HAITI (REPUBLIQUE D’HAITI OR AYITI)
Population: (CIA/World Factbook 2016 estimate) about 10,110,000 people; Density: 364 persons per square mile (terrain is 70% mountainous). Minnesota’s population (2014 estimate) is 5,457,000 for a density of 63 per square mile.
Ethnic composition: About 94% are of African origin with the rest being of African-European or another origin.
Languages: French and Creole are the official languages. Creole is a language with West African grammatical structures but with a 90% French vocabulary. The spelling of Creole is phonetically based on English and not a written language until after World War II. A Protestant missionary created this system and officially adopted in 1961. While everyone speaks Creole every day, only a few people actually speak French to one another - in the government and at most universities. While French is an "official" language, is taught in schools, and all government documents are in French, it has limited use otherwise. Economic condition: In Haiti, the average annual per capita income is about $350. About 37% of the population lives in urban areas, and their income averages $409 per year. Of those living in rural areas, 80% live in dire poverty. Minnesota’s median household income in 2014 was $58,476. The median black household income in MN is $27,000.
Economic condition: In Haiti, the average annual per capita income is about $350. About 37% of the population lives in urban areas, and their income averages $409 per year. Of those living in rural areas, 80% live in dire poverty. Minnesota’s median household income in 2014 was $58,476. The median black household income in MN is $27,000.
Health: Life expectancy in Haiti is 63.4 years. In the USA, the life expectancy for a black person is 76 years, and for a white person, it is 79 years. In Haiti the infant mortality rate is 48 deaths/1,000 live births; in the US it is 6 deaths/1,000 live births.
Haiti has 1 doctor for 4,000 people. In the USA this ratio is 9.2 per 4,000 people.
Haitians consume on average 1,977 calories per day, 87% of the minimum requirement. In the USA the average is 3,318 calories or 132% of the minimum requirement.
Education: In Haiti, the literacy rate is 60.7%. In the USA, it is 99%. In the USA, .9% of the population have only primary education, whereas, in Haiti, only 8.6% of the population has a secondary education. About 62% of the primary aged youth attend primary school and about 18% attend secondary school; 90% of schools are private.
HISTORY OF HAITI
1492 and 16th Century Columbus discovered the island on his first voyage to the New World and named it Hispaniola. There were 5 major native tribes on the island at that time, with as many as 200,000 – 400,000 people living there. Spaniards settled mostly the eastern end of the island and within the next 40 years, the entire native Arawak population, who called the island Aayti, meaning “mountainous country”, died of European diseases against which they had no immunity, or were killed, enslaved or fled.
17th Century French pirates often raided the western end of the island, so Spain eventually withdrew their defense as it was too expensive/difficult. French entrepreneurs began plantations and founded Port de Paix in the northwest in 1664 and also Cap Francois, now known as Cap Haitien. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of the island to France as part of the Treaty of Ryswick and the colony was named Saint-Dominque.
18th Century The French colony became the most prosperous in the New World due to slave labor on the coffee, cotton, indigo, cocoa and sugar plantations. The treatment of the slaves, who came from 10 or more different tribes in Africa, was extremely abusive, and the death rate was high. 20,000 slaves had to be imported annually just to maintain the workforce. Only a minority of slaves were born on the island.
In 1789, the French Revolution began and the ideas of the Rights of Man spread throughout the population on the island. The population of St. Dominique was about 523,000 and consisted of 456,000 slaves. Among the rest were very rich white, often absentee, landowners (grands blancs), who sided with the opposition to the revolutionaries, and a poor white artisan class (petits blancs), who embraced the ideas of the French Revolution. There was also a wealthy mulatto class and a small number of free blacks, who had no political rights.
