Haiti Renewed: Political and Economic Prospects

Haiti Renewed: Political and Economic Prospects

Haiti Renewed: Political and Economic Prospects

Haiti Renewed: Political and Economic Prospects

Synopsis

The ecstatic election of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990, his American-supported restoration to office in 1994, and the peaceful election in 1995 of President Reni Prival were harbingers of a radically new and promising era in Haitian political and economic life. For the first time in Haiti's 190-year old independent tradition, men of and chosen by the majority of Haiti's people had gained power, and attained their positions legally and peacefully. With a five-year presidency, Prival now has the opportunity to reconstruct and remold the Haitian state, to raise Haitian living standards, and to create a new political culture of democracy and tolerance. The future of his country, and the success of Haiti's last best chance to break its chains of poverty, desperation, and deprivation, depend on the choices that he and his colleagues make in the months ahead. The context of those choices is stark. Haiti remains the poorest and least industrialized nation in the Western Hemisphere. The Prival government thus has much to do. This book provides an agenda for Prival and his successors, one that examines both Haiti's political culture--its historical legacy and what that means for future reconstruction--and many of its most critical political, economic, and social challenges. In addition to Rotberg, the contributors include: Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Anthony V. Cantanese, DePauw University; Robert Fatton, Jr., University of Virginia; Clive Gray, Harvard Institute for International Development; Michel S. Laguerre, University of California, Berkeley; Mats Lundahl, Stockholm School of Economics; Robert Maguire, Inter-American Foundation, Jennifer McCoy, Georgia State University; William G. O'Neill, former Director of the Legal Department of the OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti; Robert A. Pastor, Carter Center; Marc Prou, University of Massachusetts, Boston; Do

Excerpt

Robert I. Rotberg

THE ECSTATIC election of charismatic President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990, his American-supported restoration to office in 1994, and the peaceful election in 1995 of President René Préval collectively were harbingers of a radically new and promising era in Haitian political and economic life. For the first time in Haiti's 190-year-old independent tradition, men of and chosen by the majority of Haiti's people had gained power and attained their positions legally and peacefully.

Aristide and Préval are populists, with agendas as leaders that are much more forward looking than those of any of their predecessors, especially the three-decade-long dictatorships of François and Jean- Claude Duvalier and the several military juntas that followed the Duvaliers (and interrupted Aristide's presidency). Préval has the opportunity, rarely afforded to his predecessors, of reconstructing and remolding the Haitian state, raising Haitian living standards, and creating a new political culture of democracy and tolerance. The modern future of his country, and the success of Haiti's last best chance to break its chains of poverty, desperation, and deprivation, depend on the choices that he and his colleagues make during his five-year term of office.

The context of those choices is stark. Haiti remains the poorest and least industrialized nation in the Western Hemisphere. Two-thirds of its 7 million citizens live below the national poverty level. In 1985 its official GNP per capita was a paltry $242; the Dominican Republic, next . . .

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