Why It Is Seemingly Impossible to Improve Conditions in Haiti

Last Updated on March 25, 2022 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • Haiti is one of the worst managed countries in the world.
  • There are many factors that are responsible for this.

Introduction

Charities often attempt to make the Haitian problems temporary and due to a natural disaster, when Haiti’s problems are endemic, and the US government is responsible for many of them. Being for hope in Haiti means opposing US foreign policy and putting pressure to bear on the State Department.

Our References

See our references for this article and related articles at this link.

Haiti, Hope, and History

After the earthquake in Haiti, there has been a great deal of US news coverage and discussion about giving “hope to Haiti.” What most people miss out on is the hand that the US and other powers have had in making Haiti the decrepit mess that it currently is. Obama’s statement regarding the disaster is misleading.

Obama’s statement regarding the disaster is misleading.

“With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are our neighbors in the Americas and here at home.” – Barack Obama

This comment is high comedy. The only history the US has in Haiti is exploiting the Haitian people. The fact that an African-American president makes the statement ironic is just a testament that they will say anything if you pay a person enough. As with most politicians, Obama is excellent at lying for a living and covering up important information that can help understand a topic area.

So let us get into important details regarding Haiti.

Brief History of Haiti

There are some facts that the aid organizations and Obama would like you not to know.

  • The US installed a puppet regime and supported it with a nineteen-year military occupation from 1915 to 1934.
  • They also had a hand in destabilizing presidents who were not considered a pro-US corporations in the occupation years. The logic for the initial invasion was fairly typical and completely illegal. Due to the assassination of the Haitian president (most likely arranged by the US), the US needed to safeguard US assets in Haiti. Colonial US President Woodrow Wilson approved this.

The Alliance of the State Department and the World Bank

While using debt to control countries is the current strategy of the State Department through its proxies, the World Bank (which reports to the Department of the Treasury) and the IMF (which also receives funding mainly from the Treasury).

As early as 1915, the US was using the same tactic of offering loans that it knew Haiti could not pay back to control the country’s politics. And the US is not alone. The French, Dutch, and English all had a hand in abusing Haiti, as the quote below demonstrates:

And the US is not alone. The French, Dutch, and English all had a hand in abusing Haiti, as the quote below demonstrates:

“Economically, French occupation was a runaway success. But Haiti’s riches could only be exploited by importing up to 40,000 slaves a year. For nearly a decade in the late 18th century, Haiti accounted for more than one-third of the entire Atlantic slave trade. Conditions for these men and women were atrocious; the average life expectancy for a slave on Haiti was 21 years. Abuse was dreadful, and routine: “Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars?” wrote one former slave some time later. “Have they not forced them to eat excrement? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss?”

Moreover, in exchange for diplomatic recognition from France, the new republic was forced to pay enormous reparations: some 150m francs, in gold. It was an immense sum, and even reduced by more than half in 1830, far more than Haiti could afford.

“The long and the short of it is that Haiti was paying reparations to France from 1825 until 1947,” says Von Tunzelmann. “To come up with the money, it took out huge loans from American, German and French banks, at exorbitant rates of interest. By 1900, Haiti was spending about 80% of its national budget on loan repayments.” – The Guardian

Actual analysis of history shows how “serious” countries like France and Germany are when discussing the abhorrent US foreign policy. Not at all. And France and Germany are insistent that you don’t ever learn of this history.

Haiti’s Unsustainable Population

Haiti has a population of eleven and a half million, which is just far too high for the island’s resources. Haiti shares its island with the Dominican Republic, but the Haitian side is ecologically devastated and mostly stripped of its trees. Still, the average Haitian woman has 3.12 children, and Haiti as a country seems intent on seeing how deep of a disaster it can create for itself through no family planning and fouling of their environment.

In several years Haiti could repeat the experience of Easter Island.

Why Aid to Haiti Does Not Work

No economist would be paid to perform this research, but countries that accept aid from other countries do not do well. One reason for this is that countries don’t care about the welfare of other countries but use the aid as a cover to politically influence the “assisted” country and get their business interests in the country. This is not to say that there are no idealist aid workers who genuinely want to help. Still, the people in powerful positions in aid organizations are puppets for business or foreign political interests. Another problem is the receiving country becomes reliant on the aid. There are now several books that describe what complete scam organizations like the World Bank and IMF are and the actual intent of their programs. The entire concept of foreign aid is being questioned in serious progressive economic circles.

