managed to organize three rounds of elections with the help of the OAS and UN. The first round of elections for President and Parliament took place peacefully on February 7, 2006. An impressive turnout estimated at over 60% of registered voters caused some logistical difficulties which were overcome. Overall, the elections were considered free, fair, transparent, and democratic by national and international observers.

René Préval, former President (1996-2001) and former ally to Aristide, won the presidential election with 51.15%. Partial results had shown he fell short of the majority and triggered demonstrations against alleged fraud. The later decision of the Electoral Council not to count blank ballots gave the victory to Préval. The Parliament, composed of a 30-seat Senate and a 99-member Chamber of Deputies, was elected in two rounds held on February 7 and April 21, 2006. Lespwa is the main political force in both chambers but fell short of the majority. Fusion, UNION, Alyans, OPL, and Famni Lavals have many representatives in both chambers. Préval chose his longtime political associate and former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis to serve again as his Prime Minister. Municipal elections were held December 3, 2006—filling local government positions for the first time in over a decade.

International Presence 1995–2004

After the transition of the 21,000-strong MNF into a peacekeeping force on March 31, 1995, the presence of international military forces that helped restore constitutional government to power was gradually ended. Initially, the U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force numbered 6,000 troops, but that number was scaled back progressively over the next 4 years as a series of UN technical missions succeeded the peacekeeping force. By January 2000, all U.S. troops stationed in Haiti had departed. In March 2000, the UN peacekeeping mission transitioned into a peace-building mission, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH). MICAH consisted of some 80 non-uniformed UN technical advisers providing advice and material assistance in policing, justice, and human rights to the Haitian Government. MICAH’s mandate ended on February 7, 2001, coinciding with the end of the Preval administration. The OAS Special Mission has some 25 international police advisors who arrived in summer 2003; is in addition to observing and reporting Haitian police performance, they provide limited technical assistance.

International Presence 2004–Present

At the request of the interim government and the UN, the U.S.-led Multilateral Interim Force, made up of troops from the U.S., Canada, France, and Chile, arrived in Port-au-Prince to ensure stability until the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force.

In April 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1542, which created the UN Stability Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Since that time, the MINUSTAH mandate has been renewed every six months. The Stability Mission is currently authorized at 7,200 troops and 1,951 civilian police.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 9/12/2006

President: Rene Garcia PREVAL

Prime Minister: Jacques-Edouard ALEXIS

Min. of Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Rural Development: Francois SEVERIN

Min. of Commerce & Industry: Magguy DURCE

Min. of Culture & Communication: Daniel ELIE

Min. of the Economy & Finance: Daniel DORSAINVIL

Min. of Education & Professional Training: Gabriel BIEN-AIME

Min. of Environment: Jean-Marie Claude GERMAIN

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Worship: Jean Reynald CLERISME

Min. of Haitians Living Abroad: Jean GENEUS

Min. of Interior & Territorial Collectivities: Paul Antoine BIEN-AIME

Min. of Justice & Public Security: Rene MAGLOIRE

Min. of Planning & External Cooperation: Jean-Max BELLERIVE

Min. of Public Health & Population: Robert AUGUSTE, Dr.

Min. of Public Works, Transport, & Communications: Frantz VERELA

Min. of Social Affairs: Gerald GERMAIN

Min. of Tourism: Patrick DELATOUR

Min. of Women’s Affairs & Rights: Marie-Laurence Jocelyn LASSEGUE

Min. of Youth, Sports, & Civic Action: Fritz BELIZAIRE

Ministerial Delegate to the Prime Min. in Charge of Relations With Parliament: Joseph JASMIN

Sec. of State for Agriculture: Joanas GUAY

Sec. of State for Finance: Sylvain LAFALAISE

Sec. of State for Judicial Reform: Daniel JEAN

Sec. of State for Literacy: Carol JOSEPH

Sec. of State for Public Security: Luc Eucher JOSEPH

Ambassador to the US: Raymond JOSEPH

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Leo MERORES

The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).

ECONOMY

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti now ranks 150th of 175 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index. Haiti’s economic stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental deterioration, continued reliance on traditional technologies, under-capitalization and lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large portions of the skilled population, a weak national savings rate, and the lack of a functioning judicial system.

The 1991 coup and the irresponsible economic and financial policies of the de facto regime resulted in a sharp economic decline from 1991-94. Following the coup, the United States adopted mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, heavily dependent on U.S. markets, employed nearly 80,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell below 17,000. Private domestic and foreign investment has returned to Haiti slowly. Since the embargo’s end, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered to about 30,000, but further growth has been stalled by investor concerns over safety and political instability.

Under President Préval (1996-2001), the country’s economic agenda included trade/tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, financial sector reform, and the modernization of two out of nine state-owned enterprises through their sale to private investors, the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with international financial institutions (IFIs) intended to create conditions for private sector growth proved only partly successful, however. Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association. Unionization is protected by the labor code. A legal minimum wage of 70 gourdes a day (about U.S. $1.70) applies to most workers in the formal sector.

Haiti’s real GDP growth turned negative in FY 2001 after six years of growth. Following almost 4 years of recession ending in 2004, the economy grew by 1.5% in 2005. GDP growth reached 2.5% in 2006. But significant improvement in living standards would require an estimated doubling of the growth rate. Since the departure of President Aristide, the financial situation has stabilized. Inflation has fallen from 42.7% at end-2003, to 15% by end-April 2006. The interim government conducted a largely sound fiscal policy which has been followed by the Alexis government. But the traditional low revenue collection rate (roughly 9% of the GDP) constrains its ability to provide social services and invest in physical and human capital. External assistance (approximately $965 million from July 2004 through March 2006) as well as diaspora remittances (estimated at over $1 billion) remain critical to keeping the economy afloat.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies, as well as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). It maintains diplomatic relations with several dozen countries.

The international community rallied to Haiti’s defense during the 1991-94 period of de facto military rule. Thirty-one countries participated in the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) which, acting under UN auspices, intervened in September 1994 to help restore the legitimate government and create a secure and stable environment in Haiti. At its peak, the MNF included roughly 21,000 troops, mostly Americans, and more than 1,000 international police monitors. Within 6 months, the troop level was gradually reduced as the MNF transitioned to a 6,000-strong peacekeeping force, the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). UNMIH was charged with maintaining the secure environment which the MNF had helped establish as well as nurturing Haiti’s new police force through the presence of 900 police advisers. A total of 38 countries participated in UNMIH.

To spur Haiti’s social and economic recovery from decades of misrule before that, international donors pledged in 1994 to provide more than $2 billion over five years in total assistance. Most bilateral assistance is now channeled through non-governmental organizations. Major bilateral donors are led by the United States, with the largest program, and include Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Cuba provides highly visible, low-cost medical and technical experts. Multilateral aid is provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the UN and its agencies. All aid is coordinated informally by the World Bank. In July 2004, $1.085 billion was pledged through 2006 at the World Bank Donors’ Conference. Donors include the U.S., Canada, the EU, France, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Mexico, and Ireland. The IDB and the World Bank pledged multilateral aid. As of March 2006, $965 million had been disbursed, mainly to address humanitarian needs.

U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS; see “Key OAS Issues”), particularly through the Secretary General’s “Friends of Haiti” group (originally a UN group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country’s geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 13,000 annually in FY 1999-2003), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991-94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. Neighboring Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, continue to interdict Haitian migrants as well. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.

U.S. Economic and Development Assistance

Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti’s governments to invest in developing the country’s natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country’s current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti’s largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. In 2004 and 2005, the U.S. allocated over $400 million for improving governance, security, the rule of law, economic recovery, and critical human needs. With the addition of nearly $200 million for FY 2006, total U.S. assistance to Haiti will reach approximately $600 million for the three-year period. The President’s budget request for FY 2007 was $194 million. U.S. Government funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems. Among the programs are:

Food assistance: (P.L. 480 Title II) for nutritional well-being and food security, especially children under five and nursing mothers.

Health: A U.S.-supported network of over 30 local organizations serves 2.5 million Haitians. In U.S.-assisted areas, child immunization rates are nearly double the national average. Child malnutrition rates have fallen significantly. The national percentage of women seeking prenatal consultation increased from 68% to 79%. The national contraceptive use rate increased as part of our expanded AIDS prevention program.

Democracy: Programs increase political party professionalism, strengthen independent media and civil society organizations, promote judicial reform and human rights, and support independent election observation groups. Public diplomacy programs bring Haitian government officials, journalists, and academics to the U.S. to learn about U.S. public policies and programs.

Education: Programs increase pass rates for second, third, and fourth grade students through training for teachers, school directors and parent-teacher associations, improved instruction in math and Creole reading, provision of books, teaching aids, and curriculum guides.

Economic Growth: Programs increase income for the poor through small business loans to urban microentrepreneurs; assistance to small farmers in marketing valuable export crops such as coffee, cacao, and mangos; and help to Haitian artisans to find niche export markets. Beneficiaries include small entrepreneurs (80% women), 25,000 hillside farmers, and 2,000 artisans.

In addition to financial support, the U.S. provides human resources. Many private U.S. citizens travel regularly to Haiti or reside there for extended periods to work on humanitarian projects.

Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of 80,000 in 1986 to fewer than 17,000 in 2006, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.

Combating Drug Trafficking

Haiti is a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including signing a counternarcotics letter of agreement with the Government of Haiti in May 2002, vetting and training the counternarcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States. Although Haiti did not meet counternarcotics certification criteria the past three years, the country was provided a waiver of any sanctions on grounds of vital national security interest.

U.S. Business Opportunities

The U.S. remains Haiti’s largest trading partner. Port-au-Prince is less than 2 hours by air from Miami, with several daily direct flights. A daily flight also connects Port-au-Prince with New York, and a new Port-au-Prince-Fort Lauderdale flight started in 2003. Both Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien on the north coast have deep-water port facilities. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti’s depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti’s primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)—which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, chicken, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.

Establishing a Business

Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.

Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary. Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure, a high-cost port, an irregular supply of electricity, and Customs delays. There is little direct investment.

Foreign investment protection is provided by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses caused by war, revolution, or insurrection. The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The two governments also signed a bilateral investment treaty in December 1983, but it was not ratified.

Additional information on establishing a business in Haiti can be found at www.export.gov, then to market research, then Country Commercial Guides.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT AU PRINCE (E) Address: 5, Harry Truman Blvd.; Phone: (509) 222-0200; Fax: (509) 223-1641; Workweek: 0700–1530.

AMB:Janet Ann Sanderson
AMB OMS:Kathryn Ahern
DCM:Thomas C. Tighe
DCM OMS:Robin Goertz
CG:Jay Smith
POL:John Mariz
MGT:Thomas Doherty
AFSA:Grace Lang
AID:Paul Tuebner
APHIS:Jeffery Austin
CLO:Jenelle Swartley
DAO:Thomas Mangine
DEA:Gerald Graves
ECO:James M. Roberts
EEO:Jennifer Langston Duval
FMO:Maurice Olfus
GSO:Steve Goertz
ICASS Chair:Martin Mueller
IMO:Kathryn Clement
IPO:Robert Truong
ISO:Nikk Sookmeewiriya
ISSO:Nikk Sookmeewiriya
MLO:David Allen
NAS:vacant
PAO:Ellickson-Brown, James
RSO:Edwin Guard

Last Updated: 1/17/2007

Other Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service does not have a separate office in Haiti. Commercial matters are handled by the Embassy economic section.
Tel: (509) 223-1477
Fax: (509) 223-9038
Cell: (509) 409-1441

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
1615 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20527
Tel: (202) 457-7200
Fax: (202) 331-4234

U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: (202) 482-0704
Fax: (202) 482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075

Association des Industries d’Haiti (ADIH)
Bldg. Le Triangle Delmas 31, #139
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 246-4509/4510 or 2211

Centre Pour la Libre Entreprise et la Democratie (CLED)
37, Avenue Marie-Jeanne,
No. 8 B.P. 1316
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 244-0901 or (509) 245-6039
Fax: (509) 222-8252

Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie d’Haiti
P.O. Box 982
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 222-0281 or (509) 222-2475

Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AMCHAM)
Rue Oge, A-5
Petionville
Republic of Haiti
Tel: (509) 511-3024, fax not available

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : May 22, 2006

Country Description: Haiti is one of the least developed and least stable countries in the Western Hemisphere. The availability of consumer goods and services is barely adequate in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but other parts of the country experience chronic shortages. Most consumer products are imported and expensive. Some tourism facilities in the large cities and resort areas are satisfactory, but many are rudimentary at best, and are difficult to find in most rural areas and small towns.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Haitian law requires U.S. citizens to have a passport to enter Haiti. In the past, officials have sometimes waived this requirement if travelers had a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines will not board passengers for return to the United States unless they are in possession of a valid passport. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. Once in Haiti, an undocumented U.S. citizen can experience delays of several weeks for the issuance of a passport, as it is often more difficult to establish identity and citizenship overseas than in the United States. The Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a departure fee. U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti for more details regarding current entry, departure and customs requirements for Haiti. The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; the telephone number is (202) 332-4090, and the Internet address is http://www.haiti.org/. There are Haitian consulates in Miami, and Orlando, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; New York, N.Y.; Chicago, Illinois and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Safety and Security: U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution and are strongly encouraged to register either online or at the Consular Annex of the U.S. Embassy prior to or immediately upon their arrival.

Protests and demonstrations continued to occur in 2005, and some violent incidents occurred. Private organizations and businesses were the targets of demonstrations or takeover attempts related to business disputes or extortion demands.

Haiti successfully conducted the first round of national elections on February 7, and inaugurated a democratically elected president and parliament May 14. However, the ability of the new government to maintain order throughout the country remains uncertain. Travel in Haiti is dangerous and not recommended. In some cities and towns ordinary services such as water, electricity, police protection and government services are either very limited or unavailable. While U.N. personnel from several countries have been in Haiti since 2004, their mission in Haiti does not include guaranteeing the safety of visitors.

During 2005 the Embassy issued several security related messages warning U.S. citizens in Haiti of violent or unstable conditions. On occasion, the U.S. mission in Haiti was forced to suspend service to the public or closed because of security concerns. Due to the volatile security situation in 2005, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel and family members. The Ordered Departure has now been lifted for non-emergency employees and adult dependents. Dependents of Embassy employees under age 21 still are not permitted to travel to or remain in Haiti. These concerns have also prevented Embassy personnel from traveling to or through some areas. Since October 2004 Embassy personnel have been prohibited from entering central Port-au-Prince after dark due to security concerns. The Embassy has also imposed a curfew on its officers from time to time. In situations where the Embassy must suspend operations or when officers are unable to circulate freely, the Embassy will continue to be available by telephone to offer emergency services to U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens in Haiti should avoid all large gatherings, as crowd behavior can be unpredictable. Visitors encountering roadblocks, demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart the area quickly and without confrontation. Assistance from Haitian officials, such as the police, is often unavailable. Overseas visitors must be particularly cautious on the days of planned political activities. U.S. citizens are urged to take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: There are no “safe areas” in Haiti. Crime, already a problem, has increased significantly in recent years. The U.S. estimates that up to 8% of the cocaine entering the United States passes through Haiti. The state of law and order has steadily deteriorated as a result. Reports of death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, kidnappings, armed robberies, break-ins or carjackings occur almost daily. These crimes are primarily Haitian against Haitian, though several foreigners and U.S. citizens have been victimized. In 2005, kidnappings of American citizens increased to forty-three, including three who were killed during kidnapping attempts. Kidnapping remains the most critical security concern; kidnappers frequently target children.

U.S. citizens who must travel to Haiti should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. Travelers should keep valuables well hidden, ensure possessions are not left in parked vehicles, use private transportation, alternate travel routes, and keep doors and windows in homes and vehicles closed and locked. U.S. citizens should avoid all nighttime travel due to poor road conditions and increased criminal activity after dark. They should be alert for suspicious onlookers when entering and exiting banks, as criminals often watch and subsequently attack bank customers. Withdrawals of large amounts of cash should be avoided.

Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of two to four individuals, and are disposed occasionally to be confrontational and gratuitously violent. Criminals sometimes will seriously injure or kill those who resist their attempts to commit crime. In robberies or home invasions, it is not uncommon for the assailants to beat or shoot the victim in order to limit the victim’s ability to resist. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance without resistance. Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution at all times and review basic personal security procedures frequently.

U.S. citizens in Haiti must be particularly alert when arriving from overseas at the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies. Some recent incidents have resulted in death. The use of public transportation, including “tap-taps” (private transportation used for commercial purposes), is not recommended. Visitors to Haiti should arrange for someone known to them to meet them at the airport.

U.S. citizens should decline all requests to carry items for others to or from Haiti. Traffickers of illegal drugs have duped unsuspecting travelers into helping transport narcotics aboard commercial airlines.

Certain high-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area should be avoided, including Carrefour, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale #1, the airport road (Boulevard Toussaint L’Ouverture) and its adjoining connectors to the New (“American”) Road via Route Nationale #1 (which should also be avoided). This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Embassy employees are prohibited from remaining in the downtown area after dark or entering Cite Soleil and La Saline and their surrounding environs due to significant criminal activity. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area and Petionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.

Cameras and video cameras should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent incidents have followed unwelcome photography. Their use should be avoided altogether in high-crime areas.

Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in criminal activity. Haiti’s Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. People attending Carnival events or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured and killed. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent. Roving musical bands called “rah-rahs” operate during the period from New Year’s Day through Carnival. Being caught in a rah-rah event may begin as an enjoyable experience, but the potential for injury and the destruction of property is high. A mob mentality can develop unexpectedly leaving people and cars engulfed and at risk. During Carnival, rah-rahs continuously form without warning; some rah-rahs have identified themselves with political entities, lending further potential for violence.

The Haitian police are understaffed, poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. Police complicity, if not involvement, in violent crime in Haiti as well as in the illegal drug trade and kidnapping was regularly alleged under the previous government. The unsatisfactory response and enforcement capabilities of the Haitian national police and the weakness of the judiciary frustrate many victims of crime in Haiti. In the past, U.S. citizens involved in business and property disputes in Haiti have been arrested and detained without charge, and have been released only after intervention at high levels of the Haitian Government.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in Haiti are scarce and for the most part sub-standard; outside the capital standards are even lower. Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and the level of community sanitation is extremely low. Life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient’s expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Haiti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Cars are supposed to be driven on the right side of the road in Haiti, but few roads have lane indicators and drivers use whatever part of the road is open to them, even if it is not the correct side of the road. Traffic is extremely congested in urban areas, and hours-long traffic jams develop throughout the country.

Driving in Haiti must be undertaken with extreme caution. The situation on the roads can be described as chaotic at best, and it is advisable for those with no knowledge of Haitian roads and traffic customs to hire a driver through a local hotel. Roads are generally unmarked, and detailed and accurate maps are not widely available. Lanes are not marked and signs indicating the direction of traffic flow seldom exist. This lack of organization, along with huge potholes that occur without warning, may cause drivers to execute unpredictable and dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic. The Haitian government lacks adequate resources to assist drivers in distress or to clear the road of accidents or broken-down vehicles blocking the flow of traffic. Drinking and driving is illegal in Haiti, but people frequently drive after drinking, especially at night.

Public transportation as it is usually defined does not exist in Haiti. While Haitians use buses, “taptaps” and taxis, which may observe regular routes, much like public transportation; none of these should be considered reliable. The Embassy strongly discourages their use.

Those who drive in Haiti should do so defensively and conservatively, avoid confrontations such as jockeying for position, and remain aware of the vehicles around them. Drivers should carry the phone numbers of people to call for assistance in an emergency, as Haitian authorities are unlikely to respond to requests for assistance. When traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, drivers should caravan with other vehicles to avoid being stranded in the event of an accident or breakdown.

As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify for driver’s licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied. Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all drivers use turn indicators or international hand signals properly. For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions, including turning right and stopping in the road, and others flap their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Drivers do not always verify that the road is clear before switching lanes, turning, or merging.

Speed limits are seldom posted and are generally ignored. Speeding is the cause of many of the fatal traffic accidents in Haiti, as are overloaded vehicles on winding, mountainous roads and vehicles without brakes. Poor maintenance and mechanical failures often cause accidents as well. Drivers should be particularly cautious at night, as unlighted vehicles can appear without warning. Right of way is not widely observed in Haiti, and there are few operational traffic lights or traffic signs. It is advisable at most intersections to stop and verify that there is no oncoming traffic even if it appears that you have the right of way. Drivers can be quite aggressive and will seldom yield. Walls built to the edge of roads frequently make it impossible to see around corners, forcing drivers to edge their cars into the road at intersections to check for oncoming traffic.

In addition to vehicles, a variety of other objects may appear on the road in Haiti, such as wooden carts dragged by people, small ice cream carts, animals, mechanics with vehicles, and even vendors and their wares. Vehicles are often abandoned in the road or by the side of the road. There are few marked crosswalks and sidewalks, and pedestrians often wend their way through traffic in urban areas.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Haiti as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Haiti’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the international airport in Port Au Prince does not meet international security standards, and has taken action to warn travelers of this security deficiency. U.S. and foreign air carriers that fly directly between the United States and Port Au Prince are temporarily providing additional security measures that counter the deficiencies identified at the airport.

Special Circumstances: The official currency of Haiti is the gourde, which has a variable exchange rate. Visitors will notice that most establishments in Haiti price items in an unofficial currency known as the “Haitian dollar.” (One Haitian dollar is equivalent to five gourdes.) Others give prices in gourdes or even in U.S. dollars. It is always a good idea to clarify with vendors which currency—the gourde, Haitian dollar, or U.S. dollar—is being used in a given transaction, as price tags often bear a number without indicating currency. The currency itself shows a value in gourdes.

Travelers’ checks are often difficult to change in Haiti, but credit cards are widely accepted and some establishments accept or cash personal checks. At least one local bank chain has ATMs around Port-au-Prince that are compatible with some U.S. ATM cards. These ATMs are frequently out-of-order, and there have been reports of over-charging accounts.

Haiti, like most Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1—November 30 each year. Extensive flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past. Daily weather information in Haiti is available from national and international media. The Haitian meteorological service provides hurricane warnings via national radio. Both media and government information is only in Kreyol and/or French. Warnings are also available on the Internet from many sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at hurricanes.noaa.gov. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Haiti’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Haiti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The judicial process in Haiti can be extremely long; progress is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific case. Detainees may wait months or years for their cases to be heard before a judge or to have legal decisions acted upon by the authorities. Bond is not usually available to those arrested for serious crimes with the result that often suspects remain in custody for many months before formal indictment. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Haiti are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Haiti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is [email protected] Hours are 7:30 am to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Thursdays, 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Blvd. Harry Truman, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 222-0200, 222-0354, 223-0955 or 222-0269; fax (509) 223-1641. Internet: http://portauprince.usembassy.gov/.

International Adoption : July 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The Haitian courts issue adoption decrees and other legal documents, and the “Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches” (IBESR) is the sole authority to provide authorization to adopt. IBESR also accredits adoption agents and orphanages in Haiti. Documentation from both the Haitian courts and from IBESR is required to adopt a child in Haiti.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Under Haitian law, at least one prospective adoptive parent must be 35 or older. For married couples, one prospective adoptive parent may be under age 35, provided the couple has been married for 10 years and has no biological children. Pursuant to the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Haitian Government may decide to lower its existing age requirement.

Haitian law permits adoptions by single parents. Adoptions by married couples require the consent of both spouses. This restriction can be waived with permission from the President of Haiti.

Residency Requirements: Haitian law does not require prospective adoptive parents to reside in Haiti, although Haitian courts and/or IBESR may require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti before the adoption is finalized.

Time Frame: The adoption process in Haiti requires an average of two to six months, primarily because the legal process is complex. Often adoption applications can take more than one year. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to keep this time-frame in mind. Once an adoption case has been approved by IBESR and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the process of obtaining an immigrant visa appointment at the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Consulate usually takes from two days to one week. If at the time of the visa interview the adoption case is complete and the immigrant visa is issuable, the visa itself is typically available within two business days.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: The U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince maintains a listing of Haitian attorneys who are known to handle adoptions or who have notified the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy of their intent to do so.

The U.S. Consulate also maintains a listing of orphanages recognized by IBESR. This information can be found at: http://portauprince.usembassy.gov/adoption.html. IBESR will not work with orphanages it does not recognize, nor will it issue adoption permissions to children in unrecognized orphanages.

Adoption Fees: Haiti’s courts charge for judicial services, but their fees are not fixed, and prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay varying court fees and expenses. IBESR charges 3,000 Haitian gourdes (approximately $80). The approximate total cost to adopt a child in Haiti is $3,000 excluding airfare; however, some adoptive parents report paying larger sums.

Note: Haitian and U.S. law prohibit any payments to the child’s birth parent(s) or guardian(s) by the prospective adoptive parents or their agents.

Adoption Procedures: Haitian law does not allow prospective adoptive parents to take children out of Haiti until the adoption is finalized. Applications for guardianship for the purposes of taking children out of Haiti for adoption in another country are not permitted.

Adopting a child under Haitian law involves three steps:

  1. Prospective adoptive parents must obtain release from the child’s surviving parent(s) or legal guardian. Known as the “Extrait des Minutes des Greffes,” this can only be obtained from the Tribunal de Paix (Justice of the Peace) with jurisdiction over the residence of the child.
  2. Prospective adoptive parents must then submit the “Extrait des Minutes des Greffes” to IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective adoptive parents and child. If IBESR approves the adoption, it issues an “Autorisation d’Adoption” (Authorization of Adoption).
  3. Finally, prospective adoptive parents must present the IBESR Authorization of Adoption to the “Tribunal Civil” (Civil Court) that has jurisdiction over the child’s residence in order to obtain an “Acte d’Adoption” (Adoption Act), which finalizes the child’s adoption.

Documentary Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents or their attorney should be prepared to present the following documents to the Haitian courts and/or IBESR.

  • The adoptive parents’ birth certificates (if born in Haiti, these must be the official “extrait de naissance”/extract of birth available from the National Archives);
  • The child’s “extrait de naissance” – this should not be confused with the “acte de naissance,” the document upon which the “extrait” is based;
  • The adoptive parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable; and
  • If the biological parents of the child are deceased, their “extrait de decès” (extract of death) from the National Archives.

The following is a list of documents required by IBESR.

For the child being adopted:

  • Three identity photos;
  • A Haitian legal document called the “Certificate of Abandonment” from the birth mother and father (if known);
  • Relinquishment of parental rights from each birth parent (if the birth parents are deceased, the surviving relatives or legal guardian must issue this document);
  • The child’s “extrait de naissance”;
  • Death certificate of the birth parents (“extrait de decès”), if applicable;
  • The child’s social history, which is a statement prepared by a social worker appointed by IBESR, stating how the child became an abandoned child;
  • A psychological evaluation of the child; and
  • A complete medical report that includes tests for tuberculosis, HIV, and sickle cell anemia.

For the adoptive parents:

  • A statement from the prospective adoptive parents that they plan to adopt a child in Haiti;
  • Three identity photos of each of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • Birth certificate of each prospective adoptive parent (or “extrait de naissance” if born in Haiti);
  • Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents (“extrait de mariage” if married in Haiti; not required of single adoptive parent);
  • An original notarized power of attorney designating whoever may act on the parents’ behalf in Haiti (if applicable; a fax copy is not sufficient);
  • A report from the adoptive parent’s U.S. state of residence indicating that they are authorized to adopt a child;
  • Financial documents, including tax returns, job letters, notarized bank account documents and copies of deeds and mortgages (prospective adoptive parents should forward the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support with the requisite attachments);
  • An evaluation of the household environment in which the adoptive child will live (the home study conducted for the I-600A can be used to fulfill this requirement);
  • A statement from a competent police authority in the prospective adoptive parent’s town of residence indicating the absence of a criminal record;
  • Medical examination reports for both prospective adoptive parents;
  • A psychological evaluation report of the prospective adoptive parents; and
  • Two letters of reference.

Embassy of Haiti:
Consular Section
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-4090

Haiti has consulates general in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York. In addition to these offices, Haitian honorary consuls in several cities also perform authentication services. These include honorary consuls in Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Evansville, New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Trenton.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Haiti:
U.S. Embassy Consular Section
104 Rue Oswald Durand
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Haiti may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Haiti is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Haiti and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Haiti place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Haiti with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: Normally, in Haiti, parents who are legally married share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is decided by a court. The rights of the designated parent will be set within the scope of the court order. Culture, ethnicity, and gender do not have an impact in custody disputes. However, morality, financial resources, dependability, and availability are essential elements that are taken into account in custody disputes. Parental kidnapping is considered a crime and the length of imprisonment depends on the age of the child abducted.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgements: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforced in Haiti.

Visitation Rights: In cases where legal custody has been granted and the judgment has been rendered, the non-custodial parent can petition the court for visitation rights within the court ordered decision or come to a verbal agreement with the custodial parent.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Haitian law.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Haiti. However, travel restrictions can be imposed on married women or children. This authorization requires certification from the Haiti immigration office before they may exit the country.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Haitian court should retain an attorney in Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by requesting one from the Embassy at:

U.S. Embassy Port-Au-Prince
Consular Section
5 Harry Truman Blvd
P O Box 1761
Port-au-Prince
Haiti
Telephone: (509) 223-7011
Fax: [509] 223-9665
Web site: http://usembassy.state.gov

Questions involving Haitian law should be addressed to a Haitian attorney or to the Embassy of Haiti in the United States at:

Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 332-4090
Internet: http://www.haiti.org

For further information on international inter-country adoption, contact the Office of Children’s Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to: Office of Children’s Issues, 2401 E Street, N.W., Room L127, Washington, D.C. 20037; Phone: (202) 736-7000; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

Travel Warning : January 10, 2007

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind American citizens of ongoing security concerns in Haiti, including frequent kidnappings of Americans for ransom. Travelers are strongly advised to thoroughly consider the risks before travel to Haiti, and to take adequate precautions to ensure their safety if they do so. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued July 7, 2006, and expires July 9, 2007.

U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Haiti are reminded that there is a chronic and growing danger of kidnappings. Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and the kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender or age; all are vulnerable. Over 60 Americans were kidnapped in 2006, most in Port-au-Prince. Many abductions are the result of carjacking or home invasions. Past kidnappings have been marked by deaths, sexual assault, shooting and physical assault of Americans. The lack of civil protections in Haiti, as well as the limited capability of local law enforcement to resolve kidnapping cases, further compounds the element of danger surrounding this trend.

U.S. citizens are also reminded of the potential for spontaneous protests and public demonstrations that can occur at any time, day or night, and may result in violence. While the nation-wide elections for municipal and other local positions on December 3rd, 2006, were conducted peacefully, political violence can occur at any time. American citizens are advised to take commonsense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. Visitors and residents must remain vigilant due to the absence of an effective police force in much of Haiti; the potential for looting; the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police; and the possibility of random violent crime, including carjacking and assault.

Travel can be hazardous within Port-au-Prince. Some areas are off-limits to embassy staff, including downtown Port-au-Prince after dark. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an embassy-imposed curfew and must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the curfew. The embassy has limited travel by its staff outside of Port-au-Prince and therefore its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince is constrained. The UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) remains fully deployed and is assisting the government of Haiti in providing security.

Due to the current security situation in Haiti, the Department of State reminds U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Haiti to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security; they are strongly advised to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The Consular Section can be reached at (509) 223-7011, fax number (509) 223-9665, or email address [email protected] Travelers should also consult the Department of State’s latest Consular Information Sheet for Haiti and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States or Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from overseas. In Haiti citizens can call 509/222-0200, ext. 2000.

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Haiti

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the August 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Haiti

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland. Ile de la Gonave and Ile de la Tortue comprise Haiti's principal offshore territories.

Cities: Capital—Port-au-Prince (pop. 2 million). Other cities—Cap Haitien (pop. 600,000).

Terrain: Rugged mountains with small coastal plains and river valleys, and a large east-central elevated plateau.

Climate: Warm, semiarid, high humidity in many coastal areas.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Haitian(s).

Population: (2006 census) 8.5 million.

Annual population growth rate: 1975-2001, 1.9%; 2.5% per year.

Ethnic groups: African descent 95%, African and European descent 5%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, voudou (voodoo) practices pervasive.

Languages: French (official), Creole (official).

Education: Years compulsory—6. Adult literacy (2006 census)—56%.

Health: Child mortality—1 out of 8 children die before they reach the age of five. Life expectancy—56 years (women), 52 years (men).

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: January 1, 1804.

Constitution: March 1987.

Government branches: Executive—President. Legislative—Senate (30 seats), Chamber of Deputies (99 seats). Judicial—Court of Cassation.

Political subdivisions: Ten departments.

Political parties: Lespwa, Fanmi Lavalas (FL), Struggling People's Organization (OPL), Open the Gate Party (PLB), Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHRENHA), Tet Ansam, Fusion of Socialist Democrats (FUSION), Grand Center Right Front Coalition, Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RNDP), Union to Save Haiti, Mobilisation for Haiti's progress, Haitian Democratic and Reform Movement, several others.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $4.8 billion.

Real GDP growth rate: (2006)2.5%.

Per capita GDP: (2006) $527.

GDP by sector: (2002) Agriculture—27%; industry—14%; services—52%; indirect and import taxes—7%.

Inflation: (2006 est.) 12.4%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble.

Agriculture: (27% of GDP) Products—coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, cacao, sorghum, pulses, other fruits and vegetables.

Industry: (14% of GDP) Types—apparel, handicrafts, electronics assembly, food processing, beverages, tobacco products, furniture, printing, chemicals, steel.

Services: (52% of GDP) Commerce, government, tourism.

Trade: (2006 est.) Total exports f.o.b.—$494.4 million: apparel, mangoes, leather and raw hides, seafood, electrical. Major market—U.S. Total imports f.o.b.—$1,548.3 million: grains, soybean oil, motor vehicles, machinery, meat, vegetables, plastics, petroleum.

Note: There are serious problems with national accounts in Haiti, including incomplete coverage and the questionable accuracy of raw data.

PEOPLE

Although Haiti averages about 302 people per square kilometer, its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. Sixty percent of the population lives in rural areas.

French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country's other official language. English is increasingly used as a second language among the young and in the business sector.

The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Increasing numbers of Haitians have converted to Protestantism through the work of missionaries active throughout the country. Much of the population also practices voudou (voodoo), recognized by the government as a religion in April 2003. Haitians tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs coexisting with Christian faith.

Although public education is free, the cost is still quite high for Haitian families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks, supplies, and other inputs. Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for approximately 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school and primary school enrollment is dropping due to economic factors. Remittances sent by Haitians living abroad are important in paying educational costs.

Large-scale emigration, principally to the U.S.—but also to Canada, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and other Caribbean neighbors, and France—has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth Department or the Diaspora. About one of every eight Haitians lives abroad.

HISTORY

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the “pearl of the Antilles”— one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted—led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe—and gained control of the northern part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the French.

By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the independent nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere's first regional meeting of independent nations, in Panama in 1826, and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.

Two separate regimes—north and south—emerged after independence but were unified in 1820. Two years later, Haiti occupied Santo Domingo, the eastern, Spanish-speaking part of Hispaniola. In 1844, however, Santo Domingo broke away from Haiti and became the Dominican Republic. With 22 changes of government from 1843 to 1915, Haiti experienced numerous periods of intense political and economic disorder, prompting the United States military intervention of 1915. Following a 19-year occupation, U.S. military forces were withdrawn in 1934, and Haiti regained sovereign rule.

