Democracy in Haiti
The history of Haiti and the United States has some relationships which has had an impact to date. This essay looks at some policies the US can implement to realize the democracy of Haiti. Both Haiti and the United States were colonized by Europeans. The Untied States was colonized by the British and obtained independence in 1776 as the first nation to get independence in the western. Haiti on the other hand was colonized by France in 1804 being the second to obtain independence in the region. The American fight for independence was led by a white elite while the Haiti’s was led by a freed slave.
Haiti, being a nation freed by slaves inspired slaves in the US but was not pleasing to many Southerners who traded in slavery. This hostility towards Haiti lasted for years delaying recognition of the Southern states by the US. Haiti’s geographical nearness to the US and its location in the Caribbean was the center of attraction for the Americans. They saw Haiti as a site for likely naval base as they feared foreign invasion of the base by Europeans.
Between 1888 and 1915, seven Haitian presidents were killed in the chaos between Haiti and the US. President Wilson captured the Haitian National Bank in 1914 taking away $500,000. His invasion continued after assassination of Haitian president in 1915. He forced dissolution of Haitian legislature from 1917 to 1929 for failing to accept the constitution that could allow foreign land ownership. The use rejected Haitian refuges in 1980s. The relationship improved with US military deployment in Haiti and support from President Clinton but drowned when they were accused of drug trade and corruption. The tie was reunited with the rise of President Obama and with the nomination of Bill Clinton as the UN envoy to Haiti. These historical events between the two countries have affected diplomatic policies in Haiti, (Steeve, 2008).
The policy of micro-loans is a good approach in realizing the torn democracy of Haiti. Rather than allocating huge loans to the government of Haiti, the United States can engage in micro finance firms and organizations to avail the loans directly to the Haitian citizens. This could be done by establishing US- based micro finance companies and non governmental organizations in Haiti to oversee the distribution of loans to the Haitians.
Such an approach would be more appropriate than the usual way of giving lump sum loans to the government of Haiti. This is because the strategy would reduce the normal misuse and looting of the money meant for national development by the elite few in the government. The micro financing usually comes with free training to the beneficiaries of the loan, and hence the Haiti natives would be informed of ways to invest the loan and improve their living standards as well contributing to the collective growth of the country’s economy, (Nelson, 2003).
Through micro loans, the Haitian citizens would be in a position to establish small scale businesses and thereby generate employment opportunities, which the government has failed to provide for many years. Besides, the policy would transform the Haitians from a pollution that relies on donations and foreign aid to more financially independent nation with active people, (Pullen, 2000).
The government would earn income indirectly from the micro loans through taxation of the businesses that the citizens would establish using the loans. In addition the companies that would be set up to facilitate the distribution of the loans would also pay taxes that would add up to the government’s income necessary for running its duties like development and maintenance of social facilities and infrastructures. The government would also obtain through the taxes money to pay decent salaries to its employees, a problem that has lingered in country for years. This would improve democracy in the country.
Infrastructure aid is another policy that requires attention for the development democracy in Haiti. There has been poor infrastructure policy in Haiti for long which has resulted to poor public infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, schools and community centers. Poorly managed infrastructure policies in Haiti has made possible construction of sub standard public and private infrastructures which continue to endanger the lives and property of the people using them. The extensively damage that faced Haiti in January 2010 as a result of earthquake is partly attributed to poorly constructed buildings that could not withstand the pressure of the earthquake. It is argued by experts that the extent of the damage caused by the January 2010 earthquake could not have been such great had there been proper infrastructure policies to ensure that all buildings are constructed under the required proper standards. This policy if well implemented in Haiti would have a positive long term impact in the sense that it would stimulate growth in all sectors of human activities and the subsequent liberty in the nation.
The United States can implement their infrastructure policy towards Haiti by donating materials and funds for reconstruction of Haiti’s infrastructure which has become highly depleted over time. Engineers from the US can aid in proper planning for the new construction and reconstruction of Haiti’s infrastructure to prevent wastage of resources through construction of substandard housing facilities and social amenities. The next policy for development of Democracy in Haiti is the Haiti Democracy Project. The policy is aimed at promoting and monitoring economic advancement and democratization of Haiti. The policy will examine the parochial actions of the Aristide leadership. It will also focus on supporting and assessing the transition process.
This policy will ensure democracy in Haiti by facilitating an economic independence and regard for individual rights. The United States organizations should under this policy assist the governing council in eliminating the oppressive ideologies that emerged during the times of Duvalier, (Nelson, 2003).