How the Elites in Haiti Have Escaped Responsibility

Oddly, the elites in Haiti are virtually never blamed for the outcomes in Haiti. What is little known is that not all of Haiti is poor, and Haiti has an elite class that is hugely wealthy. This is explained in the following quotation.

In Haiti, the wealthiest one percent controls almost half of the country’s wealth. Just over 600 families control 345 corporations. Groups of elite families have monopolistic control of broad swaths of industries through conglomerate structures. Three major banks—Unibank, Sogebank, and BNC—control 83 percent of Haiti’s banking assets and 75 percent of its loan portfolio. An astounding 70 percent of the loans are in the hands of a mere 10 percent of borrowers. In telecom, Digicel has an 85 percent market share in subscribers and acquired the second-largest provider Voilà in 2011. Even in the food industry, supermarkets and prepackaged foods are monopolized by few businesses. This has contributed to food prices 30 to 77 percent higher than other countries in Latin America. Some 38 percent of the import value in areas such as petroleum, food, and consumer goods, are imported into highly concentrated markets. – Washington Monthly

This means that the Haitian elite could easily rectify the island’s poverty, but they chose not to.

Not Passing or Enforcing Competitive Regulations

A significant way to reduce poverty in Haiti is to regulate monopolies that overcharge its citizens. This is explained in the following quotation.

The lack of competition in many industries means inputs in upstream and downstream markets for products are not priced competitively. It also hinders efficiency and productivity in the value chain. In Haiti, monopoly is a major deterrent to development because it creates barriers to entry and sustains anticompetitive practices. Many of these companies benefit from low import duties, import monopolies, tax write-offs, and the awarding of government contracts and state loans.

These monopolies mar Haiti’s history but have been particularly strong during the past few decades. Following Haitian independence from France in 1804, two groups competed for power: the military who amassed political power and were of African ancestry and the merchants who controlled commerce and were of mixed French and African ancestry. Haitian society has traditionally been a symbiotic relationship between these two powerful groups. – Washington Monthly

How did this have anything to do with outside governments, or was this done by Haitian elites? This is not old history, and these are recent changes that only increase monopolies and are engaged in by the elites to bring them more income.

The Battle Between the Military and the Elites

The conflict between the military and the corrupt merchant class is explained in the following quotation.

The merchant elite gained political power only to have it stripped away by the Haitian army after American troops left the country in 1934 after a 19-year occupation. Dictator Francois Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) made powerful enemies in Haiti’s business community, attacking the elite’s economic control and promoting black nationalism during his rule from 1957 to 1971. Duvalier, at the time, only allowed monopolies if businesses owners’ interests were aligned with those of his government. The dictator created monopolies in mineral and petroleum exploration, television, fertilizer, casinos, hotels, sugar, and agriculture. An anti-communist, Duvalier had the military backing of the U.S. by serving as an ally against Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Following his death in 1971, his son and successor Jean Claude (“Baby Doc”) reestablished relations with Haiti’s old elites and gave them control of the economy in the 1970s and 1980s. By 1985, 19 families in the country had exclusive rights for importing essential products. – Washington Monthly

I ask again, how did “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s policy of preferring certain corrupt corporations over others based upon political affiliation have anything to do with outside influences? “Papa Doc” Duvalier had a strained relationship with the US, but when “Baby Doc” Duvalier took power improved relations with the US, the policy switched to preferring the older elites.

Therefore, no matter what the relationship with the US, both policies were corrupt.

External Countries Like The US Support Papa Doc and Baby Doc’s Behavior?

More on “Baby Doc” is explained in the following quotation.

Papa Doc ruled Haiti with terror and impunity from 1957 until his death in 1971. With help from the Tontons Macoutes—a secret police force that took its name from a folk bogeyman who devours misbehaving children—Papa Doc presided over the murders of an estimated 30,000 people. Thousands of others simply disappeared or were imprisoned at the notorious Fort Dimanche, a prison known for torture, mutilation and death.

When Papa Doc died, his youngest and only son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc,” became a teenage dictator at the age of 19. – The Nation

Did the US or other foreign powers support a 19-year-old taking power in Haiti?

This seems unlikely.

Let us see more on “Baby Doc” s behavior.

