Research: Publications

Haiti: Democrats Vs. Democracy

November 3, 1997 | Policy Brief

By Robert White

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Democracy has come to Haiti and the benefits are important and tangible. There is a grave political crisis, yet there is no threat of official violence. Haiti's leaders are looking for solutions within a constitutional framework.

Although former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's role has recently come under criticism, it was still of crucial importance for the United States, with the backing of the United Nations, to restore him to office in 1994. He laid the groundwork for democracy, first by abolishing the Haitian military over the misconceived objections of the United States and, second, by presiding over the peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another.

These democratic gains, however, are overshadowed by the ominous political crisis caused by the dissolution of the Lavalas movement and the power struggle among its fragments. Frustrated by his inability to gain parliamentary approval of economic reform, President René Préval's prime minister resigned on June 9. The search for a successor has proved fruitless for five months, with Aristide leading the opposition to privatization and another, rival wing of the Lavalas party opposing the choice of prime minister.

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