From February 7, 1986—when the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended—until 1991, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional governments. In March 1987, a constitution was ratified that provides for an elected, bicameral parliament; an elected president that serves as head of state; and a prime minister, cabinet, ministers, and supreme court appointed by the president with parliament's consent. The Haitian Constitution also provides for political decentralization through the election of mayors and administrative bodies responsible for local government.

1991-1994—An Interrupted Transition

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic priest, 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 dissatisfied elements of the army and supported by many of the country's economic elite. Following the coup, Aristide began a 3-year exile in the U.S. Several thousand Haitians may have been killed during the de facto military rule. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a total of 41,342 Haitians at sea during 1991 and 1992, more than the number of rescued boat people from the previous 10 years combined.

From October 1991 to September 1994 an unconstitutional military de facto regime governed Haiti. Various OAS and UN initiatives to end the political crisis through the peaceful restoration of the constitutionally elected government, including the Governor's Island Agreement of July

1993, failed. When the military refused to uphold its end of the agreements, the de facto authorities refused to allow a return to constitutional government, even though the economy was collapsing and the country's infrastructure deteriorated from neglect.

1994—International Intervention

On July 31, 1994, as repression mounted in Haiti and a UN-OAS civilian human rights monitoring mission (MICIVIH) was expelled from the country, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 940. UNSC Resolution 940 authorized member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and to restore Haiti's constitutionally elected government to power.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MNF) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a military intervention. In mid-September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti by force, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to persuade the de facto authorities to step aside and allow for the return of constitutional rule. With intervening troops already airborne, Gen. Raoul Cedras and other top leaders agreed to accept the intervention of the MNF. On September 19, 1994, the first contingents of what became a 21,000-member international force touched down in Haiti to oversee the end of military rule and the restoration of the constitutional government. By early October, the three de facto leaders—Cedras, Gen. Philippe Biamby, and Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois—and their families had departed Haiti. President Aristide and other elected officials in exile returned on October 15. Under the watchful eyes of international peacekeepers, restored Haitian authorities organized nationwide local and parliamentary elections in June 1995. A pro-Aristide, multiparty coalition called the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL) swept into power at all levels. With his term ending in February 1996 and barred by the constitution from succeeding himself, President Aristide agreed to step aside and support a presidential election in December 1995. Rene Pre-val, a prominent Aristide political ally, who had been Aristide's Prime Minister in 1991, took 88% of the vote, and was sworn in to a 5-year term on February 7, 1996, during what was Haiti's first-ever transition between two democratically elected presidents.

1996-2000—Political Gridlock

In late 1996, former President Aristide broke from the OPL and created a new political party, the Lavalas Family (FL). The OPL, holding the majority of the Parliament, renamed itself the Struggling People's Organization, maintaining the OPL acronym. Elections in April 1997 for the renewal of one-third of the Senate and creation of commune-level assemblies and town delegations provided the first opportunity for the former political allies to compete for elected office. Although preliminary results indicated victories for FL candidates in most races, the elections, which drew only about 5% of registered voters, were plagued with allegations of fraud and not certified by most international observers as free and fair. Partisan rancor from the election dispute led to deep divisions within Parliament and between the legislative and executive branches, resulting in almost total governmental gridlock. In June 1997, Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned. Two successors proposed by President Preval were rejected by the legislature. Eventually, in December 1998, Jacques Edouard Alexis was confirmed as Prime Minister.

During this gridlock period, the government was unable to organize the local and parliamentary elections due in late 1998. In early January 1999, President Preval dismissed legislators whose terms had expired—the entire Chamber of Deputies and all but nine members of the Senate—and converted local elected officials into state employees. The President and Prime Minister then ruled by decree, establishing a cabinet composed almost entirely of FL partisans. Under pressure from a new political coalition called the Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), the government allocated three seats of the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to opposition groups and mandated the CEP to organize the overdue elections for the end of 1999. Following several delays, the first round of elections for local councils—ASEC and CASEC, municipal governments, town delegates, the Chamber of Deputies, and two-thirds of the Senate took place on May 21, 2000. The election drew the participation of a multitude of candidates from a wide array of political parties and a voter turnout of more than 60%.

2000 Electoral Crisis Leads to Aristide Departure

Controversy mired the good start, however, when the CEP used a flawed methodology to determine the winners of the Senate races, thus avoiding run-off elections for eight seats and giving the FL a virtual sweep in the first round. The flawed vote count, combined with the CEP's failure to investigate alleged irregularities and fraud, undercut the credibility of that body. The CEP President fled Haiti and two members eventually resigned rather than accede to government pressure to release the erroneous results. Nonetheless, on August 28, 2000, Haiti's new Parliament, including the contested Senators accorded victory under the flawed vote count, was convened.

Through a number of diplomatic missions by the OAS, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the United States, the international community had sought to delay Parliament's seating until the electoral problems could be rectified. When these efforts were rebuffed, Haiti's main bilateral donors announced the end of “business as usual.” They moved to re-channel their assistance away from the government and announced they would not support or send observers to the November elections. Concurrently, most opposition parties regrouped in an alliance that became the Democratic Convergence. The Convergence asserted that the May elections were so fraudulent that they should be annulled and held again under a new CEP. Elections for President and nine Senators took place on November 26, 2000. All major opposition parties boycotted these elections in which voter participation was estimated at 5%. Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the easy victor of these controversial elections, and the candidates of his FL party swept all contested Senate seats. On February 6, 2001, the Democratic Convergence named respected lawyer and human rights activist Gerard Gourgue as provisional president of their “alternative government.” Gourgue called the act “symbolic,” designed to protest flawed elections. On February 7, 2001, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as President. Notwithstanding the previous year's electoral controversy, the inauguration marked the first time in the country's history that a full-term president peacefully transferred power to an incoming president.

It did not, however, put an end to the political stalemate. OAS-mediated negotiations began in April 2001 to find a resolution, focusing on the on possible makeup of a new electoral council, a timetable for new elections, security for political parties, and other confidence-building measures. These negotiations made some progress, but were suspended in mid-July without a final agreement. On July 28, 2001, unknown gunmen attacked police facilities in Port-au-Prince and the provinces. A subsequent government crackdown on opposition party members and former soldiers further increased tensions between Lavalas and Convergence. On December 17, 2001, unidentified gunmen attacked the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Following the assault, pro-government groups attacked the offices and homes of several opposition leaders. One opposition member was killed. Negotiations between FL and Democratic Convergence, already on hold following the July violence, were suspended indefinitely.

In January 2002, the OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 806 on Haiti that called for government action to address the political stalemate, growing violence, and deterioration in respect for human rights. It also authorized OAS establishment of a Special Mission in Haiti to support implementation of steps called for in Resolution 806. The OAS Special Mission began operations in March 2002, working with the government on plans to strengthen Haiti's democratic institutions in security, justice, human rights, and governance. Nevertheless, the climate of security deteriorated and a rapidly weakening economy created risks of a humanitarian disaster. The OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 822, September 4, 2002, which set a new course for resolving the crisis by: committing the Haitian government to a series of steps leading to an improved climate of security for free and fair elections in 2003; supporting Haiti's resumption of normal relations with the International Financial Institutions; and strengthening the mandate of the OAS to monitor as well as support Haitian government efforts to comply with OAS resolutions. It also conferred new mandates related to conduct of elections and disarmament.

Protest strikes and attacks on opposition demonstrations by government-supported gangs between November 2002 and February 2003 hardened attitudes on both sides. The opposition issued a public call for Aristide's removal and announced plans for a transitional government. In March 2003, a high-level joint delegation of the OAS and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented specific demands to President Aristide to restore public security and create confidence necessary to move toward elections: select new leadership for the Haitian National Police in consultation with the OAS; arrest Amiot Metayer, a notorious gang leader; and disarm the security forces used by government politicians to intimidate opponents.

Events spiraled downward: In June 2003 the new police chief, appointed in consultation with the OAS, resigned and fled the country 14 days later after being ordered to give up his authority over budget and personnel; government-paid thugs violently disrupted a civil society public ceremony July 12 in Cité Soleil; police attacked civil society marches in Cap Haitien August 30 and September 14 and prevented an opposition march scheduled for October 5. Amiot Metayer was murdered September 21 (it is widely believed the government ordered the murder to prevent release of compromising information). The government announced August 13 that it was re-activating a defunct CEP in what many interpreted as a move toward holding elections outside the framework of OAS Resolution 822. The OAS and other foreign observers, including the U.S., denounced these steps. To re-invigorate the process envisioned in Resolution 822, the OAS designated a Special Envoy for Dialogue in Haiti, Terence Todman, a retired U.S. Career Ambassador. Todman, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, undertook three negotiating missions to Haiti in September-October 2003. Political instability grew throughout fall 2003. In Gonaives, Metayer's followers, hitherto pro-Aristide, led a violent rebellion against government authorities in the city. Government-sponsored repression of opposition protests reached a nadir when on December 5 pro-government gangs entered Haiti's state university campus and broke the legs of the Rector.

Following a meeting with Aristide at the Summit of the Americas in January 2004, Caribbean Community leaders proposed a plan to resolve the political crisis. President Aristide stated he accepted the plan at a meeting January 31. However, as the plan remained unimplemented, a high-level international delegation came to Haiti February 21 to obtain agreement on specific implementation timetable. President Aristide agreed, but the opposition “Democratic Platform” group of political parties and civil society expressed reservations. Meanwhile, the violence in Gonaives culminated February 5 in the former Cannibal Army, now called the Arti-bonite Resistance Front, seizing control of the city. Other armed groups opposed to the Aristide government quickly emerged and succeeded in seizing control of many towns, mostly with little resistance from government authorities. By February 28, 2004, a rebel group led by a former police chief, Guy Philippe, had advanced to within 25 miles of the capital. On February 29, 2004 Aristide submitted his resignation as President of Haiti and flew on a chartered plane to South Africa.

2004-2007—Interim Government Prepares the Way for a New Democracy

Following the constitutional line of succession, Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre assumed the presidency and Gerard Latortue was appointed prime minister of the Interim Government of Haiti (IGOH) with the mandate of organizing elections to choose a new government. Despite significant delays and controversies over who was Haitian enough to run for President, the interim government managed to organize three rounds of elections with the help of the OAS and UN. The first round of elections for President and Parliament took place peacefully on February 7, 2006. An impressive turnout estimated at over 60% of registered voters caused some logistical difficulties which were overcome. Overall, the elections were considered free, fair, transparent, and democratic by national and international observers.

René Préval, former President (1996-2001) and former ally to Aristide, won the presidential election with 51.15%. Partial results had shown he fell short of the majority and triggered demonstrations against alleged fraud. The later decision of the Electoral Council not to count blank ballots gave the victory to Préval. The Parliament, composed of a 30-seat Senate and a 99-member Chamber of Deputies, was elected in two rounds held on February 7 and April 21, 2006. Lespwa is the main political force in both chambers but fell short of the majority. Fusion, UNION, Alyans, OPL, and Famni Lavals have many representatives in both chambers. Préval chose his long-time political associate and former Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis to serve again as his Prime Minister. Municipal elections were held December 3, 2006 and April 29, 2007. Some of these local government positions had not been filled in over a decade.

International Presence 1995-2004

After the transition of the 21,000-strong MNF into a peacekeeping force on March 31, 1995, the presence of international military forces that helped restore constitutional government to power was gradually ended. Initially, the U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force numbered 6,000 troops, but that number was scaled back progressively over the next 4 years as a series of UN technical missions succeeded the peacekeeping force. By January 2000, all U.S. troops stationed in Haiti had departed. In March 2000, the UN peacekeeping mission transitioned into a peace-building mission, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH). MICAH consisted of some 80 non-uniformed UN technical advisers providing advice and material assistance in policing, justice, and human rights to the Haitian Government. MICAH's mandate ended on February 7, 2001, coinciding with the end of the Preval administration. The OAS Special Mission has some 25 international police advisors who arrived in summer 2003; is in addition to observing and reporting Haitian police performance, they provide limited technical assistance.

International Presence 2004-Present

At the request of the interim government and the UN, the U.S.-led Multilateral Interim Force, made up of troops from the U.S., Canada, France, and Chile, arrived in Port-au-Prince to ensure stability until the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force.

In April 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1542, which created the UN Stability Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Since that time, the Security Council has consistently and unanimously approved the renewal of MINUS-TAH's mandate at 6-month intervals. On February 15, 2007, the UNSC unanimously voted to extend MINUSTAH's mandate for 8 months through October 15. The Stability Mission is currently authorized at 7,200 troops and 1,951 civilian police.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Rene Garcia PREVAL

Prime Min.: Jacques-Edouard ALEXIS

Min. of Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Rural Development: Francois SEVERIN

Min. of Commerce & Industry: Maguy DURCE

Min. of Culture & Communication: Daniel ELIE

Min. of the Economy & Finance: Daniel DORSAINVIL

Min. of Education & Professional Training: Gabriel BIEN-AIME

Min. of Environment: Jean-Marie Claude GERMAIN

Min. of Foreign Affairs & Worship: Jean Reynald CLERISME

Min. of Haitians Living Abroad: Jean GENEUS

Min. of Interior & Territorial Collectivities: Paul Antoine BIEN-AIME

Min. of Justice & Public Security: Rene MAGLOIRE

Min. of Planning & External Cooperation: Jean-Max BELLERIVE

Min. of Public Health & Population: Robert AUGUSTE, Dr.

Min. of Public Works, Transport, & Communications: Frantz VERELA

Min. of Social Affairs: Gerald GERMAIN

Min. of Tourism: Patrick DELATOUR

Min. of Women's Affairs & Rights: Marie-Laurence Jocelyn LASSEGUE

Min. of Youth, Sports, & Civic Action: Fritz BELIZAIRE

Min.-Delegate to the Prime Min. in Charge of Relations With Parliament: Joseph JASMIN

Sec. of State for Agriculture: Joanas GUAY

Sec. of State for Finance: Sylvain LAFALAISE

Sec. of State for Judicial Reform: Daniel JEAN

Sec. of State for Literacy: Carol JOSEPH

Sec. of State for Public Security: Luc Eucher JOSEPH

Ambassador to the US: Raymond JOSEPH

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Leo MERORES

The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).

ECONOMY

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti now ranks 154th of 177 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. Haiti's economic stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental deterioration, continued reliance on traditional technologies, under-capi-talization and lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large portions of the skilled population, a weak national savings rate, and the lack of a functioning judicial system.

The 1991 coup and the irresponsible economic and financial policies of the de facto regime resulted in a sharp economic decline from 1991-94. Following the coup, the United States adopted mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, heavily dependent on U.S. markets, employed over 100,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell below 17,000. Private domestic and foreign investment has returned to Haiti slowly. Since the embargo's end, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered to about 18,500. The Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragemment Act (HOPE), enacted by the U.S. Congress in December 2006, provides new trade preferences for textile/apparel products that could boost production in the sector. However, growth has been stalled by investor concerns over security, lack of access to credit, and legal and physical infrastructure constraints.

Under President Préval (1996-2001), the country's economic agenda included trade/tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, financial sector reform, and the modernization of two out of nine state-owned enterprises through their sale to private investors, the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with international financial institutions (IFIs) intended to create conditions for private sector growth proved only partly successful, however. Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association. Unionization is protected by the labor code. A legal minimum wage of 70 gourdes a day (about U.S. $1.70) applies to most workers in the formal sector.

Haiti's real GDP growth turned negative in FY 2001 after six years of growth. Following almost 4 years of recession ending in 2004, the economy grew by 1.5% in 2005 and 2.5% in 2006. But significant improvement in living standards would require an estimated doubling of the growth rate. Since the departure of President Aristide, the financial situation has stabilized. Inflation fell from 42.7% at end-2003 to 12.4% at end-2006. The interim government conducted a largely sound fiscal policy which has been followed by the Alexis government. But the traditional low revenue collection rate (roughly 9% of the GDP) constrains its ability to provide social services and invest in physical and human capital. External assistance (approximately $965 million from July 2004 through March 2006) as well as diaspora remittances (estimated at approximately $1.65 billion) remain critical to keeping the economy afloat. In November 2006, Haiti was approved for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) and reached decision point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies, as well as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). It maintains diplomatic relations with several dozen countries.

The international community rallied to Haiti's defense during the 1991-94 period of de facto military rule. Thirty-one countries participated in the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) which, acting under UN auspices, intervened in September 1994 to help restore the legitimate government and create a secure and stable environment in Haiti. At its peak, the MNF included roughly 21,000 troops, mostly Americans, and more than 1,000 international police monitors. Within 6 months, the troop level was gradually reduced as the MNF transitioned to a 6,000-strong peacekeeping force, the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). UNMIH was charged with maintaining the secure environment which the MNF had helped establish as well as nurturing Haiti's new police force through the presence of 900 police advisers. A total of 38 countries participated in UNMIH.

To spur Haiti's social and economic recovery from decades of misrule before that, international donors pledged in 1994 to provide more than $2 billion over five years in total assistance. Most bilateral assistance is now channeled through non-governmental organizations. Major bilateral donors are led by the United States, with the largest program, and include Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Cuba provides highly visible, low-cost medical and technical experts. Multilateral aid is provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the UN and its agencies. All aid is coordinated informally by the World Bank.

In July 2004, $1.085 billion was pledged through 2006 at the World Bank Donors’ Conference. Donors include the U.S., Canada, the EU, France, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Mexico, and Ireland. The IDB and the World Bank pledged multilateral aid. As of March 2006, $965 million had been disbursed, mainly to address humanitarian needs.

U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS; see “Key OAS Issues”), particularly through the Secretary General's “Friends of Haiti” group (originally a UN group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country's geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 13,000 annually in FY 1999-2003), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991-94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. Neighboring Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, continue to interdict Haitian migrants as well. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.

U.S. Economic and Development Assistance

Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti's governments to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. Since 2004, the U.S. has provided over $600 million for improving governance, security, the rule of law, economic recovery, and critical human needs. The President's budget request for FY 2007 was $198 million. U.S. Government funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems. Additional information on U.S. assistance to Haiti can be found at http://www.stategov/p/wha/rls/fs/2006/77358.htm.

Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of over 100,000 in 1986 to fewer than 20,000 in 2006, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.

Combating Drug Trafficking

Haiti is a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including vetting and training the counternarcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States.

U.S. Business Opportunities

The U.S. remains Haiti's largest trading partner. Port-au-Prince is less than 2 hours by air from Miami, with several daily direct flights. A daily flight also connects Port-au-Prince with New York, and a new Port-au-Prince-Fort Lauderdale flight started in 2003. Both Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien on the north coast have deep-water port facilities. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti's primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)—which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and the HOPE Act, which provides additional duty-free preferences for qualifying apparel/textiles products and automotive wire harnesses.

U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, chicken, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.

Establishing a Business

Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.

Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary. Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure, a high-cost port, an irregular supply of electricity, and Customs delays. There is little direct investment.

In November 2002, the Haitian Parliament passed an investment law prohibiting fiscal and legal discrimination against foreign investors. The 2002 law explicitly recognizes the crucial role of foreign direct investment in spurring economic growth and aims to facilitate, liberalize, and stimulate private investment in Haiti. Foreign investment protection is also provided by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses caused by war, revolution, or insurrection. The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The two governments also signed a bilateral investment treaty in December 1983, but it was not ratified. Additional information on establishing a business in Haiti can be found at www.export.gov, then to market research, then Country Commercial Guides.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

PORT AU PRINCE (E) 5, Harry Truman Blvd., Port-au-Prince, Haiti HT6110, (509) 222-0200, Fax (509) 223-1641, Workweek: 0700 -1530, Website: http://Portauprince.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Robin Goertz
AMB OMS:Kathryn Ahern
CDC:Anna Likos
DHS/CIS:David Fagan
ECO:Vacant
FM:Charles Baier
HRO:Christine Everhart (Non Resident)
MGT:Thomas Doherty
AMB:Janet Ann Sanderson
CG:Donald Moore
DCM:Thomas C. Tighe
PAO:Ellickson-Brown, James
GSO:Steve Goertz
RSO:Edwin Guard
AFSA:Kevin Byron
AID:Paul Tuebner
APHIS:Vacant
CLO:Vacant
DAO:MAJ Kendall Nash, Ltc
DEA:Darrel Paskett
EEO:Megan Larson-Koné
FMO:Maurice Olfus
ICASS:Chair Paul Tuebner
IMO:Kevin Byron
IPO:Tanya Williams
ISO:Papayoro Diop
ISSO:Papayoro Diop
MLO:CDR Evan C. Grant
NAS:Joyce Namde
POL:Michael Bosshart
State ICASS:Megan Larson-Koné

Other Contacts

U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: (202) 482-0704
Fax: (202) 482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075

Association des Industries d'Haiti (ADIH)
Bldg. Le Triangle Delmas 31, #139
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 246-4509/4510 or 2211

Centre Pour la Libre Entreprise et la Democratie (CLED)
37, Avenue Marie-Jeanne,
No. 8 B.P. 1316
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 244-0901 or (509) 245-6039
Fax: (509) 222-8252

Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie d'Haiti
P.O. Box 982
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 222-0281 or (509) 222-2475

Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry: (AMCHAM) Rue Oge, A-5
Petionville
Republic of Haiti
Tel: (509) 511-3024, fax not available

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

April 27, 2007

Country Description: Haiti is one of the least developed and least stable countries in the Western Hemisphere. The availability of consumer goods and services is barely adequate in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but other parts of the country experience chronic shortages. Most consumer products are imported and expensive. Some tourism facilities in the large cities and resort areas are satisfactory, but many are rudimentary at best, and are difficult to find in most rural areas and small towns.

Entry Requirements: Haitian law requires U.S. citizens to have a passport to enter Haiti. In the past, officials have waived this requirement if travelers had a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. Once in Haiti, an undocumented U.S. citizen can experience delays of several weeks for the issuance of a passport, as it is often more difficult to establish identity and citizenship overseas than in the United States.

U.S. Citizens traveling to and from Haiti must present a valid passport when entering or re-entering the United States. We strongly encourage all American citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport or “passport card” well in advance of anticipated travel.

The Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a departure fee. U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti for more details regarding current entry, departure and customs requirements for Haiti. The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; the telephone number is (202) 332-4090, and the Internet address is http://www.haiti.org. There are Haitian consulates in Miami, and Orlando, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; New York, N.Y., Chicago, Illinois and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Safety and Security: U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution and are strongly encouraged to register online or at the Consular Annex of the U.S. Embassy prior to or immediately upon their arrival.

Travel in Haiti can be dangerous and all visitors are urged to exercise vigilance and caution. In some cities and towns ordinary services such as water, electricity, police protection and government services are either very limited or unavailable. While U.N. personnel from several countries have been in Haiti since 2004, their presence does not guarantee absolute security for residents or visitors.

During 2006 the Embassy issued several security related messages warning U.S. citizens in Haiti of violent or unstable conditions. On occasion, the U.S. mission in Haiti was forced to suspend service to the public or close because of security concerns. These concerns have also prevented Embassy personnel from traveling to or through some areas. Since October 2004 Embassy personnel have been prohibited from entering central Port-au-Prince after dark due to security concerns. The Embassy has also imposed a curfew on its officers from time to time. If situations occur where the Embassy must suspend operations or when officers are unable to travel freely, the Embassy will continue to be available by telephone to offer emergency services to U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens in Haiti should avoid all large gatherings, as crowd behavior can be unpredictable. Visitors encountering roadblocks, demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart the area quickly and without confrontation. Assistance from Haitian officials, such as the police, is often unavailable. Overseas visitors must be particularly cautious on the days of planned political activities. U.S. citizens are urged to take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: There are no safe areas in Haiti. Crime, a chronic problem over the years, has increased in recent years and is subject to periodic surges sometimes not obviously explained by other events or conditions. The U.S. estimates that up to 8% of the cocaine entering the United States passes through Haiti. The state of law and order has steadily deteriorated as a result. Reports of kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, break-ins or carjackings occur almost daily. These crimes are primarily Haitian against Haitian, though several foreigners and U.S. citizens have been victimized. In 2006, reported kidnappings of American citizens increased to sixty, including one victim who was killed. Many American citizens reported that they were beaten and or raped by their hostage takers. Kidnapping remains the most critical security concern; kidnappers frequently target children.

U.S. citizens who travel to Haiti should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. Travelers should keep valuables well hidden, ensure possessions are not left in parked vehicles, use private transportation, alternate travel routes, and keep doors and windows in homes and vehicles closed and locked. U.S. citizens should avoid all night-time travel due to poor road conditions and increased criminal activity after dark. They should be alert for suspicious onlookers when entering and exiting banks, as criminals often watch and subsequently attack bank customers. Withdrawals of large amounts of cash should be avoided.

Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of two to four individuals, and are disposed occasionally to be confrontational and gratuitously violent. Criminals sometimes will seriously injure or kill those who resist their attempts to commit crime. In robberies or home invasions, it is not uncommon for the assailants to beat or shoot the victim in order to limit the victim's ability to resist. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance without resistance. This recommendation also applies in the event of a kidnapping. Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution at all times and review basic personal security procedures frequently.

U.S. citizens in Haiti must be particularly alert when arriving from overseas at the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies. Some recent incidents have resulted in death. The use of public transportation, including “tap-taps” (private transportation used for commercial purposes), is not recommended. Visitors to Haiti should arrange for someone known to them to meet them at the airport.

U.S. citizens should decline all requests to carry items for others to or from Haiti. Traffickers of illegal drugs have duped unsuspecting travelers into helping transport narcotics aboard commercial airlines.

Certain high-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area should be avoided, including Croix-des-Bouquets, Carrefour, Martissant, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale #1, the airport road (Boulevard Toussaint L’Ouverture) and its adjoining connectors to the New (“American”) Road via Route Nationale #1 (which should also be avoided). This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Embassy employees are prohibited from remaining in the downtown area after dark or entering Cite Soleil and La Saline and their surrounding environs due to significant criminal activity. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area and Petionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.

Cameras and video cameras should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent incidents have followed unwelcome photography. Their use should be avoided altogether in high-crime areas.

Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in criminal activity. Haiti's Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. People attending Carnival events or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured and killed. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent. Roving musical bands called “rah-rahs” operate during the period from New Year's Day through Carnival. Being caught in a rah-rah event may begin as an enjoyable experience, but the potential for injury and the destruction of property is high. A mob mentality can develop unexpectedly leaving people and cars engulfed and at risk. During Carnival, rah-rahs continuously form without warning; some rah-rahs have identified themselves with political entities, lending further potential for violence. The Haitian police are understaffed, poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. There are continued allegations of police complicity in criminal activity. The unsatisfactory response and enforcement capabilities of the Haitian national police and the weakness of the judiciary frustrate many victims of crime in Haiti. In the past, U.S. citizens involved in business and property disputes in Haiti have been arrested and detained without charge, and have been released only after intervention at high levels of the Haitian Government.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in Haiti are scarce and for the most part sub-standard; outside the capital standards are even lower. Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and the level of community sanitation is extremely low. Life-threatening emergencies often require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Haiti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Cars are supposed to be driven on the right side of the road in Haiti, but few roads have lane indicators and drivers use whatever part of the road is open to them, even if it is not the correct side of the road. Traffic is extremely congested in urban areas, and hours-long traffic jams develop throughout the country.

Driving in Haiti must be undertaken with extreme caution. The situation on the roads can be described as chaotic at best, and it is advisable for those with no knowledge of Haitian roads and traffic customs to hire a driver through a local hotel. Roads are generally unmarked, and detailed and accurate maps are not widely available. Lanes are not marked and signs indicating the direction of traffic flow seldom exist. This lack of organization, along with huge potholes that occur without warning, may cause drivers to execute unpredictable and dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic. The Haitian government lacks adequate resources to assist drivers in distress or to clear the road of accidents or broken-down vehicles blocking the flow of traffic. Drinking and driving is illegal in Haiti, but people frequently drive after drinking, especially at night.

Public transportation as it is usually defined does not exist in Haiti. While Haitians use buses, “taptaps” and taxis, which may observe regular routes, much like public transportation, none of these should be considered reliable. The Embassy strongly discourages their use.

Those who drive in Haiti should do so defensively and conservatively, avoid confrontations such as jockeying for position, and remain aware of the vehicles around them. Drivers should carry the phone numbers of people to call for assistance in an emergency, as Haitian authorities are unlikely to respond to requests for assistance. When traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, drivers should caravan with other vehicles to avoid being stranded in the event of an accident or break-down.

As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify for driver's licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied. Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all drivers use turn indicators or international hand signals properly. For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions, including turning right and stopping in the road, and others flap their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Drivers do not always verify that the road is clear before switching lanes, turning, or merging.

Speed limits are seldom posted and are generally ignored. Speeding is the cause of many of the fatal traffic accidents in Haiti, as are overloaded vehicles on winding, mountainous roads and vehicles without brakes. Poor maintenance and mechanical failures often cause accidents as well. Drivers should be particularly cautious at night, as unlighted vehicles can appear without warning. Right of way is not widely observed in Haiti, and there are few operational traffic lights or traffic signs. It is advisable at most intersections to stop and verify that there is no oncoming traffic even if it appears that you have the right of way. Drivers can be quite aggressive and will seldom yield. Walls built to the edge of roads frequently make it impossible to see around corners, forcing drivers to edge their cars into the road at inter-sections to check for oncoming traffic.

In addition to vehicles, a variety of other objects may appear on the road in Haiti, such as wooden carts dragged by people, small ice cream carts, animals, mechanics working on vehicles parked on the street, and even vendors and their wares. Vehicles are often abandoned in the road or by the side of the road. There are few marked crosswalks and sidewalks, and pedestrians often wend their way through traffic in urban areas.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Haiti's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Haiti's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: The official currency of Haiti is the gourde, which has a variable exchange rate. Visitors will notice that most establishments in Haiti price items in an unofficial currency known as the “Haitian dollar.” (One Haitian dollar is equivalent to five gourdes.) Others give prices in gourdes or even in U.S. dollars. It is always a good idea to clarify with vendors which currency—the gourde, Haitian dollar, or U.S. dollar—is being used in a given transaction, as price tags often bear a number without indicating currency. The currency itself shows a value in gourdes. U.S. dollars are the currency of choice at the Labadee Beach cruise ship port-of-call.

Travelers’ checks are often difficult to change in Haiti, but credit cards are widely accepted and some establishments accept or cash personal checks. At least one local bank chain has ATMs around Port-au-Prince that are compatible with some U.S. ATM cards. These ATMs are frequently out-of-order, and there have been reports of over-charging accounts.

Haiti, like most Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1—November 30 each year. Extensive flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past. Daily weather information in Haiti is available from national and international media. The Haitian meteorological service provides hurricane warnings via national radio. Both media and government information is only in Kreyol and/or French. Warnings are also available on the internet from many sources among which is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at hurricanes.noaa.gov. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Haiti's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Haiti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The judicial process in Haiti can be extremely long; progress is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific case. Detainees may wait months or years for their cases to be heard before a judge or to have legal decisions acted upon by the authorities. Bond is not usually available to those arrested for serious crimes with the result that often suspects remain in custody for many months before formal indictment. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Haiti are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Haiti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is [email protected] Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Blvd. Harry Truman, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 222-0200, 222-0354, 223-0955 or 222-0269; fax (509) 223-1641. Internet: http://portauprince.usembassy.gov.

Travel Warning

August 31, 2007

This Travel Warning is being issued to remind American citizens of ongoing security concerns in Haiti, including frequent kidnappings of Americans for ransom. Travelers are strongly advised to thoroughly consider the risks before travel to Haiti, and to take adequate precautions to ensure their safety if traveling to Haiti. This Travel Warning reinstates and updates the Travel Warning issued January 10, 2007.

U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Haiti are reminded that there is a chronic danger of violent crime, especially kidnappings. Most kidnappings are criminal in nature, and the kidnappers make no distinctions of nationality, race, gender or age; all are vulnerable. As of the date of this travel warning, there have been 12 Americans kidnapped in 2007, most in Port au Prince. Past kidnappings have been marked by deaths, physical and sexual assault, and shooting of Americans. The lack of civil protections in Haiti, as well as the limited capability of local law enforcement to resolve kidnapping cases, further compounds the element of danger surrounding this trend.

U.S. citizens are also reminded of the potential for spontaneous protests and public demonstrations that can occur at any time, day or night, and may result in violence. American citizens are advised to take commonsense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. Visitors and residents must remain vigilant due to the absence of an effective police force in much of Haiti, the potential for looting, the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police, and the possibility of random violent crime, including carjacking and assault.

Travel is hazardous within Port-au-Prince. Some areas are off-limits to embassy staff, including downtown Port-au-Prince, after dark. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an embassy-imposed curfew and must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the curfew. The embassy limits travel by its staff to areas outside of Port-au-Prince and therefore the ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince is constrained. The UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) remains fully deployed and is assisting the government of Haiti in providing security.

Due to the current security situation in Haiti, the Department of State reminds U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Haiti to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security; they are strongly advised to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ or with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The Consular Section can be reached at (509) 223-7011, fax number (509) 223-9665, or e-mail address [email protected] state.gov. Travelers should also consult the Department of State's latest Country Specific Information for Haiti and Worldwide Caution Travel Alert at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States or Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from overseas. In Haiti, citizens can call 509/222-0200, ext. 2000.

International Parental Child Abduction

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services.

For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Haiti is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Haiti and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Haiti place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Haiti with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: Normally, in Haiti, parents who are legally married share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is decided by a court. The rights of the designated parent will be set within the scope of the court order. Culture, ethnicity, and gender do not have an impact in custody disputes. However, morality, financial resources, dependability, and availability are essential elements that are taken into account in custody disputes. Parental kidnapping is considered a crime and the length of imprisonment depends on the age of the child abducted.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforced in Haiti.

Visitation Rights: In cases where legal custody has been granted and the judgment has been rendered, the non-custodial parent can petition the court for visitation rights within the court ordered decision or come to a verbal agreement with the custodial parent.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Haitian law.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Haiti. However, travel restrictions can be imposed on married women or children. This authorization requires certification from the Haiti immigration office before they may exit the country.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Haitian court should retain an attorney in Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by requesting one from the Embassy

U.S. Embassy Port-Au-Prince
Consular Section
5 Harry Truman Blvd
PO Box 1761
Port-au-Prince Haiti
Telephone: (509) 223-7011
Fax: [509] 223-9665
Web site: http://usembassy.state.gov

Questions involving Haitian law should be addressed to a Haitian attorney or to the Embassy of Haiti in the United States at:

Embassy of Haiti 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 332-4090
Internet: http://www.haiti.org

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

International Adoption

August 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The Haitian courts issue adoption decrees and other legal documents, and the “Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches” (IBESR) is the sole authority to provide authorization to adopt. IBESR also accredits adoption agents and orphanages in Haiti. Documentation from both the Haitian courts and from IBESR is required to adopt a child in Haiti.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Under Haitian law, at least one prospective adoptive parent must be 35 or older. For married couples, one prospective adoptive parent may be under age 35, provided the couple has been married for 10 years and has no biological children. Pursuant to the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Haitian Government may decide to lower its existing age requirement. Haitian law permits adoptions by single parents. Adoptions by married couples require the consent of both spouses. This restriction can be waived with permission from the President of Haiti.

Residency Requirements: Haitian law does not require prospective adoptive parents to reside in Haiti, although Haitian courts and/or IBESR may require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti before the adoption is finalized.

