I Feel Your Pain

JANUARY 15, 2010
In today’s Times David Brooks quotes someone as citing Haiti’s Voodoo culture for the lack of economic development.  It may be a factor.  In the mix is this history:
After over a hundred twenty years of soul-crushing debt and dictatorship, Haiti elected a popular president, Jean-Bertand Aristede.
1991: Mr. Aristide tries to clean up Haiti from corruption but, upon returning to the country after speaking at the United Nations, a coup d’etat takes place and he is ousted by a force led by a self-described CIA operative.  An embargo is launched against Haiti in response to the coup.
1992: Talks between the ousted Mr. Aristide and General Cedras take place in Washington.
1994: Mr. Aristide and his government in exile return to Haiti after an accord was signed in 1993. Under the accord brokered by Bill Clinton, he agrees to World Bank conditions. These include downsizing, deregulation, privatization.
Tarriffs on foreign rice now go from 50% to 5%. Good for US imports but Haitian farmers are thrown off of farms and into urban slums.
2004: a rebel uprising backed by business and political elites leads to the resignation of Mr. Aristide and his exile to the Central African Republic. Chief Justice of the Haitian Supreme Court Boniface Alexandre is named interim president. The US sends in troops to stablize the population (and quell the Aristede support).
Finally, in 2008, 4 hurricanes kill 800 Haitians. Last year Haiti’s debt of $1.2 Billion is cancelled.  The UN names special envoy to Haiti: Bill Clinton.
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