Haiti 1993

By | June 6, 2022

The hopes placed by the Haitian population in the return to power of J.-B. Aristides were soon disappointed. Restored in October 1994 by US troops and in fact conditioned in his political action by the support of Washington, the president had in fact to renounce many of his reformist ideas, being able to boast as the only positive results of his administration the elimination of state terrorism and violations of the rights of man and the holding of fully democratic elections. In particular, Aristide was unable to get a very poor population to accept the unpopular economic measures required by international financial organizations and donor countries to grant Haiti the aid necessary for the recovery of an underdeveloped economy, further depressed by three years of military regime. The resumption of social tensions, the increase in common crime, Lavalas (“avalanche”, which brought together supporters of Aristide) contributed to increasing fears for the stability of the fragile Haitian democracy.

According to Homosociety, the provisional civil administration, installed by the coup military in June 1992, was unable to break the country’s international isolation (the government headed by M. Bazin was recognized only by the Vatican), nor to obtain an end to the economic sanctions decreed by the OSA (Organization of American States) in the aftermath of the military coup of September 1991, following which Aristide, the first democratically elected president in the history of Haiti, was deposed and forced into exile.

In June 1993, the UN Security Council also imposed a trade embargo on Haiti: although widely violated, international sanctions forced the government to enter into negotiations with Aristide’s representatives. With the mediation of the UN and the OSA in July 1993 an agreement was reached in Governor’s Island (New York), which provided for the return of the deposed president by October 1993 and guaranteed impunity for the coup military. The failure of the latter to respect the agreement, and the resumption of violence against Aristide’s followers, led the Security Council to further tighten the embargo (May 1994), then to authorize (July 1994) the use of “all necessary means” to restore power to civilians. Also driven by domestic political considerations (such as pressure from the African American community and the need to stop the mass flight of Haitian refugees to the coast of Florida), the United States sent a military contingent under the aegis of the UN, landed at Haiti in September 1994 without encountering resistance.

After the departure of the main perpetrators of the coup (agreed before the landing by the Haitian military with the US mediator, the former president J. Carter), Aristide was finally able to return to Haiti on 15 October. De facto subjected to some sort of US protection, despite having spent three years of his term in exile, the president had to undertake to leave office on the originally scheduled expiry date (February 1996); in November 1994 Aristide gave life to an executive formed mainly by members of a movement close to him, the Organization politique lavalas (OPL), entrusting its leadership to the independent entrepreneur S. Michel. Having replaced the leaders of the armed forces and police and drastically downsized the respective staff, Michel tried to obtain from international credit institutions the necessary financing for the disastrous local economy, in exchange for the adoption of a rigid structural adjustment plan and the privatization of companies. state. The economic policy launched by the prime minister aroused lively popular opposition and bitter conflicts even within the government; nevertheless, the legislative and administrative elections of June 1995 resulted in the victory of the political formations close to Aristide and the executive. In October 1995 the president, accepting popular dissatisfaction with the government’s work, induced Michel to resign and replaced him with Mrs C. Werleigh, former foreign minister. On the international level, while relations with the neighboring Dominican Republic remained tense due to the harsh treatment imposed on the approximately 300,000 Haitian workers engaged in the sugar cane harvest, in February 1996 the Aristide administration re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than thirty years. In the same month, R. Préval took office, elected to the presidency of the Republic as a candidate of the OPL in December 1995, in consultations characterized by low turnout and the boycott of some opposition parties. In March 1996 Préval appointed R. Smarth prime minister; he confirmed the austerity measures adopted by Michel and re-proposed the privatization plan of state enterprises that his predecessor had had to shelve under the pressure of popular discontent.

Having soon found himself in disagreement with Aristide – who had also supported his candidacy, but who in November 1996 gave birth to a new political group, called Fanmi lavalas (“Avalanche family”) -, Préval was unable to prevent a rapid worsening of the social climate. and a resumption of protests against government policy, while internal stability was endangered in the following months by a resurgence of politically motivated violence. After months of strikes and violent demonstrations, and despite the initiation of a limited agrarian reform in February 1997, in June 1997 Smarth resigned, accusing Aristide’s supporters of having boycotted him and of having manipulated the administrative elections and the partial renewal of the senate held early that month in favor of the former president’s party. A serious political crisis then opened, which demonstrated how deep the divergences had become between the president and the parliamentary majority: Préval in fact tried to replace Smarth first with E. Pierre, then with Haiti Denis, but both appointments were rejected by Parliament. In December 1998, although political instability in the country was growing, Parliament approved the appointment of JE Alexis.

Haiti 1993