19th Century Inspired by the Revolution, an uprising took place starting in 1791. In 1794, slavery was abolished and in May 1801, the leader of the rebellion, Toussaint Louverture, was made governor-general. Toussaint Louverture was a former slave, the George Washington of Haiti, and his name translates “all saints or souls” and “the opening”. The colony was on its way to independence. But the French under Napoleon went back on their word, sent a military force, arrested Louverture and imprisoned him in France, where he died. Napoleon also reestablished slavery. Upon hearing this, another rebellion under two leaders started in 1802, and the rebel forces defeated French forces in November 1803, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. On January 1, 1804, the independent state of Haiti was declared, the first black republic and the second free republic (after the USA) established in the “New World” (western hemisphere).
The first one (Dessalines – who was assassinated in 1806) and then another of the leaders declared themselves emperor. The second, Henry Christophe, built a spectacular palace and an imposing fort, the Citadelle, on a high mountain south of Cap-Haitien. Many forts were built in order to defend the nation from the expected re-invasion of the French forces. Civil war broke out between blacks under Christophe in the north and mulattos under Petion in the south. Boyer succeeded Petion and became president of the whole country after Christophe’s suicide in 1820, until 1843. Petion invaded the Spanish part of the island, and Haiti held it until 1844. France recognized Haiti in 1825 and abolished slavery in its colonies for a second time in 1848. The U. S. recognized Haiti in 1862 after the secession of the Southern slave states. Between 1843 and 1915 there were 20 rulers with many revolutions and assassinations in Haiti. In the 1890s, the U. S. gained military and commercial privileges in Haiti.
20th Century By 1905, the U. S. had gained a secure financial foothold and valuable concessions in Haiti. U. S. Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. The occupation was resented by many who felt it was to protect U. S. investments. The construction of public works, such as health clinics, sewage treatment, and roads did not satisfy the people. Forced labor was used to build roads which caused a revolt, suppressed by the Marines. A national assembly was elected in 1930, the first since 1918, and it chose Vincent as president. President Roosevelt withdrew the Marines but U. S. fiscal control continued through 1947, and the occupation left the mulatto elites in control. Vincent was elected directly in1935. He was succeeded in 1941 and in 1946, strikes by students and workers caused military officers to take control. Several presidents tried to extend their terms and military take-overs forced them out until 1956.
The Duvalier Regime 1957-1986 In 1956, Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc), a black physician formerly employed in a U.S. medical aide scheme, was elected promising to take economic and political power away from the elites and give in to the black majority. Duvalier overthrew attempts to oust him with a group of violent adherents, the private presidential police force called the Tontons Macoutes, who terrorized any opposition. He did succeed in getting himself “elected” president for life, in fact establishing himself as a dictator and choosing his successor, his son Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) in 1971. All political opposition was banned, but finally, in 1986, demonstrations organized by the Catholic Church and other churches forced Duvalier out. He and his family went into exile in France.
Post-Duvalier Governments A five-member council headed by General Namphy took over. Much chaos followed with violence and coups as Duvalierists tried to regain power, but the country was in de facto military control.
Finally, with pressure from the U.S., the third attempt at elections succeeded. In 1990, Jean-Baptist Aristide, a popular Catholic priest who had led protests, was elected by 67% of the vote. But in September 1991, the government was overthrown in a violent military coup. With the interventions of foreign ambassadors, Aristide was allowed to go into exile in the U. S. Some say Aristide’s policies posed little threat to the established social order and that he was overthrown because he insisted that the rich pay taxes and the military end its drug trafficking.
Others say he was instigating people to steal and take whatever they wanted from the rich and that they defended themselves by instigating his overthrow. Under (the first) President George Bush, the U.S. imposed a trade embargo to “punish” the coup leaders in 1991 and pressured other countries to honor the embargo, which devastated the fragile Haitian economy, hurting the poorest people the most. Mixed U. S. foreign policy attitudes toward Aristide during his exile make interesting reading, but finally, the Clinton administration acted decisively to restore the democratically elected government by holding the military to its agreement to step down and by sending troops under a U. N. Security Council resolution to prevent any coups. The embargo was then ended. Aristide returned to Haiti in 1994 and the presidency was passed peacefully upon the election of his hand-picked successor Rene Preval in 1996. Their constitution prevents a president from serving two terms in a row.
