Haitian Studies Association

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33rd Annual Conference – Recording of Plenary “Haiti in Crisis” (October 23, 2021)

This event was part of the Haitian Studies Association’s 33rd Annual Conference “Nou La Pi Rèd Toujou! Embodying a New Praxis”.

View Recorded Livestream (in English)

Without a doubt, Haiti’s ongoing crisis will reach a nadir in late October 2021. Following his illegitimate election and extraconstitutional hold on power after a bogus constitutional plebiscite, the regime crisis will be reaching a climax of resistance to tyranny. Whether or not liberal institutions or constructivist ideas can overcome power disparities in some contexts, Haiti has always had a “state against the nation” Now independently sanctioned violence has been privatized or subcontracted enforcement. A system of extortion and embezzlement is subtle, but still continuing from the roots of Duvalierism established through the Macoute networks.

While some of the events will be contingent on the vagaries of Fortuna and other catalytic causes, there are some relatively new intermediate and ultimate causes to the effort to resist the Moisean autocracy. The panel will includes several close colleagues who have been discussing Haiti over several decades, as well as some who are closer in age to the majority of those taking to the Haitian street. Each of the panelist will consider a different elements, connecting the ultimate and intermediate causes with the trajectory of whatever the events of October may the directing: economic; constitutional; political; foreign bilateral, foreign multilateral; grass-roots organizing; religious and social movement resistance, police and army abuse of power, public corruption, mass poverty, public health incapacity, leaders’ impunity, morally repugnant elites, etc.

The international community has often failed Haiti. Liberal peacekeeping and peace building by the United Nations, which ended a fifteen-year occupation of Haiti in 2018, has been a very mixed record: preventing coups and — even more importantly for the US which financed the mission — preventing migrants to the US. Yet the UN mission was noted for its sex trafficking and for introducing a cholera epidemic. The UN also demanded impunity for the UN bombing of that same neighborhood, Cite Soleil.

Digitization has made documentation and responsibility for guilt far more accessible for the mass public as well as in elite debates. The effort to control the narrative of events going forward will depend on who owns the ability to control digital presentations. the UN report on the November 2018 La Saline massacre involved close to one-hundred murders (59 officially, United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti 2019). Where “between 25 and 71 people were killed by members of a criminal gang, with complicity with State actors (UN Document S/2019/198 para. 38), a generally unrecognized factor is the huge underclasses in Haiti’s cities, many of whom are desperate migrants originally from the countryside inside their same countries, or they have migrated from one urban to another urban settlement. In Haiti’s poorest sectors have been highly motivated because of mass starvation facing official corruption that was documented in a Parliamentary report. Haiti fits into the world social movement of global civil society, where these violations have been identified by transnational advocacy networks, which include the UN and parts of the US, with foreign researchers teaming up with local memorialization activists and scholars, which this panel analyzes.

Chair: Chip Carey (Georgia State University)

Haiti’s Crisis and the World Economy

• Alex Dupuy (Wesleyan University)

Haiti’s Crisis and Dominican Elites

• Robert Fatton (University of Virginia)

Haiti’s Crisis and Impunity

• Anne Fuller (Independent Scholar)

Haiti’s Crisis and Higher Education

• Reynold Verret (Xavier University of Louisiana)