Haiti has seen three major crises within the past four months. Amid these crises, everyday life in Haiti has become increasingly dangerous.
On Saturday, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake—more powerful than the 7.0 magnitude quake that savaged the country in 2010, killing nearly 200,000 and causing billions of dollars worth of damage—struck Haiti, killing over 2000 people, injuring at least 12,000 more, and leaving hundreds missing.
The Caribbean has long enjoyed a reputation for being one of the most democratic regions in the world. Despite the Caribbean’s seeming confidence in the ballot, however, countries in the region nevertheless face considerable challenges in keeping their democracies alive. Elections alone do not make a democracy; rather, there are many other factors that must be taken into consideration in order to ensure good governance.
On Tuesday, Ariel Henry—a trained neurosurgeon and former Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of Interior and Territorial Communities, who had been named prime minister-designate by Moïse only two days before his death—was sworn in as Prime Minister and acting President of Haiti in a ceremony in Port-au-Prince, replacing former interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who had ruled the country as de facto head of state since Moïse’s killing. Joseph, who will evidently retain a ministerial role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced over the weekend that he would step down, ceding power to Henry “for the good of the nation.”
The international community’s role in Haiti is adrift. None of this is going to end well.
While this democratic crisis unfolds, the Haitian people also find themselves in a humanitarian crisis. Schools have closed not just due to COVID-19, but to safeguard students and teachers from rampant violent crimes and kidnappings. In addition, 40 percent of the population is food insecure.
Poor governance, systemic corruption, and mounting injustices have left Haitians with little to show since the massive 2010 post-earthquake response.