Baby Doc lived an extravagant lifestyle as the president of Haiti, driving luxury cars while his wife pampered herself with fur coats. But beneath the flashy exterior, Papa Doc’s legacy of terror continued. Corruption, imprisonment and repression remained staples in Haiti’s government during Baby Doc’s fifteen-year rule.

And so did abject poverty, with over half of the population living on less than $1.25 a day in the early 1980s. The lack of jobs in rural areas caused a massive influx of workers into Port-au-Prince, where they took low-paying factory jobs with foreign companies lured by Baby Doc’s tax incentives. Paying low wages and benefiting from cushy tax breaks, these factories did little to improve Haiti’s economy. Instead, expansive slums spread out around Port-au-Prince, putting immense pressure on the weak Haitian infrastructure. Prospects for economic mobility were bleak.

A staunch anti-communist, Baby Doc managed to restore Haiti’s relationship with the United States—which had been strained during his father’s rule—by releasing a few political prisoners and loosening restrictions on the press, earning his otherwise oppressive regime support from the Reagan administration. But while the US government was supporting Baby Doc, Haitians were fleeing to the United States by the thousands. – The Nation

Here the US does come in because US elites have strongly lobbied to reduce wages in Haiti, notably Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

Both Hillary Clinton and Haitian elites agreed that wages in Haiti should be lowered. It does not appear that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation needed to convince Haitian elites to lower wages, and they were already on board. 

The Clinton Foundation then demonstrated extraordinary incompetence and corruption, mismanaging large billions of dollars, something else Haitian elites agreed with. The estimate in this video is around $14 billion, with 2% of the funds getting to Haitians. Democrats never critique the Clintons in Haiti, as they don’t care about what Democrats do in Haiti. 

How The US Wiped Out Haitian Farmers

In the 1980s and 1990s, neoliberal policies advocated by international institutions and the U.S. promoted economic and trade liberalization in Haiti, resulting in removing tariffs for over a hundred products. This free-but-not-fair trade led to the importation of subsidized American rice through President Ronald Reagan’s Caribbean Basin Initiative. Many self-sufficient farmers became unable to compete with cheap U.S. imports and migrated to the cities. The influx helped create notorious shantytowns and slums that exist today. During the 1990s, rice imports continued with U.S. corporation Erly Industries, whose chairman had ties to the Reagan administration, establishing monopolistic control of the rice industry.

Many of these elites in Haiti were singled out by U.S. Congressional Task Force on Haiti during the 1990s. The panel detailed how many of these monopolists lobbied in Washington to develop policy on Haiti. Additionally, some groups such as the International Republican Institute (IRI) are connected with this group of elites and have influenced policy in Haiti for decades.

Many of these same oligarchs that gained control of the economy over these past few decades are still in control of monopolies in Haiti to this day. These elites would later finance the political party PHTK and the campaign of President Moïse and his predecessor Michel Martelly.

Although Moïse’s attempts at reform failed, U.S. foreign policy could help. Washington has coddled monopolists abroad for too long through its trade policies, invitation to engage in lobbying, and lack of promoting anti-monopoly and competition policy. The U.S. has been providing Haiti aid and advising their governments for decades, yet the country has no laws or regulations on competition. If Washington wants to avoid further political instability in Haiti and other countries, it should send ideas as well as aid. Promoting economic democracy through an anti-monopoly policy and conditioning at least some economic aid on anti-monopoly reform would be an essential first step. – The Nation

What in incompetence and corruption on both the Haitian and US side!

Bill Clinton then continued the agricultural policy that gave US agribusiness more sales but annihilated the local farming in Haiti. This is shown in the following video.

Clinton lying about Haiti is covered in this Clinton Foundation video. 

Conclusion

Due to centuries of mismanagement and outside intervention Haiti is a basket case.

No matter the short-term improvement in conditions, the situation in Haiti is hopeless because the island’s resources are depleted through mismanagement, and the Haitian population is so out of control that the only answer is for the Haitians to immigrate off of the island. When Haitians do immigrate, the exodus of millions of illiterate devastated peoples will cause dislocations and social strife in any country that they immigrate to. The US will continue to undermine efforts for Haiti to the right itself by attempting to exploit Haiti for its corporations. And the Haitian elites will continue to hoard resources and promote monopolies.