The situation looked promising for Haiti but the conditions there improved little. In fact, many say that the conditions in Haiti are worse now than they were under Baby Doc Duvalier. Under Preval, the Senate failed to approve his choice for prime minister by one vote, causing him to dissolve parliament. The U.N. withdrew aid and another foreign aid was frozen.
In 2000, the Lavalas Party of Aristide won a majority of parliament seats but the election was questioned as not fair by both international parties and the electoral council. The opposition parties and the Lavalas were at a stalemate and never resolved the election issues. The parliament was suspended. In November 2000, Aristide was returned to the presidency by 92% of the vote. In 2001, there was an attempted coup on the presidential palace. Some say it was staged by Aristide supporters so that the government could crack down on opposition. Much foreign aid was lost.
In 2003, political protests and unrest broke out in Port-au-Prince, with students, in particular, demonstrating that the Aristide government was doing nothing at all for the country. Pro-Aristide gangs countered, and some protesters, professors, and gang members were killed. In December 2003, the universities were shut down due to unsafe conditions.
Unrest continued in 2004, particularly in the city of Gonaives, where a group of rebels took over the town, and the rebellion spread to other cities. This eventually led to a march towards Port-au-Prince where it appeared a bloody street battle was about to occur. President Aristide then left the country and an interim government was appointed by a council of elders. United Nations troops were requested and still occupy Haiti to try and keep relative peace.
In the meantime, a strong rainfall from hurricane Jeanne in September of 2004 caused massive flooding in Gonaives, the third-largest city in Haiti with over 80,000 people, causing destruction of 75% of the homes and an estimated 2,000 deaths. It has been a humanitarian disaster in this poor country where getting the basics of life: water, food, clothing, and shelter, is always a daily struggle even before this disaster struck.
In February 2006, Haiti held its first presidential election in 6 years. Rene Preval, previously president from 1995 – 2000, was elected among 35+ candidates. A new parliament was elected as well and the new government began in earnest in May 2006.
Preval was in the last year of his presidency when the devastating earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, killing an estimated 300,000 people, destroying many buildings, including the parliament and Presidential palace. As of 2016, there are still some tent cities where people live who had to abandon their homes due to the earthquake.
In 2011, musician Michel Martelly was elected President after a controversial election. He served his term until it expired in February of 2016. The election for his replacement was nullified after much controversy about the fairness of the election. The new election for president and some other elected officials will take place on Oct. 9, 2016. As the winner must win by 50%+1 of the votes, there is usually a run-off election, and that is scheduled to take place on January 8, 2017. In the meantime, the government stagnates.
Spanish Discovery and Colonization
When Columbus returned to Hispaniola on his second voyage in 1493, he found that Navidad had been razed and its inhabitants, slain. But the Old World’s interest in expansion and its drive to spread Roman Catholicism were not easily deterred; Columbus established a second settlement, Isabela, farther to the east.
Hispaniola, or Santo Domingo, as it became known under Spanish dominion, became the first outpost of the Spanish Empire. The initial expectations of plentiful and easily accessible gold reserves proved unfounded, but the island still became important as a seat of colonial administration, a starting point for conquests of other lands, and a laboratory to develop policies for governing new possessions. It was in Santo Domingo that the Spanish crown introduced the system of repartimiento, whereby peninsulares (Spanish-born persons residing in the New World) received large grants of land and the right to compel labor from the Indians who inhabited that land.
Columbus, Santo Domingo’s first administrator, and his brother Bartolomé Columbus fell out of favor with the majority of the colony’s settlers, as a result of jealousy and avarice, and then also with the crown because of their failure to maintain order. In 1500 a royal investigator ordered both to be imprisoned briefly in a Spanish prison. The colony’s new governor, Nicolás de Ovando, laid the groundwork for the island’s development.
