Facts & Figures
Words & Phrases
Issues of Haiti
please note that the Current Issues page of Haiti is now out of date, we will leave it up as there is some useful information on the page
just celebrated its bicentennial on January 1, 2004. The celebration,
however, was plagued with demonstrations and political violence.
This is a familiar story in Haiti. Since gaining independence
from France in 1804 following a slave revolt, the Republic
of Haiti has been plagued by a history
of poverty, political violence, instability, and dictatorship.
constitution guarantees a full range of political rights and
civil liberties. However, ever since the first free election
held in 1990, these rights and liberties remain precarious
as there is a lack of any legitimate security force.
the quality of Haitian human rights is very low.
conflicts between opposing political parties, sparked by
demands for fair elections frequently occur
brutality and extrajudicial executions (executions without
a trial) are numerous.
ability to speak freely is limited by conditions placed
upon the freedom to speech laws
rights are not enforced. Unions are generally too weak to
engage in collective bargaining and many unionists are either
arrested or killed during demonstrations
violence and armed gangs pose severe security threats in
urban areas. Former soldiers and others linked to the former
military regime as well s common criminals are responsible
for much of the violence, including political assassinations.
A lot of the violence is directly tied to increases in both
the drug trade and local narcotics consumption
judicial system is corrupt, dysfunctional and inefficient,
especially in rural areas. Like the courts, the Haitian
prisons are not large enough to handle backlog. The largest
prison, designed to accommodate no more than 1000 prisoners
routinely holds approximately 2200 prisoners. It is estimated
that 80 percent of inmates are in pre-trial detention, roughly
one-third of them have been held for more than a year. Due
to the overcrowding and poor conditions, getting sent to
prison in Haiti is usually considered a death sentence
trafficking (slavery) is a serious issue in Haiti. Currently
there is no Haitian law to prohibit the trafficking in persons
and the numbers of people who are sold is frightening
Haiti is already one the world’s poorest countries,
many countries have threatened Haiti with economic sanctions
unless democratic procedures and human rights are strengthened.
has been estimated that as much as 75% of the Haitian population
is living in absolute poverty.
of food is a major problem
rural households, about 60 per cent go without food on a
regular basis while 20 per cent are extremely vulnerable
and often do not have access to food at all
urban households, about 32 per cent worry about food on
a daily basis while 26 per cent are often worried about
getting enough food
trends are being seen in the health, nutrition and well-being
of the Haitian population. Currently HIV/AIDS is one of the
leading causes of death in Haiti, and more than 4% of the
adult population in infected with the HIV virus.
and women are particularly vulnerable in Haiti. Many children
are living in extreme poverty with limited access to education
and not enough food to eat. While government programs and
policies are aimed at increasing gender equality and the well-being
of children, much work is needed in both areas.
economy has been damaged by economic and trade sanctions put
into place during the 1990’s. Since the sanctions and
embargoes began, 60% of Haiti's private sector jobs have been
lost. The impact of the embargo on the business environment
will have negative long term repercussions, e.g., Haiti's
export assembly industry has been effectively shut down, with
many of its plants closing permanently.(13)
of jobs has been a key element from Haiti’s democratic
government. A number of labor intensive projects, such as
street cleaning, tree planting and erosion control, have been
realized. PURE I and PURE II, World Bank job creation projects,
has infused more than 90 million US dollars into the Haitian
economy through various construction projects.
rely on wood for cooking and other activities due to the lack
of energy produced by the country and the sanctions and embargoes
that block shipments of fuel to Haiti. This has resulted in
massive deforestation and left only 3% of Haiti untouched.
This deforestation has allowed much of the rich topsoil to
wash into the sea, choking the reefs and marine life.
parks have been created to try and save the remaining forests:
Forêt des Pins, in the southeast next to the Dominican
border; Parc La Visite, with limestone caves and
rainforests 40km southwest of Port-au-Prince; Parc Macaya,
at the western end of Haiti's southern claw; and Parc
Historique La Citadelle, in the center of the Massif
du Nord, near Cap-Haïtien. Many of these parks are struggling
such as the USAID create environment initiatives aimed at
increasing the use of environmentally sustainable agricultural
practices, encourage wider use of non-charcoal fuels, and
support the implementation of the National Environmental Action
Plan. The efforts of the USAID program in 2002 resulted in
farmers have adopted natural resources management practices.
These practices included constructing rockwalls and gully
plugs and employing intercropping, hedgerows, tree planting
and contour ridging. Within 2 years of building water catchments,
farmers are completely regaining the use of totally unproductive
land in the river Grise/Blanche watersheds.
than 600,000 trees planted.
Haitian Environmental Foundation has successfully initiate
an environmental awareness campaign to help Haitians understand
the issues of deforestation and other environmental management
incentives were successfully employed to encourage more
farmers to plant environmentally friendly crops such as
fruit trees and other forest species, which translated quickly
into higher income for farmers.
47,000 wood-charcoal stoves were promoted and marketed, 3
prototypes of oil-fired burners for bakeries and dry cleaners
were developed and sold within three months of project start
up. 120 local artisans were trained to produce and market
the improved charcoal and wood stoves.
For Ideas on how you can help the people of Haiti
see our Festivals
and Activites Page