Time Frame: The adoption process in Haiti requires an average of two to six months, primarily because the legal process is complex. Often adoption applications can take more than one year. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to keep this timeframe in mind. Once an adoption case has been approved by IBESR and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the process of obtaining an immigrant visa appointment at the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Consulate usually takes from two days to one week. If at the time of the visa interview the adoption case is complete and the immigrant visa is issuable, the visa itself is typically available within two business days.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: The U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince maintains a listing of Haitian attorneys who are known to handle adoptions or who have notified the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy of their intent to do so. The U.S. Consulate also maintains a listing of orphanages recognized by IBESR. This information can be found at: http://portauprince.usembassy.gov/adoption.html. IBESR will not work with orphanages it does not recognize, nor will it issue adoption permissions to children in unrecognized orphanages.

Adoption Fees: Haiti's courts charge for judicial services, but their fees are not fixed, and prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay varying court fees and expenses. IBESR charges 3,000 Haitian gourdes (approximately $80). The approximate total cost to adopt a child in Haiti is $3,000 excluding airfare; however, some adoptive parents report paying larger sums.

Note: Haitian and U.S. law prohibit any payments to the child's birth parent(s) or guardian(s) by the prospective adoptive parents or their agents.

Adoption Procedures: Haitian law does not allow prospective adoptive parents to take children out of Haiti until the adoption is finalized. Applications for guardianship for the purposes of taking children out of Haiti for adoption in another country are not permitted.

Adopting a child under Haitian law involves three steps:

  • Prospective adoptive parents must obtain release from the child's surviving parent(s) or legal guardian. Known as the “Extrait des Minutes des Greffes,” this can only be obtained from the Tribunal de Paix (Justice of the Peace) with jurisdiction over the residence of the child.
  • Prospective adoptive parents must then submit the “Extrait des Minutes des Greffes” to IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective adoptive parents and child. If IBESR approves the adoption, it issues an “Autorisation d’Adoption” (Authorization of Adoption). Only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption. IBESR regional offices do not have this authority.
  • Finally, prospective adoptive parents must present the IBESR Authorization of Adoption to the “Tribunal Civil” (Civil Court) that has jurisdiction over the child's residence in order to obtain an “Acte d’Adoption” (Adoption Act), which finalizes the child's adoption.

Required Documents: Prospective adoptive parents or their attorney should be prepared to present the following documents to the Haitian courts and/or IBESR. The Haitian courts and IBESR require that all documents be translated into French and authenticated (notarized) by a Haitian consul in the United States.

  • The adoptive parents’ birth certificates (if born in Haiti, these must be the official “extrait de naissance”/extract of birth available from the National Archives);
  • The child's “extrait de naissance”—this should not be confused with the “acte de naissance,” the document upon which the “extrait” is based;
  • The adoptive parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable; and
  • If the biological parents of the child are deceased, their “extrait de decés” (extract of death) from the National Archives.

Note: Archives National d’Haiti is theNational Archives in Port-au-Prince and is the only Haitian agency with the authority to issue extracts related to acts of birth, death, marriage, and divorce. Each of these documents is based on an “acte” of birth, death, marriage, and divorce; this “acte” is rarely sufficient for IBESR or U.S. immigration purposes. The Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over the National Archives or ability to influence how quickly it can provide required extracts.

IBESR also requires tax returns and police clearances from the prospective parents, as well as medical and psychological reports for the adoptive parents and child. The Consulate sends adoptive parents a list of IBESR documentary requirements when it receives an approved Form I-600 or I-600A from USCIS.

Haitian immigration authorities require all Haitian children leaving the country to leave using Haitian passports that bear their adoptive name. The processing time for a Haitian passport can be as long as two or three months after the receipt of the final adoption act. The Consulate cannot issue U.S. passports to Haitian children, as U.S. passports are available only to U.S. citizens.

The following is a list of documents required by IBESR.

For the child being adopted:

  • Three identity photos;
  • A Haitian legal document called the “Certificate of Abandonment” from the birth mother and father (if known);
  • Relinquishment of parental rights from each birth parent (if the birth parents are deceased, the surviving relatives or legal guardian must issue this document);
  • The child's “extrait de naissance”;
  • Death certificate of the birth parents (“extrait de decés”), if applicable;
  • The child's social history, which is a statement prepared by a social worker appointed by IBESR, stating how the child became an abandoned child;
  • A psychological evaluation of the child; and
  • A complete medical report that includes tests for tuberculosis, HIV, and sickle cell anemia.

For the adoptive parents:

  • A statement from the prospective adoptive parents that they plan to adopt a child in Haiti;
  • Three identity photos of each of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • Birth certificate of each prospective adoptive parent (or “extrait de naissance” if born in Haiti);
  • Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents (“extrait de mariage” if married in Haiti; not required of single adoptive parent);
  • An original notarized power of attorney designating whoever may act on the parents’ behalf in Haiti (if applicable; a fax copy is not sufficient);
  • A report from the adoptive parent's U.S. state of residence indicating that they are authorized to adopt a child;
  • Financial documents, including tax returns, job letters, notarized bank account documents and copies of deeds and mortgages (prospective adoptive parents should forward the Form 1-864 Affidavit of Support with the requisite attachments);
  • An evaluation of the household environment in which the adoptive child will live (the home study conducted for the I-600A can be used to fulfill this requirement);
  • A statement from a competent police authority in the prospective adoptive parent's town of residence indicating the absence of a criminal record (this is included in the home study and the I-171H is sufficient for this requirement);
  • Medical examination reports for both prospective adoptive parents;
  • A psychological evaluation report of the prospective adoptive parents; and
  • Two letters of reference.

Embassy of Haiti
Consular Section
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-4090

Haiti has consulates general in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York. In addition to these offices, Haitian honorary consuls in several cities also perform authentication services. These include honorary consuls in Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Evansville, New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Trenton.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy
104 Rue Oswald Durand
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Haiti may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

HAITI

Compiled from the February 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Haiti


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland. Ile de la Gonave and Ile de la Tortue comprise Haiti's principal offshore territories.

Cities: Capital—Port-au-Prince (pop. 2 million). Other cities—Cap Haitien (pop. 600,000).

Terrain: Rugged mountains with small coastal plains and river valleys, and a large east-central elevated plateau.

Climate: Warm, semiarid, high humidity in many coastal areas.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Haitian(s).

Population: (2001 est.) 8.1 million.

Annual population growth rate: 1975-2001, 1.9%; 2000-2015 (est.) 1.3%.

Ethnic groups: African descent 95%, African and European descent 5%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, voudou (voodoo) practices pervasive.

Languages: French (official), Creole (official).

Education: Years compulsory—6. Adult literacy (2001 est.)−50.8%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—79/1000. Life expectancy—49.1 yrs.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: January 1,1804.

Constitution: March 1987.

Branches: Executive—President. Legislative—Senate (27 Seats), Chamber of Deputies (83 seats). Judicial—Court of Cassation.

Administrative subdivisions: Nine departments (a law creating a 10th department, approved by Parliament and signed by then-President Aristide, was awaiting publication to become law in November 2003).

Political parties: Fanmi Lavalas (FL), Struggling People's Organization (OPL), Open the Gate Party (PLB), Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHRENHA), Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), Popular Solidarity Alliance (ESKANP), several others. The Democratic Convergence is a coalition of most leading opposition parties formed to protest the results of May 2000 legislative and local elections.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GDP: (FY 2002) $3.5 billion.

Real GDP growth rate: (FY 2002) −0.9%.

Per capita GNP: (FY 2002) $425.

GDP by sector: (2002) Agriculture—27%; industry—14%; services—52%; indirect and import taxes—7%.

Inflation: (2002 CPI yearly) 14.8%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble.

Agriculture: (27% of GDP) Products—coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, cacao, sorghum, pulses, other fruits and vegetables.

Industry: (15.5% of GDP) Types—apparel, handicrafts, electronics assembly, food processing, beverages, tobacco products, furniture, printing, chemicals, steel.

Services: (52 % of GDP) Commerce, government, tourism.

Trade: (2002) Total exports f.o.b.$248 million: apparel, mangoes, leather and raw hides, seafood, electrical. Major market—U.S. ($244 million). Imports—$870 million c.i.f. From U.S. $674 million—grains, soybean oil, motor vehicles, machinery, meat, vegetables, plastics, petroleum. Note: There are serious problems with national accounts in Haiti, including incomplete coverage and the questionable accuracy of raw data.


PEOPLE

Although Haiti averages about 290 people per square kilometer (748 per sq. mi.). Its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. About two-thirds of the population live in rural areas.

French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country's other official language. English is increasingly used as a second language among the young and in the business sector.

The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Increasing numbers of Haitians have converted to Protestantism through the work of missionaries active throughout the country. Much of the population also practices voudou (voodoo), recognized by the government as a religion in April 2003. Haitians tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs coexisting with Christian faith.

Although public education is free, the cost is still quite high for Haitian families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks, supplies, and other inputs. Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for approximately 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school and primary school enrollment is dropping due to economic factors. Remittances sent by Haitians living abroad are important in paying educational costs.

Large-scale emigration, principally to the U.S.—but also to Canada, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and other Caribbean neighbors, and France—has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth Department or the Diaspora. About one of every eight Haitians lives abroad.


HISTORY

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the "pearl of the Antilles"one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted—led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christopheand gained control of the northern part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the French.

By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the independent nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere's first regional meeting of independent nations, in Panama in 1826, and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.

Two separate regimes—north and south—emerged after independence but were unified in 1820. Two years later, Haiti occupied Santo Domingo, the eastern, Spanish-speaking part of Hispaniola. In 1844, however, Santo Domingo broke away from Haiti and became the Dominican Republic. With 22 changes of government from 1843 to 1915, Haiti experienced numerous periods of intense political and economic disorder, prompting the United States military intervention of 1915. Following a 19-year occupation, U.S. military forces were withdrawn in 1934, and Haiti regained sovereign rule.

From February 7, 1986—when the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended—until 1991, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional governments. In March 1987, a constitution was ratified that provides for an elected, bicameral parliament; an elected president that serves as head of state; and a prime minister, cabinet, ministers, and supreme court appointed by the president with parliament's consent. The Haitian Constitution also provides for political decentralization through the election of mayors and administrative bodies responsible for local government.

1991-1994: An Interrupted Transition

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic priest, 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 dissatisfied elements of the army and supported by many of the country's economic elite. Following the coup, Aristide began a 3-year exile in the U.S. Several thousand Haitians may have been killed during the de facto military rule. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a total of 41,342 Haitians at sea during 1991 and 1992, more than the number of rescued boat people from the previous 10 years combined.

From October 1991 to September 1994 an unconstitutional military de facto regime governed Haiti. Various OAS and UN initiatives to end the political crisis through the peaceful restoration of the constitutionally elected government, including the Governor's Island Agreement of July 1993, failed. When the military refused to uphold its end of the agreements, the de facto authorities refused to allow a return to

constitutional government, even though the economy was collapsing and the country's infrastructure deteriorated from neglect.

1994: International Intervention

On July 31, 1994, as repression mounted in Haiti and a UN-OAS civilian human rights monitoring mission (MICIVIH) was expelled from the country, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 940. UNSC Resolution 940 authorized member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and to restore Haiti's constitutionally elected government to power.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MFN) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a military intervention. In mid-September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti by force, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to persuade the de facto authorities to step aside and allow for the return of constitutional rule. With intervening troops already airborne, Gen. Raoul Cedras and other top leaders agreed to accept the intervention of the MNF. On September 19, 1994, the first contingents of what became a 21,000-member international force touched down in Haiti to oversee the end of military rule and the restoration of the constitutional government. By early October, the three de facto leaders—Cedras, Gen. Philippe Biamby, and Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois—and their families had departed Haiti. President Aristide and other elected officials in exile returned on October 15.

Under the watchful eyes of international peacekeepers, restored Haitian authorities organized nationwide local and parliamentary elections in June 1995. A pro-Aristide, multi-party coalition called the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL) swept into power at all levels. With his term ending in February 1996 and barred by the constitution from succeeding himself, President Aristide agreed to step aside and support a presidential election in December 1995. Rene Preval, a prominent Aristide political ally, who had been Aristide's Prime Minister in 1991, took 88% of the vote, and was sworn in to a 5-year term on February 7, 1996, during what was Haiti's first-ever transition between two democratically elected presidents.

Political Gridlock

In late 1996, former President Aristide broke from the OPL and created a new political party, the Lavalas Family (FL). The OPL, holding the majority of the Parliament, renamed itself the Struggling People's Organization, maintaining the OPL acronym. Elections in April 1997 for the renewal of one-third of the Senate and creation of commune-level assemblies and town delegations provided the first opportunity for the former political allies to compete for elected office. Although preliminary results indicated victories for FL candidates in most races, the elections, which drew only about 5% of registered voters, were plagued with allegations of fraud and not certified by most international observers as free and fair. Partisan rancor from the election dispute led to deep divisions within Parliament and between the legislative and executive branches, resulting in almost total governmental gridlock. In June 1997, Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned. Two successors proposed by President Preval were rejected by the legislature. Eventually, in December 1998, Jacques Edouard Alexis was confirmed as Prime Minister.

During this gridlock period, the government was unable to organize the local and parliamentary elections due in late 1998. In early January 1999, President Preval dismissed legislators whose terms had expired—the entire Chamber of Deputies and all but nine members of the Senate—and converted local elected officials into state employees. The President and Prime Minister then ruled by decree, establishing a cabinet composed almost entirely of FL partisans. Under pressure from a new political coalition called the Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), the government allocated three seats of the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to opposition groups and mandated the CEP to organize the overdue elections for the end of 1999. Following several delays, the first round of elections for local councils—ASEC and CASEC, municipal governments, town delegates, the Chamber of Deputies, and two-thirds of the Senate took place on May 21, 2000. The election drew the participation of a multitude of candidates from a wide array of political parties and a voter turnout of more than 60%.

The Electoral Crisis

Controversy mired the good start, however, when the CEP used a flawed methodology to determine the winners of the Senate races, thus avoiding run-off elections for eight seats and giving the FL a virtual sweep in the first round. The flawed vote count, combined with the CEP's failure to investigate alleged irregularities and fraud, undercut the credibility of that body. The CEP President fled Haiti and two members eventually resigned rather than accede to government pressure to release the erroneous results. Nonetheless, on August 28, 2000, Haiti's new Parliament, including the contested Senators accorded victory under the flawed vote count, was convened.

Through a number of diplomatic missions by the OAS, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the United States, the international community had sought to delay Parliament's seating until the electoral problems could be rectified. When these efforts were rebuffed, Haiti's main bilateral donors announced the end of "business as usual." They moved to re-channel their assistance away from the government and announced they would not support or send observers to the November elections. Concurrently, most opposition parties regrouped in an alliance that became the Democratic Convergence. The Convergence asserted that the May elections were so fraudulent that they should be annulled and held again under a new CEP. Elections for President and nine Senators took place on November 26, 2000. All major opposition parties boycotted these elections in which voter participation was estimated at 5%. Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the easy victor of these controversial elections, and the candidates of his FL party swept all contested Senate seats. On February 6, 2001, the Democratic Convergence named respected lawyer and human rights activist Gerard Gourgue as provisional president of their "alternative government." Gourgue called the act "symbolic," designed to protest flawed elections. On February 7, 2001, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as President. Notwithstanding the previous year's electoral controversy, the inauguration marked the first time in the country's history that a full-term president peacefully transferred power to an incoming president.

It did not, however, put an end to the political stalemate. OAS-mediated negotiations began in April 2001 to find a resolution, focusing on the on possible makeup of a new electoral council, a timetable for new elections, security for political parties, and other confidence-building measures. These negotiations made some progress, but were suspended in mid-July without a final agreement. On July 28, 2001, unknown gunmen attacked police facilities in Port-au-Prince and the provinces. A subsequent government crackdown on opposition party members and former soldiers further increased tensions between Lavalas and Convergence. On December 17, 2001, unidentified gunmen attacked the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Following the assault, pro-government groups attacked the offices and homes of several opposition leaders. One opposition member was killed. Negotiations between FL and Democratic Convergence, already on hold following the July violence, were suspended indefinitely.

In January 2002, the OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 806 on Haiti that called for government action to address the political stalemate, growing violence, and deterioration in respect for human rights. It also authorized OAS establishment of a Special Mission in Haiti to support implementation of steps called for in Resolution 806.

The OAS Special Mission began operations in March 2002, working with the government on plans to strengthen Haiti's democratic institutions in security, justice, human rights, and governance. Nevertheless, the climate of security deteriorated and a rapidly weakening economy created risks of a humanitarian disaster.

The OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 822, September 4, 2002, which set a new course for resolving the crisis by: committing the Haitian government to a series of steps leading to an improved climate of security for free and fair elections in 2003; supporting Haiti's resumption of normal relations with the International Financial Institutions; and strengthening the mandate of the OAS to monitor as well as support GOH efforts to comply with OAS resolutions. It also conferred new mandates related to conduct of elections and disarmament.

Protest strikes and attacks on opposition demonstrations by governmentsupported gangs between November 2002 and February 2003 hardened attitudes on both sides. The opposition issued a public call for Aristide's removal and announced plans for a transitional government. In March, 2003, a high-level joint delegation of the OAS and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented specific demands to President Aristide to restore public security and create confidence necessary to move toward elections: select new leadership for the Haitian National Police in consultation with the OAS; arrest Amiot Metayer, a notorious gang leader; and disarm the security forces used by government politicians to intimidate opponents.

Since then, a new police chief, appointed June 9 in consultation with the OAS, resigned and fled the country June 23 after being ordered to give up his authority over budget and personnel; government-paid thugs violently disrupted a civil society public ceremony July 12 in Cité Soleil; police attacked civil society marches in Cap Haitien August 30 and September 14 and prevented an opposition march scheduled for October 5. Amiot Metayer was murdered September 21 (it is widely believed the government ordered the murder to prevent release of compromising information). The government announced August 13 that it was reactivating a defunct CEP in what many have interpreted as a move toward holding elections outside the framework of OAS Resolution 822.

The OAS and other foreign observers, including the U.S., have denounced these steps. To re-invigorate the process envisioned in Resolution 822, the OAS designated a Special Envoy for Dialogue in Haiti, Terence Todman, a retired U.S. Career Ambassador. Todman, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, undertook three negotiating missions to Haiti in September-October 2003.

Political instability grew throughout fall 2003. In Gonaives, Metayer's followers, hitherto pro-Aristide, led a violent rebellion against government authorities in the city. Government sponsored repression of opposition protests reached a nadir when on December 5 pro-government gangs entered Haiti's state university campus and broke the legs of the Rector.

Following a meeting with Aristide at the Summit of the Americas in January 2004, Caribbean Community leaders proposed a plan to resolve the political crisis. President Aristide stated he accepted the plan at a meeting January 31. However, as the plan remained unimplemented, a high-level international delegation came to Haiti February 21 to obtain agreement on specific implementation timetable. President Aristide agreed, but the opposition "Democratic Platform" group of political parties and civil society expressed reservations.

Meanwhile, the violence in Gonaives culminated February 5 in the former Cannibal Army, now called the Artibonite Resistance Front, seizing control of the city. Other armed groups opposed to the Aristide government quickly emerged and succeeded in seizing control of many towns, mostly with little resistance from government authorities. By February 28, a rebel group led by a former police chief, Guy Philippe, had advanced to within 25 miles of the capital.

A New Government Following the Departure of Aristide

On February 29, 2004 Aristide submitted his resignation as President of Haiti and flew on a chartered plane to the Central African Republic. Boniface Alexandre, President (chief justice) of Haiti's Supreme Court, assumed office as interim President in accordance with Haiti's constitution. On recommendation from the Council of Elders, the President chose Gerard Latortue as interim Prime Minister.

International Presence 1995-2004

After the transition of the 21,000-strong MNF into a peacekeeping force on March 31, 1995, the presence of international military forces that helped restore constitutional government to power was gradually ended. Initially, the U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force numbered 6,000 troops, but that number was scaled back progressively over the next 4 years as a series of UN technical missions succeeded the peacekeeping force. By January 2000, all U.S. troops stationed in Haiti had departed. In March 2000, the UN peacekeeping mission transitioned into a peace-building mission, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH). MICAH consisted of some 80 non-uniformed UN technical advisers providing advice and material assistance in policing, justice, and human rights to the Haitian Government. MICAH's mandate ended on February 7, 2001, coinciding with the end of the Preval administration. The OAS Special Mission has some 25 international police advisors who arrived in summer 2003; is in addition to observing and reporting Haitian police performance, they provide limited technical assistance.

International Presence 2004–Present

At the request of the interim government and the UN, the U.S.-led Multi-lateral Interim Force, made up of troops from the U.S., Canada, France, and Chile, arrived in Port-au-Prince to ensure stability until the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force.

In April 2004, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1542, which created the UN Stability Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The Stability Mission is authorized at 6,700 troops and 1,622 civilian police.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

On February 29, 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide submitted his resignation as President of Haiti and flew on a chartered plane to the Central African Republic. Boniface Alexandre, President (chief justice) of Haiti's Supreme Court, assumed office as interim President in accordance with Haiti's constitution.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/4/05

Interim President: Boniface ALEXANDRE
Interim Prime Minister: Gerard LATORTUE
Min. of Agriculture: Philippe MATHIEU
Min. of Commerce, Industry, & Tourism: Jacques-Fritz KENOL
Min. of the Economy & Finance: Henri BAZIN
Min. of Education & Culture: Pierre BUTEAU
Min. of Environment: Yves Andre WAINWRIGHT
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Herard ABRAHAM
Min. of Haitians Living Abroad: Alix BAPTISTE
Min. of Interior: Georges MOISE
Min. of Justice & Public Security: Bernard GOUSSE
Min. of Planning, Environment, & External Cooperation: Roland PIERRE
Min. of Public Health: Josette BIJOUX , M.D.
Min. of Public Works, Transportation, & Communications: Fritz ADRIEN
Min. of Social Affairs: Pierre-Claude CALIXTE
Min. of Women's Affairs: Adeline Magloire CHANCY
Sec. of State for Culture: Magalie COMEAU DENIS
Sec. of State for Energy, Mining, & Telecommunications in the Ministry of Public Works, Transportation, & Communications: Jean-Jaunasse ELYSEE
Sec. of State for Finance: Andre LeMercier GEORGES
Sec. of State for Public Security in the Ministry of Justice & Public Security: David BAZILE
Sec. of State for Tourism: Florentino LATORTUE
Sec. of State for Youth, Sports, & Civic Service: Paul BERNIE
Governor, Central Bank: Raymond MAGLOIRE
Ambassador to the US:
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York:

The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).


ECONOMY

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti now ranks 150th of 175 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. Haiti's economic stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental deterioration, continued reliance on traditional technologies, under-capitalization and lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large portions of the skilled population, a weak national savings rate, and the lack of a functioning judicial system.

The 1991 coup and the irresponsible economic and financial policies of the de facto regime resulted in a sharp economic decline from 1991-94. Following the coup, the United States adopted mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, heavily dependent on U.S. markets, employed nearly 80,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell below 17,000. Private domestic and foreign investment has returned to Haiti slowly. Since the embargo's end, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered to about 30,000, but further growth has been stalled by investor concerns over safety and political instability.

Under President Préval (1996-2001), the country's economic agenda included trade/tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, financial sector reform, and the modernization of two out of nine state-owned enterprises through their sale to private investors, the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with international financial institutions (IFIs) intended to create conditions for private sector growth proved only partly successful, however.

Haiti's real GDP growth turned negative in FY 2001 after six years of growth. Real GDP fell by 1.1% in FY 2001 and 0.9% in FY 2002. Macroeconomic stability was adversely affected by political uncertainty, the collapse of informal banking cooperatives, high budget deficits, low investment, and reduced international capital flows, including suspension of IFI lending as Haiti fell into arrears with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank.

Haiti's economy stabilized in 2003. Although FY 2003 began with the rapid decline of the gourde due to rumors that U.S. dollar deposit accounts would be nationalized and the withdrawal of fuel subsidies, the government successfully stabilized the gourde as it took the politically difficult decisions to float fuel prices freely according to world market prices and to raise interest rates. Government agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a staff monitored program (SMP), followed by its payment of its $32 million arrears to the IDB in July, paved the way for renewed IDB lending. The IDB disbursed $35 million of a $50 million policy-based loan in July and began disbursing four previously approved project loans totaling $146 million. The IDB, IMF, and World Bank also discussed new lending with the government. Much of this would be contingent on government adherence to fiscal and monetary targets and policy reforms, such as those begun under the SMP, and Haiti's payment of its World Bank arrears ($30 million at 9/30/03).

The IMF estimates real GDP was flat in FY 2003 and projects 1% real GDP growth for FY 2004. However, GDP per capita—$425 in FY 2002—will continue to decline as population growth is estimated at 1.3% p.a. While implementation of governance reforms and peaceful resolution of the political stalemate are key to long-term growth, external support remains critical in avoiding economic collapse. The major element is foreign remittances, reported as $931 million in 2002, primarily from the U.S. Foreign assistance, meanwhile, was $130 million in FY 2002. Overall foreign assistance levels have declined since FY 1995, the year elected government was restored to power under a UN mandate, when over $600 million in aid was provided by the international community.

Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association. Unionization is protected by the labor code. A legal minimum wage of 70 gourdes a day (about U.S. $1.70) applies to most workers in the formal sector.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies, as well as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). It maintains diplomatic relations with several dozen countries.

The international community rallied to Haiti's defense during the 1991-94 period of de facto military rule. Thirty-one countries participated in the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) which, acting under UN auspices, intervened in September 1994 to help restore the legitimate government and create a secure and stable environment in Haiti. At its peak, the MNF included roughly 21,000 troops, mostly Americans, and more than 1,000 international police monitors. Within 6 months, the troop level was gradually reduced as the MNF transitioned to a 6,000-strong peacekeeping force, the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). UNMIH was charged with maintaining the secure environment which the MNF had helped establish as well as nurturing Haiti's new police force through the presence of 900 police advisers. A total of 38 countries participated in UNMIH.

To spur Haiti's social and economic recovery from decades of misrule before that, international donors pledged in 1994 to provide more than $2 billion over five years in total assistance. Most bilateral assistance is now channeled through non-governmental organizations. Major bilateral donors are led by the United States, with the largest program, and include Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Cuba provides highly visible, low-cost medical and technical experts. Multilateral aid is provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the UN and its agencies. All aid is coordinated informally by the World Bank.

In July 2004, $1.085 billion was pledged through 2006 at the World Bank Donors' Conference. Donors include the U.S., Canada, the EU, France, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Mexico, and Ireland. The IDB and the World Bank pledged multilateral aid.


U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS; see "Key OAS Issues"), particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group (originally a UN group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country's geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 13,000 annually in FY 1999-2003), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991-94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. Neighboring Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, continue to interdict Haitian migrants as well. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.

U.S. Economic and Development Assistance

Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti's governments to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. These funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems. Among the programs are:

Food assistance (P.L. 480 Title II) for nutritional well-being and food security, especially children under five and nursing mothers.

Health. A US-supported network of over 30 local organizations serves 2.5 million Haitians. In US-assisted areas, child immunization rates are nearly double the national average. Child malnutrition rates fell from 32% to 22% in 1995-2000. The national percentage of women seeking prenatal consultation increased from 68% to 79%. The national contraceptive use rate increased as part of our expanded AIDS prevention program.

Democracy. Programs increase political party professionalism, strengthen independent media and civil society organizations, promote judicial reform and human rights, and support independent election observation groups. Public diplomacy programs bring Haitian government officials, journalists, and academics to the U.S. to learn about U.S. public policies and programs.

Education. Programs increase pass rates for second, third, and fourth grade students through training for teachers, school directors and parent-teacher associations, improved instruction in math and Creole reading, provision of books, teaching aids, and curriculum guides.

Economic Growth. Programs increase income for the poor through small business loans to urban micro-entrepreneurs; assistance to small farmers in marketing valuable export crops such as coffee, cacao, and mangos; and help to Haitian artisans to find niche export markets. Beneficiaries include small entrepreneurs (80% women), 25,000 hillside farmers, and 2,000 artisans.

In 2004, the U.S. pledged $230 million in aid through fiscal year 2006. These funds will be provided in a variety of areas:

Job Creation and Economic Growth: $22 million

Budget Support and Technical Assistance to Haitian Government Ministries: $45 million

Security Improvement: $26 million

Health, Nutrition and Education: $122 million

Elections: $15 million.

In addition to financial support, the U.S. provides human resources. U.S. Peace Corps volunteers are largely focused on health- and income-generation programs in Haiti's rural areas. Many private U.S. citizens travel regularly to Haiti or reside there for extended periods to work on humanitarian projects.

Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of 80,000 in 1986 to fewer than 17,000 in 1994, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.

Combating Drug Trafficking

Haiti is n a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including signing a counternarcotics letter of agreement with the Government of Haiti in May 2002, vetting and training the counternarcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States. Although Haiti did not meet counternarcotics certification criteria the past three years, the country was provided a waiver of any sanctions on grounds of vital national security interest.

U.S. Business Opportunities

The U.S. remains Haiti's largest trading partner. Port-au-Prince is less than 2 hours by air from Miami, with several daily direct flights. A daily flight also connects Port-au-Prince with New York, and a new Port-au-Prince-Fort Lauderdale flight started in 2003. Both Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien on the north coast have deep-water port facilities. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti's primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)—which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, chicken, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.

Establishing a Business

Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.

Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary.

Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure, a high-cost port, an irregular supply of electricity, and Customs delays. The government places a 30% withholding tax on all profits received. There is little direct investment.

Foreign investment protection is provided by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses caused by war, revolution, or insurrection. The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The two governments also signed a bilateral investment treaty in December 1983, but it was not ratified.

Additional information on establishing a business in Haiti can be found at www.usatrade.gov, then to market research, then Country Commercial Guide.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT AU PRINCE (E) Address: 5, Harry Truman Blvd.; Phone: (509) 222-0200; Fax: (509) 223-1641; Work-week: 0700-1530

AMB:James B. Foley
DCM:Douglas Griffiths
CG:Jay Smith
POL:Conrad Tribble
MGT:Paul A. Folmsbee
AFSA:Elizabeth Gourlay
AID:David Adams
APHIS:Christopher Cobbs
CLO:Laura Hahn
DAO:Christopher Grieg
DEA:Alvin Rollins
ECO:David Reimer
EEO:Leslie Imes
FMO:Morgan Byrnes
GSO:Robert Heater
ICASS Chair:Matthew Brown
IMO:Howard Sparks
IPO:Howard Sparks
ISO:Meredith Strong
ISSO:Steve Baldwin
MLO:Larry Jones
PAO:Mara Tekach-Ball
State ICASS:David Reimer
Last Updated: 8/2/2004

Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service does not have a separate office in Haiti. Commercial matters are handled by the Embassy economic section. Tel: (509) 223-1477; Fax: (509) 223-9038; Cell: (509) 409-1441.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
1615 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20527
Tel: (202) 457-7200; Fax: (202) 331-4234

U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: (202) 482-0704;
Fax: (202) 482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464;
Fax: (202) 822-0075

Association des Industries d'Haiti (ADIH)
Bldg. Le Triangle Delmas 31, #139
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 246-4509/4510 or 2211

Centre Pour la Libre Entreprise et la Democratie (CLED)
37, Avenue Marie-Jeanne,
No. 8 B.P. 1316
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 244-0901 or (509) 245-6039
Fax: (509) 222-8252

Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie d'Haiti
P.O. Box 982
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 222-0281 or (509) 222-2475

Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry: (AMCHAM)
Rue Oge, A-5
Petionville
Republic of Haiti
Tel: (509) 511-3024, fax not available


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 10, 2005

Country Description: Haiti is one of the least developed and least stable countries in the Western Hemisphere. The availability of consumer goods and services is barely adequate in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but other parts of the country experience chronic shortages. Most consumer products are imported and expensive. Some tourism facilities in the large cities and resort areas are satisfactory, but many are rudimentary at best, and are difficult to find in most rural areas and small towns.

Entry/Exit Requirements: Haitian law requires U.S. citizens to have a passport to enter Haiti. In the past, officials have sometimes waived this requirement if travelers had a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines will not board passengers for return to the United States unless they are in possession of a valid passport. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. Once in Haiti, an undocumented U.S. citizen can experience delays of several weeks for the issuance of a passport, as it is often more difficult to establish identity and citizenship overseas than in the United States. The Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a departure fee. U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti for more details regarding current entry, departure and customs requirements for Haiti. The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008; the telephone number is (202) 332-4090, and the Internet address is http://www.haiti.org/. There are Haitian consulates in Miami, Florida; Boston, Massachusetts; New York, N.Y.; Chicago, Illinois and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Safety and Security: U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Haiti at this time. Those who feel they must visit Haiti should exercise extreme caution and are strongly encouraged to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs or at the Consular Annex of the U.S. Embassy prior to or immediately upon their arrival.

Throughout 2004, Haiti experienced continuing civil and political unrest. Protests and demonstrations occurred frequently throughout the country, and were often violent. Private organizations and businesses were the targets of demonstrations or take-over attempts related to business disputes or extortion demands. Rural areas also became more dangerous.

Although there was a change in government in Haiti in late February 2004, many pockets of instability remain throughout the country. Travel in Haiti is dangerous and not recommended. Some cities and towns are controlled by rogue elements and ordinary services such as water, electricity, police protection and government services are either very limited or unavailable. Violent incidents take place without warning including attacks against government facilities and random shootings. While U.N. personnel from several countries have been in Haiti since the change in government, there are relatively few of them and their mission in Haiti does not include guaranteeing the safety of visitors.

During the first 11 months of 2004, the Embassy issued approximately fifty-five security related messages warning U.S. citizens in Haiti of violent or unstable conditions. On occasion, the U.S. mission in Haiti was forced to suspend service to the public or closed because of security concerns. These concerns have also prevented Embassy personnel from traveling to or through some areas. Since October 2004 Embassy personnel have been prohibited from entering central Port-au-Prince after dark due to lawlessness. The Embassy has also imposed a curfew on its officers from time to time. In situations where the Embassy must suspend operations or when officers are unable to circulate freely, the Embassy will continue to be available by telephone to offer emergency services to U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens in Haiti should avoid all large gatherings, as crowd behavior can be unpredictable. Visitors encountering roadblocks, demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart the area quickly and without confrontation. Assistance from Haitian officials, such as the police, is often unavailable. Overseas visitors must be particularly cautious on the days of planned political activities. U.S. citizens are urged to take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: There are no "safe areas" in Haiti. Crime, already a problem, has mushroomed in recent years. The U.S. estimates that up to 8% of the cocaine entering the United States passes through Haiti. The state of law and order has steadily deteriorated as a result. Reports of death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, kidnappings, armed robberies, break-ins or carjackings occur almost daily. These crimes are primarily Haitian against Haitian, though some foreigners and U.S. citizens of Haitian origin have been victimized. At the same time, the number of murders of U.S. citizens increased from two in 2003 to seven in the first eleven months of 2004. While there was only one kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in 2003, nine kidnappings involving U.S. citizens have already been reported during 2004.

U.S. citizens who must travel to Haiti should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. Travelers should keep valuables well hidden, ensure possessions are not left in parked vehicles, use private transportation, alternate travel routes, and keep doors and windows in homes and vehicles closed and locked. U.S. citizens should avoid all nighttime travel due to poor road conditions and increased criminal activity after dark. They should be alert for suspicious onlookers when entering and exiting banks, as criminals often watch and subsequently attack bank customers. Withdrawals of large amounts of cash should be avoided.

Criminal perpetrators often operate in groups of two to four individuals, and are disposed occasionally to be confrontational and gratuitously violent. Criminals sometimes will seriously injure or kill those who resist their attempts to commit crime. In robberies or home invasions, it is not uncommon for the assailants to beat or shoot the victim in order to limit the victim's ability to resist. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance without resistance. Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution at all times and review basic personal security procedures frequently.