During his tenure, the repartimiento system gave way to the encomienda system under which all land was considered the property of the crown. The system also granted stewardship of tracts to encomenderos, who were entitled to employ (or, in practice, to enslave) Indian labor.
The Taino Indians
The Taino Indian population of Santo Domingo fared poorly under colonial rule. The exact size of the island’s indigenous population in 1492 has never been determined, but observers at the time produced estimates that ranged from several thousand to several million. An estimate of 3 million, which is almost certainly an exaggeration, has been attributed to Bishop Bartolomé de Las Casas.
According to all accounts, however, there were hundreds of thousands of indigenous people on the island. By 1550 only 150 Indians lived on the island. Forced labor, abuse, diseases against which the Indians had no immunity, and the growth of the mestizo (mixed European and Indian) population all contributed to the elimination of the Taino and their culture.
Several years before the Taino were gone, Santo Domingo had lost its position as the preeminent Spanish colony in the New World. Its lack of mineral riches condemned it to neglect by the mother country, especially after the conquest of New Spain (Mexico). In 1535 the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which included Mexico and the Central American isthmus, incorporated Santo Domingo, the status of which dwindled still further after the conquest of the rich kingdom of the Incas in Peru. Agriculture became the mainstay of the island’s economy, but the disorganized nature of agricultural production did not approach the kind of intense productivity that was to characterize the colony under French rule.
Although Hispaniola never realized its economic potential under Spanish rule, it remained strategically important as the gateway to the Caribbean. The Caribbean region provided the opportunity for seafarers from Britain, France, and the Netherlands to impede Spanish shipping, to waylay galleons crammed with gold, and to establish a foothold in a hemisphere parceled by papal decree between the Roman Catholic kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. This competition was carried on throughout the Caribbean, but nowhere as intensely as on Hispaniola.
Sir Francis Drake of England led one of the most famous forays against the port of Santo Domingo in 1586, just two years before he played a key role in the English navy’s defeat of the Spanish Armada. Drake failed to secure the island, but his raid, along with the arrival of corsairs and freebooters in scattered settlements, was part of a pattern of encroachment that gradually diluted Spanish dominance.
French Settlement and Sovereignty
Reportedly expelled by the Spanish from Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts), the original French residents of Tortuga Island (Ile de la Tortue), off the northwest coast of Hispaniola, sustained themselves mostly through two means: curing the meat and tanning the hides of wild game, and pirating Spanish ships. The former activity lent these hardy souls the colorful designation of buccaneers, derived from the Arawak word for the smoking of meat. It took decades for the buccaneers and the more staid settlers that followed them to establish themselves on Tortuga. Skirmishes with Spanish and English forces were common. As the maintenance of the empire tried the wit and drained the energies, of a declining Spain, however, foreign intervention became more forceful.
The freewheeling society of Tortuga that was often described in romantic literature had faded into legend by the end of the seventeenth century. The first permanent settlement on Tortuga was established in 1659 under the commission of King Louis XIV. French Huguenots had already begun to settle the north coast of Hispaniola by that time. The establishment in 1664 of the French West India Company for the purpose of directing the expected commerce between the colony and France underscored the seriousness of the enterprise. Settlers steadily encroached upon the northwest shoulder of the island, and they took advantage of the area’s relative remoteness from the Spanish capital city of Santo Domingo. In 1670 they established their first major community, Cap François (later Cap Français, now Cap-Haïtien). During this period, the western part of the island was commonly referred to as Saint-Domingue, the name it bore officially after Spain relinquished sovereignty over the area to France in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.
