Can Haiti Survive?
The study of history reminds us of vanished empires, states, and societies. Is Haiti, the world's first black republic, headed toward a destiny in which its very survival as a society and an independent nation-state is in jeopardy?
The least likely threat to Haitian survival comes from annexation, conquest, or occupation. Although Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the United States possess overwhelming military superiority, Haiti does not represent a tempting piece of real estate. Unlike Kuwait or Lebanon is has no actually or potentially valuable natural resources or strategic position, in spite of occasional references to the Môle St. Nicolas on the northwest coast as a harbor. There is little to invite aggression and much to dissuade it, including hostile international and Caribbean opinion and the massive problems of governing Haiti. International morals and conduct have changed since the 1915 U.S. intervention and occupation. Recent U.S. interventions in the Dominican Republic ( 1965) and Grenada ( 1983) have not resulted in a permanent occupation or an end to sovereignty.
Haitian-American relations are discussed elsewhere in this book. While Haitian trade, technology, aid, and cultural and other dependence is extensive, we reject the view that Haiti has lost its sovereignty or that the United States exercises effective control over Haitian decisions. The threats to Haitian survival come from within rather than from an aggressive superpower or scheming Caribbean neighbors.
A real threat to survival stems from the possibility of civil strife. Haiti is in crisis, unable to cope with massive and violent tensions. These are mainly between Duvalierists and anti-Duvalierists, but also between landowners and landless rural peasants, against city dwellers, disadvantaged region vis-à-vis Port-au-Prince, and religious tensions between Catholics, Protestants, and followers of Voodoo. The risks of internal war in a Lebanese or Cambodian style stem from armed