U.S. citizens in Haiti must be particularly alert when arriving from overseas at the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies. Some recent incidents have resulted in death. The use of public transportation, including "tap-taps" (private transportation used for commercial purposes), is not recommended. Visitors to Haiti should arrange for someone known to them to meet them at the airport.

U.S. citizens should decline all requests to carry items for others to or from Haiti. Traffickers of illegal drugs have duped unsuspecting travelers into helping transport narcotics aboard commercial airlines.

Certain high-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area should be avoided, including Carrefour, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale #1, the airport road (Boulevard Toussaint L'Ouverture) and its adjoining connectors to the New ("American") Road via Route Nationale #1 (which should also be avoided). This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Embassy employees are prohibited from remaining in the downtown area after dark or entering Cite Soleil and La Saline and their surrounding environs due to significant criminal activity, and are strongly urged to avoid Delmas 105 between Delmas 95 and Rue Jacob. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area and Petionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.

Cameras and video cameras should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent incidents have followed unwelcome photography. Their use should be avoided altogether in high-crime areas.

Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in violent crime. Haiti's Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. People attending Carnival events or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured and killed. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent. Roving musical bands called "raras" operate during the period from New Year's Day through Carnival. Being caught in a rara event may begin as an enjoyable experience, but the potential for injury and the destruction of property is high. A mob mentality can develop unexpectedly leaving people and cars engulfed and at risk. During Carnival, raras continuously form without warning; some raras have identified themselves with political entities, lending further potential for violence.

The Haitian police are understaffed, poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. Police complicity, if not involvement, in violent crime in Haiti as well as in the illegal drug trade and kidnapping was regularly alleged under the previous government; the current interim government's efforts to eradicate these problems have borne uneven results to date. The unsatisfactory response and enforcement capabilities of the Haitian national police and the weakness of the judiciary frustrate many victims of crime in Haiti. In the past, U.S. citizens involved in business and property disputes in Haiti have been arrested and detained without charge, and have been released only after intervention at high levels of the Haitian Government.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Posts in countries that have victims of crime assistance programs should include that information. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in Haiti are scarce and for the most part sub-standard; outside the capital standards are even lower. Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and the level of community sanitation is extremely low. Life-threatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Haiti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Cars are supposed to be driven on the right side of the road in Haiti, but few roads have lane indicators and drivers use whatever part of the road is open to them, even if it is not the correct side of the road. Traffic is extremely congested in urban areas, and hours-long traffic jams develop throughout the country.

Driving in Haiti must be undertaken with extreme caution. The situation on the roads can be described as chaotic at best, and it is advisable for those with no knowledge of Haitian roads and traffic customs to hire a driver through a local hotel. Roads are generally unmarked, and detailed and accurate maps are not widely available. Lanes are not marked and signs indicating the direction of traffic flow seldom exist. This lack of organization, along with huge potholes that occur without warning, may cause drivers to execute unpredictable and dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic.

The Haitian government lacks adequate resources to assist drivers in distress or to clear the road of accidents or broken-down vehicles blocking the flow of traffic. Drinking and driving is illegal in Haiti, but people frequently drive after drinking, especially at night.

Public transportation as it is usually defined does not exist in Haiti. While Haitians use buses, "taptaps" and taxis, which may observe regular routes, much like public transportation, none of these should be considered reliable. The Embassy strongly discourages their use.

Those who drive in Haiti should do so defensively and conservatively, avoid confrontations such as jockeying for position, and remain aware of the vehicles around them. Drivers should carry the phone numbers of people to call for assistance in an emergency, as Haitian authorities are unlikely to respond to requests for assistance. When traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, drivers should caravan with other vehicles to avoid being stranded in the event of an accident or breakdown.

As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify for driver's licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied. Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all drivers use turn indicators or international hand signals properly. For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions, including turning right and stopping in the road, and others flap their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Drivers do not always verify that the road is clear before switching lanes, turning, or merging.

Speed limits are seldom posted and are generally ignored. Speeding is the cause of many of the fatal traffic accidents in Haiti, as are overloaded vehicles on winding, mountainous roads and vehicles without brakes. Poor maintenance and mechanical failures often cause accidents as well. Drivers should be particularly cautious at night, as unlighted vehicles can appear without warning.

Right of way is not widely observed in Haiti, and there are few operational traffic lights or traffic signs. It is advisable at most intersections to stop and verify that there is no oncoming traffic even if it appears that you have the right of way. Drivers can be quite aggressive and will seldom yield. Walls built to the edge of roads frequently make it impossible to see around corners, forcing drivers to edge their cars into the road at intersections to check for oncoming traffic.

In addition to vehicles, a variety of other objects may appear on the road in Haiti, such as wooden carts dragged by people, small ice cream carts, animals, mechanics with vehicles, and even vendors and their wares. Vehicles are often abandoned in the road or by the side of the road. There are few marked crosswalks and sidewalks, and pedestrians often wend their way through traffic in urban areas.

For specific information concerning Haitian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Haitian Ministry of Tourism by email at [email protected] or via the Internet at www.haititourisme.org.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Haiti as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Haiti's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm. Additionally, On December 22, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the international airport in Port Au Prince does not meet international security standards, and has taken action to warn travelers of this security deficiency. U.S. and foreign air carriers that fly directly between the United States and Port Au Prince are temporarily providing additional security measures that counter the deficiencies identified at the airport. For more information regarding this action, travelers may visit the DHS internet web site at www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/theme_home8.jsp.

Special Circumstances: The official currency of Haiti is the gourde, which has a variable exchange rate. Visitors will notice that most establishments in Haiti price items in an unofficial currency known as the "Haitian dollar." (One Haitian dollar is equivalent to five gourdes.) Others give prices in gourdes or even in U.S. dollars. It is always a good idea to clarify with vendors which currency—the gourde, Haitian dollar, or U.S. dollar—is being used in a given transaction, as price tags often bear a number without indicating currency. The currency itself shows a value in gourdes.

Travelers' checks are often difficult to change in Haiti, but credit cards are widely accepted and some establishments accept or cash personal checks. At least one local bank chain has ATMs around Port-au-Prince that are compatible with some U.S. ATM cards. These ATMs are frequently out-of-order, and there have been reports of over-charging accounts.

Haiti, like most Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1—November 30 each year. Extensive flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past. Daily weather information in Haiti is available from national and international media. The Haitian meteorological service provides hurricane warnings via national radio. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Haiti's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Haiti are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The judicial process in Haiti can be extremely long; progress is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific case. Detainees may wait months or years for their cases to be heard before a judge or to have legal decisions acted upon by the authorities. Bond is not usually available to those arrested for serious crimes with the result that often suspects remain in custody for many months before formal indictment. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Haiti are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Haiti. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is [email protected] Hours are 7:30 am to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Thursdays, 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays.

The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Blvd. Harry Truman, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 222-0200, 222-0354, 223-0955 or 222-0269; fax (509) 223-1641. Internet: http://usembassy.state.gov/haiti/wwwhc00e.html.

Travel Warning

October 14, 2004

This Travel Warning is being issued to urge U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Haiti at this time due to the volatile security situation. The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members of U.S. Embassy personnel. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued October 9, to reflect the Embassy's authorized departure status.

U.S. citizens in Haiti are urged to consider departing until the situation is stabilized as travel in Haiti still involves serious risks. Visitors and residents must remain vigilant due to the absence of an effective police force in Haiti; the potential for looting; the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police; and the possibility of random violent crime, including kidnapping, carjacking, and assault. There has been a noticeable escalation in criminal and gang activity since September 30.

Travel can be hazardous within Port-au-Prince. Some areas are off-limits to embassy staff, including downtown Port-au-Prince after dark. The embassy has imposed a curfew, which could change periodically, from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Staff members must remain in their homes or in U.S. government facilities during the hours covered by the curfew. The embassy has limited travel by its staff outside of Port-au-Prince and the ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-Au-Prince remains extremely limited. The area around the city of Gonaives remains a disaster area as a result of the recent hurricanes, with little public services of any kind available. Many international organizations drew down their staffs earlier this year. The UN stabilization force (MINUSTAH) is assisting the government of Haiti in providing security, but it is not fully deployed, and the international presence throughout Haiti will remain limited for some time to come. U.S. businesses continue to operate in Haiti, but take special precautions to protect their facilities and personnel.

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Haiti despite this Travel Warning must remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and are strongly advised to register either online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/or come to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated information on travel and security in Haiti. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can be reached at (509) 223-7011, the fax number is (509) 223-9665 and the e-mail address is [email protected] Travelers should also consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Haiti and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States or Canada or 1-317-472-2328 from overseas. In Haiti citizens can call 509/222-0200 ext. 2000.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child in Haiti and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans.

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant
Visas Issued
FY 2003: 250
FY 2002: 187
FY 2001: 192
FY 2000: 130
FY 1999: 96

Adoption Authority in Haiti: The Haitian courts issue adoption decrees and other legal documents, and the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Research (IBESR) provides authorization to adopt. The IBESR is also responsible for accrediting adoption agents and orphanages in Haiti. Documentation from both the Haitian courts and from the IBESR is essential if you are planning to adopt a child in Haiti.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Under Haitian law, a prospective adopting parent must be older than age 35; for married couples, one prospective parent may be under age 35, provided the couple has been married for 10 years and has no children together. Pursuant to the terms of the United Nations Convention on Children, the Haitian Government may lower its age requirement. Requests to have the age requirement waived must submitted in writing to IBESR.

Haitian law permits adoptions by single parents. Adoptions by married couples require the consent of both spouses. This restriction can be waived with permission from the Haitian president.

Residential Requirements: Haitian law does not require prospective parents to reside in Haiti. Haitian courts and/or the IBESR may require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti before the adoption is finalized.

Time Frame: The adoption process can require an average of two to six months time, primarily because of Haitian legal intricacies. Adoption applications can take more than one year in certain cases.

Travelling to Haiti: There are several air carriers that service Port-au-Prince from the United States. American Airlines has daily flights from both Miami International Airport and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. Air France has a daily flight from Miami, and in partnership with Delta Airlines, offers special adoption fares with open-ended tickets. Air France's departure time out of Port-au-Prince is also later in the day, allowing adopting parents to leave on the same day the visa is issued. Visa interviews take place at 7:30am from Monday through Friday at the US Consular Annex in Port-au-Prince. If all documentation is complete, parents then return to the Consular Annex on the same day between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. to pick up the visa.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Successful and speedier adoptions generally require the services of a Haitian attorney. Lists of Haitian attorneys are available from the U.S. Embassy or the Department of State, Office of American Citizen Services and are included in this flyer.

Adoption Fees in Haiti: Haiti's courts charge for judicial services, though fees are not fixed. Adopting parents should expect to pay varying court fees and expenses. The IBESR charges approximately $170. The approximate amount of fees charged by adoption agencies to adopt a child in Haiti is $3,000, exclusive of airfare (some adoptive parents report paying larger sums). Note: Haitian and U.S. law prohibits any payments to the child's natural parent(s) or guardian by the prospective adoptive parents or their agents.

Adoption Procedures: Haitian law does not allow adoptive parents to take a child out of the country until that child first has been adopted in Haiti. Applications for guardianship for the purposes of taking children out of Haiti for adoption in another country are not permitted. A checklist of required documents for Haitian adoptions is provided at the end of this flyer.

Adopting a child under Haitian law involves three steps. First, the prospective parents must obtain from the Tribunal de Paix (Justice of the Peace) having jurisdiction over the residence of the child the proper release (known as the "Extrait des Minutes des Greffes") from the surviving parent(s) or from whomever has legal custody of the child. Second, this legal document must be submitted to the IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective parents and child. If the IBESR approves the adoption, it will issue a document known as the "Autorisation d'Adoption." Note: only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption; IBESR regional offices do not have this authority. Third, the adopting parents or their legal representative must present the authorization from the IBESR to the Tribunal Civil (Civil Court) having jurisdiction over the residence of the child, and obtain from that court a Haitian legal document known as the "Acte d'Adoption," which serves as the official adoption decree.

Documents Required for Adoption in Haiti: Prospective adoptive parents or their attorney should be prepared to present the following documents to the Haitian courts and/or the IBESR:

  • The birth certificates of the adoptive parents;
  • The child's birth certificate;
  • The marriage certificate of the adoptive parents; and if the natural parents of the child are deceased, their death certificates.
  • Tax returns and police clearances from the prospective parents,
  • Medical and psychological reports for the adopting parents and child

The Embassy will send prospective parents a list of the IBESR documentary requirements when the Embassy receives from DHS an approved Form I-600 or I-600A.

Authenticating U.S. Documents To Be Used Abroad: Haiti is not a party of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, so the Legalization Convention "apostille" certificate should not be used for documents to be presented in Haiti. Instead, the "chain authentication method" will be used to authenticate documents for Haiti. Please visit www.travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Haiti Embassy and Consulates in the United States:
Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202.332.4090;
Fax: 202.745.7215
E-mail: [email protected]

Consulates are located in Florida (305/859-2003), Massachusetts (617/266-3660), New York (212/697-9767), Puerto Rico (809/764-1392), and Illinois (312/922-4004).

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Haiti may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

Haitian Legal Requirements Adoption Checklist: The following is a list of documents required by the Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), the Haitian Government agency which investigates and approves adoptions in Haiti. Note: All documents written in English must be a) translated into French and b) notarized by a Haitian consul in the U.S.

For the Child Being Adopted:

  • Three identity photos
  • A Haitian legal document called the "Certificate of Abandonment" for biological mother and father (if known)
  • The child's birth certificate
  • The natural parent(s) death certificate(s), if applicable
  • The child's "social history," which is a statement prepared by a social worker appointed by IBESR, stating how the child became an abandoned child
  • A psychological evaluation of the child
  • The natural parents' relinquishment of parental rights. If the parents are deceased, the surviving relatives or legal guardian must issue this document
  • A complete medical report that includes tests for tuberculosis, HIV and sickle cell anemia

For the Adopting Parents: (These requirements may be satisfied by the items in your home study.)

  • A statement from the adoptive parents that they plan to adopt a child in Haiti
  • Three identity photos of the parents
  • Each parent(s) birth certificate
  • The parent(s) marriage certificate (not required of single adoptive parents)
  • An original notarized power of attorney to whomever is acting on the parents' behalf in Haiti (a fax copy is not sufficient)
  • A report from the adoptive parent's U.S. state of residence indicating that they are authorized to adopt a child
  • Financial documents, including tax returns, job letters, notarized bank account documents and copies of deeds and mortgages (we suggest forwarding your Form I-864 Affidavit of Support with the requisite attachments)
  • An evaluation of the household environment in which the adoptive child will live
  • A statement from a competent police authority in the adoptive parent(s) town of residence indicating the absence of a criminal record
  • Medical examination reports for both adoptive parents
  • A psychological evaluation report of the adoptive parents
  • Two reference letters

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2005

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of a specific foreign country is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

General Information: Haiti is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Haiti and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Haiti place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Haiti with dual national children should bear this in mind.

Custody Disputes: Normally, in Haiti, parents who are legally married share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is decided by a court. The rights of the designated parent will be set within the scope of the court order. Culture, ethnicity, and gender do not have an impact in custody disputes. However, morality, financial resources, dependability, and availability are essential elements that are taken into account in custody disputes. Parental kidnapping is considered a crime and the length of imprisonment depends on the age of the child abducted.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforced in Haiti.

Visitation Rights: In cases where legal custody has been granted and the judgment has been rendered, the non-custodial parent can petition the court for visitation rights within the court ordered decision or come to a verbal agreement with the custodial parent.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Haitian law.

Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Haiti. However, travel restrictions can be imposed on married women or children. This authorization requires certification from the Haiti immigration office before they may exit the country.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.

Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Haitian court should retain an attorney in Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by requesting one from the Embassy at: U.S. Embassy Port-Au-Prince; Consular Section; 5 Harry Truman Blvd; P O Box 1761; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Telephone: (509) 223-7011; Fax: [509] 223-9665; Web site: http://usembassy.state.gov

Questions involving Haitian law should be addressed to a Haitian attorney or to the Embassy of Haiti in the United States at: Embassy of Haiti; 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW; Washington, DC 20008, Telephone: (202) 332-4090; Internet: http://www.haiti.org.

views updated

HAITI

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Haiti

PROFILE
PEOPLE
HISTORY
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland. Ile de la Gonave and Ile de la Tortue comprise Haiti's principal offshore territories.

Cities: Capital—Port-au-Prince (pop. 2 million). Other cities—Cap Haitien (pop. 600,000).

Terrain: Rugged mountains with small coastal plains and river valleys, and a large east-central elevated plateau.

Climate: Warm, semiarid, high humidity in many coastal areas.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Haitian(s).

Population: (2001 est.) 8.1 million.

Annual population growth rate: 1975-2001, 1.9%; 2000-2015 (est.) 1.3%.

Ethnic groups: African descent 95%, African and European descent 5%.

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, voudou (voodoo) practices pervasive.

Languages: French (official), Creole (official).

Education: Years compulsory—6. Adult literacy (2001 est.)—50.8%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—79/1000. Life expectancy—49.1 yrs.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: January 1,1804.

Constitution: March 1987.

Branches: Executive—President. Legislative—Senate (27 Seats), Chamber of Deputies (83 seats). Judicial—Court of Cassation.

Administrative subdivisions: Nine departments (a law creating a 10th department, approved by Parliament and signed by President Aristide, was awaiting publication to become law in November 2003).

Political parties and coalitions: Fanmi Lavalas (FL), Struggling People's Organization (OPL), Open the Gate Party (PLB), Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHRENHA), Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), Popular Solidarity Alliance (ESKANP), several others. The Democratic Convergence is a coalition of most leading opposition parties formed to protest the results of May 2000 legislative and local elections.

Suffrage: Universal at 18.


Economy

GDP: (FY 2002) $3.5 billion.

Real GDP growth rate: (FY 2002) - 0.9%.

Per capita GNP: (FY 2002) $425.

GDP by sector: (2002) A griculture —27%; industry—14%; ser-vices—52%; indirect and import taxes—7%.

Inflation: (2002 CPI yearly) 14.8%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble.

Agriculture: (27% of GDP) Products—coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, cacao, sorghum, pulses, other fruits and vegetables.

Industry: (15.5% of GDP) Types—apparel, handicrafts, electronics assembly, food processing, beverages, tobacco products, furniture, printing, chemicals, steel.

Services: (52% of GDP) Commerce, government, tourism.

Trade: (2002) Total exports f.o.b.—$248 million: apparel, mangoes, leather and raw hides, seafood, electrical. Major market—U.S. ($244 million). Imports—$870 million c.i.f. From U.S. $674 million—grains, soybean oil, motor vehicles, machinery, meat, vegetables, plastics, petroleum. Note: There are serious problems with national accounts in Haiti, including incomplete coverage and the questionable accuracy of raw data.




PEOPLE

Although Haiti averages about 290 people per square kilometer (748 per sq. mi.), its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. About two-thirds of the population live in rural areas.


French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country's other official language. English is increasingly used as a second language among the young and in the business sector.


The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism. Increasing numbers of Haitians have converted to Protestantism through the work of missionaries active throughout the country. Much of the population also practices voudou (voodoo), recognized by the government as a religion in April 2003. Haitians tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs coexisting with Christian faith.


Although public education is free, the cost is still quite high for Haitian families who must pay for uniforms, textbooks, supplies, and other inputs. Due to weak state provision of education services, private and parochial schools account for approximately 90% of primary schools, and only 65% of primary school-aged children are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to around 20%. Less than 35% of those who enter will complete primary school. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school and primary school enrollment is dropping due to economic factors. Remittances sent by Haitians living abroad are important in paying educational costs.


Large-scale emigration, principally to the U.S.—but also to Canada, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and other Caribbean neighbors, and France—has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth Department or the Diaspora. About one of every eight Haitians lives abroad.




HISTORY

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, so me French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the "pearl of the Antilles"—one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted—led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe—and gained control of the northern part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the French.


By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States. Although Haiti actively assisted the independence movements of many Latin American countries, the independent nation of former slaves was excluded from the hemisphere's first regional meeting of independent nations, in Panama in 1826, and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.


Two separate regimes—north and south—emerged after independence but were unified in 1820. Two years later, Haiti occupied Santo Domingo, the eastern, Spanish-speaking part of Hispaniola. In 1844, however, Santo Domingo broke away from Haiti and became the Dominican Republic. With 22 changes of government from 1843 to 1915, Haiti experienced numerous periods of intense political and economic disorder, prompting the United States military intervention of 1915. Following a 19-year occupation, U.S. military forces were withdrawn in 1934, and Haiti regained sovereign rule.

From February 7, 1986—when the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended—until 1991, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional governments. In March 1987, a constitution was ratified that provides for an elected, bicameral parliament; an elected president that serves as head of state; and a prime minister, cabinet, ministers, and supreme court appointed by the president with parliament's consent. The Haitian Constitution also provides for political decentralization through the election of mayors and administrative bodies responsible for local government.


1991-1994 – An Interrupted Transition Coup

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic priest, 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 coupled by dissatisfied elements of the army and supported by many of the country's economic elite. Following the coup, Aristide began a 3-year exile in the U.S. Several thousand Haitians may have been killed during the de facto military rule. The coup contributed to a large-scale exodus of Haitians by boat. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a total of 41,342 Haitians at sea during 1991 and 1992, more than the number of rescued boat people from the previous 10 years combined.


From October 1991 to September 1994 an unconstitutional military de facto regime governed Haiti. Various OAS and UN initiatives to end the political crisis through the peaceful restoration of the constitutionally elected government, including the Governor's Island Agreement of July 1993, failed. When the military refused to uphold its end of the agreements, the de facto authorities refused to allow a return to


constitutional government, even though the economy was collapsing and the country's infrastructure deteriorated from neglect.


1994 – International Intervention

On July 31, 1994, as repression mounted in Haiti and a UN-OAS civilian human rights monitoring mission (MICIVIH) was expelled from the country, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 940. UNSC Resolution 940 authorized member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and to restore Haiti's constitutionally elected government to power.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MFN) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a military intervention. In mid-September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti by force, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to persuade the de facto authorities to step aside and allow for the return of constitutional rule. With intervening troops already airborne, Gen. Raoul Cedras and other top leaders agreed to accept the intervention of the MNF. On September 19, 1994, the first contingents of what became a 21,000-member international force touched down in Haiti to oversee the end of military rule and the restoration of the constitutional government. By early October, the three de facto leaders—Cedras, Gen. Philippe Biamby, and Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois -and their families had departed Haiti. President Aristide and other elected officials in exile returned on October 15.

Under the watchful eyes of international peacekeepers, restored Haitian authorities organized nationwide local and parliamentary elections in June 1995. A pro-Aristide, multiparty coalition called the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL) swept into power at all levels. With his term ending in February 1996 and barred by the constitution from succeeding himself, President Aristide agreed to step aside and support a presidential election in December 1995. Rene Preval, a prominent Aristide politicalally, who had been Aristide's Prime Minister in 1991, took 88% of the vote, and was sworn in to a 5-year term on February 7, 1996, during what was Haiti's first-ever transition between two democratically elected presidents.


Political Gridlock

In late 1996, former President Aristide broke from the OPL and created a new political party, the Lavalas Family (FL). The OPL, holding the majority of the Parliament, renamed itself the Struggling People's Organization, maintaining the OPL acronym. Elections in April 1997 for the renewal of one-third of the Senate and creation of commune-level assemblies and town delegations provided the first opportunity for the former political allies to compete for elected office. Although preliminary results indicated victories for FL candidates in most races, the elections, which drew only about 5% of registered voters, were plagued with allegations of fraud and not certified by most international observers as free and fair. Partisan rancor from the election dispute led to deep divisions within Parliament and between the legislative and executive branches, resulting in almost total governmental gridlock. In June 1997, Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned. Two successors proposed by President Preval were rejected by the legislature. Eventually, in December 1998, Jacques Edouard Alexis was confirmed as Prime Minister.


During this gridlock period, the government was unable to organize the local and parliamentary elections due in late 1998. In early January 1999, President Preval dismissed legislators whose terms had expired—the entire Chamber of Deputies and all but nine members of the Senate—and converted local elected officials into state employees. The President and Prime Minister then ruled by decree, establishing a cabinet composed almost entirely of FL partisans. Under pressure from a new political coalition called the Democratic Consultation Group (ESPACE), the government allocated three seats of the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to opposition groups and mandated the CEP to organize the overdue elections for the end of 1999. Following several delays, the first round of elections for local councils—ASEC and CASEC, municipal governments, town delegates, the Chamber of Deputies, and two-thirds of the Senate took place on May 21, 2000. The election drew the participation of a multitude of candidates from a wide array of political parties and a voter turnout of more than 60%.


The Electoral Crisis

Controversy mired the good start, however, when the CEP used a flawed methodology to determine the winners of the Senate races, thus avoiding run-off elections for eight seats and giving the FL a virtual sweep in the first round. The flawed vote count, combined with the CEP's failure to investigate alleged irregularities and fraud, undercut the credibility of that body. The CEP President fled Haiti and two members eventually resigned rather than accede to government pressure to release the erroneous results. Nonetheless, on August 28, 2000, Haiti's new Parliament, including the contested Senators accorded victory under the flawed vote count, was convened.


Through a number of diplomatic missions by the OAS, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the United States, the international community had sought to delay Parlia-ment's seating until the electoral problems could be rectified. When these efforts were rebuffed, Haiti's main bilateral donors announced the end of "business as usual." They moved to re-channel their assistance away from the government and announced they would not support or send observers to the November elections. Concurrently, most opposition parties regrouped in an alliance that became the Democratic Convergence. The Convergence asserted that the May elections were so fraudulent that they should be annulled and held again under a new CEP. Elections for President and nine Senators took place on November 26, 2000. All major opposition parties boycotted these elections in which voter participation was estimated at 5%. Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the easy victor of these controversial elections, and the candidates of his FL party swept all contested Senate seats. On February 6, 2001, the Democratic Convergence named respected lawyer and human rights activist Gerard Gourgue as provisional president of their "alternative government." Gourgue called the act "symbolic," designed to protest flawed elections. On February 7, 2001, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as President. Notwithstanding the previous year's electoral controversy, the inauguration marked the first time in the country's history that a full-term president peacefully transferred power to an incoming president.

It did not, however, put an end to the political stalemate. OAS-mediated negotiations began in April 2001 to find a resolution, focusing on the on possible makeup of a new electoral council, a timetable for new elections, security for political parties, and other confidence-building measures. These negotiations made some progress, but were suspended in mid-July without a final agreement. On July 28, 2001, unknown gunmen attacked police facilities in Port-au-Prince and the provinces. A subsequent government crackdown on opposition party members and former soldiers further increased tensions between Lavalas and Convergence. On December 17, 2001, unidentified gunmen attacked the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Following the assault, pro-government groups attacked the offices and homes of several opposition leaders. One opposition member was killed. Negotiations between FL and Democratic Convergence, already on hold following the July violence, were suspended indefinitely.


In January 2002, the OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 806 on Haiti that called for government action to address the political stalemate, growing violence, and deterioration in respect for human rights. It also authorized OAS establishment of a Special Mission in Haiti to support implementation of steps called for in Resolution 806. T The OAS Special Mission began operations in March 2002, working with the government on plans to strengthen Haiti's democratic institutions in security, justice, human rights, and governance. Nevertheless, the climate of security deteriorated and a rapidly weakening economy created risks of a humanitarian disaster. The OAS Permanent Council adopted Resolution 822, September 4, 2002, which set a new course for resolving the crisis by: committing the Haitian government to a series of steps leading to an improved climate of security for free and fair elections in 2003; supporting Haiti's resumption of normal relations with the International Financial Institutions; and strengthening the mandate of the OAS to monitor as well as support GOH efforts to comply with OAS resolutions. It also conferred new mandates related to conduct of elections and disarmament.


Protest strikes and attacks on opposition demonstrations by government-supported gangs between November 2002 and February 2003 hardened attitudes on both sides. The opposition issued a public call for Aristide's removal and announced plans for a transitional government. In March, 2003, a high-level joint delegation of the OAS and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) presented specific demands to President Aristide to restore public security and create confidence necessary to move toward elections: select new leadership for the Haitian National Police in consultation with the OAS; arrest Amiot Metayer, a notorious gang leader; and disarm the security forces used by government politicians to intimidate opponents. Since then, a new police chief, appointed June 9 in consultation with the OAS, resigned and fled the country June 23 after being ordered to give up his authority over budget and personnel; government-paid thugs violently disrupted a civil society public ceremony July 12 in Cité Soleil; police attacked civil society marches in Cap Haitien August 30 and September 14 and prevented an opposition march scheduled for October 5. Amiot Metayer was murdered September 21 (it is widely believed the government ordered the murder to prevent release of compromising information). The government announced August 13 that it was reactivating a defunct CEP in what many have interpreted as a move toward holding elections outside the framework of OAS Resolution 822. The OAS and other foreign observers, including the U.S., have denounced these steps. To re-invigorate the process envisioned in Resolution 822, the OAS designated a Special Envoy for Dialogue in Haiti, Terence Todman, a retired U.S. Career Ambassador. Todman, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, undertook three negotiating missions to Haiti in September-October 2003. The political stalemate that began with the May 2000 legislative elections continues through the date of this report.


International Presence

After the transition of the 21,000-strong MNF into a peacekeeping force on March 31, 1995, the presence of international military forces that helped restore constitutional government to power was gradually ended. Initially, the U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force numbered 6,000 troops, but that number was scaled back progressively over the next 4 years as a series of UN technical missions succeeded the peacekeeping force. By January 2000, all U.S. troops stationed in Haiti had departed. In March 2000, the UN peacekeeping mission transitioned into a peacebuilding mission, the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH). MICAH consisted of some 80 non-uniformed UN technical advisers providing advice and material assistance in policing, justice, and human rights to the Haitian Government. MICAH's mandate ended on February 7, 2001, coinciding with the end of the Preval administration. The OAS Special Mission has some 25 international police advisors who arrived in summer 2003; is in addition to observing and reporting Haitian police performance, they provide limited technical assistance.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 12/22/03


President: Aristide, Jean-Bertrand

Prime Minister: Neptune, Yvon

Min. of Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Rural Development: Hilaire, Sebastien

Min. of Commerce & Industry: Roche, Jean-Claude

Min. of Culture & Communication: Desquiron, Lilas

Min. of Economy & Finance: Gustave, Jean Faubert

Min. of Environment:

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Antonio, Joseph-Philippe

Min. of Haitians Living Abroad: Voltaire, Leslie

Min. of Interior: Privert, Jocelerme

Min. of Justice: Delatour, Calixte

Min. of National Education, Youth, and Sport:

Min. of Planning & External Cooperation: Duret, Paul

Min. of Public Health & Population: Voltaire, Henri-Claude

Min. of Public Works & Transportation: Clinton, Harry

Min. of Social Affairs: Saint-Preux, Eudes

Min. of Women's Affairs: Lubin, Ginette

Min. Without Portfolio (in Charge of Negotiations with Opposition):

Sec. of State for Communication: Dupuy, Mario

Sec. of State for Literacy: Guiteau, Maryse

Sec. of State for Justice in Charge of Public Security: Dubreuil, Jean-Gerard

Sec. of State for Tourism: Deverson, Martine

Sec. of State for Youth, Sports, & Civic Service: Nau, Herman

Governor, Central Bank: Joseph, Venel

Ambassador to the US:

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alexandre, Jean The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).




ECONOMY

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti now ranks 150th of 175 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. Haiti's economic stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental deterioration, continued reliance on traditional technologies, under-capitalization and lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large portions of the skilled population, a weak national savings rate, and the lack of a functioning judicial system.


The 1991 coup and the irresponsible economic and financial policies of the de facto regime resulted in a sharp economic decline from 1991-94. Following the coup, the United States adopted mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, heavily dependent on U.S. markets, employed nearly 80,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell below 17,000. Private domestic and foreign investment has returned to Haiti slowly. Since the embargo's end, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered to about 30,000, but further growth has been stalled by investor concerns over safety and political instability.


Under President Préval (1996-2001), the country's economic agenda included trade/tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, financial sector reform, and the modernization of two out of nine state-owned enterprises through their sale to private investors, the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with international financial institutions (IFIs) intended to create conditions for private sector growth proved only partly successful, however.

Haiti's real GDP growth turned negative in FY 2001 after six years of growth. Real GDP fell by 1.1% in FY 2001 and 0.9% in FY 2002. Macroeconomic stability was adversely affected by political uncertainty, the collapse of informal banking cooperatives, high budget deficits, low investment, and reduced international capital flows, including suspension of IFI lending as Haiti fell into arrears with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank. Haiti's economy stabilized in 2003. Although FY 2003 began with the rapid decline of the gourde due to rumors that U.S. dollar deposit accounts would be nationalized and the withdrawal of fuel subsidies, the government successfully stabilized the gourde as it took the politically difficult decisions to float fuel prices freely according to world market prices and to raise interest rates. Government agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a staff monitored program (SMP), followed by its payment of its $32 million arrears to the IDB in July, paved the way for renewed IDB lending. The IDB disbursed $35 million of a $50 million policy-based loan in July and began disbursing four previously approved project loans totalling $146 million. The IDB, IMF, and World Bank also discussed new lending with the government. Much of this would be contingent on government adherence to fiscal and monetary targets and policy reforms, such as those begun under the SMP, and Haiti's payment of its World Bank arrears ($30 million at 9/30/03). The IMF estimates real GDP was flat in FY 2003 and projects 1% real GDP growth for FY 2004. However, GDP per capita—$425 in FY 2002—will continue to decline as population growth is estimated at 1.3% p.a. While implementation of governance reforms and peaceful resolution of the political stalemate are key to longterm growth, external support remains critical in avoiding economic collapse. The major element is foreign remittances, reported as $931 million in 2002, primarily from the U.S. Foreign assistance, meanwhile, was $130 million in FY 2002. Overall foreign assistance levels have declined since FY 1995, the year elected government was restored to power under a UN mandate, when over $600 million in aid was provided by the international community.

Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association. Unionization is protected by the labor code. A legal minimum wage of 70 gourdes a day (about U.S. $1.70) applies to most workers in the formal sector.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several of its specialized and related agencies, as well as a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). It maintains diplomatic relations with several dozen countries.


The international community rallied to Haiti's defense during the 1991-94 period of de facto military rule. Thirty-one countries participated in the U.S.-led multinational force (MNF) which, acting under UN auspices, intervened in September 1994 to help restore the legitimate government and create a secure and stable environment in Haiti. At its peak, the MNF included roughly 21,000 troops, mostly Americans, and more than 1,000 international police monitors. Within 6 months, the troop level was gradually reduced as the MNF transitioned to a 6,000-strong peacekeeping force, the UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). UNMIH was charged with maintaining the secure environment which the MNF had helped establish as well as nurturing Haiti's new police force through the presence of 900 police advisers. A total of 38 countries participated in UNMIH.


To spur Haiti's social and economic recovery from decades of misrule before that, international donors pledged in 1994 to provide more than $2 billion over five years in total assistance. Most bilateral assistance is now channelled through non-governmental organizations. Major bilateral donors are led by the United States, with the largest program, and include Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Cuba provides highly visible, low-cost medical and technical experts. Multilateral aid is provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the UN and its agencies. All aid is coordinated informally by the World Bank.




