In the wake of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination, what’s next for Haiti? The COVID-19 pandemic, economic devastation, and power struggle? Is it the same reasons that world leaders travel to Haiti? Or are they all equally important? Or does the situation warrant a different focus? Let’s examine all of these factors in order to understand the underlying motivations of world leaders.
President Jovenel Moise’s assassination
The government of Haiti has struggled with corruption and political instability since President Jovenel Moise took office in January 2020. The country’s Parliament has been closed for nearly a year and legislative elections have been repeatedly delayed. Protests against the president’s rule and a recent increase in gang activity have cast doubt on his legitimacy. World leaders are urging Haiti to hold new elections so that it can get its government back on its feet.
After the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was flooded with foreign aid, which was used to prop up politically connected businesses, including rice importers and luxury goods. But the political system in Haiti remains entrenched and corrupt, and many critics have blamed the government for failing to address the situation. For example, the government has been accused of favoring businessmen who support President Moise’s government.
There are several possible explanations for this, but the most common is that the assassins were motivated by greed and a desire to gain political power. However, the truth is that Haiti’s recent assassination was a concentrated version of political turf battles. Regardless of the motive, the assassination of the President and First Lady Jovenel Moise has left Haiti in a state of mourning and acrimony.
The assassination has prompted a lot of international attention, with President Biden and the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic expressing their “grave sorrow.” In the meantime, the Dominican Republic has increased naval patrols near the island, preventing more damage and instability. Meanwhile, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned that the US may have been too lenient toward President Moise – while the Haitian opposition is accusing the United States of being too lenient in the face of such a terrible tragedy. And Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has tweeted his condolences to Haitians.
There are numerous videos showing the assailants on the streets surrounding the presidential compound. Among them are two videos of armed men reportedly stealing government property, disarming guards, and shooting people. However, no one has been charged with the assassination. The assassination of President Moise has further shattered the fragile government of Haiti.
The country has suffered from economic devastation for over two centuries. Once a wealthy colony in the Americas, Haiti has since struggled with development. It has suffered from numerous foreign interventions, chronic political instability, and devastating natural disasters. Once the richest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is now the poorest in the region. The Biden administration’s plans to improve ties with Haiti have been threatened by the ongoing epidemic.
In September, gangs attacked two fuel depots in the country. One was north of Port-au-Prince, while the other was in the south. The attacks on fuel depots further weaken the Haitian economy. The loss of fuel also threatens the daily life of Haitians. As a result, many farmers have abandoned their land and moved to Port-au-Prince.
International support to Haiti must be tempered by a need for more long-term solutions. The United States has experienced a humbling experience in Afghanistan over the past two decades, and the political appetite for long-term nation-building in the West has been limited. It is crucial that outside actors refrain from heavy-handed interventions that could worsen the situation. Rather, they should support local civil society initiatives to rebuild housing and public services in Haiti. Foreign governments should halt deportations to Haiti, as it burdens the overburdened local communities and institutions.
While Haiti is experiencing a crisis of immense proportions, the country is not yet in a position to respond effectively to the emergency. There are many pressing issues preventing the country from rebuilding itself. For example, disease outbreaks are spreading in the country, and the health situation in the country is dire. Many Haitians are suffering from dengue, malaria, and cholera. Since the earthquake in 2010, cholera was introduced by UN peacekeepers from Nepal. As a result, nearly one million people have contracted the disease.
In addition to a poor economy, the country has faced problems of political instability, and the government failed to enforce building codes. The country’s government is working to create a stable future for Haitians, and that will require the international community to help with the recovery effort. And, of course, humanitarian assistance is critical, but the lack of adequate infrastructure is the main reason why many organizations have abandoned the mission early.
The COVID-19 (a virus caused by the gastrointestinal worm) virus is spreading rapidly in Haiti, where the death toll from the disease has reached more than 15,000 in two years. The recent political crisis in Haiti has made the country more unstable than ever before, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more dangerous. World leaders have been visiting Haiti ever since the devastating earthquake and famine struck the country in January 2010. During the recent cholera pandemic in Haiti, international aid has been significantly reduced. Unfortunately, Jovenel Moise has not fulfilled his promises, and Haiti’s political system has been mired in chaos and lacks trust.
In spite of this, Haiti is doing its part to combat the deadly virus. According to the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, there have been some impressive gains in fighting cholera, Zika virus, and COVID-19. However, the impact of COVID-19 is not as severe as initially expected. As of December 2020, Haiti is reporting 234 deaths from COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected Haiti’s economic progress, and the disruption in the global economy has been a major factor in this. The country’s social and political instability are also major reasons for the sluggish progress. In 2020, Haiti’s Human Development Index score (HDI) was 0.510, which indicates only a minimal improvement since 2011.
Political instability is another concern in Haiti, and this crisis is particularly serious in the country because of the lack of political cohesion and weak governance. The country’s elected representatives don’t have the power to govern the country, and its economy is deeply dependent on foreign governments and international organizations. As a result, its ability to carry out major initiatives is severely hampered. The lack of economic resources and political cohesion in Haiti means that a patchwork of mission groups, NGOs, and private foreign organizations provides the basic necessities for its citizens.
Despite the recent earthquake, Haiti has failed to build a viable economy. In fact, the government has attempted to impose a sunset-to-sunset curfew to control the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the government has failed to hold parliamentary and municipal elections. Additionally, the government failed to renew the mandates of the lower house and one-third of the Senate. Without a functioning political structure, Haiti has no viable future.
Power struggle in Haiti
The assassination of President Jovenel Moise has left a power vacuum in the Caribbean nation. His successor, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, has been in office for fewer than three months. But there is now a power struggle within Haiti’s political elite. Moise’s opponents are mounting pressure to take control. Ariel Henry, who claimed to be Moise’s successor, has called for dialogue to prevent “igniting” the country.
During the 1799 civil war, the mulatto/black minority fought each other with knives, despite their mutual hatred. The resulting power struggle led to the installation of the noiriste government. But the army had a different agenda and the coup was a blunder. Ultimately, the Haitian army was victorious and Lolo became an icon. Although the coup failed, the resulting violence rekindled the power struggle.
After the Estime era, radical political thought in Haiti reoriented. Estime’s regime was plagued by a cold war-like environment, and faced unprecedented challenges and frustrations. Pro-black journals continued to promote black-centered ideas of governance and social progress, despite the government’s alleged failure to address such problems. While the Estime government made genuine efforts to improve social conditions, it did little to bridge the gap between state and civil society.
The death of President Moise in July has fueled a political battle among Haiti’s ruling class. Ariel Henry, the acting president, has faced accusations of corruption. But some of his staff are afflicted with fear and trauma from assassination. And even if he is innocent, it’s difficult to say whether his assassination has brought Haiti closer together. But what’s certain is that Haitians are no longer alone.
The 2016 elections in Haiti left the country’s political system in a state of limbo. There was no clear successor to Martelly and allegations of fraud stalled the process. A new, democratic government must emerge. The next president must rebuild the nation from scratch and reimagine itself. It must plan for a different future. But it’s unlikely to happen without some outside intervention. This will only further complicate matters.