Over the last eight years, Haiti has been subjected to an unusually high number of crises: some of them, such as the 2004 coup, were deliberately engineered by countries like Canada, the US, and France; some situations, like the current cholera epidemic, were caused by reckless foreign involvement in Haiti’s affairs; and some, such as the 2010 earthquake, were natural disasters made into a humanitarian crisis by foreign interference.
Here are some of the most important issues facing Haiti today:
- The legal case against Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier
Since his return to Haiti the question of legal redress for Duvalier’s human rights abuses has been on the table. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti has been pursuing against the former dictator.
- The Cholera Crisis
Introduced to Haiti by the United Nations’ MINUSTAH soldiers, cholera has infected 500,000 Haitians and 7,000 have died from the disease. The UN has repeatedly tried to deny and minimize its complicity in this health crisis in Haiti.
- The 2010 Haitian Earthquake
On January 12th, 2010, Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated much of downtown Pòtoprens, Leyogàn and Kalfou. The earthquake caused the deaths of 316,000 people, injured another 300,000 and rendered a million people homeless. THAC continues to be critical of the ways in which the international aid response is being shaped.
- Elections and Democracy in Haiti
Ever since the 2004 coup, foreign powers have undermined democracy through such mechanisms as election fraud and the exclusion of the country’s most popular political organization, Lavalas, from running in elections.
- Floods and Hurricanes
In 2004 and 2009, major hurricane-related disasters have struck Haiti — especially the coastal city of Gonayiv.
- MINUSTAH Occupation and Suppression
MINUSTAH, the United Nations mission to “stablize” Haiti, is a deeply unpopular organization in the country. From its earliest days, it has been linked to political repression, sexual abuse, theft, and violence. In late 2010, MINUSTAH became responsible for introducing cholera to the country — a country in which the disease was previously absent. Even though the mission is deeply unpopular in Haiti (and even in some of the countries that supply many of the MINUSTAH soldiers, such as Brazil), its mandate continues to be renewed year after year.
- The 2004 Coup
In 2004 Haiti’s president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was removed from office as the result of a number of events put in motion by the governments of the US, Canada and France. One such notable planning meeting was dubbed the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti, and took place at Meech Lake in January, 2003. At the time of the coup, international actors took great effort to cast the coup as a “democratic uprising against a corrupt president” but this characterization is a fabrication. In truth, Aristide remained tremendously popular with the Haiti people — especially the poor majority — and Haitians continued to call for his return for years after the coup.