U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS; see "Key OAS Issues"), particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group (originally a UN group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are important for many reasons, not least of which is the country's geographical proximity to the continental United States. In addition to the many Haitians who receive visas to immigrate into the U.S. (averaging over 13,000 annually in FY 1999-2003), there is a flow of illegal migrants. Over 100,000 undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard in the past two decades, particularly during the 1991-94 period of illegal military rule when more than 67,000 migrants were interdicted. Since the return of the legitimate government in 1994, the interdiction of illegal migrants by U.S. Coast Guard vessels has decreased dramatically, averaging fewer than 1,500 annually. Neighboring Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, continue to interdict Haitian migrants as well. The prospect remains, however, for the renewal of higher flows of illegal migrants, particularly under conditions of political unrest or further economic downturn.


U.S. Economic and Development Assistance


Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti's governments to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. These funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems. Among the programs are:


Editor's Update
April 2004


A report on important events that have taken place since the last State Department revision of this Background Note.

As Haiti celebrated 200 years of independence in January 2004, an alliance of opposition parties, civic groups, and students called for President Aristide's resignation. In February, the uprising against Aristide intensified. Rebels led by Guy Philippe seized a number of towns and cities, including Gonaïves and Cap-Haitien, and converged on Port-au-Prince. More than 130 people were killed in the escalating violence. On February 29, Aristide resigned, under intense pressure from the U.S., and went into temporary exile in the Central African Republic (CAR). U.S. president George Bush ordered the deployment of Marines to Haiti as part of an interim force to restore order. France, Canada, and Chile sent troops as well. The chief justice of Haiti's supreme court, Boniface Alexandre, was sworn in as the leader of a transitional government until elections could be held in 2005. The armed rebels swept into the capital on March 1 and occupied the national police headquarters. Aristide claimed he was overthrown by the U.S., a charge the U.S. called "nonsense." In mid-March, a cabinet and prime minister, Gerard Latortue, were selected. Aristide left the CAR and took up temporary asylum in Jamaica. As of April 2004, Haiti's security lay in the hands of a 2,600-strong multinational force authorized by the UN Security Council. A UN peacekeeping force itself was due to take over by June 1, 2004.

  • Food assistance (P.L. 480 Title II) for nutritional well-being and food security, especially children under five and nursing mothers.
  • Health: A US-supported network of over 30 local organizations serves 2.5 million Haitians. In US-assisted areas, child immunization rates are nearly double the national average. Child malnutrition rates fell from 32 percent to 22 percent in 1995-2000. The national percentage of women seeking prenatal consultation increased from 68 percent to 79 percent. The national contraceptive use rate increased as part of our expanded AIDS prevention program.
  • Democracy: Programs increase political party professionalism, strengthen independent media and civil society organizations, promote judicial reform and human rights, and support independent election observation groups. Public diplomacy programs bring Haitian government officials, journalists, and academics to the U.S. to learn about U.S. public policies and programs.
  • Education: Programs increase pass rates for second, third, and fourth grade students through training for teachers, school directors and parent-teacher associations, improved instruction in math and Creole reading, provision of books, teaching aids, and curriculum guides.
  • Economic Growth: Programs increase income for the poor through small business loans to urban micro-entrepreneurs; assistance to small farmers in marketing valuable export crops such as coffee, cacao, and mangos; and help to Haitian artisans to find niche export markets. Beneficiaries include small entrepreneurs (80% women), 25,000 hillside farmers, and 2,000 artisans. In addition to financial support, the U.S. provides human resources. U.S. Peace Corps volunteers are largely focused on health- and income-generation programs in Haiti's rural areas. Many private U.S. citizens travel regularly to Haiti or reside there for extended periods to work on humanitarian projects.

Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of 80,000 in 1986 to fewer than 17,000 in 1994, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.


Combating Drug Trafficking

Haiti is n a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including signing a counternarcotics letter of agreement with the Government of Haiti in May 2002, vetting and training the counternarcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States. Although Haiti did not meet counternarcotics certification criteria the past three years, the country was provided a waiver of any sanctions on grounds of vital national security interest.


U.S. Business Opportunities

The U.S. remains Haiti's largest trading partner. Port-au-Prince is less than 2 hours by air from Miami, with several daily direct flights. A daily flight also connects Port-au-Prince with New York, and a new Port-au-Prince-Fort Lauderdale flight started in 2003. Both Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien on the north coast have deep-water port facilities. Many Haitian entrepreneurs conduct business in English, and U.S. currency circulates freely in Haiti. A number of U.S. firms, including commercial banks, telecommunications, airlines, oil and agribusiness companies, and U.S.-owned assembly plants are present in Haiti.

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti's primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)—which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative.


U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, chicken, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.


Establishing a Business

Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.


Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary.


Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure, a highcost port, an irregular supply of electricity, and Customs delays. The government places a 30% withholding tax on all profits received. There is little direct investment.


Foreign investment protection is provided by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses caused by war, revolution, or insurrection. The U.S. and Haiti have a bilateral agreement on investment guarantees that permits the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to offer programs in Haiti. The two governments also signed a bilateral investment treaty in December 1983, but it was not ratified.


Additional information on establishing a business in Haiti can be found at www.usatrade.gov, then to market research, then Country Commercial Guide.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Port-au-Prince (E), 5 Harry Truman Blvd. • P.O. Box 1761, Tel [509] 222-0354, 222-0368, 222-0200, 222-0612, Fax 223-1641; Consular Annex: 104, rue Oswald Durand, Tel 223-7011, Fax 223-9665; AID: 17, Harry Truman Blvd. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tel 222-5500, Fax 223-9503.

AMB: James B. Foley
AMB OMS: Sharon Propst
DCM: Luis G. Moreno
POL: Michael P. Oreste
ECO: Johan Schmonsees
COM: Terri Sorghi (res. Santo Domingo)
CON: Julia Stanley
MGT: Paul A. Folmsbee
RSO: Jack Barnhart
PAO: Judith Trunzo
IMO: Jake Arriaga
AID: David Adams
DAO: MAJ James Toomey
MLO: CPT William Perrin
APHIS: Christopher Cobbs
DEA: Alvin Rollins
INS: [Vacant]
PC: Martin Mueller


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service does not have a separate office in Haiti. Commercial matters are handled by the Embassy economic section.


Tel: (509) 223-1477
Fax: (509) 223-9038
Cell: (509) 409-1441


Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
1615 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20527
Tel: (202) 457-7200
Fax: (202) 331-4234


U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230


Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: (202) 482-0704
Fax: (202) 482-0464


Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464
Fax: (202) 822-0075


Association des Industries d'Haiti (ADIH)

Bldg. Le Triangle Delmas 31, #139
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 246-4509/4510 or 2211


Centre Pour la Libre Entreprise et la Democratie (CLED)
37, Avenue Marie-Jeanne,
No. 8 B.P. 1316
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 244-0901 or (509) 245-6039
Fax: (509) 222-8252

Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie d'Haiti
P.O. Box 982
Port-au-Prince
Tel: (509) 222-0281 or (509) 222-2475


Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AMCHAM):
Rue Oge, A-5
Petionville
Republic of Haiti
Tel: (509) 511-3024, fax not available




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
August 15, 2003


Country Description: Haiti is one of the least developed and more dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere. The availability of consumer goods and services is adequate in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but other parts of the country experience chronic shortages. Most consumer products are imported and expensive. Some tourism facilities in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and Cap Haitien are satisfactory, but most are rudimentary at best in other Haitian cities, and virtually non-existent elsewhere in Haiti.


Entry Requirements: Haitian law requires U.S. citizens to have a passport to enter Haiti. In the past, officials have sometimes waived this requirement if travelers have a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines will not board passengers for return to the United States unless they are in possession of a valid passport. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. Once in Haiti, they can experience delays of several weeks for the issuance of a passport, as it is often more difficult to establish identity and citizenship overseas than in the United States. The Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a fee prior to departure. In 2002, the Haitian government was also considering requiring foreign visitors to obtain visas in order to enter Haiti. U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti for more details on this possibility, as well as for other information regarding entry, departure and customs requirements for Haiti. The Embassy of the Republic of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, the telephone number is (202) 332-4090, and the Internet address is http://www.haiti.org/embassy. There are likewise Haitian consulates in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and Puerto Rico.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Dual Nationality: In addition to being subject to all Haiti's laws affecting U.S. citizens, individuals who also possess Haitian nationality may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of that country. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.


Safety and Security: U.S. citizens who feel they must visit Haiti should exercise extreme caution and are strongly encouraged to register at the Consular Annex of the U.S. Embassy immediately upon their arrival.


In recent years, Haiti has experienced an alarming rise in civil and political unrest. Protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country, and can become violent with little or no warning. Private organizations and businesses may be targets of demonstrations or takeover attempts related to business disputes or extortion demands. Rural are as have also be come more dangerous.

Local and national elections held in May 2000 remain publicly disputed, and tension between the government and the opposition colored the political climate in 2002 as it did in 2001. An attack on the National Palace on December 17, 2001 further stirred Haiti's volatile mix of political and social unrest. Frequently during 2002, activists established unofficial, temporary roadblocks throughout the country, cutting off major thoroughfares and the airport. U.S. Government buildings have sometimes been the focal points of these actions. During 2002, protesters periodically succeeded in paralyzing Port-au-Prince and other major cities including Gonaïves, Miragoane, Petit Goave, Cap Haitien and Leogane using flaming barricades, bonfires and firearms. Recent incidents have included politically motivated violence perpetrated against political leaders as well as the press. The rhetoric of some activists and popular organizations has been anti-foreign, and the Haitian government has neither contained nor condemned certain violent and dangerous situations.


During 2002, the Embassy issued approximately one security-related message per month warning U.S. citizens in Haiti of violent or unstable conditions. On occasion, the U.S. mission in Haiti may have to suspend service to the public or close because of security concerns. These concerns may also temporarily prevent Embassy personnel from traveling to or through some areas. In those situations, the Embassy will continue to be available by telephone to offer emergency services to U.S. citizens.


U.S. citizens in Haiti should avoid all large gatherings, as crowd behavior can be unpredictable. Visitors encountering roadblocks, demonstrations, or large crowds should remain calm and depart the area quickly and without confrontation. Assistance from Haitian officials, such as the police, is often unavailable. Overseas visitors must be particularly cautious on the days of planned political activities. U.S. citizens are urged to take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate. Current information on safety and security is always available from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers listed below.

Crime: There are no "safe areas" in Haiti. Crime, already a problem, has mushroomed in recent years. Up to 15% of the cocaine entering the United States now passes through Haiti. The state of law and order has steadily deteriorated as a result. Reports of death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, kidnappings, armed robberies, break-ins or carjackings occur almost daily. U.S. citizens and other foreigners have likewise reported the theft of yachts and sailboats along the Haitian coast. Of particular concern is the doubling of the number of U.S. citizens murdered in Haiti during 2002 – up from four reported murders in 2001 to eight by November 2002. Kidnappings, including kidnappings of resident U.S. citizens, have also increased; ransoms of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars have been demanded.


U.S. citizens who must travel to Haiti should exercise extreme caution throughout the country. Travelers should keep valuables well hidden, ensure possessions are not left in parked vehicles, use private transportation, alternate travel routes, avoid night time travel, and keep doors and windows in homes and vehicles closed and locked. They should be alert for suspicious onlookers when entering and exiting banks, as criminals often watch and subsequently attack bank customers. Withdrawals of large amounts of cash should be avoided. If an armed individual demands the surrender of a vehicle or other valuables, the U.S. Embassy recommends compliance without resistance. Criminals have shot individuals who resisted. Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution at all times and review basic personal security procedures frequently.

U.S. citizens in Haiti must be particularly alert when leaving the Port-au-Prince airport, as criminals have often targeted arriving passengers for later assaults and robberies. Some recent incidents have resulted in death. The use of public transportation, including "tap-taps" (private transportation used for commercial purposes), is not recommended; it is suggested that visitors to Haiti arrange for someone known to them to meet them at the airport.


U.S. citizens should decline all requests to carry items for others to or from Haiti. Traffickers of illegal drugs have duped unsuspecting travelers into helping transport narcotics aboard commercial airlines. As of November 2002, there were nine U.S. citizens in Haitian prisons awaiting trial on drug smuggling charges.


Certain high-crime zones in the Port-au-Prince area should be avoided, including Carrefour, the port road (Boulevard La Saline), urban route Nationale #1, the airport road (Boulevard Haile Selassie) and its adjoining connectors to the New ("American") Road via Route Nationale #1. This latter area in particular has been the scene of numerous robberies, carjackings, and murders. Embassy employees are prohibited from entering Cite Soleil and La Saline and their surrounding environs due to significant criminal activity, and are strongly urged to avoid Delmas 105 between Delmas 95 and Rue Jacob. Neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince once considered relatively safe, such as the Delmas road area and Petionville, have been the scenes of an increasing number of violent crimes.


Cameras and video cameras should only be used with the permission of the subjects; violent incidents have followed unwelcome photography. Their use should be avoided altogether in high-crime areas.


Holiday periods, especially Christmas and Carnival, often bring a significant increase in violent crime. Haiti's Carnival season is marked by street celebrations in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday. In recent years, Carnival has been accompanied by civil disturbances, altercations and severe traffic disruptions. People attending Carnival events or simply caught in the resulting celebrations have been injured and killed. Random stabbings during Carnival season are frequent. Roving musical bands called "raras" operate during the period from New Year's Day through Carnival. Being caught in a rara event may begin as an enjoyable experience, but the potential for injury and the destruction of property is high. A "mob mentality" can develop unexpectedly leaving people and cars engulfed and at risk. During Carnival, raras continuously form without warning; some raras have identified themselves with political entities, lending further potential for violence.

The Haitian police are poorly equipped and unable to respond to most calls for assistance. Police complicity, if not involvement, in violent crime in Haiti as well as in the illegal drug trade is regularly alleged. During 2002, some U.S. citizens residing in Haiti lost their homes and other property to gangs of armed thugs, with no response from the Haitian police. The unsatisfactory response and enforcement capabilities of the Haitian national police and the weakness of the judiciary frustrate many victims of crime in Haiti. U.S. citizens involved in business and property disputes in Haiti have occasionally been arrested and detained without charge, and have been released only after intervention at high levels of the Haitian Government.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Haiti are scarce and for the most part sub-standard; outside the capital standards are even lower. Medical care in Port-au-Prince is limited, and the level of community sanitation is extremely low. Lifethreatening emergencies may require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, U.S. citizens should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for U.S. Citizens Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/iht.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Haiti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: n/a

Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor

Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor

Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor


Driving in Haiti must be undertaken with extreme caution. The situation on the roads can be described as chaotic at best, and it is advisable for those with no knowledge of Haitian roads and traffic customs to hire a driver through a local hotel. Roads are generally unmarked, and detailed and accurate maps are not widely available. Lanes are not marked and signs indicating the direction of traffic flow seldom exist. This lack of organization, along with huge potholes that occur without warning, may cause drivers to execute unpredictable and dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic. The Haitian government lacks adequate resources to assist drivers in distress or to clear the road of accidents or broken-down vehicles blocking the flow of traffic. Drinking and driving is illegal in Haiti, but people frequently drive after drinking, especially at night.

Public transportation as it is usually defined does not exist in Haiti. While Haitians use buses, "taptaps" and taxis, which may observe regular routes much like public transportation, none of these should be considered reliable. The Embassy strongly discourages their use.


Those who do drive in Haiti should do so defensively and conservatively, avoid confrontations such as jockeying for position, and remain aware of the vehicles around them. Drivers should carry the phone numbers of people to call for assistance in an emergency, as Haitian authorities are unlikely to respond to requests for assistance. When traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, drivers should caravan with other vehicles to avoid being stranded in the event of an accident or breakdown.


As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify for driver's licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied. Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all drivers use turn indicators or international hand signals properly. For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions, including turning right and stopping in the road, and others flap their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Drivers do not always verify that the road is clear before switching lanes, turning, or merging.

Speed limits are seldom posted and are generally ignored. Speeding is the cause of many of the fatal traffic accidents in Haiti, as are overloaded vehicles on winding, mountainous roads and vehicles without brakes. Poor maintenance and mechanical failures often cause accidents as well. Drivers should be particularly cautious at night, as unlighted vehicles can appear without warning.


Right of way is not widely observed in Haiti, and there are few operational traffic lights or traffic signs. It is advisable at most intersections to stop and verify that there is no oncoming traffic even if it appears that you have the right of way. Drivers can be quite aggressive and will seldom yield. Walls built to the edge of roads frequently make it impossible to see around corners, forcing drivers to edge their cars into the road at intersections to check for oncoming traffic.


Traffic is extremely congested in urban areas, and hours-long traffic jams develop throughout the country. Cars are supposed to be driven on the right side of the road in Haiti, but few roads have lane indicators and drivers use whatever part of the road is open to them, even if it is not the correct side of the road.


In addition to vehicles, a variety of other objects may appear on the road in Haiti, such as wooden carts dragged by people, small ice cream carts, animals, mechanics with vehicles, and even vendors and their wares. Vehicles are often abandoned in the road or by the side of the road. There are few marked crosswalks and sidewalks, and pedestrians often wend their way through traffic in urban areas.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Haitian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Haitian Ministry of Tourism by email at [email protected] or via the Internet at www.haititourisme.org.


Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Haiti's civil aviation authority as Category 2 — not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Haiti's air carrier operations. This assessment does not apply to U.S., Canadian or European carriers servicing Haiti. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.


Because of serious concerns about the operation of the Haitian air carrier Tropical Airways, particularly regarding its maintenance oversight, U.S. Embassy staff and official visitors to Haiti are instructed to avoid flying aboard either the domestic or the international flights of Tropical Airways. Americans considering travel on Tropical Airways may wish to defer their travel or pursue other means of transportation.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Haitian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or exportation from Haiti of some items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Haiti in Washington or one of Haiti's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Haitian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. The judicial process in Haiti can be extremely long; progress is often dependent on considerations not related to the specific case. Detainees may wait months or years for their cases to be heard before a judge or to have legal decisions acted upon by the authorities. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Haiti are strict. Those accused of drug-related crimes can expect lengthy legal proceedings, irregular application of Haitian law, and delayed due process. If convicted, offenders may face long jail sentences and substantial fines.

Special Circumstances: The official currency of Haiti is the gourde, which has a variable exchange rate (as of November 2002, there were around 35 gourdes to one U.S. dollar.) Visitors will notice that many establishments in Haiti price items in a fictitious currency known as the "Haitian dollar." (One Haitian dollar is equivalent to five gourdes.) Others give prices in gourdes or even, at times, in U.S. dollars. It is always a good idea to clarify with vendors which currency — the gourde, Haitian dollar, or U.S. dollar — is being used in a given transaction, as price tags often bear a number without indicating currency. The currency itself shows a value in gourdes.


Travelers' checks are often difficult to change in Haiti, but credit cards are widely accepted and some establishments accept or cash personal checks. At least one local bank chain has ATMs around Port-au-Prince that are compatible with some U.S. ATM cards. These ATMS are frequently out-of-order, and there have been reports of over-charging accounts.


Disaster Preparedness: Haiti, like most Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1 - November 30 each year. Extensive flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past. Daily weather information in Haiti is available from national and international media. The Haitian meteorological service provides hurricane warnings via national radio. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet sites at www.usembassy.state.gov/haiti and http://www.travel.state.gov/children'_ issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.


Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Haiti are strongly encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and obtain updated information on travel and security within Haiti. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is [email protected] ACS hours are 7:30 am to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Thursdays, 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Blvd. Harry Truman, Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 222-0200, 222-0354, 223-0955 or 222-0269; fax (509) 223-1641. Internet: www.usembassy.state.gov/haiti.


International Parental Child Abduction
March 2002


The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, American Citizen Services. For more information, please read the Guarding Against International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov


Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of a specific foreign country is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.


General Information: Haiti is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Haiti and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to Haiti place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to Haiti with dual national children should bear this in mind.


Custody Disputes: Normally, in Haiti, parents who are legally married share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is decided by a court. The rights of the designated parent will be set within the scope of the court order. Culture, ethnicity, and gender do not have an impact in custody disputes. However, morality, financial resources, dependability, and availability are essential elements that are taken into account in custody disputes. Parental kidnapping is considered a crime and the length of imprisonment depends on the age of the child abducted.


Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforced in Haiti.


Visitation Rights: In cases where legal custody has been granted and the judgment has been rendered, the non-custodial parent can petition the court for visitation rights within the court ordered decision or come to a verbal agreement with the custodial parent.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under Haitian law.


Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program: Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children's names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also know as CPIAP. A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues before a passport is issued to his/her minor child. The parent, legal guardian or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child's name into the Passport Issuance Alert program to the Office of Children's Issues. The CPIAP also provides denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with the Office of Children's Issues. Although this system can be used to alert a parent or court when an application for a U.S. passport has been executed on behalf of a minor, it cannot be used to track the use of a passport that has already been issued. If there is a possibility that your child has another nationality you may want to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate directly to inquire about the possibility of denial of that country's passport. There is no requirement that foreign embassies adhere to U.S. regulations regarding issuance and denial of passports. For more information contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-312-9700. General passport information is also available on the Office of Children's Issues home page on the internet at http://www.travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html.


Travel Restrictions: No exit visas are required to leave Haiti. However, travel restrictions can be imposed on married women or children. This authorization requires certification from the Haiti immigration office before they may exit the country.


Questions involving Haitian law should be addressed to a Haitian attorney or to the Embassy of Haiti in the United States at:

Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 332-4090
Internet: http://www.haiti.org


Travel Warning
February 21, 2004


This Travel Warning is being issued to inform American citizens that it is unsafe to remain in Haiti in view of the deteriorating security situation. The Department of State has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, and continues to strongly urge American citizens remaining in Haiti to depart immediately while commercial carriers are still operating.


The Department of State has determined that the security situation in Haiti has deteriorated to unsafe levels and consequently ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel of the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The Department warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Haiti and strongly urges American citizens to depart the country immediately. Americans are reminded of the potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent confrontations between pro- and anti-government supporters, students, and other groups. The U.S. Embassy has imposed a curfew from 8:00pm to 6:00am on its remaining staff until further notice. The curfew hours may change. Since the beginning of the year, some international organizations have decided to draw down their staffs in Haiti. The Peace Corps has ordered its volunteers to depart Haiti until the situation stabilizes. American citizens should be aware that the U.S. Embassy has prohibited travel by its staff outside of Port-Au-Prince, and that the Embassy's ability to provide emergency services to American Citizens outside of Port-Au-Prince is extremely limited and has drastically decreased in recent days due to numerous random roadblocks set up by armed groups. These roadblocks have cut off several major roads, making travel to Port-au-Prince and other cities difficult.


There has been significant political tension over recent weeks in Port-au-Prince, Gonaives, Cap Haitien, St. Marc, Petit Goave, Grand Goave, Jacmel, and other parts of Haiti. The U.S. Embassy was closed several times due to civil unrest. It is expected that the Embassy will again close temporarily to assess its security posture. The Embassy's Regional Security Office has recommended that persons associated with the Embassy not remain in downtown Port-au-Prince after sunset and has directed that they remain in their homes during the hours covered by the curfew.


Groups opposed to the government have mounted demonstrations and attacked government facilities around the country, and pro-government groups have counter-attacked. Haiti's security environment has been deteriorating as President Aristide has continued to politicize the Haitian National Police and used government resources to pay for violent gangs to attack opposition demonstrators. The government of Haiti has failed to maintain order in Port-au-Prince or in other cities and in some instances has assisted in violently repressing the demonstrations.


American citizens who remain in Haiti, despite this Travel Warning, should remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated information on travel and security in Haiti. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at 104, rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince. The telephone numbers are (509) 223-7011, 223-6440, 223-6443, 223-6421, 223-6426, 223-6424, 223-6407, 223-7008, 222-0200, the fax number is (509) 223-9665, and the email address is [email protected]

As the Department continues to develop information on potentially dangerous demonstrations and political unrest in Haiti, it shares that information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/haiti.html. U.S. travelers can also get up-to-date information on security conditions in Haiti by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. or Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328.

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Haiti

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Haiti
Region: North & Central America
Population: 6,867,995
Language(s): French, Creole
Literacy Rate: 45%
Academic Year: September-October
Number of Primary Schools: 7,306
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 555,433
  Secondary: 143,758
  Higher: 6,288
Teachers: Primary: 26,208
  Higher: 654



History & Background

Haiti did not become an independent republic until 1804. The western half of the island that Columbus baptized Hispaniola in 1492 was a French colony known as Saint-Domingue. Haitian education or society cannot be understood today without examining its past, since the sources of all Haitian institutions lie in its history.

At one point there was exclusivity of education in the colony, where all human effort on the plantation was committed to the exploitation of the land. The agrarian economy's awesome demands in time and energy, the roughness of life in an environment deprived of all commodities, and the brutality of a colonial system that depended for survival on oppression precluded any interest in structured education. Creole or freedmen, the rich planters, who themselves rarely laid claim to even an average education, relied on the mother country for the education of their children, while African slaves were forbidden access to literacy.

Anyone who would put a book in the hands of a slave incurred the risk of heavy penalties. Beginning with the Black Code of 1685, in the reign of Louis XIV, the official position of French authorities was that educating servants had the potential to turn loyal servants into rebels. The colonists feared that once educated, the servant population would challenge their authority, would seek reparations, or worse even, would organize to overthrow their régime.

Since sedition had to be stemmed, Africans were kept in a state of abysmal ignorance. Hilliard d'Auberteuil summarizes the rationale behind this attitude: "The interest and safety of the colony demand that we subject the black race to such contempt that anyone whose origins can be traced back to that race will be covered of an indelible stain down to the sixth generation."

The French Governor of Martinique added to this argument: "The safety of the whites demands that we keep the Negroes in the most profound ignorance." In addition to the fear of revolt, there was a pervasive belief that Africans lacked intellectual qualities, as well as the potential for "progress and perfectibility." Montesquieu, the great philosopher of the Enlightenment, who utilized his sharp wit against slavery, alluded ironically to the opinion prevailing among his contemporaries that the people of Africa possessed inferior faculties, that their cognitive apparatus was not open to knowledge on a human scale, and that, consequently, trying to teach them anything would be pointless.

The Black Code in Article 2, nonetheless, provided for some religious instruction, not on humanitarian grounds, but rather from a need to keep the slave population under control. The Black Code did not achieve its goals, however, since only a few colonists chose to use it as a guide. The majority kept all instruction, religious or otherwise, from the slaves. Most administrators in Saint-Domingue believed that the more educated the slaves, the more difficult it was for them to accept their condition. There were, nonetheless, those who defied the oppressive policies and surreptitiously arranged for their slaves to learn how to read and write, not always because it was fair but, above all, because it was practical. The more educated the slave, the more helpful he could be. It is a known fact that some plantation owners not only encouraged practical training with a view to higher productivity, but also favored more than a rudimentary education, especially when their subject was a nègre à talent (a talented black). These slaveholders believed their investments would pay off when the servants would fulfill functions beyond the work of the land. This was the case with the master of Habitation Bréda, the plantation on which Toussaint Louverture was born.

Louverture was given not only a religious education in Catholicism, but he also learned French, Latin, geometry, drawing, as well as the medicinal virtues of plants. Thanks to his knowledge of herbs, he was able to serve the plantation as medicine man and veterinarian. Later, Louverture became the steward of the Bréda livestock and coachman to his master and, subsequently, joined the French Army as a scout, where he rose through the ranks to become General and finally Commander-in-Chief of Saint-Domingue.

Another case in point is Henry Christophe, a slave who worked as a waiter in a public hotel of Cap Français in Saint-Domingue and was given an education. Christophe later became king of Haiti. These are only two examples of a small privileged group that was fortunate enough to find educational opportunities in the colony.

The forced process by which the African slaves were integrated into the colonial community is another fact that will help post-independent Haiti. This brutal adaptation aimed to discourage a reversal to the native culture, therefore eliminating any rivalry between the old structure and the new one. Its purpose was to ensure the highest loyalty to Creole society and to subject the African to an internalization of French superiority. It was at once a mechanism of defense and an economy of force. The conquest of the mind was needed to consolidate power over a submissive population that outnumbered the colonists and that might one day revolt.

The colonial authorities created an intricate social system based on complexion and adhesion to French culture. With few exceptions, the lighter-skinned individuals occupied the higher echelons of the social ladder. Since these individuals were also French, French language and culture conferred a higher social status. At the bottom of the ladder, the black population, though more active and productive, was heavily taxed for lacking the qualities of a light complexion and a knowledge of French. Blacks were left with no other option but to pursue the ideals of language and culture that were set for them. They did so more or less enthusiastically. It was a stigmatizing experience that left its mark on Haitian society to this day. What added to the trauma was that, in order to motivate a quick acculturation, plantation owners offered the Africans a system of rewards that ranged from a simple reduction of their duties to the granting of freedom.

Religion was also used in acculturation. Baptism was the first step toward assimilation and, once baptized, African slaves became nègres créoles (Creole Blacks), a mark of distinction that carried privileges and denoted their status of being in the colony for some time, and therefore were worthy of everyone's trust. By contrast, the newly arrived, nègres bossales (wild, untamed blacks) were supposedly primitive, because they were still attached to traditional African cultures. The most demeaning tasks were assigned to the bossales who were constantly derided and harassed by the nègres créoles and punished by their masters. Brainwashing, indoctrination, derision, and the whip were the methods used to force Creole culture on the African and to suppress all African traditions brought to the colony.

Acculturation did not entail a systematic teaching or learning of the French language. Having lost their original languages, the Africans were not given opportunities to learn French. Instead, a simplified language that had grown out of the pidgins of triangular trade was adopted by masters and slaves alike. This language, like the people who spoke it, was and is still called Creole. Because of the humiliation associated with its history, it never gained favor with the Haitians, even though it has been the only language available to them throughout their history.

When the Haitians won their independence in 1804, they entered the world with a legacy of ignorance. They had neither a structured system of education nor a strategy to fight illiteracy. Even Toussaint Louverture, when he was Governor of Saint-Domingue, showed no interest in changing the status quo. The Constitution of July 8, 1801, for instance, had no elaborate plans for public instruction. In addition, Haitians had inherited two major handicaps: elitism and the powerful presence of French in their cultural landscape.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Independence completely changed the political outlook of the new republic. At last, Haitians were in power and had the opportunity to build a nation that responded to the needs and aspirations of its citizens. As expected, public instruction was at the top of the new government's priority list. It is interesting to note how consistently thereafter presidents and legislators have attended to this important issue. Indeed, if the short-lived imperial constitution of Jean-Jacques Dessalines reflected no real passion for the subject, all other charts drafted subsequently made education a pressing matter in the country's administrative programs. The reason for this sustained interest is, of course, the realization that progress depends on education.

These decrees, for all their good intentions, never resulted in a real system of education over a period of two hundred years. Several reasons account for this state of affairs:

  • political instability
  • lack of financial resources
  • absence of a pragmatic mentality seeking to identify the public to be served
  • a failure to match resources with needs
  • discord over the details of an appropriate educational system

To exacerbate these evils, mass education continued to be an object of suspicion, as one dictatorial régime after another felt the need to protect itself against an ignorant populace that, if literate, would be more effective and dangerous. Throughout the nineteenth century and until the 1980s, decrees on education took the character of simple formalities that no one cared to implement or they were drafted without interest in the peasant, Creole-speaking majority of the Haitian population.

Henry Christophe, the King of Haiti, made a serious attempt to organize public instruction, as attested by his constitutional act of February 17, 1807. The single most important item of the act is the mandate to create a central school in every arrondissement. The importance of this mandate lies in the fact that it was a proclamation of freedom to teach, and it invited competent individuals to open schools. But the difficulty with this act was that the country lacked competent teachers who could either create the schools or teach in them. Christophe opened an Academy in Cap-Haitien with the help of Haitian and foreign teachers, but it was for the families of public employees.

More interesting was Pétion's Constitution of 1816, which stipulated the universal right to a free education and ordered each commune to open free public institutions to the school age population; this constitution was the most durable that Haiti ever had. It lasted until 1843 and, with a slight modification in 1846, it was still in force in 1867. If one considers that the constitution of Haiti was rewritten at least 20 times in the past 200 years (1801-2001), Pétion's constitution shows an incredible endurance that guaranteed a period of stability and growth for Haitian institutions. It is in this 50-year period that public instruction had the best chance to evolve. With the help of Haitian and foreign educators, Pétion himself had founded a lycée in Port-au-Prince as well as a pensionnat (boarding school) for girls.

Compulsory education was decreed in July 1852 and again in the constitution of 1874. But at those times, neither the empire of Faustin Soulouque nor the short-lived government of Michel Domingue was able to provide the resources necessary to implement such an ambitious plan. Again, these documents fell in the category of abstractions that served no purpose.

Another important document is the Concordat of March 28, 1860, signed by President Geffrard with Pope Pius IX. It involved an agreement with the Vatican to send Catholic educators to Haiti to help with the establishment of parochial schools. Basically, what it entailed was the promotion of the Catholic Church and the education of young men and women who would devote themselves to religious life. This agreement resulted in the establishment of a seminary in Port-au-Prince. Other schools followed and soon there were private Catholic schools in all departments and major cities of Haiti. The Fathers of the Holy Spirit and the Christian Brothers were the first to participate in this missionary endeavor.

The Concordat could only go so far to help Haitian children. To be sure, a small number were selected for a general education, whether or not they had a predilection for clerical life. Others were turned away. The private Catholic schools would compete with free public institutions, since parents would be inclined to send their children to the more exclusive schools. Finally, the European could not give young Haitians an education rooted in the reality of their land. The consequence was a widening of the gap between the masses and the educated elite.

Nevertheless, the 1860s witnessed an unprecedented growth in Haitian education. President Geffrard organized the Medical School, founded a School of Music and a Law School. He sent several teacher trainees to Europe to remedy the shortage of teachers. He founded or reorganized several lycées around the country, especially in Jacmel and Gonaïves. He created special secondary schools for both genders. By 1872, a remarkable intellectual elite was ready to assume the leadership of the nation. Boards of education were formed as well as a Corps of Public Instruction Inspectors. Primary schools multiplied in the cities and in the countryside.

All these accomplishments were due to a period of economic prosperity in Haiti. The United States, engaged in a war at home (1861-1865), needed cotton and other products, so they bought products for a good price from Haiti. Still, the educational system provided little that could be considered relevant to the masses of Haitians. Vocational schools were not considered necessary at the time, even though it would be helpful in promoting light industry.

The 1880s brought several educational achievements that were decreed and successfully realized. President Salomon reorganized the lycées, invited a group of French professors to join the teaching faculty, and opened a sizable number of rural schools for the first time. These schools were so successful that plans were made to promote them further around the country, but the government of Salomon was overthrown.

Apart from the foundation of the State University of Haiti in 1960, no major developments took place either in new constitutions that followed Salomon's government or in occasional decrees. It is now clear that, with regard to education, new governments have only built on their predecessors' accomplishments. Fortunately for the Haitian people, public instruction is the only area where subsequent versions of the constitution have not defeated one another.

The constitution of 1983 brought a fresh set of ideas to the public. For years, there had been a public outcry for relevancy in Haitian education. Since the 1940s, advocates for education in Creole (as the only way out of the linguistic dilemma that plagued Haiti) launched one campaign after another. In the 1970s and 1980s, U.S. lending institutions eager to see change in Haiti posed certain conditions to the government before they made more money available.