The policy will serve to eliminate the corruption and poor management which depresses the Haiti’s economic advancement. It will also work to catch the attention of foreign private investors and thus boost the country’s economy as well as generating employment opportunities. The United States ought to offer carefully planned help to help Haiti realize its social, political and economic democracy.
For Haiti to attain her full democracy, the US should collaborate with the Haiti’s democratic political parties and assist them grow in organizations capable of providing alternatives. The governing council should be supported to rise to moderate opposition so as have government experience and achieve greater legitimacy, (Dunn, 2001).
The Haiti Democracy Project policy has the advantage of creating institutions that will address the injustices suffered by the people of Haiti, something that the infrastructure and the micro loans policy cannot address. While both the policy and the Democracy Project policy may spar the economic growth of Haiti, they lack the capability to address the short-term economic independence of Haitians. This can only be addressed by the funding of their small micro-enterprises through micro loans by financial institutions and the government of the US.
Hence in comparing the above policies for achieving democracy in Haiti, that is the micro-loans policy, the infrastructure policy and the Haiti Democracy Project policy, the latter is likely to be more effective in realizing than the other two. This is because by providing the micro loans to the citizens, they might not apply the money as expected and hence the policy be not as effective, (Nelson, 2003).
The infrastructure policy could contribute to the democracy but it might have some hitches. This is because if the leaders are still corrupt the guidelines and rules to regulate the construction and maintenance of infrastructure will not be followed and the nation will remain in turmoil. This would only be efficient if the leadership is dealt with first and major reforms enacted.
The Haiti Democracy Project policy would be more effective in restoring the highly depleted democracy. This is because the policy addresses the respect for human rights which has for long been ignored in Haiti under the leadership of the several dictators. Democracy in any country or region means honoring the views of different people and applying collective consultancy in making decisions that affect the general public, (Carothers, 2004).
If strict rules are formulated and followed to ensure the rights of Haitians are regarded with respect, including rights related to politics and leadership, the Democracy of Haiti would be achieved. The policy has advantage over the other two in that is looks at fighting the common corruption in public and private sectors as well as doing away with all mismanagement practices which for long has weakened the economic development of Haiti. Giving the micro loans to the Haitian citizens directly may be useful but with presence of corruption in the country, the investment of the resources would never reach its maximum. The Haiti Democracy Project policy would therefore be a better preference in achieving the democracy in Haiti by eliminating corruption and mismanagement of resources and public funds by the elite few, (Nelson, 2003).
It would be useful however, to have all these policies integrated in the search for democracy in Haiti. Giving of the micro loans to the Haitian citizens is important but it would become more useful if the economic advancement of the country is not threatened by corruption and mismanagement. This explains the need for the incorporation of the Haiti Democracy Project policy which would work to eliminate this corruption and thus the investments of the micro loans would be more fruitful. With poor infrastructure, the efforts to realize democracy may be futile and so the infrastructure policy should be combined with the other policies to ensure that Democracy in Haiti is achieved.
The policies would be received with less hostility from interest groups and the think tank, based on the fact that the relationship between the United States and Haiti has greatly improved of late. The increase number of Haiti immigrants in the United States is an indication of the healing relationship between the two nations and so they Haitians are likely to receive the policies warmly and with trust. Other policies that would promote democracy in Haiti include Strong Civil Societies and NGOs.
In conclusion, several policies need to be enforced by the United States government to ensure democracy is restored in Haiti. The policies include the micro-loans policy, the infrastructure policy and the Haiti Democracy Project policy. The latter policy carries more weight in that in covers most of the areas represented by the other policies and others that they do not address including fighting for the human rights, fighting corruption and eliminating mismanagement of the public resources. The Haitians and their government are likely to welcome the policies due to their good current relations with the US.
Nelson C. et al (2003). Mass Media and Foreign Policy: Post-Cold War Crises in the Caribbean: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003
Carothers T. (2004). Critical Mission: Essays on Democracy Promotion: Carnegie Endowment, 2004
Dunn L. (2001). Upholding/Restoring Democracy in Haiti: Did We Achieve Our Policy Objectives? U.S. Army War College, 2001
Pullen (2000). Christian Ethics and U.S. Foreign Policy: The Helsinki Accords And Human Rights: Lexington Books, 2000
Steeve (2008). The History of Haiti: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008