Haiti at a Crossroads. An Analysis of the Drivers Behind Haiti’s Political Crisis

Haiti is in the midst of an escalating political crisis that has repeatedly paralyzed the nation. Tens of thousands have been taking to the streets to protest President Jovenel Moïse’s corruption, economic mismanagement and impunity for human rights abuses. While the demonstrations have largely been peaceful, some protests have resulted in property damage, and clashes with police have at times turned deadly. During the ten days of protest in February that placed the country in lockdown, at least 34 people died and over 100 people were injured. Peoplewereunabletoleave their homes to access food, water and other basic necessities, placing an already-vulnerable population on the brink of a humanitarian emergency.

The current wave of protests started in the summer of 2018 in response to a deteriorating economic situation and widespread government mismanagement, including revelations that senior government officials across administrations embezzled billions of dollars from a subsidized oil fund known as PetroCaribe. The movement is unprecedented in recent decades in its persistence and broad support base that spans a diverse range of social sectors. Protesters are demanding President Moïse’s resignation—a call that is backed by a coalition of political parties, many civil society organizations, and Senators and Deputies including from the President’s own political party. The President has, in turn, forced the removal of Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant, which resulted in a Parliamentary no-confidence vote that ended Céant’s tenure on March 18, 2019.7 President Moïse is now forming a new government for the third time during his two years in office.

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