In August 1979, a conference in Port-au-Prince was convened to debate the issue of Haiti's elitist, French system of education, which excluded 90 percent of its population. The question before the conference was whether to relegate French to the background and multiply literacy programs in Creole. In addition, the issue of vocational schools was considered by the conference. Then-minister of education Joseph C. Bernard informed the delegates that the government had approved Creole as a language of instruction. Soon thereafter, a law signed by the head of state formally approved of Creole as a vehicle of communication in the classroom and as a subject matter. Then, with the financial support of the World Bank, the president authorized four years of experimentation to test the idea. This process involved 1,000 children studying all subjects in Creole for the first four years of primary school. French was also offered as an ordinary subject, the first two years being scheduled for the speaking skill in French, while the third and fourth years were reserved for reading and writing. Finally, in the fifth year, the pupils received instruction in French. The program was an absolute success until members of the ruling class, fearing that they would lose privileges associated with proficiency in French, demanded that the program be discontinued. The president, eager to maintain his political base among the ruling class, fired the minister and canceled the Creole program in July 1982. Yet, the new constitution of 1983 made French and Creole national languages even though French remained the official language of administration, law, and education.


Educational SystemOverview

In the past decade, school schedules have not been uniform because of the addition of privately run schools modeled on American and other systems and the need for schools to adapt to the recent suburban phenomenon. Also, the increase of the school-age population and the lack of personnel, facilities, and equipment have prompted the schools to switch from a full six-hour day to a half-day of four hours. This strategy enabled the schools to serve two groups of pupils a day.

In general, the academic year begins in October and ends in July. With two vacations at Christmas and Easter, the number of hours in the school year is considerably reduced. Those parents who can afford it pay for private lessons in subjects where their children show the greatest need. Competent teachers who are poorly remunerated depend on tutoring to make ends meet and sometimes earn more this way than by regular means. In the more traditional schools, children are admitted at age six and are expected to complete the primary cycle in six years.

Secondary school takes six more years that lead to the first part of the baccalauréat (equivalent of the high school diploma), followed by one more year of study leading to the second part. This system, which is based on the Napoleonic Code, was imported in Haiti by the Concordat and was never reviewed since, even though the French themselves have given it up in the rise of the student protests of May 1968. French remains the language of instruction in the private schools, but Creole and French are used in the public schools.

Students are subject to three sets of trimestrial examinations a year, plus finals in July. The grading system on 10 points is rigid. A grade average of 5 points is required to pass a class. In general, schools are not technologically-equipped. Mediated facilities do exist, however, in a few business and professional schools. Textbooks have always been a concern. Mostly imported, they are often in short supply and their price, like all imported products, can be prohibitive for families who must strive to put food on the table. Many children go to school without books. In addition, the books are not adapted to the Haitian environment. The Haitian system of education is heavily influenced by its French counterpart.

The efforts of Haitian governments to educate their people may seem sincere but, so far, they have not yielded remarkable results. A serious reform is in order that will treat education as a true instrument of progress and development. Education does not appear to be focused on the specific needs of the country. From the outset, the orientation taken by the administration of public education had nothing to do with the reality of Haiti except for the fact that it served the particular interest of an elite who sent their children to study in France and considered themselves French.

In talking about Haitian education, there has been a tendency to focus exclusively on the formal system of education designed for the urban elites who only represent a small minority of the Haitian community, while ignoring the fate of more than 80 percent of the population in the countryside. It is imperative to redefine the scope of Haitian education to rectify this error.


Preprimary & Primary Education

In formal education, children four to six years of age go to the jardins d'enfants (kindergarten) or to the enfantin in the private schools. Traditionally, only families that could afford to pay for this stage of their children's education would consider it at all; these families usually live in the city. The decree of 1982 has not changed that situation, even though it stresses the democratic principle of universal accessibility. Once again, the immense majority of children are left out of the process while a generous system of laws is in place. In addition, the 1990s have witnessed a proliferation of preprimary schools, but they were created for the rich and exist purely for mercantile purposes. In the traditional primary schools, pupils study French grammar, arithmetic, world history, world geography, Haitian history, Haitian geography, religion, civic instruction, introduction to sciences, drawing, and physical education. In rural schools, where instruction is given in Creole, a basic reading, writing, and arithmetic package is offered with the other subjects added depending on availability of personnel. Final examinations passed satisfactorily permit access to the next higher grade.

In public schools, classrooms are overcrowded. A class may hold between 70 and 80 children. The facilities are dilapidated and offer no security, comfort, or hygiene. There is often no water, no electricity, and no recreational space. In rural areas, the situation is even worse since children must walk for one or two hours to go to school. The teachers in those areas function irregularly, being often late or absent, because they face the same hurdles as their pupils. In 1998-1999, some 16.44 percent of all schools were public schools and 83.60 percent were private. It should be understood that private schools have outnumbered public schools consistently since 1975, partly because of the Protestant schools created in the country for humanitarian purposes and partly because of the entrepreneurial schools that have sprung like mushrooms in the past two decades.

There are 6,111 primary schools. The school-age population is estimated at 3,000,000 and only 800,000 can be accommodated, although with difficulty. Therefore, 2,200,000 children are left out. These numbers do not take into account the normal evolution of the school-age population, which every year increases by 150,000 to 200,000 people. Out of 100 children who enter the traditional primary school, 67 will finish the fourth year of the cycle. Of these, 42 will give up school entirely to become functionally illiterate for the rest of their lives. A growing number of children are unable to read or write after four years of schooling. Each year 68 percent of school age children (mostly in rural areas) cannot find a school in which to enroll. More boys than girls are enrolled, but enrollment of girls, which has maintained itself at 46 percent across the board for several years, is growing faster than enrollment of boys.


Secondary Education

The traditional secondary cycle either at the secondary public school or at a private college provides six years of study in a track that features the classics or one that emphasizes the sciences with several subject combinations possible. Subjects available in secondary school are French grammar, French literature, Haitian literature, English, Spanish, Latin, Greek, algebra, geometry, human biology, chemistry, physics, zoology, botany, world history, Haitian history, world geography, and Haitian geography. An additional year after the first part of the baccalauréat gives instruction in philosophy. This seventh year of study ends with part two of the baccalauréat.

The lycées and collèges of the provinces are as good as those in the capital city, but there are too few secondary schools. In 1998-1999, only 635 institutions, both public and private, all located in urban areas, were open around the country. Of these, 107 were public, and the other 528 were private. To be sure, the needs are not as pressing as they are on the primary level. Out of 100 children who began primary school, only 25 went to secondary school. Less than three reached the year before the baccalauréat. Only one (out of 100) ever achieved the second part of the baccalauréat. With all levels, classes, and types of schools taken into account, the chance of survival in the Haitian system of education is a little less than 1 percent. Other alarming statistics put the number of graduates at 26 out of 1,000 and the attrition rate at 87.5 percent.

It is interesting to observe that whatever the rate of success at the baccalauréat, some schools (private, parochial) always register between 80 and 95 percent success with their candidates. Of these, more than 50 percent are girls. The reason for this success is clear: the system was designed by and for these schools. In addition, they have the resources, the faculty, and the virtues necessary to lead their students to success.


Higher Education

The university system is composed currently of four or five private institutions in addition to the State University of Haiti, which admits 2,000 students every year out of 13,000 to 16,000 applicants. The others receive 3,600 applications a year even though they can only take 1,780 students. The private universities have an attrition rate between 25 and 80 percent. All the institutions are located in the capital city. They offer a degree in law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, engineering, agriculture and veterinary sciences, education, social sciences (mainly ethnology and psychology), economics, business administration, linguistics, international studies, and African studies.

At this level, also, relevancy remains a concern. The formation given to young scholars in Haiti seems to prepare them better to live and work in foreign countries than in their own. The content of the curriculum is not defined according to the needs of the nation. In general, the higher education system shows all the faults of the other levels: centralization, French orientation (a conscious effort is made to establish equivalency with the University of Paris for degrees granted by the University of Haiti), elitism, and insufficiency.


Teaching Profession


Teachers are trained mainly at the école normale supérieure of the State University of Haiti where they enroll in a three-year program that includes a concentration on the subject or subjects of their choice and training in teaching strategies. There are at least six teachers colleges around the country. A large number of teachers in the Haitian school system make less than 500 gourdes a month. (The exchange rate is approximately 20 gourdes per US$1.) Another unfortunate fact is that 90 percent of them are not prepared for their task. Teaching is not a very attractive profession in Haiti because it is by all accounts the least appreciated of occupations; those who choose it anyway do so very often because of necessity. Attrition among teachers is extremely high. Yet, teacher colleges are still too few, and their instruction is not uniform. There are no research centers. Testing and assessment instruments are not designed to be of any real help to the system.


Summary


For 200 years, the Haitian system of education has been a failure because it neglected the people it was intended to serve. Instead, it favored an influential minority who identified more with France than with Haiti; it was used as an instrument by politicians and the ruling class to maintain power and privileges at the expense of monolingual Creole speakers. In colonial times, Haitians were stripped of their African identity and were taught in the most violent way to define themselves as sub-products of French culture and society.

Even after independence, the only model Haitians had to start building their new nation was the French model. Even though the majority could hardly speak French, and even though Dessalines and Toussaint Louverture addressed their troops in Creole, the only language Haitians had when talking to the world or negotiating formal situations was French. Creole had not gained the status it enjoys today; those who spoke it were not inclined to use it any other way but informally. Furthermore, Creole had become an object of degradation in the eyes of most Haitians. Later in history, French became an instrument of oppression sustained by the educational system. Citizens had no choice but to play the game. Families that wanted their children to succeed in life sent them to school so they could learn French and other subjects in French, but the children failed because to succeed in the schools they had to be fluent in French. Since most of them spoke no other language than Creole, the system of education sacrificed thousands of them for two centuries.

The tragedy of the Haitian system of education is due for the most part to the linguistic dichotomy that characterizes Haiti. Because the declarations of principles to compulsory education failed to address the language issue, they amount to no more than an exercise in futility. Not until the 1980s were solid measures initiated and supported by the government. In fact, a whole reform was launched in education at that point. It featured education in Creole, a more effective rural school system, a more effective basic education system, better teacher training, a literacy program, the creation of an inspection and supervision agency, rational timetables, and experimentation to test the new ideas. Although the world of education was elated to hear the announcement of these long-overdue reforms in 2001, one still does not see any real change. The Livre ouvert sur le développement endogène d'Haïti, a collective work of analysis that tries to tackle the country's problems for ordinary citizens, mentions, among other disappointing statistics in education, the continuing high attrition rate, the extremely high rate of failure in the baccalauréat, and the extremely high illiteracy rate.


Bibliography

Brutus, Edner. L'instruction publique en Haïti. Port-au-Prince, 1948.

Desroches, Rosny, and Pierre-Raymond Dumas. "Autour de quelques problèmes du système éducatif Haïtien." (Interview of Rosny Desroches by Pierre Raymond Dumas) in Conjonction: Revue Franco-Haïtienne, No. 168.

Girod, François. La vie quotidienne de la société créole. Paris, 1972.

Gouraige, Ghislain. La Diaspora d'Haïti et l'Afrique. Ottawa, 1974.

Lafontant, Julien J. Montesquieu et le problème de l'esclavage. Sherbrooke, 1979.

Pierre, Webster, Gabriel Nicolas, and Wilfrid Joseph. Livre ouvert sur le développement endogène d'Haïti. Port-au-Prince, 1999.

Salien, Jean-Marie. "Francophonie et sousdéveloppement: Aspects Historiques et Sociolinguistiques du Français en Haïti." In Contemporary French Civilization, 1981.

Trouillot, Hénock. "L'instruction publique sous Pétion." In Le Nouveau Monde, December 20-23, 1983.

Vernet, Pierre. "Quelques Réflexions Méthodologiques sur l'enseignement du Français en Haïti." In Conjonction: Revue Franco-Haïtienne, No. 168.

Weinstein, Brian, and Aaron Segal. Haiti: Political Failures, Cultural Successes. Stanford, CA, 1984.


Jean-Marie Salien

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Haiti

Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Haiti, Quisqueya, or Bohio, the aboriginal names of the island that was, in the early twenty-first century, divided into two sovereign states: the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti has been the stage for some of history's most dynamic changes in terms of ethnicity, economy, politics, demography, and culture. Europeans completely displaced the island's aboriginal Amerindian populations and, in turn, they were pushed out by Africans and African descendants, all within the space of 300 years. The divisions between the colonies of French Saint-Domingue and Spanish Santo Domingo, and between the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, are relatively modern, and histories of the island as it was before the European invasions have tended to treat it as one whole.

THE FRENCH COLONY OF SAINT-DOMINGUE

Beginning around 5000 bce, successive waves of Amerindian migrations reached the island of Haiti via Central America or via the Caribbean island chain from South America. Sedentary horticulturists arrived in the Greater Antilles about 300 bce or later. By 1000 ce complex chiefdoms headed by Caciques had developed, and the local peoples, of mainly Arrawak origins, called themselves Tainos. The chiefdoms of this island may have been fewer, larger, and more powerful than those in neighboring Puerto Rico, and they engaged in interisland, and possibly circum-Caribbean, trade.

The population of Haiti gradually increased, notably after about 600 ce. This growth was related to conuco agriculture—intensive cultivation of carefully prepared mounds that produced staggered, year-round supplies of starches of the manioc-cassava family. This system, while productive, required constant work, and was fragile and easily disrupted. There is some dispute about the size of the population supported by these conucos around 1490, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to 8 million.

In early December 1492, on his first voyage to America, Christopher Columbus's ships reached the northwest coast of the island at Môle Saint-Nicolas. Columbus took possession of the island on behalf of the Queen of Spain and therefore called it Hispaniola, or "little Spain." After a brief initial period of minimal intrusion, the Spanish invaders dramatically disrupted the ethnic and economic structures of the island. Disease, destruction of the fragile conuco system, massive forced and voluntary movements of slave and laboring populations, Spanish internecine strife, and an imposed tributary system based on gold reduced the aboriginal population to about 30,000 by 1514, and this remnant died out soon afterwards. The Spaniards attempted unsuccessfully to fill the demographic vacuum by importing Amerindian captives from the Bahamas and other Caribbean areas (causing severe losses in those places).

By 1550 or so Hispaniola had undergone a dramatic social and agricultural revolution. Its dense starch-consuming population had disappeared and had been replaced by a sparse meat-consuming group of Spaniards, a few other Europeans, and African slaves. The island had become a political dependency of distant power centers in Europe, having exported perhaps as much as 50 tons of gold to these centers in its first half century as a colony. Vast herds of semi-feral cattle, horses, and pigs roamed the abandoned conucos and the forests, and as alluvial gold in the rivers became exhausted, the Spanish population—much of it in the capital city of Santo Domingo—emigrated to Cuba or Mexico or turned their attention to transatlantic exports of hides. Hispaniola, originally the center of Spain's American colonies, had become peripheral, and the Spanish part of the island remained throughout the colonial period.

French pirates began to infest the coasts in the 1550s. In 1553, for example, François Leclerc destroyed the small settlement of Yaguana, later the site of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. For the rest of the century the countryside was left by the Spanish colonists to herds of grazing animals. Meanwhile French and English adventurers attempted, by intrusion, to establish themselves along the north coast of the island. By the 1620s French and English pirates and outlaws, some of them exiled French Huguenots, began to settle on La Tortue (Tortuga), an island off the north coast of the island. From this base they camped and hunted on the mainland. These buccaneers (from the French word boucanier) dried and smoked meat derived from the abundant cattle. As their settlements became more numerous and permanent settlers began to live on the north coast, the few remaining Spaniards withdrew to the eastern part of the island. The arrival in 1665 to La Tortue of a French governor, Bernard d'Ogeron, brought stability, and by the time of his death in 1675 an early planter society had emerged and the English pirates had been expelled. By the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), Spain ceded the western third of the island to France, and this became the official French colony of Saint-Domingue.

The new colony underwent important economic and ethnic transformations, becoming France's richest colony and the wealthiest in the Caribbean. By the late eighteenth century it was exporting great quantities of tropical produce, especially sugar, indigo, and coffee. This plantation agriculture depended on the rich soils of the plains, and, above all, on the importation and labor of large numbers of West African slaves, many of whom died prematurely of disease, overwork, and abuse. Slaves and free blacks made up the majority of the colonial population. By 1789, the year of the French Revolution, the colony was composed of some 450,000 black slaves, 30,000 affranchis (free blacks and mulattoes, many of them the result of sexual relations between white masters and black slaves, and other manumitted slaves and their offspring), and about 40,000 whites. The city of Cap-Français (present-day Cap-Haïtien) prospered.

The inherent exploitation and racial discrimination of chattel slavery by all created a divided society and an apparent caste system based on ethnic categories. The three principal social groups in the colony (which were based primarily on skin color) had their status confirmed and reinforced by colonial law. The whites held almost all the political and economical power, though the governor-general and the intendant were often at odds with the grands blancs (elite whites). In the middle of the social hierarchy, forming a sort of middle class, were the petits blancs, many of them artisans and tradesmen, mulatto landowners and merchants, and some free blacks, who resented the grands blancs yet aspired to their station, and feared the despised slave masses. Indeed, some affranchis had become prosperous landowners.

The slaves were the bottom rung, the possessions of their masters, and without any possessions of their own at all. Their resistance to the system and their conditions took many forms, from abortion, suicide, and infanticide to indolence at the plantations and marronage. Organized groups of fugitive slaves (Maroons) in the mountains, or across the border in Santo Domingo, harassed plantations. Riots in the cities and slave resistance on the plantations brought violent reactions from the authorities. Political movements everywhere and from all the social groups—from the "Grands Planteurs," who wanted the abolition of the French exclusive system; from the affranchis, who wanted greater civil and political liberties; and from the slaves, who agitated for general liberty—caused a generalized ebullition in the colony. The colonial power was incapable of responding satisfactorily to all the demands, and revolution was inevitable.

THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION (1791–1804)

In spite of these claims, tensions, and divisions, it was a push from the mother country, France, that drove the colony toward its years of violent conflict, foreign intervention, and final independence. Events leading up to 1789, and the French Revolution itself, meant different things to the different groups fighting in Saint-Domingue. The grands blancs, who found themselves in the paradoxical position of advocating both the ideals of the European Enlightenment and the continuation of slavery, sought greater autonomy from revolutionary France and from what they perceived as their bondage to the interests of their markets. Those below the grands blancs, including some petits blancs and many affranchis, saw in the slogan "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" a chance to defeat, or at least join, the colonial aristocracy. Many argued for the principles of equality while glancing nervously over their shoulders, ignoring the slave masses.

The Société des Amis des Noirs et des Gens de couleur, founded in Paris in 1788 to advocate a gradual abolition of slavery, took up the cause of the affranchis, led by the mulattoes Vincent Ogé (c. 1755–1791) and Jean-Baptiste Chavannes (c. 1748–1791). Claiming equality and the same political and civil rights as the whites, they started a political and military movement in the north region of the colony. Their enterprise had some political success, but they were militarily defeated by the colonial power allied with the white forces. Ogé and Chavannes fled to Santo Domingo but were extradited, then condemned and broken on the wheel in February 1791. Mulattoes in the south continued to resist, and, led by André Rigaud (1761–1811), they obtained a provisional understanding from the region's whites that they would not oppose acts of the French National Assembly on behalf of freedmen. White masters and affranchi owners understood that their common enemy was the slaves; slaves understood that their enemy was the entire colonial slavery system and its direct beneficiaries, supporters, and the institutions.

On August 14, 1791, slave leaders of many plantations in the northern region of the colony secretly took part in a political congress and religious ceremony at Bois-Caiman, at Plaine du Nord. In that occasion, they made the solemn and supreme resolution to fight against slavery and to gain freedom. One week later slaves on the northern plain revolted, burning plantations—the visible objects of their exploitation—and killing white owners of the plantations. This attack began what became known as the Haitian Revolution. Later the slaves' movement spread across the entire colony. Foreign powers whose ambition had been to capture Saint-Domingue took advantage of the situation, mobilizing their forces into the colony.

Haiti
Population: 8,706,497 (2007 est.)
Area: 10,714 sq mi
Official languages: French, Creole
National currency: gourde (HTG)
Principal religions: Roman Catholic, 80%; Baptist, 10%; Pentecostal, 4%; Adventist, 1%. Roughly half the population practices Voodoo in addition to other religious practices.
Ethnicity: black, 95%; mulatto and white, 5%
Capital: Port-au-Prince (est. pop. 1,961,000 in 2005)
Other urban centers: Jacmel, Les Cayes
Annual rainfall: 54 inches in Port-au-Prince
Principal geographical features: Mountains: Massif du Nord; Sierra de Bahoruco, including La Selle (8,844 ft)
Rivers: Artibonite
Lakes: Saumâtre
Islands: Les Cayemites, Gonâve, Tortuga, Vache; also claims U.S.-held Navassa
Economy: GDP per capita: $1,800 (2006 est.)
Principal products and exports: Agricultural: coffee, mangoes
Manufacturing: assembly of imported parts, textiles
Government: Independence from France, 1804. Constitution, 1987; suspended in 1988, partially reinstated 1989, suspended 1991, restored 1994, suspended 2004, restored 2006. Republic. The legislature is popularly elected and consists of a 30-seat Senate and a 99-seat Chamber of Deputies. Senators normally serve 6-year terms and deputies 4-year terms, some were serving shorter terms than usual in 2007 as part of an effort to reconstitute a government after the recent restoration of the constitution. A popularly elected president is chief of state. The head of government is the prime minister, who is appointed by the president and approved by the legislature. Cabinet chosen by the prime minister with input from the president. 10 departments.
Armed forces: 2,000 national police. There is no military.
Transportation: Ports: Cap-HaÏtien, Port-au-Prince
Roads: 628 mi paved; 1,957 mi unpaved
Airports: 4 paved runway and 10 unpaved runway airports, international airports at Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince.
Media: Port-au-Prince newspapers include Le Matin, Le Nouvelliste, and L'Union. Roughly 400 radio stations and 3 television stations, Television Nationale d'Haiti is government-run.
Literacy and education: Total literacy rate: 52.9% (2003 est.)
Children age 6 to 12 are required to attend school. There are roughly 12 institutes of higher education.

The English in Jamaica, fearful of slave revolts, began to help the whites. Spain, hoping to expel the French and regain their lost colony, sided with the rebels, denouncing the French as republican atheists. The United States feared the infection of revolution would cause slave uprisings in its southern states, but also wished to continue its lucrative trade with Saint-Domingue. The republicans in power in France sent a first civil commission to restore order, but it met with little success. A second commission was sent to the colony in 1792, led by Léger Félicité Sonthonax (1763–1813), a young lawyer and a Jacobin partisan, and two other members with full political powers, accompanied by military forces to renew peace negotiations. At first Sonthonax favored the political emancipation of the affranchis and made no concessions on slavery. The white planters were unwilling to concede anything to either the affranchis or the slaves in revolt, preferring to ally themselves with the rivals of France—England and Spain. By late August 1792, an invading Spanish army reached Le Cap, and the following month an English army disembarked in another strategic region as part of a plan by William Pitt the Younger to conquer the French colonies.

The French forces remained only in the center of the island, with little capacity to resist and to preserve Saint-Domingue for France. The affranchis were powerless to defend the colony for France, so Sonthonax called on the slaves to help in exchange for their liberty. At the end of June 1793 the slaves rebelling in the northen region responded to Sonthonax's call and attacked white planters who were about to surrender the colony to the English forces. The mobilized black armies pushed them out of the colony definitively; they fled to the United States, to Cuba, and to other places in the Caribbean. The white domination of Saint-Domingue was over, and on August 29, 1793, in recognition of the blacks' support, Sonthonax proclaimed officially the abolition of slavery.

During the Anglo-Spanish invasion of Saint-Domingue in 1792, many black leaders joined either Spain or England, depending on the attractiveness of each side's political proposals. Among those who joined the Spanish army in the north was a former slave, Toussaint Louverture (1743–1803), who rose rapidly to a high rank and proved himself a skilled military and political leader. But by May 1794, in response to the French National Convention's abolition of slavery, Louverture had strategically abandoned the Spanish side. A series of problems, including disagreements with French planters and poor leadership in the face of Louverture's strong and skilled army, soon reduced both the Spanish and British expeditions to defensive remnants. In July 1795 Spain withdrew from the conflict and ceded Santo Domingo to France. England began to look for a diplomatic alliance with Louverture in order to end the conflict in a honorable manner.

Louverture proved to be a master of military tactics and political maneuverings. He gradually eliminated all internal and external opponents; in 1798 the English also withdrew. The French government, recognizing his talents and his political capacities, appointed him general of the armies of Saint-Domingue and then governor of the colony. Louverture then turned his attention to General André Rigaud, the mulatto leader in the south who refused to recognize his authority. Rigaud attacked Louverture's forces on June 16, 1799, and Louverture's forces responded vehemently in what is known in the historiography of the Haitian Revolution as the "War of South." Rigaud lost the war, and fled to France with some partisans. In the end, Louverture became the uncontested leader in Saint-Domingue, filling the vacuum left by the white planters after more than three centuries of complete dominance. Louverture established his political hegemony in the entire colony, and set out to reunify the island of Haiti.

After Louverture easily crossed the Spanish province of Santo Domingo, the Spanish governor, Don Garcia, gave him the keys of the city, and Louverture, still nominally loyal to France, was in fact the ruler of the whole island. In February 1801 he appointed a group of seven whites and three mulattoes to draw up a constitution for the island. As expected, the new constitution appointed Louverture governor for life, abolished slavery, and maintained the fiction of French rule. By the promulgation of this constitution, Louverture made the first steps toward independence for the colony.

Louverture's next projects were to rebuild the shattered economy. He encouraged all capitalists to own plantations in the colony, the former white planters to reconstruct the plantations, and persuaded by law and by force the former slaves to return to their plantations. This policy produced some results; the colony started exporting goods again in considerable proportions, but was halted by a strong Napoleonic military expedition in January 1802. After his defeat in Egypt, Napoleon Bonaparte turned his attention to the Caribbean and the Americas in general, where his attempt to restore French colonialism seemed to meet with the approval of England and the United States. But the French forces he sent in January 1802 miscalculated the skill and fervor of the black revolutionaries. The leader of the expedition, General Charles Leclerc, Napoleon's brother-in-law, shared Napoleon's optimism as well as his ignorance of the island. Leclerc had some early successes, seizing all the main ports, but Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758–1806), and Henri Christophe (1767–1820) continued to wage guerrilla war from the interior. Then, after a period of resistance, Louverture came to terms with Leclerc. Dessalines yielded to Leclerc soon after. Lesser guerrilla generals continued to resist, but Leclerc seemed to have won the island for Napoleon.

Three weeks after they had signed a peace treaty, Leclerc seized Louverture on suspicion of treason and sent him to France, where he died in prison on April 7, 1803. When Leclerc tried to disarm the black population, many former slaves, fearing that a return to plantation slavery was imminent, fled to the island's interior to join the guerrillas. Their decision was motivated by the restoration of slavery in the French colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe.

By August and September 1802, the scope of the war broadened. By October the tide had turned, and Dessalines, Christophe, and Alexandre Pétion (1770–1818) abandoned the doomed Leclerc and rejoined the rebels to fight against the restoration of slavery. Leclerc died of yellow fever at Le Cap soon afterward. His command was taken up by General Donatien Rochambeau (1755–1813), a soldier experienced in the Caribbean, who added a new contingent of 10,000 troops. Rochambeau proved to be even more brutal than Leclerc—it seems that he believed that all the former black slaves should be exterminated and replaced by new slaves from Africa, and Napoleon apparently approved of these methods.

Rivalries among the colonial powers had a strong influence on the events in Saint-Domingue. England went to war against France in May 1803, and by June was attacking French port garrisons in Saint-Domingue. Meanwhile, Dessalines made alliances in his own ranks and consolidated his leadership. The Armée Indigène was formed to counter-attack French forces; it won two decisive battles against the French, at the Ravine de la Crète á Pierrot and at Vertières. The fate of France in Saint-Domingue was sealed. In November and December 1803 there was a mass exodus of local whites and French soldiers from Le Cap. After thirteen years of fighting between masters and slaves, colonizers against colonized, whites against affranchis, traditional affranchis against new affranchis, former slaves against new leaders, and France against Spain and England, a new independent state was proclaimed in America.

AFTERMATH AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REVOLUTION

On January 1, 1804, in a popular convention held at Gonaives, the leaders of the Armée Indigène proclaimed the independence of the country and gave again the native name of Haiti to the independent state. Haiti thus became the first black independent nation in the Western Hemisphere and the first black republic in the world. The proclamation of this independence was significant for the subaltern classes throughout the world, and particularly for the slaves in colonies. General Dessalines became the first leader of the new independent nation.

In some respects, the Haitian Revolution has received little scholarly attention. Accounts have tended to emphasize the carnage and destruction and the inability of the leaders of this once wealthy colony to restore prosperity. Some historians have attempted rudimentary analyses of this failure; others have resorted to fatalistic or racist conclusions.

From the demographic point of view, the massive migration of the white population during the revolution and the elimination of some after the revolution was the culmination of the region's second great demographic shift. Whites had replaced Native Americans in the early sixteenth century. By the time fighting broke out in 1789, imported black slaves vastly outnumbered whites; rebel blacks completed the change by driving out the white population. These dramatic events and other hardships of the revolutionary years reduced the remaining population by as much as 50 percent, according to some estimates. (Of the half million inhabitants before the revolt began, only 250,000 or so remained.) Gender imbalance had always been pronounced among the slaves, especially in the bossal group, but by 1804 war casualties apparently had brought parity.

In 1804 the sugar plantation complex lay in ruins, and despite efforts to revive it, it failed to recover. Several factors were at play. One of them was the labor shortage arising from the disappearance of half of the population, a drop in numbers that was especially severe among black field workers. Another factor was the lack of capital. Sugar, far more than coffee, tobacco, or indigo, required large capital investments, but most local accumulations had been destroyed and, for obvious reasons, there were no foreign lenders. Former slaves, moreover, obviously loathed sugar plantations—attacks on them were a major feature of the war—and resisted all attempts to recruit them for sugar plantation labor. These factors, and above all the end of slavery, led to radical changes in land use during and after the revolution. But such changes did not necessarily mean a collapse of production, as many scholars have assumed. Agriculture had to become less labor- and capital-intensive, but the peasantry and export merchants adjusted, and foreign trade and domestic food supplies revived rapidly after 1804.

In the political arena, the Haitian Revolution brought to power a new elite of black and mulatto generals. Military prowess created the new legitimacy, and the foreign models that impressed the liberators were those that stressed the stability to be found in life presidencies, and even those that glorified Napoleonic imperial rule. This centralizing militarism was reinforced by the perception among the new elite that they and their infant nation were beleaguered. France had not yet relinquished its claims to Haiti, the white North Atlantic nations mocked the new leadership and deplored its existence, and because slavery was still the fate of most Caribbean people, Haitians dreaded its return.

Both England and Spain, though happy to see France defeated, were obsessed with the possible impact of Haiti's slave uprising on Cuba, Santo Domingo (which had reverted to Spain in 1809), and Jamaica. Haitians, in turn, feared Santo Domingo because of its potential use as a base for reconquest by European powers. In general, the success of the Haitian Revolution may have delayed political independence of other slave societies. In both Cuba and Brazil, the planter class reinforced its ties to the mother country. France declared an international boycott of the new state, and no power wanted to recognize the independence of Haiti. The United States declared an embargo against the country. England continued its lucrative trade with Haiti, but was reluctant to recognize its independence. In fact, most nations at that time considered Haiti's declaration of independence an anomaly, a threat, or a bad example.

FROM INDEPENDENCE TO POLITICAL MODERNIZATION (1804–1888)

Jean-Jacques Dessalines governed Haiti, with difficulty, from 1804 to 1806. There were a lack of political cohesion and a common vision for the country, even in the sphere of power: Each group and social faction dreamt of a different Haiti. The former affranchis believed they were the most capable of leading Haiti now that the whites were gone, but the representatives of the new affranchis, who had led the revolution to victory, wanted to keep the political supremacy. For the majority of the people, the revolution meant, at the political level, abolition of slavery and political emancipation, and at the economic level, division of the plantations and self-ownership. Dessalines tried to maintain the exportation of agricultural products, but his success was relative: Nobody wanted to return to the plantations, either as owners or as laborers under the conditions that Louverture implemented.

In May 1805 Dessalines installed the imperial regime in Haiti and managed to defend the revolution and independence. He ordered the construction of a series of fortifications throughout the country to defend against a return by the French army. He made another attempt, without success, to reunify the island of Haiti. When he undertook a program to verify the titles of properties seized by former affranchis after the departure of the white planters, he was assassinated in 1806.

When Dessalines's empire ended, Haiti was divided into two states. In the west and the south of the country, Alexandre Pétion, a former partisan of André Rigaud, established a republican form of government; from the Artibonite to the north, Henri Christophe established a monarchy.

In the north, Christophe, following Louverture, attempted to restore the plantations by work, discipline, and obligatory labor. Although he established friendly relations with foreign powers, he was also aware of the threat of invasion, and so built numerous palaces and fortifications, including the famous mountaintop fortress of La Ferrière. Pétion in the south was more moderate, and many large estates were broken up and distributed to veterans of the wars. By prior arrangement, upon Pétion's death in 1818, his long-time ally Jean-Pierre Boyer (1776–1850) became president for life. He reunited the nation after Christophe died in 1820.

Boyer's long presidency (1818–1843) was a formative period for Haiti. He was successful in reunifying the island of Haiti in 1822, thus ending slavery throughout Santo Domingo, and opened negotiations with France. The French were adamant in their insistence that they were still the legal power in Haiti, and Boyer, worried about the precarious position of the small mulatto ruling class, appeared to be willing to accept some form of French allegiance. But popular hatred of the idea of French domination was so strong that Boyer finally secured French recognition in return for payment of an indemnity of 150 million francs/gold and favorable tariffs on French goods. The Boyer government received strong criticism for accepting that arrangement with France. Must critics believed that it put Haiti into an era of neo-colonialism by allowing foreign economic manipulation, which forced Haiti into foreign borrowing and internal taxation, and obviously lessened opportunities for local investment.

Boyer reversed Pétion's laissez-faire attitude toward the land question. Like Louverture and Christophe, he dreamed of a plantation economy geared to exports. His efforts to stop the alienation of public lands, and his infamous Code Rurale (1826) that attempted to restrict movement and force peasants to work, were clearly designed to create a stable labor force for the few large landowners. But his rural policies failed to reverse the trend toward small peasant subsistence holdings. Sugar production continued to fall, though small-holder crops such as coffee and cacao took up some of the slack. Unfortunately for the country's ecological future, timber, including valuable stands of hardwoods, became a valuable export. Commerce with the United States flourished.

Boyer's regime failed to halt the trend toward a small-holding peasantry, and his overthrow in 1843 showed that certain other characteristics of elite politics and Haitian life were becoming ingrained. Boyer's government had been dominated by mulattoes who enriched themselves through government office or favors. Excluded mulattoes and elite blacks, especially from the south, agitated for greater democracy, but they gave little thought to the inclusion of the rural black masses. The division between the tiny mulatto minority and small black elite became a major feature of elite politics in the nineteenth century, but in reality, this "ethnic politics" was more proclaimed than real.

After Boyer's exile in 1843, the government oscillated between long periods of dictatorial stability and unstable interregnums, with brief tenures in the presidency and turbulent politics. The quarter-century of Boyer's rule was followed by four brief presidencies, none of which lasted for even one year. These interludes in office illustrate another feature of Haitian elite politics, the so-called politique de doublure ("understudy politics") by which elite politicians or merchants actually governed behind a black figurehead, often an army general with some peasant support. The four elderly generals who followed Boyer to the presidency showed little initiative, but the fifth general, a relative unknown from the presidential guard, Faustin Élie Soulouque (1788–1867), commenced another long reign.

