Opinion: How has democracy helped Haiti?

The Haitian National Palace shows heavy damages after the earthquake that rocked Port au Prince on January 12. Photo Marco Dormino/ The United Nations

By Kervens Louissaint

Haiti is experiencing a number of difficulties and crises of all kinds, ranging from political, social to economic problems. With the constitution of 1987, democracy was established in Haiti following the fall of the dictatorship of President Jean Claude Duvalier.  Some think that with the establishment of democracy in Haiti, things have become more difficult, especially with a rather corrupt and immoral society,where a large majority of the people are illiterate and unable to plan for the future of the country. 

With people who are continually trying to survive abject misery wherever they go on the territory, it is clear that daily life for Haitians is nothing but a nightmare. The majority of the population lives in poverty, and basic human rights, whether it be the right to health care, or security, is completely ignored. 

How is it that we can call Haiti a democratic country?

Democracy comes  from the Greek word demos, meaning whole citizen living within a particular city-state and “kratos” meaning power or rule. It is the political regime in which power is owned or controlled by the people’s principle of sovereignty, without there being distinctions due to birth, wealth, and competence.

“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people,”  Abraham Lincoln said.

Democracy is an attempt to reconcile the individual and society from the point of view of authority and the point of view of community life.

 Is this the case in Haiti society?

 The principles and foundations of democracy include:

  •  the freedom of individuals;
  • the rule of the majority;
  • the existence of a “constitution” and associated jurisdiction
  • the separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial);
  • regular consultation of the people (election and referendum);
  • the plurality of political parties;
  • the independence of justice.

In Haiti, democracy is still in an embryonic stage. We must rethink the Haitian society for a better model of society.Haiti is dying of everything and there’s social, economic and political instability.  Until today, how has democracy helped us over the last 33 years?

In the 1987 constitution, amended in May 2011, there was talk of a strong state where the rights of citizens are respected, of separation of power, etc. But in reality, what we see is a weak state, where fundamental rights of citizens are not respected, and there is what I would call a “blending” at the level of power, where the executive branch  mixes completely with the legislative branch and the dependence of the judicial arm of the government hinges on executive power.  

According to French psychologist Gustave Le Bon, “true democratic progress is not to lower the elite to the level of the crowd, but to elevate the crowd towards the elite.”

For the benefit of the country, the transitional power should establish a permanent electoral council that is in charge of organizing and independently controlling all electoral operations; a constitutional court responsible for ensuring the constitutionality of laws and a balance of power between the three branches of government. The state should provide funds for health care, education, food security, water, sanitation, decent housing, while providing access to jobs and growing the economy. 

Although most of these problems require long-term solutions, they must nevertheless be able to build on immediate political stability, it is clear that the resolution of these crises will require both cyclical and structural responses.  Major challenges are already awaiting the next set of elected representatives, who will have to answer several structural problems during their term of office. 

Kervens Louissaint is a Haitian expatriate living in the United States. He attended Morning Star Christian Academy. Later on, University of Quiskeya (UniQ), where he studied political science and international relations.

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
Jul. 01, 2019

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Opinion: How has democracy helped Haiti?”

  1. Fritz B says:

    While I totally agree with Mr. Louissaint, the same can be said for a lot of countries. Is the United States a democratic country? With the introduction of ” citizens united” the American democracy has been hijacked by corporations that elect whoever they want to lead the country.
    The real problem of Haiti is above all an economic problem. Young Haitians are taught that to succeed they must travel to the United States or become president of the country. Very few know about entrepreneurs who have become hugely successful. Even when they do, the lack of financial resources to even start thinking about a business is staggering. The banks offer no loans to the average citizen and, in fact, they have been rumored to contribute to the climate of insecurity in the country by setting up private militias.
    An enlightened government would have helped the private sector create jobs with access to millions of dollars in loans for small enterprises. Unfortunately we can hardly say that previous Haitian governments have helped the people in anyway or form. Add to this, the great neighbour to the North that has hardly helped the country at all and you have a recipe for a fiasco that will last for a long, long time.

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