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"Country Data" "Travel Tips" "Passport and Visa requirements" "Electrical requirements" "Public Holidays in Haiti" "Springbreak in Haiti" "Points of Contact"
"Passport and Visa requirements"
"Public Holidays in Haiti"
"Springbreak in Haiti"
"Points of Contact"
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Haiti
Area: 27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland.
Cities: Capital--Port-au-Prince (1995 est. pop. 1.5 million).
Other cities--Cap Haitien (est. 65,000).
Terrain: Coastal plain with steep mountains.
Climate: Warm, semiarid; high humidity in many coastal areas.
PeopleNationality: Noun and adjective--Haitian(s).
GovernmentType: Elected government.
EconomyGNP (1997): $3.0 billion (unadjusted for inflation).
PEOPLEHaiti is densely populated, with approximately 250 people per square
HISTORYThe Spaniards used Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and
Aristide and the 1991 Coup d'EtatIn December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic
From October 1991 to June 1992, Joseph Nerette, as president, led an
unconstitutional de facto regime and governed with a parliamentary
majority and the armed forces. In June 1992, he resigned and Parliament
approved Marc Bazin as prime minister of a de facto government with no
replacement named for president. Bazin sought to negotiate a solution
with exiled President Aristide and to end the economic embargo and
diplomatic isolation of Haiti imposed after Aristide's ouster. In June
1993, Bazin resigned and the UN imposed an oil and arms embargo,
bringing the Haitian military to the negotiating table.
Transition to Democracy
President Aristide and Gen. Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed
forces, signed the UN-brokered Governors Island Agreement on July 3,
1993, establishing a 10-step process for the restoration of
constitutional government and the return of President Aristide by
October 30, 1993. As part of this process, Robert Malval was sworn in as
Prime Minister on August 30, 1993. The military derailed the process and
the UN reimposed economic sanctions. Malval resigned on December 15,
1993, but remained as acting Prime Minister for 11 more months. The
political and human rights climate continued to deteriorate as the
military and the de facto government sanctioned repression,
assassination, torture, and rape in open defiance of the international
In May 1994, the military selected Supreme Court Justice Emile
Jonassaint to be provisional president of its third de facto regime. The
UN and the U.S. reacted to this extraconstitutional move by tightening
economic sanctions (UN Resolution 917). On July 31, 1994, the UN adopted
Resolution 940 authorizing member states to use all necessary means to
facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and restore
constitutional rule and Aristide's presidency.
In August 1994, Haiti had parallel governments, the illegitimate
military-backed Jonassaint regime that controlled the government
apparatus in Haiti, and the constitutional government, whose members,
like President Aristide, were in exile or who, like acting Prime
Minister Malval, were blocked from carrying out their duties.
In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a
multinational force (MNF) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a
military intervention. In September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter
Haiti in a matter of hours, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating
team led by former President Jimmy Carter to discuss with the de facto
Haitian leadership the terms of their departure. As a result, the MNF
deployed peacefully, Cedras and other top military leaders left Haiti,
and restoration of the legitimate government began, leading to
Aristide's return on October 15.
Elections for parliament and local government offices were held
successfully between June and October 1995, although they were delayed
by seven months and marred by serious administrative problems and some
violence. President Aristide's Lavalas party and its affiliates swept
into power at all levels. In the December 1995 presidential election,
with Aristide barred by the Haitian Constitution from succeeding
himself, prominent Lavalas figure Rene Preval (who was Aristide's first
prime minister in 1991) overwhelmed his 13 opponents by garnering 88% of
the vote and took office the following February. Territorial elections
designed to decentralize political power were held in early April 1997.
The government of Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned on June 9, 1997.
He continued in caretaker status until November 1997.
With the situation in Haiti gradually stabilizing, the international
security presence has been reduced. The MNF, which at one time had more
than 20,000 troops in Haiti, gave way in March 1995 to a UN peacekeeping
mission (UN Mission in Haiti) under U.S. leadership, including about
6,000 troops. By mid-1996, the UN forces no longer included any U.S.
military personnel, and the UN Special Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) had
been scaled back to about 600 troops under Canadian leadership, as well
as 300 international police monitors from six different countries. The
UNSMIH mission, originally set to expire at the end of November 1996,
was extended through July 31, 1997. The United Nations Transition
Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) replaced UNSMIH to November 30, 1997. The 12-
month UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) was established by
the Security Council and began operations on December 1, 1997, after the
conclusion of UNSMIH. Its 300 authorized civilian police (CIVPOL) are
divided into two groups. Up to 160 CIVPOL mentors, including 30 U.S.
police officers, are tasked with bringing the Haitian National Police
(HNP) to levels of operational competence required before UN specialized
agencies, including the UN Development Program (UNDP), can assume
responsibility for further long-term institutional development. The
remaining 140 CIVPOL are Argentine gendarmes who, as part of a special
police unit (SPU), are on call to ensure the safety of CIVPOL from
situations where HNP may not be able to do so. MIPONUH does not have a
The judicial system in Haiti is still weak and remains a high priority
for international donors. USAID programs focus on improving
administration in prosecutors' offices and the courts, establishing a
case-tracking system, legal aid, and training for judges, court, and
prosecutorial staff. International and Haitian officials are cooperating
to investigate several high-profile murders that may have been
politically motivated, including the murders of opposition politicians
Antoine Leroy and Mireille Durocher Bertin. The U.S. Government helped
the Government of Haiti set up a Special Investigative Unit within the
Haitian National Police, and the investigation of several of these
crimes is in progress. Steps have been taken to end the culture of
impunity that has dominated Haiti for decades. The Office of Inspector
General of the Haitian National Police investigates complaints against
police officers, and around 200 have been dismissed. Training continues
in an effort to build the fledgling National Police into a non-
political, fully professional force committed to the rule of law.
Principal Government Officials
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Fritz Longchamp
Ambassador to the U.S.--vacant (Louis Harold Joseph, Charge d'Affaires)
Ambassador to the OAS--vacant (Louis Harold Joseph, Acting)
Ambassador to the UN--Pierre Lelong
The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW,
Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).
Haiti's economic reform agenda under President Preval includes
trade/tariff liberalization, modernization (understood to mean
privatization) of state-owned enterprises, measures to control
government expenditure and increase tax revenues, civil service
downsizing, and financial sector reform. Structural adjustment
agreements with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-
American Development Bank, and other international financial
institutions are aimed at creating necessary conditions for private
sector growth. The government did show commitment to economic reform
with the implementation of sound fiscal and monetary policies and the
enactment of a "modernization" (privatization) law, along with the
creation of the privatization council (CMEP), and the launching of its
ambitious plan to privatize nine parastatals. The state-owned flour mill
has been privatized, and privatization of the cement plant is in
progress. Much of the population expected more immediate results from
tough reforms. The views of former President Aristide, still popular,
also influence discussions of economic reforms. President Aristide has
been skeptical of economic reform, but he remains a popular figure in
External aid is essential to Haiti's future economic development. Haiti
is the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the
poorest in the world. Comparisons of social and economic indicators show
that Haiti has been falling behind other low-income developing countries
(particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti's economic
stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies,
political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental
deterioration and continued use of traditional technologies.
"Country Data" "Travel Tips" "Passport and Visa requirements" "Electrical requirements" "Public Holidays in Haiti" "Points of Contact"
"Passport and Visa requirements"
"Public Holidays in Haiti"
"Points of Contact"