Soulouque started his term in office by changing many facets of Haitian politics. He turned on his sponsors, setting up an urban terror squad, the zinglins, and used the southern piquets adroitly to frighten the merchants of Port-au-Prince. After a year or so in office, he arranged his elevation to emperor. His tenure in office lasted almost twelve years (1847–1859). Soulouque created a form of legitimacy for his rule among significant sectors of the population. He was preoccupied with national territorial integrity, and on two occasions tried to reunify parts of the island that had broken away after the fall of Boyer in 1843. For many Haitian authorities, the eastern part of the island, which had declared independence in 1844, represented a danger for the Haitian independence because it could be used as a base for foreign intrusion. Emperor Faustin I's insular policy was handicapped by internal difficulties and the hostility of the foreign powers that openly helped the Dominicans against the Haitian army. A short time later, the imperial regime collapsed.

General Fabre Nicolas Geffrard (1806–1878), a long-time ally of Faustin I, seized power after a military rebellion. Geffrard restored the republic and the presidency for life. His government started a vast program of education in urban areas and signed a concordat with the Holy See in 1860. Two years later, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln finally gave diplomatic recognition to Haiti, and Geffrard encouraged the immigration of black U.S. citizens, with little success. His government also played a prominent role aside Dominican patriots fighting against the reconquest of Santo Domingo by Spain. On May 6, 1867, Geffrard was overthrown by another general, Sylvain Salnave (1827–1870), and fled to Jamaica.

Salnave, who also declared himself president for life, was unusual in that he was a mulatto who had support from black factions. He seemed to have enjoyed some popularity among the poor of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. But the cacos from the north opposed Salnave, and they played a large if intermittent role in politics until after the U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915–1934). They gave their support first to one general, then to another, on the basis of promises of short-term advantages. They seemed to be seeking benign neglect—promises that peasant land tenure or political arrangements in the rural areas would not be disturbed. Once their man was installed in the presidency, these rural groups usually disbanded, and thus failed to keep pressure on their leader; when a later generation saw new possibilities, they would rise again.

The period of Salnave's government (1867–1869) was characterized by political instability. Salnave had many political opponents, and the traditional power elite confronted him with determination; in turn, on many occasions, he mobilized his partisans against the economical interests of the elite. Traditional historiography presents this episode as a political confrontation between the mass of blacks, under the influence of a mulatto politician, and the mulatto elite. A new historiography characterizes Salnave's leadership as a historical attempt to change politics and social realities in the country. In the face of resistance, Salnave finally relinquished his office and went to the Dominican Republic, where he was captured by enemies and handed over to his political opponents in Haiti, who judged, condemned, and executed him publicly.

After Salnave's execution in January 1870, the political class seemed to have decided to modernize the political life of the nation. Two political parties were formed: the Liberal Party, made up in large part of preeminent mulattoes who advocated rule by the most able; and the National Party, composed principally of black figures who claimed power on behalf of the majority. As a result of this modernization, from 1870 to 1888 the political transitions were peaceful and constitutional, until the fall of General Salomon.

President Louis-Etienne Lysius Félicité Salomon, Jeune (1879–1888) was a well-known black who had served in Soulouque's cabinet. He found it expedient to support the concordat with the Holy See in spite of the anticlerical opinions of many of his followers. He negotiated with the United States for the lease of certain strategic points of Haitian territory to gain support both politically and economically. He founded the Banque Nationale de la République d'Haïti, backed by French capital; terminated payment of the French indemnity for recognition of Haitian independence; and accepted a French military mission to reform the Haitian army. He even permitted foreign companies to own Haitian land. Salomon's government published legislation to give access to land to some inhabitants, but unfortunately it lacked effective political determination and the capital investment to become a real policy. Once in power he survived the 1883 invasion by a faction of the Liberal Party backed by British merchants and activists. The government did not fall, but it was the beginning of its end. It survived in power until the middle of 1888.

ATTEMPTS AT MODERNIZATION, AND FOREIGN INTERFERENCE

From Salomon's regime to the government of Tirésias Simon Sam (1896–1902), a movement toward modernization was afoot. Florvil Hyppolite (1889–1896), in particular, attempted to implement modernizing policies, but a lack of capital slowed him down. Haitian authorities looked principally to France for capital and foreign investment, and proposed to France an international alliance in the political arena. Unfortunately France did not respond adequately to their solicitation and offer: Haiti received only some loans, and those at exorbitant interest rates. Haiti did not participate in the flow of capital, international investment, human resources, and migration that characterized the Europeanization of the world at that time.

This was a period of European imperialism and confrontations. At the turn of the twentieth century, the independence of Haiti was difficult to maintain. To survive, in 1907 the Haitian authorities successively and separately signed treaties or conventions of good relations with France, Germany and the United States. All these powers—and their foreign merchants installed in the ports of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Cap-Haitian, and Gonaïves—were playing some role in the national politics of Haiti, pressuring authorities or supporting some Haitian politicians in exchange for favors and privileges. All these attitudes and policies were sources of turmoil and political instability.

The need for money, the relationship with the national bourgeoisie, and fear of foreign powers, were all issues that each president had to contend with, whatever his ethnic politics and proclamations. The welfare of the majority was forgotten, and several presidents found themselves appeasing foreign governments, negotiating new loans with them, or even negotiating leases of national territory. The rivalry for the presidency and the precariousness of tenure once in office was such that some Haitian leaders treacherously called in foreign military support against their compatriot opponents.

By the 1890s the United States gained some political influence in Haiti, but as an exporter of capital and an emergent international power, it regarded the sporadic unrest in Haiti as a threat to U.S. citizens and their interests. The United States found Haiti's nationalism to be an affront, and many of its policies, such as the constitutional provision against ownership of land by foreign whites, to be an obstacle to investment. Moreover, Haiti's geographical position at the entrance to the northern Caribbean (and its natural harbor at Môle St. Nicolas on the northeast coast) provoked interference from the United States and other powers.

Between 1911 and 1915 Haiti had six presidents. The last of them, Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, who ordered the execution of jailed opponents, was dragged out of the French embassy and killed. The U.S. Marines had been waiting for a reason to invade, and they landed that same day, July 28, 1915.

FROM THE U.S. OCCUPATION TO THE DUVALIER REGIMES

The pretext for the U.S. occupation of Haiti was the rioting that preceded the murder of President Sam; the United States considered the unrest a threat to U.S. citizens and property in Haiti. They may also have wished to forestall the French, whose embassy had been violated, and certainly they were concerned about Germany, which, with World War I raging, had designs on Môle St. Nicolas on the northeast coast of Haiti. (Germany had at various times asserted its right to protect the sizable German merchant community in Port-au-Prince.) U.S. investors, moreover, had bought out the French interest in Haiti's Banque Nationale, but generally, U.S. business interests had been frustrated by difficulties in penetrating the Haitian economy. The British, for their part, often acted as protectors of the increasingly important Syrian-Lebanese merchant group that dominated much of Haiti's commercial life. The combination of these fears and frustrations, when added to the strategic hegemony that the United States was establishing in the Caribbean, was reason enough to justify the invasion and the occupation, which lasted nineteen years (1915–1934).

Those who defend the U.S. occupation refer to the political and financial stability it brought. They also point to material gains: Health conditions were improved; roads, hospitals, and schools were built; and finally more foreign investment flowed in. U.S. interests came first, however, and the Haitian public resented the reversal of the old policy prohibiting foreign ownership of land. Provoking even more resentment was the U.S. policy of favoring the mulatto elite, evidenced by the installation of a series of mulatto presidents. Rural anger at the imposition of the corvée, a system of obligatory labor drafts, sparked a cacos revolt in 1918 led by, among others, Charlemagne Péralte (1886–1919), who was killed after a violent campaign by the U.S. Marines. Nationalistic fervor increased after the revolt. In cultural terms, many of the Haitian elite constructed an ideology of an American as a subject materialist, with a lack of culture and good taste.

The U.S. occupation also gave birth to the indigenist movement in Haiti. A segment of the intellectual elite, inspired by Jean-Price Mars's book Ainsi parla l'oncle (1928), criticized the Haitian elite for looking only to Europe, particularly France, and neglecting Haiti's African roots, values, and culture. A vast sector in the Haitian community was mobilized. New theorists came and gave new interpretations and formulations of the nation's politics, economy, and social relations. Furthermore, they found the basis for a new aesthetics and finally formed a new vision of the world.

In this context, the United States was unwelcome in the country, and in 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally withdrew the U.S. troops.

Much has been made of the ethnological and nationalistic movement that began as a reaction to the foreign occupation. Now a group of intellectuals strove to emphasize the African part of Haiti's heritage, moving from indigenism to négritude and to noirisme (black power). The griot movement was another movement, and the ethnologist Lorimer Denis and François Duvalier (1907–1971) were its principal exponents. In some of their writings they went so far as demanding a revolution that would throw off all European attachments in favor of the African values. They rewrote Haitian political history to emphasize the glorious black past and created a historical legend that favored the blacks.

From 1941 to 1942 the Catholic Church, with the support of President Elie Lescot, led an anti-superstition campaign in an attempt to eradicate vodou, the popular religion. This campaign divided the Haitian society, and fortunately it was stopped by the government before too much damage was done.

In 1946 a representative of the black elite, Dumar-sais Estimé (1900–1953), became president. Estimé mobilized large subaltern social groups, and he made Haiti a tourist destination for the first time with the International Exhibition at the bicentenary celebration of the foundation of Port-au-Prince in 1947 to 1950. Considering the Haitian twentieth century as a whole, the four years of the Estimé government (1946–1950) were the most progressive. Estimé fell victim to a coup when he tried to change the constitution to allow his reelection by parliament. After his presidency, Haitian governments went from bad to worse.

At first, the ambition of General Paul-Eugène Magloire (1950–1956), the army chief who overthrew Estimé, was to continue the politics of his predecessor. He was welcomed by the Catholic Church, the Port-au-Prince business community, and the United States. There was a brief burst of prosperity, at least in the city, under Magloire, but his minority politics were dated. Magloire was forced to leave the country in 1956, when he, too, tried to remain in power. His departure brought another interregnum. Four preeminent figures, Clément Jumelle, Louis Déjoie, Daniel Fignolé, and François Duvalier, struggled for the power. Gradually, Duvalier, a physician and well-known ethnologist from the indigenist movement, gained the lukewarm support of the army and a majority among the electorate. He won the presidential election of 1957, presenting himself as the successor to Estimé.

Duvalier ruled Haiti as president for life for almost fourteen years (1957–1971). Once in power, he quickly threw off those who believed that he could be manipulated. He governed with the support of a praetorian guard, the Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (VSN), popularly known as the Tontons Macoutes. He never relaxed terrorist vigilance and authoritarian rule. By the mid-1960s, Duvalier reigned supreme: All his leading opponents were either dead or in exile.

Duvalier had elaborated his philosophy of government in many books and articles, but his rule failed to develop much of it. After the elimination of his rivals, his regime was fraught with revolutionary rhetoric and symbols, but his policies were conservative. He succeeded in replacing foreign priests with Haitian nationals. He also ferociously dismantled some sectors of the elites and thereby won the support of parts of the new black urban middle class, as well as political leaders of the villages. But under his presidency and that of his successor, his son Jean-Claude Duvalier (1971–1986), little was accomplished or even attempted to solve the sizeable economic and social problems of Haiti. A portion of the peasantry was coopted, another was punished for opposing his policies. Under the Duvalier regimes, the standard of living began to deteriorate more rapidly than before because of the growing population and the resultant division and subdivision of land holding. Many of the rural poor emigrated to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and the United States. Haitians from the cities and educated professionals also went to foreign countries, particularly the United States, Canada, and France, to earn a living or to escape oppression.

The regime of the younger Duvalier was less violent than that of his father, but it became increasingly associated with the old elites and with spectacular corruption. In general, the economical situation of Haiti during the reign of the Duvaliers was disastrous. While other nations in the Caribbean region expanded through economic growth and development, Haiti entered more profoundly into poverty and a dictatorial political system. Finally, when Jean-Claude Duvalier's support disappeared in February 1986, he was flown to exile in France.

TRANSITION AND DEMOCRACY

Since February 1986, Haiti has been in a long period of transition that is moving jaggedly, with both advances in establishing democratic institutions and attempts to restore dictatorships. During this long period, elections have been organized, others canceled; some presidencies have been ephemeral. The army has reasserted itself in national politics, directly governing the country and carrying out dramatic coups d'état.

Since 1986 Haiti has regressed at several levels. Poverty is striking and palpable. Haiti has lost a significant portion of its export capacity, and its imports, even of basic or essential products, remain substantial. From 1991 to 1994 an international embargo—a catastrophic one—was in force against Haiti, and the nation has not recovered its preembargo level of production and exchanges. Political instability does not permit a national plan of reconstruction or renovation for the long term.

One positive sign has been the more vigorous participation in decision making on the part of the peasants and the rapidly growing urban masses. The popular Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide (b. 1953) was elected to the presidency in December 1990 by a large popular vote, though that did not prevent his overthrow and exile soon afterward. In exile, Aristide has been unpopular among many leaders in the United States because of his radical rhetoric; nevertheless he received U.S. and UN help in his struggle to regain power. He was returned to the presidency of Haiti in October 1994. From 1994 to 1996 he managed (with help from international forces) to demobilize the army that committed the bloody coup d'état of 1991. In February 1996 he was succeeded in the presidency by René G. Préval (b. 1943).

Préval, who had been Aristide's prime minister (February-September 1991), ruled the country until the end of his constitutional mandate (1996–2001), largely with the support of Aristide and his political party, Fanmil Lavalas, though Aristide sometimes intervened unhelpfully, leaving the president little room to manoeuvre. President Préval instituted land reform in the rice-growing area of Artibonite and attempted to set up a real national road network, but both initiatives remained incomplete. Ultimately, at that time, Préval's government did not leave a great legacy; he merely waited, played for time, and prepared for Aristide's return to power, via fair or fraudulent elections.

Aristide did return to power, in February 2001 following presidential elections organized by a discredited interim electoral council with no mandate and no political legitimacy. Notwithstanding the opposition parties' boycott of the electoral process, the council prepared elections geared toward Aristide, proclaiming him president with decidedly suspicious results of over 95 percent. Thus Aristide returned to power in a political mêlée without the support of any organized political force. He ruled for three years, during which time he attempted to resolve the crisis in his own way. Although he gained a certain acceptance within the international community, at home his government was openly denounced and embattled. Aristide tried to rule by fear, intimidation, and political repression in a manner reminiscent of Duvalier, encouraging the formation of armed groups to terrorize opponents and intimidate the civilian population. The January 1, 2004, commemoration of national independence saw a political confrontation between Aristide's supporters and his political opponents. Two months later, the government was deposed and Aristide went into exile. Meanwhile, the United Nations sent a peace-keeping intervention force to Haiti to protect lives and property; it is expected that the UN force will remain for ten years to allow for the establishment of political institutions and consolidation of the sectors of the Haitian economy.

From February 2004 to May 2006 Haiti's fate was in the hands of an interim government headed by the Supreme Court judge Alexandre Boniface as president and Gérard Latortue as prime minister. The government's main mandate was the consolidation of the political institutions of the country, including the strengthening of political parties, and the organization of free and democratic elections with the participation of all political sectors. The government had great difficulty implementing its policy, partly because in July 2004 armed supporters of Aristide in the slums around Port-au-Prince launched "Operation Baghdad"—a program aimed at maintaining a state of terror among the population, making the country ungovernable. Nevertheless, parliamentary and presidential elections were held, and former president René Préval was once again successful at the polls. He took the oath in May 2006, and his term of office extends to February 2011. His government is implementing a calming policy, aimed at including all political sectors within the government. He has thus far been successful, yet the general socioeconomic conditions of the population still very bad.

Despite Haiti's many problems, one aspect has never failed—the artistic and intellectual production of the Haitian people. Haitian coffee remains a legend and a reference of good taste. Haitian paintings and craft are highly valued everywhere. Haiti has produced writers and thinkers of great value, including Anténor Firmin (1850–1911), Jean Price-Mars (1876–1969), Jacques Roumain (1907–1944), Jacques-Stephen Alexis (1922–1961), Edwidge Danticat (b. 1969), and Frankétienne (b. 1936), to mention a few. Where there is the art of creation and strength of thought, change is always possible.

See alsoAlexis, Jacques Stéphen; Aristide, Jean-Bertrand; Boyer, Jean-Pierre; Caste and Class Structure in Colonial Spanish America; Christophe, Henri; Columbus, Christopher; Danticat, Edwidge; Dessalines, Jean Jacques; Duvalier, François; Duvalier, Jean-Claude; Geffrard, Fabre Nicolas; Hyppolite, Louis Modestin Florville; Leclerc, Charles Victor Emmanuel; Louverture, Toussaint; Magloire, Paul Eugene; Maroons (Cimarrones); Napoleon I; Ogé, Jacques Vicente; Péralte, Charlemagne Masséna; Pétion, Alexandre Sabés; Rigaud, André; Rochambeau, Donatien Marie Joseph de Vimeur de; Roumain, Jacques; Salnave, Sylvain; Salomon, Louis Étienne Lysius Félicité; Sam, Jean Villbrun Guillaume; Sam, Tirésias Augustin Simon; Santo Domingo; Slave Revolts: Spanish America; Sonthonax, Léger Félicité; Soulouque, Faustin Élie; Tonton Macoutes.

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                                          Watson Denis

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HAITI

Republic of Haiti

Major City:
Port-au-Prince

Other Cities:
Cap-Haïtien, Gonaïves, Jacmel, Kenscoff, Les Cayes, Pétionville, Port-de-Paix

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated August 1996. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

In October 1994, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was restored to power in Haiti by a U.S.-led Multinational Force (MNF), ending 3 years of military dictatorship and extreme hardship for the Haitian people. Economic sanctions were lifted, and MNF troops were deployed throughout the country to ensure Haiti's peaceful transition to democratic rule. Shortly after Aristide's return, the international donor community met and pledged $1.2 billion to assist in the rebuilding of the Haitian economy and social institutions. Parliamentary elections were held in the summer and fall of 1995, and, in accordance with the constitution, elections for President were held in December 1995. President Rene Preval was inaugurated February 7, 1996, completing the first-ever peaceful transition from one elected President to another and giving Haitians a democratically elected government from the local level to the Presidency. A small U.N. or multinational peace-keeping mission is expected to remain in Haiti through 1996.

Haiti is a land with too many people and almost no natural resources. Its forests have been cut down and its topsoil washed into the sea. To the outside world, its name has become synonymous with "boat people" and voodoo. It is a land of hunger, poverty, pride, and beauty.

Americans living in Haiti find the climate delightful, the people handsome and approachable, the arts fascinating, the poverty appalling, and the overall experience unique to each person.

MAJOR CITY

Port-au-Prince

Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, is located on the Gulf of La Gonave, formed by the two great peninsulas that define Haiti's coastline. These two peninsulas are often compared to the jaws of a crocodile that looks as if it is about to swallow Port-au-Prince.

To feel the pulse of Port-au-Prince, one can think of Haiti as "a fragment of black Africa which dislodged, drifted across the Atlantic and settled in the Caribbean." Following a successful slave revolt in 1804, this "bit of Africa" became the second independent country in the Western Hemisphere.

Port-au-Prince is a city with an uninspired waterfront and downtown area. The city has expanded onto adjoining hills with incredible vistas. At present, the city is a conglomeration of nondescript office buildings, slums, old Victorian houses with "gingerbread" trim, modern cement-block houses, and breathtaking million-dollar homes. The city's social system unofficially divides the populace into a majority of black African descent called "noirs" and a minority of mixed ancestry called "mulatres." This division continues to be the basis for the inequalities so glaringly visible in Port-au-Prince.

The city has few historic sites, but sight-seeing is ample for a short visit. Major attractions are the Episcopal cathedral with its Haitian Biblical murals, the Catholic cathedral, the Musee d'Art, and many private art galleries. Haitian handi-craft stores feature metal arts created from old oil drums, many with a delightful sense of humor. There are over 8,000 U.S. citizens living in Haiti, and about half of those registered are children under 18. The American business community in Port-au-Prince is not sizable.

Food

During normal times Port-au-Prince offers a surprising variety of food products, although many items are imported and retail at prices well above the U.S. level. These include packaged, canned, and frozen foods, occasional cottage cheese, sour cream and French cheeses, but only dry or long-life (UHT) milk is available. Goods are often beyond their peak upon arrival and many past their expiration date as well.

Local beef, pork, and chicken are available, but the quality does not meet U.S. standards. Vegetables and fruit are available in season. Market women sell string beans, peas, avocados, beets, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, cabbage, onions, garlic, parsley, special artichokes, cauliflower, potatoes, and radishes. Papayas, mangoes, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, pineapples, bananas, and various melons are available in season but quality varies.

Uncooked vegetables or unpeeled fruit should be washed and treated with a chlorine solution as disinfectant.

Clothing

Lightweight clothing is worn year-round, with a sweater or jacket occasionally useful in the winter. The average temperature in Port-au-Prince is 80°F. Raincoats are not worn, as they are too warm, but umbrellas are useful. A lightweight sweater or jacket is needed for trips to the mountains.

Women: In public women wear dresses, skirts and blouses, or slacks and tops. Lightweight, washable cottons or synthetic cotton mixtures are most comfortable. A limited supply of Haitian-embroidered linen dresses are sold locally but at high prices.

Lingerie is available locally but is very expensive or of second quality. Nylon lingerie can be too hot for the Port-au-Prince climate. Hosiery is optional and rarely worn.

Locally made sandals are reasonably priced and available in the markets. It is wise to bring other footwear and tennis shoes from the U.S. Many beaches are stony, and sea urchins are numerous, so bathing shoes of some type are useful.

Children: Children in all grades at Union School wear uniforms. The uniforms, shirts and shorts are limited to the colors blue, white, and yellow and must be purchased locally. Play clothes are worn to children's parties. Most teenage entertaining is casual.

Supplies and Services

Most well-known brands of American toiletries and cosmetics are available but much more expensive. French and European toiletries and cosmetics often cost less.

Haitian fabric material is of poor quality, and imported fabrics are available but expensive.

Tailoring is inadequate for most types of men's clothing. Prices for low-quality tailor-made suits are reasonable.

Dressmakers are available. Seamstresses will come to the home at reasonable prices to make clothing for adults or children. Shoe repair often takes place on the street and is quite satisfactory. Good-quality dry-cleaning is hard to find.

In all of these service areas, language ability, or lack thereof, usually compounds any problem.

Religious Activities

Haiti is predominately a Roman Catholic country. Parish churches are located throughout the city, and the Port-au-Prince Cathedral is in the center city. Mass is traditionally said in French or Creole. An English mass is held on Sunday mornings at St. Louis de Gonzague Chapel in the downtown area.

Protestant services are held on Sunday mornings at the Episcopal Church of St. Jacques in Petionville and at the Quisqueya Chapel, a nondenominational church in Port-au-Prince. The Quisqueya Chapel also has Sunday School classes, Bible study groups, and a Sunday evening worship service. Services are held on Saturday mornings at the Church of the Adventist University of Haiti in Diquini.

Members of the Jewish and Muslim communities usually hold services in their homes to celebrate their holy days.

Vaudun (voodoo) plays a central part in the religious life of many Haitians. It is essentially a bringing together of beliefs and rituals of African origin, closely tied to Catholic practices. Some understanding of voodoo is essential to an understanding of Haiti.

Education

The Haitian school system includes primary through university levels and is based on the French system, with classes taught in French or Creole.

Most foreign children in Port-au-Prince attend the SACS-accredited Union School. Classes are taught in English, with French a required subject at all grade levels. The Union School is open to all nationalities and offers a program from pre-school through grade 12. It has a capacity of 380 children and should be notified well in advance of enrollment plans for arriving children, particularly if they involve a mid-term transfer.

When planning enrollment in the Union School, students should bring with them complete school records including report cards and test results. A one-time bonding fee of $150 per child is nonreimbursable. School hours are from 7:45 am to 1:30 pm. The school year normally begins toward the end of August and finishes in early June. Students at the Union School wear uniforms from kindergarten through grade 12, as do children in all Haitian schools. Children attending the Union School ordinarily have no difficulty transferring to U.S. schools.

The Union School has a Learning Center for children with mild learning difficulties, and it is generally recognized to have a very good elementary school program. Its high school curriculum has an advanced placement program, but there is no international baccalaureate available. The Quisqueya Christian School also provides English-language schooling from kindergarten through grade 12. The school is open to all nationalities and is attended by many American children. It currently has an enrollment of 200, and the staff are American educated.

Sports

Sports activities in Haiti are found primarily in private clubs. (There are no organized sports facilities such as the YMCA.) The Petion Ville Club, about 3 miles from downtown Port-au-Prince, is on a hill overlooking the bay. Included in its 145 acres are a rugged nine-hole golf course, six tennis courts (four lighted), a 75-foot swimming pool (which can be enjoyed by children), and a clubhouse with dance floor, dining, bar, and locker accommodations. There are a number of tennis clubs in Port-au-Prince. These often have social facilities available in addition to the tennis courts. Most clubs require an initiation fee and/or monthly dues.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

A great deal of Haiti's outdoor life centers around its coastal waters and beaches. There are safe and pleasant beaches about a 60-minute drive from Port-au-Prince, and a number have overnight and restaurant facilities. Swimming and snorkeling are ideal for all ages.

Scuba diving is popular in Haiti, but divers should bring their own tanks. There is one place in Port-au-Prince that will refill tanks, but only to 2,200 pounds unless you have your own compressor. There is no scuba-diving equipment available locally. The Cormier Plage Beach Resort, adjacent to Cap Haitien on the north coast, rents equipment. Scuba-diving instruction for certification is possible in Haiti at both beginning and advanced levels. The cost is 550 Haitian dollars.

Unstable political conditions have restricted the formerly good hunting for ducks, guinea hens, wild pigeons, and doves.

Kenscoff (45 minutes from Port-au-Prince) is a town at an altitude of 4,500 feet, set in mountains as high as 6,500 feet. It is cool year-round and may even be cold in winter. Although the road has suffered wear and tear, people enjoy visiting Kenscoff on weekends. There are some wonderful places to hike. The scenery in the mountains is extraordinary, and travelers like to stop en route to visit the Baptist Fermathe Mission's arts-and-crafts shop and have lunch in its pleasant restaurant. For historic content, Forts Jacques and Alexandre can be added to the itinerary.

Cap Haitien (157 miles from Port-au-Prince; 6 hours by car), Haiti's second-largest city, is of primary interest because of its historic past. The famed Citadelle Laferriere, often referred to as the "eighth wonder of the world," was built on a 3,000-foot peak overlooking Cap Haitien. Below the Citadelle is Milot, where one can visit the ruins of Henri Christophe's Sans Souci Palace. Above Milot, horses can be rented for the uphill ride to the Citadelle. Cap Haitien has adequate hotel facilities, and nearby are two very pleasant seaside resorts.

Jacmel (73 miles from Port-au-Prince; 2 hours by car) is on the southern peninsula and well known for its beaches. It is a picturesque town with turn-of-the-century architecture, a small iron market, and a few small art galleries. Jacmel has beaches inside the town and nearby at Carrefour Raymond. The road to Jacmel is in fair condition, and the town has two good hotels with restaurants.

Les Cayes (125 miles from Port-au-Prince; 4 hours by car) is the principal city of the southern peninsula and the third-largest city in Haiti. The city itself has little to offer, but the road from the capital passes through beautiful and interesting country. One of the best beaches in Haiti, Port-Salut, is nearby and has a restaurant and hotel. Les Cayes has two satisfactory hotels, one on the outskirts and one in the city.

The Arts and Entertainment

The Haitian art scene has attracted world-wide attention since 1946, when English teacher DeWitt Peters brought Hector Hippolyte, Philomene Obin, and other greats of Haiti's primitive art scene to the attention of the world's art establishment. One of the unique experiences of living in Haiti is the chance to visit the studios and galleries of the artists carrying on this fascinating tradition.

Haiti has no concert or theater series, but the Philharmonic Orchestra of Saint Trinite Cathedral presents seasonal concerts of classical music, and the cathedral provides a locale for the all-too-rare performances by visiting soloists or chamber groups.

The Musee d'Art Haitien, on the Champs-de-Mars, houses both standing and rotating art exhibits.

Private art galleries abound in the Port-au-Prince area, but one that holds a special place in Haitian hearts is the Jean-Rene Jerome Museum, opened in the mid-1980s to honor the much-revered artist.

There are few archaeological sites in Haiti, but Dr. William Hodges of the Good Samaritan Hospital in Limbe has had as an avocation during his 30-year career in the country a search for the site where Columbus landed his first expedition on the north coast. If one is traveling to Cap Haitien by car, a stopover to visit Dr. Hodges' small museum in Limbe should be considered. For the real enthusiast, a journey to the east of Cap Haitien takes one to the site that Dr. Hodges' research leads him to conclude was the actual spot where Columbus established the first colony in the New World.

Port-au-Prince has several movie houses, of which the Imperial is the largest and most comfortable. Most films shown are French films, but even American films are dubbed in French.

There are a number of quite good restaurants in the area. Excellent French cuisine can be had at the pricier establishments. The larger hotels have dining rooms that feature special buffets, Sunday brunches, and an occasional floor show. A few nightclubs provide Haitian or disco music, and there are two hotel casinos.

Coverage of the entertainment scene in Haiti cannot neglect Carnival where dancing in the streets takes place every Sunday after Christmas and culminates in Mardi Gras, the two days before Ash Wednesday. Musical groups called rara bands dance across the countryside during the pre-Lenten season. Many Haitians join in these singing and dancing festivities, and drinking is excessive. Things tend to become rowdy, and foreigners usually prefer to watch these celebrations on television.

Social Activities

Most entertaining takes place informally in the home. Single people generally find sports clubs or outdoor activities the most satisfactory way to socialize. As most Haitians do not receive high salaries, it is often difficult for them to return hospitality. There is an American Women's Community Association (AWCA), which meets monthly. It provides a welcome to new American women, sponsors seasonal parties for the children, and is open to any activities or projects for which members indicate enthusiasm. The Women's International Gourmet Society (WIGS) meets monthly to sample different restaurant cuisine. The local churches have women's groups to which all are welcome. The Quisqueya Chapel sponsors periodic men's breakfasts at a local hotel. These are open to all men in the community.

OTHER CITIES

CAP-HAÏTIEN (also called Le Cap), about 85 miles north of Port-au-Prince on the northern coast, is Haiti's second largest city. It is of primary interest because of its historic past. There are ruins here of former colonial dwellings and buildings; nearby Milot is the site of the ruins of King Christophe's Sans Souci palace. From Milot, horses or burros can be rented for a two-hour ride to the Citadelle Laferrière, also built by Christophe, and surmounted on a 3,000-foot peak overlooking the nearby plain. The city has a modern harbor which handles one-ninth of Haiti's imports and exports. One of the world's largest sisal plantations is located in Cap-Haïtien. Pineapples, sugarcane, coffee, bananas, and cacao are grown near the city. From Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haïtien, the trip is four hours by car, or 35 minutes by air. Cap-Haïtien's 1995 population was about 100,600.

GONAÏVES is a port city on the Gulf of Gonave in western Haiti. The country's independence was proclaimed here in 1804, and today the city is a major commercial center. The region's agricultural products, including sugar, cotton, coffee, and bananas, are exported from the harbor. A main attraction in the city is the Musée du Centenaire. It was inaugurated in 1904 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Haiti's independence. The Gulf of Gonave is situated in the pincers of two mountainous peninsulas and is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. The city's population is estimated over 40,000.

JACMEL , situated on the southern peninsula, is a picturesque town of about 216,600. It boasts a small iron market, a few small art galleries, and beaches at nearby Carrefour Raymond. The road to Jacmel recently was rerouted and paved.

KENSCOFF , 10 miles south of Port-au-Prince, and where visitors go on weekends to escape the heat of the capital city, is at an altitude of 4,500 feet. Its mountains rise as high as 6,500 feet. The area is cool all year, and sometimes even cold during the winter. In addition to the climate change, the road to Kenscoff and the town itself offer beautiful scenery and picturesque countryside. Along the road to Kenscoff, sightseers often stop to visit the Baptist Mission's arts and crafts shop or to explore the historic forts, Jacques and Alexandre. The town has about 3,000 people.

LES CAYES is the principal city of the southern peninsula and the third largest city in Haiti, with over 37,000 inhabitants. It is situated 90 miles from Port-au-Prince, but the trip takes several hours by jeep, and then only when roads are passable. The city itself has little to offer, but the road from the capital passes through beautiful and interesting country. One of the best beaches in Haiti, Port-Salut, is nearby. The city is Haiti's principal southern port. Coffee, bananas, cotton, timber, and hides are exported from Les Cayes. Historic landmarks include an arsenal and several forts dating from buccaneer times.

PÉTIONVILLE , a suburb of Port-au-Prince, is five miles southeast of the capital in the hills of the Massif de la Selle. The community is mostly a residential resort area, tied to Port-au-Prince by a twisting toll road. Pétionville's estimated population is 69,5000 (1995). Its name derives from that of Alexandre Sab s Pétion, a hero of Haiti's war for independence in the early 1800s.

Historic PORT-DE-PAIX is a seaport town opposite Tortuga Island, 45 miles west of Cap-Haïtien. Its tumultuous history dates to 1665 and the founding of the city by French insurrectionists from Tortuga Island. They originally settled near Môle Saint-Nicolas, where Columbus landed on December 6, 1492. The first slave revolt took place in Port-de-Paix in 1679. The area flourished in the 19th century when, for a while, it was the colonial capital. A 1902 fire devastated the city, physically and spiritually. Today, Port-de-Paix relies on coffee, bananas, rice, sisal (a strong fiber used to make rope), and tobacco production, as well as fishing, for survival. Agricultural produce, logwood, and hides are exported. The municipal population is over 20,000.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Eighteenth-century Haiti, famed for its wealth and productivity, was known to the colonial world as the Pearl of the Antilles. Located in the Caribbean Sea on the western third of the island of Hispaniola, Haiti is a 10,700-square-mile area of primarily mountainous terrain, some of which rises above 8,000 feet, and 850 miles of spectacular coastline. Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, which occupies the eastern two-thirds.

Haiti's tropical climate produces seasonal rainfall, although large areas of the country are semiarid. Temperatures year-round range from 70°F to 90°F with humidity sometimes high along the coast. Average annual rainfall varies from nearly zero in some areas to 53 inches in Port-au-Prince. The two rainy seasons that Port-au-Prince experiences are from April to June and from August to mid-November. Rain and accompanying thunder/lightning storms usually occur at dusk and at night, but the days remain clear and sunny. There is a crisp dry season from December to April. Surrounding mountains protect Port-au-Prince from Caribbean hurricanes.

Population

With its current population estimated at approximately 7 million, Haiti ranks among the most densely populated countries in the world. Port-au-Prince, the capital, has more than 1.7 million inhabitants. Cap Haitien, on the north coast, is the second-largest city, with a population of 100,600. It is estimated that 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The remaining 5% include Haitians of mixed African-European descent plus immigrants from Europe and the Middle East. Haiti has both French and Creole as official languages even though only 20% of the population speaks French fluently. Creole is spoken and understood by all Haitians, but as a written means of communication it has to contend with Haiti's mere 45% literacy rate.

The culture and traditions of Haiti come from its African, Caribbean, and French roots. Following World War II, a significant number of Haitians began visiting or studying in the United States and Canada. Overseas Haitians now number around 1 million. This travel back and forth has made North American customs and habits increasingly familiar in Haiti. In an attempt to escape the country's grinding poverty (particularly during periods of political repression), tens of thousands of Haitians have attempted to enter the U.S. illegally, the vast majority in overcrowded, unseaworthy boats.

Public Institutions

The people of Haiti have fought with political instability since their independence in 1804. The country has had 21 different constitutions. But the most current Haitian constitution adheres to the principles of democracy and human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

The constitution provides for a system of representative government under which power is shared among branches.

The executive branch consists of a chief of state or president who is elected for a five-year term and is not eligible for immediate re-election or election for a total of more than two terms.

The head of government is the prime minister chosen by the chief of state from the membership of the majority party in Parliament; or, in the absence of a majority party, after consultations with the leadership of both parliamentary chambers.

The legislative branch consists of a senate made up of 27 members (three for each of the nine departments) elected by a direct popular vote at the departmental level for six-year terms and eligible for reelection for an indefinite number of terms. Terms are staggered on a two-year basis, one third of senators being elected every two years.

There is also a chamber of deputies consisting of 83 members elected by a direct popular vote at the municipal level for a four-year term, and eligible for re-election for an indefinite number of terms.

The Haitian judiciary is divided into four basic levels: justices of the peace; fifteen courts of first instance; five regional courts of appeal; and, The Haitian Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation).

The constitution also provides for an independent board of elections charged with the organization and supervision of electoral procedures and political decentralization through the election of mayors and administrative bodies responsible for local government.

The Prime Minister's government is composed of a cabinet that must be confirmed by parliament. This cabinet is called the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is presided over by the President of the Republic.

Many political parties of different ideologies are active in the Haiti. Most parties are not well structured. They lack adequate financial resources, and their focus is on personalities and regional alliances rather than national policy priorities.

Despite the dictates of the constitution, politics remain volatile. Elections are often contested and military coups have called for intervention from the U.N. and other countries. After elections supervised by the United Nations in December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated as President in February 1991.

But in September 1991, a military coup forced Aristide out of Haiti. The U.S.-led Multinational Force restored government three years later and Rene Preval, took office in 1996. Aristide returned to be elected to a second term in the 2000 elections, but these were boycotted by the majority of opposition leaders.

Legislative elections were held in both 1995 and 1997, with disappointing results. New legislative elections did not take place until May 2000. They were expected to reconstitute the legislative branch of government, which effectively ceased to function January 11, 1999. However, they were so flawed as to call into question the legitimacy of the Parliament, which was convened on August 28.

The international community has refused to offer the new Haitian government funding for their projects if they do not negotiate with the opposition in order to come up with an agreement that will satisfy both parties. Talks between the opposition and governing party aimed at resolving the political impasse have taken place under the mediation of the OAS (Organization of American States) and CARICOM (Community of Caribbean Nations), but have yet to result in an accord.

Arts, Science, and Education

Education is available in Haiti from preschool through university, although only 73% of 6-through 11-year-old Haitian children attend primary school. In driving through Port-au-Prince, one sees an extraordinary number of schools, including numerous preschools and kindergartens. Haitian parents prefer private schools over public ones and make great sacrifices to afford the tuition.

The University of Haiti, located in Port-au-Prince, is tuition free to those students who can pass the tough entrance exams. The university has schools of administration, agronomy, dentistry, economics, education, law, literature, medicine, and science. Most subjects are taught in French and in the French university tradition. Of late there has been some instruction in Creole, and the American educational system has influenced the curriculum at the Institute of Administration, Management, and Diplomacy (INAGHEI).

A significant number of art schools attempt to maintain the spirit of Haiti's 1940s explosion onto the world art scene. There are also institutes of science and technology and two private universities.

Commerce and Industry

Since the demise of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, international economists have urged Haiti to reform and modernize its economy. Under President Preval (1995-2000), the country's economic agenda included trade/tariff liberalization, measures to control government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, financial sector reform, and the modernization of two out of nine state-owned enterprises through their sale to private investors, the provision of private sector management contracts, or joint public-private investment. Structural adjustment agreements with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other international financial institutions intended to create necessary conditions for private sector growth, proved only partly successful.

In 1999, Haiti's economy began to falter after about 4 years of positive, though modest growth. Real GDP growth fell in 2001 by 1.2%. The Privatization program stalled. Macroeconomic stability was adversely affected by political uncertainty, low investment, a significant increase in the budget deficit, and reduced international capital flows. The lack of an agreement with the IMF has prevented the resumption of crucial international assistance. This recent weakening of the economy has serious implication for future economic development as well as efforts to improve the general standard of living.

External aid is essential to the future economic development of Haiti, the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti's economic stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental deterioration, continued use of traditional technologies, under-capitalization and lack of public investment in human resources, migration of large portions of the skilled population, a weak national savings rate, and the lack of a functioning judicial system.

Haiti continues to suffer the consequences of the 1991 coup and the irresponsible economic and financial policies of the de facto authorities which greatly accelerated Haiti's economic decline. Following the coup, the United States adopted mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, heavily dependent on U.S. markets for its products, employed nearly 80,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell below 17,000. Private domestic and foreign investment has been slow to return to Haiti. Since the return of constitutional rule, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered with about 25,000 now employed, but further growth has been stalled by investor concerns over safety and political instability.

If the political situation stabilizes, high-crime levels reduce, and new investment increases, tourism could take its place next to export-oriented manufacturing (the assembly sector) as a potential source of foreign exchange. Remittances from abroad now constitute a significant source of financial support for many Haitian households.

Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association. Unionization is protected by the labor code. A legal minimum wage of 36 gourds a day (about U.S. $1.80) applies to most workers in the formal sector.

Transportation

Local

"Service" (sharing) taxis operate on defined routes. There is no safe, clean, or modern intercity or intracity public transport available. There are some private taxi services, but these are very expensive, particularly for new foreigners and during any gasoline shortages.

Regional

During normal times, Port-au-Prince has daily nonstop flights to and from Miami and New York and regular flights to Santo Domingo, Montreal, Paris, Kingston, and Curacao. Reservations can be difficult to make during the peak travel seasons of summer and Christmas.

Communications

Telephone, Telegraph, and FAX

Port-au-Prince has a dial telephone system, which is subject to interruption during rainy seasons and electricity shortages. Intercity calls can be made within Haiti. Overseas calls can also be made at most local hotels with a USA-direct card.

Radio and TV

Under normal conditions there are about 46 independent AM/FM stereo radio stations in Haiti, 22 of which are located in Port-au-Prince. Most broadcast 16 to 18 hours a day, including the government-owned radio station Radio Nationale. Shortwave radios pick up all principal international networks, including VOA and BBC. The VOA Creole service program is rebroadcast daily in the capital.

There are three television stations in the capital. Television Nationale d'Haiti (TNH), the government-owned station, broadcasts all over the country, with an estimated audience of 500,000. It provides French-and Creole-language programs 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tele-Haiti, a privately owned cable station, relays 14 separate channels of programs in English, French, and Spanish. These currently include CNN, HBO, the Learning Channel, the Disney Channel, and U.S. stations affiliated with CBS and NBC. Tele-Haiti (broadcasting 7 days a week, 24 hours daily) serves only Port-au-Prince and has approximately 100,000 viewers. Program quality is generally good, barring power failures. PVS-Antenne 16, a privately owned station broadcasting on UHF, beams French-and English-language programming 8 hours a day, 7 days a week to about 20,000 viewers in the capital.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Local bookstores no longer supply major newspapers, but magazines such as Time, Newsweek, L'Express, and Le Figaro are available about a week after publication.

At present there are 15 newspapers in Haiti, including three French-language dailies in Port-au-Prince. One of these dailies has occasional articles in English. Radio, television, and newspapers draw on Agence France Presse, Reuters, and AP for international news.

The Haitian-American Institute library, open to Americans, has about 3,700 volumes and is probably the best lending library in the country; membership is 5 Haitian dollars per year. The Colony Club, a private lending library located at the Petion-Ville Club, is open Fridays from 4 to 6 pm and can be joined for a minimal fee.

A few commercial bookstores have American, British, French, and Haitian books, although the supply of novels in English is slim, and prices are higher than in the U.S. For small children there are few books available outside the school library. It is wise to subscribe to U.S. magazines and book clubs for both adults and children to make up for the dearth of current English-language reading material available in Port-au-Prince.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Port-au-Prince has a number of competent Haitian doctors, but lack of equipment limits medical facilities. Expert diagnostic service is not available. Locally, there are several competent dentists. A number of American-or Canadian-trained specialists in cardiology, pediatrics, and eye/ear/nose/throat are available.

Local oculists and optometrists can issue eyeglass prescriptions. Lensgrinding facilities are available, but special lenses must be ground outside the country. It is advisable to bring extra eyeglasses, contact lenses, and sunglasses with ultraviolet screening plus a copy of your current prescription. Selection of contact lens solutions is limited.

The Canape Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince has a doctor covering the emergency room from 7 pm to 7 am. It has some air-conditioned private rooms, and most doctors are permitted to practice there. The rates are lower than in the U.S., but due to inadequate nursing care and lack of supplies, hospitalization is sometimes precarious.

It is advisable to bring any medications and over-the-counter drugs used regularly and to make arrangements with a U.S. pharmacy for refills. Pharmacies are available in Port-au-Prince but often stock only European pharmaceuticals.

Community Health

The level of community sanitation and public cleanliness throughout the country is far below American standards. Streets in Port-au-Prince are littered with refuse, and sewage often stagnates in open gutters. Port-au-Prince's sewerage system is totally inadequate for the city's needs. Local vegetables and fruit that cannot be peeled must be washed with soap and water and soaked in chlorine solution.

Preventive Measures

Malaria is a serious problem in rural Haiti. It is recommended that travelers take malaria-preventive medication.

Other diseases common to Haiti include hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, venereal disease (including AIDS), intestinal parasites, dengue fever, polio, and rabies. Due to the high incidence of some of these diseases, any hired household help should have a pre-employment physical examination and periodic checkups.

Occasional cases of dysentery, diarrhea, or dengue fever occur among Americans living in Haiti. While no vaccinations are required for entry into the country (unless one is coming from a yellow-fever-infected area), the State Department recommends inoculations against typhoid fever, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis B, measles, and rabies. Children should be up to date on all recommended immunizations. Immune globulin is recommended every 4 to 6 months for prevention of hepatitis A.

As the local water supply lacks fluo-ride, supplementation for children is important to prevent tooth decay. A supply of sunscreen is essential to prevent skin damage from the tropical rays.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

Haitian law requires travelers to have a passport to enter Haiti. In practice, officials frequently waive this requirement if travelers have a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate. Due to fraud concerns, however, airlines do not board passengers for return to the United States unless they are in possession of a valid passport. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens obtain passports before travel to Haiti. The Haitian government requires foreigners to pay a fee prior to departure. For additional information regarding entry, departure and customs requirements for Haiti, travelers can contact the Haitian Embassy, 2311 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 332-4090, one of the Haitian consulates in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois or Puerto Rico, or via the Internet at http://www.haiti.org/embassy/.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Haiti are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince and obtain updated information on travel and security in Haiti. The Consular Section is located on Rue Oswald Durand, Port-au-Prince; telephone 011 (509) 222-7011; fax 011 (509) 222-1641. Consular Section hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except U.S. and local holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located on Harry Truman Blvd., Port-au-Prince; telephone (509) 23-0200, 223-0354, 223-0955 or 223-0269; fax (509) 23-1641. Internet:http://usembassy.state.gov/haiti.

Pets

To be admitted into Haiti, a pet must have an Authorization to Import certificate, issued by the Haitian Department of Agriculture, which states the animal's breed and point of departure for Haiti. All pets are required to have a recent veterinarian's clearance stating that they have had a current rabies vaccination and are free from disease.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The Haitian Government permits a free-market exchange of U.S. dollars for gourdes, the Haitian monetary unit. Most prices in Haiti are quoted in Haitian dollars, where a dollar equals 5 Haitian gourdes. The metric system of weights and measures is the official standard. U.S. weights and measures are also widely used.

Disaster Preparedness

Haiti, like all Caribbean countries, can be affected by hurricanes and other storms. Hurricane season runs from approximately June 1 to November 30 each year. Extensive flooding as a result of heavy rainfall has occurred in the past. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 Independence

Day Jan. 2 Ancestor's Day

Feb/Mar. Mardi Gras*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter

May 1Labor Day

May 16Ascension Day

May 18Flag and University Day

May 22Sovereignty Day

May/JuneCorpus Christi*

Aug. 15Assumption Day

Oct. 17 Anniversary of the Death of Dessalines

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

November 18 Anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres

Dec. 5 Discovery of Haiti by Columbus

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

Much of the literature about Haiti is available only in French. The following is a suggested reading list of books in English. The more recent titles can be found in bookstores. Books published before 1989 may be available only in libraries. Novels and collections of short stories are indicated by an asterisk.

Abbott, Elizabeth. Haiti: the Duvaliers and their Legacy. Rev. ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Alternative Museum Staff. Mon Reve: A Visual Record of Haiti Since the Departure of the Duvaliers. New York: Alternative Museum, 1989.

Anthony, Suzanne. Haiti. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Bellegarde-Smith, Patrick. Haiti: the Breached Citadel. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.

Courlander, Harold. The Drum and the Hoe. University of California Press: Berkeley, 1981.

. The Bordeaux Narrative. University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque, 1990.

Danner, Mark. Beyond the Mountains: The Legacy of Duvalier. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.

Dunham, Katherine. Dances of Haiti. Afro-American Studies Center: Los Angeles, 1983.

Dupuy, Alex. Haiti in the World Economy: Class, Race & Underdevelopment Since 1700. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1988.

Fass, Simon M. Political Economy in Haiti: The Drama of Survival. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Pubs., 1990.

Ferguson, James. Papa Doc, Baby Doc, Haiti and the Duvaliers. Basil Blackwell: London, 1987.

Fick, Carolyn E. The Making of Haiti: the Saint Domingue Revolution from Below. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1990.

Greene, Graham. The Comedians. Viking: New York, 1966.

Griffiths, John. Take a Trip to Haiti. New York: F. Watts, 1989.

Haggerty, Richard A., ed. The Dominican Republic and Haiti. Area Studies Handbook Series. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1991.

Haiti in Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, 1987.

Hanmer, Trudy J. Haiti. New York: F. Watts, 1988.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Tell My Horse: Voodoo & Life in Haiti & Jamaica. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1990.

Lawyers Committee on Human Rights. Paper Laws/Steel Bayonets: Breakdown of The Rule of Law in Haiti. New York, 1991.

Leyburn, James. The Haitian People. New Haven, 1971.

Lyon, Danny. Merci Gonaives: A Photographer's Account of Haiti and the February Revolution. Clintondale, NY: Bleak Beauty Books, 1988.

Pataki, Eva. Haitian Painting: Art and Kitsch. Adams Press, Chicago, 1986.

Rodman, Selden. The Miracle of Haitian Art. Doubleday: New York, 1971.

Thomson, Ian. Bonjour Blanc: A Journey Through Haiti. Hutchinson: London, 1992.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Haiti: State Against Nation: The Origins and Legacy of Duvalierism. Monthly Review: New York, 1990.

University of Virginia. Callaloo, Haiti: The Literature and Culture. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1992.

Weinstein, Brian and Aaron Segal. Haiti: The Failure of Politics. Praeger: New York, 1992.

Wilentz, Amy. The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1989.

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HAITI

Republic of Haiti

République d'Haïti

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has an area of 27,750 square kilometers (10,714 square miles), slightly smaller than Maryland. It shares a border of 275 kilometers (171 miles) with the Dominican Republic and has a coastline of 1,771 kilometers (1,100 miles). Its capital and largest city, Port-au-Prince, is in a bay on the country's southwestern coast.

POPULATION.

Haiti's population was estimated at 6,867,995 in July 2000, showing a growth rate of 1.39 percent and a total rise of 36 percent since the last official census of 1982, when the population stood at 5,053,792. The country's demographic statistics reveal the effect of extreme poverty and an HIV/AIDS epidemic. These conditions have reduced life expectancy to 49.2 years, contributed to high infant mortality and general death rates, and slowed population growth. At current growth rates, Haiti's population will stand at approximately 7 million in 2010.

Despite slow growth rates, Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, estimated at 270 persons per square kilometer (699 per square mile) in 1997. Land shortages and urban overcrowding have led to many Haitians attempting to emigrate , either to the neighboring Dominican Republic or to the United States. The net migration rate stood at 2.97 persons per 1,000 in 2000. The capital, Port-au-Prince, had an estimated population of 850,000 in 1995, but much settlement in slum areas is unregulated, and the population probably exceeds 1 million.

Haiti's population is a young one, with 41 percent estimated to be between 0 and 14 years of age in 2000. Most Haitians are of African descent, with approximately 95 percent of the population defined as black. The remaining 5 percent is comprised of mulattos (people of mixed European and African ancestry), and a small community descended from immigrants from the Middle East.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Haiti has long been the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a consequence of its unique historical development, generations of misrule, and declining natural resources. Since its slave revolution and war of independence, which culminated in the founding of the nation in 1804, the country's economy has been dominated by small-scale agricultural production. Rural over-population, the increasing division of small farms, and disastrous ecological degradation caused by tree felling and soil erosion have destroyed the traditional economy in some parts of the country and threaten it in others. Traditionally, most small farmers and peasant laborers have had little to do with the state, other than to pay taxes on export commodities such as coffee. The machinery of government, the political parties, and the country's business and cultural life are almost exclusively concentrated in Port-au-Prince, a small city until the 1950s but now a rapidly growing area of shantytown development (shantytowns are dwellings constructed primarily of found materials, including cardboard and pieces of metal). A huge gulf has existed between a poor, black, peasantry, who are mainly illiterate and Creole-speaking, and a small, lighter-skinned, urban elite who speak French and, increasingly, English.

In the 1970s the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier tried to capitalize on Haiti's huge unemployment and low wage rates by inviting foreign companies, principally from the United States, to establish manufacturing bases near Port-au-Prince. In the 1980s this sector grew substantially, producing clothing, sports goods, and electronic parts for the North American market. However, intense political turmoil in the late 1980s and 1990s, coupled with the deterioration of the country's infrastructure , has since reduced the number of foreign companies operating in Haiti.

Haiti is, therefore, a country of largely impoverished peasant farmers and urban slum dwellers, with a small minority of lighter-skinned, wealthier people who tend to control import-export businesses, the financial sector, and a small tourist industry. There are few national companies, but family-run enterprises, often working as agents for U.S. businesses, dominate commerce. Since the 1950s Haiti has also been dependent on foreign aid, although its political violence and occasional periods of international isolation have often prevented that aid from reaching its intended beneficiaries. Government expenditures far exceed government revenues through taxation, and this shortfall is usually met by grants and loans from multinational agencies, totaling US$353 million in 1998 alone. Haiti's foreign debt stood at approximately US$1 billion in 1997.

In recent years Haitian governments have come under pressure from international aid agencies to liberalize the economy in return for continuing aid. Successive governments had retained control over important sectors of the economy, leading to huge inefficiency and persistent corruption. Several state monopolies , such as cement and the national flour mill, have been privatized , and others are expected to be sold off. These moves have increased unemployment as private owners cut payrolls.

Haiti's economy is essentially a survival one, where unemployment was officially estimated at 70 percent in 1999 and the informal sector provides the only work opportunities for most urban Haitians. In the countryside, many peasants operate almost outside the official cash economy, aiming for self-sufficiency and small surpluses for sale or barter at the many rural markets across the country. Not surprisingly, with approximately 80 percent of Haitians living in absolute poverty, pressures to emigrate, usually illegally, are strong. Other Haitians choose to cross the border into the Dominican Republic to work on sugar plantations or as manual laborers, for low wages. Remittances , estimated at US$150 million annually sent home from family members living abroad, are a vital means of support for many communities. Another unregulated source of income, earned by a small clique of influential individuals, derives from Haiti's importance as a trans-shipment point for cocaine and other narcotics en route from South America to the United States.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Haiti's political system is notoriously volatile and prone to violence. Since gaining its independence from France in 1804, the country has experienced little democracy and has suffered at the hands of many dictators and corrupt regimes. The most enduring of these dictatorships was that of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier (1957-71) and his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" (1971-86). Since the overthrow of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the country has been ruled by a succession of unstable governments and military juntas. The political landscape changed dramatically in 1991 with the presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aris-tide, a radical Catholic priest, who was elected by a landslide majority in the country's first free elections. He was ousted by the military after only 8 months and spent 3 years in exile before being returned to power by a joint United Nations/United States military force in 1994. In the meantime, Haiti suffered a 3-year period of political repression, compounded by increased economic hardships as the result of an international economic embargo orchestrated by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN). In December 2000 Aristide again won election by an overwhelming majority.

The dominant political force in Haiti today is Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas (FL), which means "landslide family" in Creole. The FL has an extended network of activists but is held together by the charismatic personality of Aristide, who won 91.8 percent of the vote in the November 2000 elections. Other political groupings are weak and unpopular in comparison. The main group is the Organization of People in Struggle (OPL), formerly allied to Aristide but now bitterly opposed to FL. All other parties boycotted the 2000 presidential elections, claiming that intimidation and electoral malpractice were rife. By early 2001 FL was in control of 103 out of 110 seats in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

Aside from its promotion of Aristide as a "savior," FL tends to vacillate between supporting the rural economy through infrastructural investment and state subsidies , and pursuing a course of liberalization and privatization. In the wake of Aristide's return to power in 1994, for instance, the government presided over the removal of many trade barriers and the beginning of a privatization program, but Aristide later criticized these measures. Aristide's populist appeal runs counter to the demands placed on his government by international donors, who wish to see the Haitian economy further opened to foreign investment.

Revenue collection in Haiti has always been inefficient and plagued by corruption and tax evasion. Aristide's threats to tax the tiny wealthy minority were instrumental in his overthrow in 1991. Indirect taxes and excise duties were 3 times greater than income tax receipts in 1997, while punitive taxes have traditionally been levied on export commodities such as coffee.

Because the government is heavily dependent on foreign aid, its ability to forge independent economic policy is limited by donor demands for agreed economic programs as a precondition for releasing aid. The main policy of the FL government focuses on land distribution and attempts to regenerate agricultural production damaged by low productivity and environmental degradation. The government also promises higher wages in the small manufacturing sector, a proposition that has caused several companies to relocate to the Dominican Republic.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Haiti's infrastructure is primitive and poorly maintained, the result of decades of under-investment and environmental damage. Most roads, even those linking

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Haiti 3 55 5 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 6
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Jamaica 62 480 182 73.1 22 N/A 39.4 1.04 60
Dominican Republic 52 178 95 15.5 31 0.3 N/A 7.63 25
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Port-au-Prince to other large towns, are often impassable to ordinary vehicles. Of a total of 4,160 kilometers (2,585 miles) of roads, only 1,011 kilometers (628 miles) are paved, and these are frequently pot-holed and damaged by landslides. There is no railway other than a stretch attached to an ex-sugar plantation. Several ports are capable of dealing with container shipping, but most foreign trade passes through Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince International Airport is situated 5 miles from the capital and has regular connections with North America and Europe. The only other modern airport is near Cap-Haïtien, in the north of the country.

Deforestation and the resulting soil erosion have silted up Haiti's main hydroelectric power generating system. The 677 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electrical power consumed in 1998 was barely enough to keep industries going, and most wealthy people and companies have private generators. Only 10 percent of city dwellers and 3 percent of the rural population have access to electricity. The main fuel is charcoal, produced by smallholders at often enormous environmental cost.

Poor road conditions have had disastrous effects on farmers, who face serious problems in taking their goods to markets and towns. The crumbling infrastructure, erratic power supplies, and constant threat of unrest have also been cited by foreign manufacturers as a discouragement to locating companies in Haiti. What little public transport there is consists of tap-taps, colorfully painted buses that link towns and villages.

Telephone and television access is almost non-exis-tent in the countryside, while mobile phones and Internet connections are the preserve of the wealthy minority and business interests in the capital. In 1996 there were only 60,000 phone lines recorded in the country. The state-owned Téléco company is highly profitable as it holds a monopoly on the lucrative business in international calls.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Haiti is a traditionally agricultural economy, and almost two-thirds of the workforce (over 2 million people) are employed in farming, much of it on tiny properties. But agriculture, which is plagued by primitive techniques, soil erosion, and low commodity prices, contributed only 32 percent to the GDP in 1998. It also provided less than half of the country's food needs and less than 10 percent of export earnings. The agricultural sector is in deep crisis and is the first priority of the Aris-tide administration.

Industry is mainly based on low-wage assembly plants producing goods for export to the United States. Contributing 20 percent to the GDP in 1998, manufacturing was badly hit by the political turmoil of the 1980s and 1990s but has stabilized somewhat since 1994. About 35,000 people, or 1 percent of the total workforce, are employed in the export sector, while the domestic market is so small and poor that only essentials such as cooking oil, cement, and beverages are produced locally.

Services accounted for 48 percent of the GDP in 1998 and largely involved retail , transportation, and government services. Approximately a million people work in trade, transport, and personal services, many of them as domestic servants. Haiti's once important tourism sector collapsed in the 1980s due to political unrest and fears about HIV/AIDS.

AGRICULTURE

Declining soil fertility, natural disasters, and cheap imports from abroad have all contributed to agriculture's decline. It is calculated that only one-third of Haiti's land is arable, but nearer one-half is under cultivation, adding to deforestation and soil erosion. The land is often too mountainous to produce sufficient yields while, in the more fertile valleys, disputes over land ownership have often led to violence. Technology is largely lacking.

The main export crop is coffee, but it contributed less than 6 percent of earnings in 1999. Many small-scale coffee farmers have switched to food crops because of high taxes and exorbitant percentages demanded by the middlemen who buy the coffee from the peasants to sell on the international market. Other small export crops include mangos and essential oils for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries in the United States. Subsistence farming is also in decline, hit by an influx of rice and wheat, some of it smuggled in from the Dominican Republic and some sent to the country as humanitarian aid. Most of what is produced by small farmers is consumed or sold locally, but Haiti's main imports continue to be basic foodstuffs.

INDUSTRY

Haiti's industrial sector is almost exclusively export-oriented, revolving around assembly plants producing consumer goods for the U.S. market. In the 1970s and 1980s this sector grew rapidly, and Haiti was briefly one of the leading producers of baseballs and other sporting goods, with 60,000 people employed around Port-au-Prince. The political violence of the late 1980s and 1990s and particularly the embargo imposed on the military regime between 1991 and 1994 severely affected this sector, and many companies relocated to the Dominican Republic or Mexico.

By 1999 the manufacturing sector was estimated to employ 35,000 workers, mostly women, producing clothing, toys, and electronic parts. The value of manufactured exports in 1999 was estimated at almost US$250 million and accounted for most overall exports.

Other manufacturing takes place on a small scale and is either directed at the small local market or involves artisans who produce goods such as artworks, furniture, and souvenirs, which are normally exported to tourist destinations elsewhere in the Caribbean.

SERVICES

Haiti has long had a large and unproductive government service sector, a legacy of the Duvalier dictatorship, which created government jobs for its supporters. Social services, however, are almost non-existent, and recent governments have come under pressure to reduce the state payroll through privatization and by firing workers or giving them early retirement.

Retail and transportation are both labor-intensive and largely primitive economic sectors, with large numbers employed in informal vending and rural markets. There are few modern retail outlets in Haiti, and most rural dwellers depend on their own food production and basic items bought at markets or village stores.

In the 1980s, tourism was a relatively important sector, providing Haiti's second largest source of foreign exchange, but the industry was destroyed by adverse publicity about political violence and the dangers of HIV/AIDS in the country. Some hotels have survived by catering to the large numbers of aid workers and other foreign staff who are posted to work in Haiti, but tourism as such has yet to recover. Tourist arrivals numbered 146,367 in 1998, and cruise ships now call at a specially constructed beach resort, Labadee, in the north of the country. The government has invested in promoting the southern town of Jacmel and the northern area around Cap-Haïtien as tourist destinations.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Haiti
Exports Imports
1975 .080 .149
1980 .226 .375
1985 .168 .442
1990 .160 .332
1995 .110 .653
1998 .175 .797
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Haiti's manufactured exports go almost exclusively to the United States, which accounted for 86 percent of exports in 1998. The rest, in the form of coffee and essential oils, was exported to the European Union (EU). The United States is also the source of most of Haiti's imports and provided 60 percent of the country's import requirements in 1998. In 1999, Haitian exports totaled US$322 million, against imports of US$762 million, creating a substantial deficit of US$440 million.

During the embargo of 1991-94, U.S. trade with Haiti dropped substantially, creating increased hardship in the country and stimulating the growth of a large contraband trade from the Dominican Republic. Trade with Haiti's neighbor is still an important part of the informal sector, but little of this activity appears on official financial records.

Haiti's trade deficit is partly offset by international aid and partly by remittance payments sent back by Haitians living and working overseas.

MONEY

Following a period of U.S. occupation (1915-34), Haiti's currency, the gourde, was tied at a rate of 5 to the U.S. dollar. Dollars have always circulated freely in Haiti and are often preferred by retailers and others to the local

Exchange rates: Haiti
gourdes per US$1
Jan 2001 23.761
2000 22.524
1999 17.965
1998 16.505
1997 17.311
1996 15.093
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

currency. In 1991, the Aristide administration finally severed the official exchange rate and let the gourde float. It fell from 7.5 to the dollar in 1991 to 16.2 in 1995 and 22.5 in 2000. This means that the cost of many basic imported goods has risen dramatically for Haiti's poorest sectors.

Haiti experienced high levels of inflation during the embargo of the early 1990s, reaching 39.3 percent in 1994. This rate was reduced to 15.4 percent in 1998 and has remained stable since. Growth in the GDP has been modest in recent years. In 1995, in the wake of Aristide's return and an influx of foreign aid, the GDP grew by 4.4 percent, but this fell to 2.7 percent in 1996 and then contracted by 0.9 percent the following year. The GDP growth in 1999 was estimated at 2.4 percent.

The Banque de la République d'Haïti is the country's central bank. It issues currency and holds the government reserves. There are 9 commercial banks, as well as U.S., Canadian, and French banks. Most Haitians, however, never use a bank, dealing only in cash and investing their savings in a tangible asset.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

No recent statistics exist, but it is widely accepted that Haiti is not merely the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere but also one of the most unequal. A small elite of no more than several thousand families is extremely wealthy, including many millionaires among their number. In stark contrast, an estimated 80 percent of Haitians live in absolute poverty. There is a small middle class comprised of civil servants and other state-sector employees, but a vast gulf exists between a tiny rich minority and the overwhelmingly poor majority. Class and color have overlapped ever since Haitian independence, with the lighter-skinned minority occupying positions of political and economic power. This status quo was challenged by the Duvalier dictatorship, which promoted some of its black supporters into a growing middle class.

The country's wealthy are clustered around the cooler mountainside suburb of Pétionville, where French

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Haiti 500 607 527 481 370
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Jamaica 1,819 1,458 1,353 1,651 1,559
Dominican Republic 1,179 1,325 1,325 1,366 1,799
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

restaurants and luxury car concessions cater to expensive tastes. Education and medical services are entirely private, and the children of the elite tend to be educated abroad, either in Paris or the United States. Shopping trips to Miami are commonplace, and most of the richest families hold dollar bank accounts in the United States.

Life for the rural and urban poor could not be more different. Most Haitians live in small, often remote, villages or isolated settlements, with no access to electricity, clean water, or social services. Some rudimentary education is offered by church and other charitable organizations, but the distances children must travel to school, the costs of books and uniforms, and the necessity for them to work from an early age means that illiteracy is estimated at over half of the adult population. Illness can often spell financial disaster, as meager savings or investments such as a pig must be sold to pay for medicines. In some areas large numbers of people are dependent on aid agencies for food supplies.

Existence in the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince is perhaps even grimmer, with overcrowding, disease, and squalor widespread. Those who work can expect to earn no more than US$2 a day, hardly enough to buy food, let alone other necessities. The majority, however, must scrape some sort of living from the informal sector. Figures for child mortality, communicable diseases, and life expectancy reveal the country's poverty and deprivation. According to the Pan-American Health Organization, approximately 380,000 Haitiansover 5 percent of the populationwere infected with HIV/AIDS by 2000.

WORKING CONDITIONS

In 1997 the unemployment rate was estimated at 70 percent. Some Haitians have jobs in the formal sector. Yet most are low-wage manufacturing jobs where conditions are basic and trade unions discouraged. International agencies have cited many cases of abusive practices by managers and employers in this sector, where women are employed to stitch clothing or assemble toys for export. Conditions in agriculture are no better, and most small farmers work long hours in highly primitive conditions to produce a precarious livelihood for their families.

The informal sector encompasses almost every area of economic activity from street selling and garbage recycling to taxi driving and handicraft manufacturing. Nearly all this activity is unregulated, and workers have no rights or security whatsoever. There are no effective laws to protect workers' rights, and trade unions are small and divided. The most powerful organizations are those neighborhood or peasant groups which are usually linked to Fanmi Lavalas and which sometimes take militant action against exploiters.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1492. Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Hispaniola. Spain eventually battles the Arawak Indian population on the islands and establishes a colony.

1697. Spain cedes to France the western part of Hispaniola and founds the colony of Saint-Domingue (which later becomes Haiti). France turns the colony into the center of its slave trade.

1804. Haiti gains independence after a 12-year war against the French led by Touissant L'Ouverture.

1915-34. The United States occupies Haiti in the name of regional security.

1958-71. François "Papa Doc" Duvalier rules the country as a dictator, and the country's economy collapses.

1971-86. Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier continues the dictatorship but encourages the development of manufacturing and tourism.

1986. Opposition groups force Duvalier to flee the country, leading to several years of instability and military rule.

1990. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is chosen president in elections overseen by the United Nations. About 9 months later, in 1991, the military ousts Aristide and places its candidate in office. The international community condemns these actions, leading to international isolation for Haiti.

1994. U.S. and, later, United Nations troops enter Haiti to help the nation return to democratic rule. Aris-tide is returned to serve the remainder of his term in office.

1995. In new elections, from which Aristide is barred, Aristide associate René Préval wins the presidency. His presidency is marred by violence and instability.

2000. Aristide wins the presidency in elections that are plagued by accusations of fraud, but he returns a semblance of political stability to the country.

FUTURE TRENDS

Haiti faces seemingly insurmountable problems in the years to come. Its environment is damaged, probably beyond repair, and its agricultural sector will require huge investment for regeneration. There is no sign that the country's ecological disaster can be reversed. The government's proposed land reform program would have to guarantee viable farms for many more producers, with assistance with technology. The manufacturing sector will also face huge problems, most notably in competition from other low-cost economies such as the Dominican Republic.

Much will depend on the political relationship forged between the Haitian government and the Bush administration, which contains political figures hostile to Aris-tide and his populism. Haiti will remain dependent on foreign aid in the future and will look to the EU to pay for joint projects with the Dominican Republic. The country's greatest obstacle to sustainable development, however, remains its stubbornly high levels of poverty and deprivation, leading to huge social inequalities and political volatility.

DEPENDENCIES

Haiti has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arthur, Charles, and Michael Dash, editors. Libéte: A Haiti Anthology. London: Latin America Bureau, 1999.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

McFadyen, Deidre, et al., editors. Haiti: Dangerous Crossroads. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1995.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Haiti. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2000/wha/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

Welcome to the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti, Washington, D.C. <http://www.haiti.org>. Accessed September 2001.

James Ferguson

CAPITAL:

Port-au-Prince.

MONETARY UNIT:

The Haitian gourde. One gourde equals 100 centimes. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes. There are notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 250, and 500 gourdes.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Manufactured goods (clothing, sports goods), coffee, oils, mangos.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$9.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$322 million (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$762 million (c.i.f., 1999).