By the mid-eighteenth century, a territory largely neglected under Spanish rule had become the richest and most coveted colony in the Western Hemisphere. By the eve of the French Revolution, Saint-Domingue produced about 60 percent of the world’s coffee and about 40 percent of the sugar imported by France and Britain. Saint-Domingue played a pivotal role in the French economy, accounting for almost two-thirds of French commercial interests abroad and about 40 percent of foreign trade. The system that provided such largess to the mother country, such as luxury to planters, and so many jobs in France had a fatal flaw, however. That flaw was slavery. The origins of modern Haitian society lie within the slaveholding system. The mixture of races that eventually divided Haiti into a small, mainly mulatto elite and an impoverished black majority began with the slavemasters’ concubinage of African women. Today Haiti’s culture and its predominant religion (voodoo) stem from the fact that the majority of slaves in Saint-Domingue were brought from Africa. (The slave population totaled at least 500,000, and perhaps as many as 700,000, by 1791.) Only a few of the slaves had been born and raised on the island. The slaveholding system in Saint-Domingue was particularly cruel and abusive, and few slaves (especially males) lived long enough to reproduce. The racially tinged conflicts that have marked Haitian history can be traced similarly to slavery.
While the masses of black slaves formed the foundation of colonial society, the upper strata evolved along lines of color and class. Most commentators have classified the population of the time into three groups: white colonists, or blancs; free blacks (usually mulattoes, or gens de couleur–people of color), or affranchis; and the slaves.
Conflict and resentment permeated the society of SaintDomingue . Beginning in 1758, the white landowners, or grands blancs, discriminated against the affranchis through legislation. Statutes forbade gens de couleur from taking up certain professions, marrying whites, wearing European clothing, carrying swords or firearms in public, or attending social functions where whites were present. The restrictions eventually became so detailed that they essentially defined a caste system. However, regulations did not restrict the franchise’ purchase of land, and some eventually accumulated substantial holdings. Others accumulated wealth through another activity permitted to affranchis by the grands blancs–in the words of historian C.L.R. James, “The privilege of lending money to white men.” The mounting debt of the white planters to the gens de couleur provided further motivation for racial discrimination.
The Haitian Revolution
Violent conflicts between white colonists and black slaves were common in Saint-Domingue. Bands of runaway slaves, known as maroons (marrons), entrenched themselves in bastions in the colony’s mountains and forests, from which they harried white-owned plantations both to secure provisions and weaponry and to avenge themselves against the inhabitants. As their numbers grew, these bands, sometimes consisting of thousands of people, began to carry out hit-and-run attacks throughout the colony. This guerrilla warfare, however, lacked centralized organization and leadership. The most famous maroon leader was François Macandal, whose six-year rebellion (1751-57) left an estimated 6,000 dead. Reportedly a boko, or voodoo sorcerer, Macandal drew from African traditions and religions to motivate his followers. The French burned him at the stake in Cap Français in 1758. Popular accounts of his execution that say the stake snapped during his execution have enhanced his legendary stature. Many Haitians point to the maroons’ attacks as the first manifestation of a revolt against French rule and the slaveholding system.
The attacks certainly presaged the 1791 slave rebellion, which evolved into the Haitian Revolution. They also marked the beginning of a martial tradition for blacks, just as service in the colonial militia had done for the gens de couleur. The maroons, however, seemed incapable of staging a broad-based insurrection on their own. Although challenged and vexed by the maroons’ actions, colonial authorities effectively repelled the attacks, especially with help from the gens de couleur, who were probably forced into cooperating.
The arrangement that enabled the whites and the landed gens de couleur to preserve the stability of the slaveholding system was unstable. In an economic sense, the system worked for both groups. The gens de couleur, however, had aspirations beyond the accumulation of goods. They desired equality with white colonists, and many of them desired power. The events set in motion in 1789 by the French Revolution shook up, and eventually shattered, the arrangement.
The National Assembly in Paris required the white Colonial Assembly to grant suffrage to the landed and tax-paying gens de couleur. (The white colonists had had a history of ignoring French efforts to improve a lot of the black and the mulatto populations.) The Assembly refused, leading to the first mulatto rebellion in Saint-Domingue. The rebellion, led by Vincent Ogé in 1790, failed when the white militia reinforced itself with a corps of black volunteers. (The white elite was constantly prepared to use racial tension between blacks and mulattoes to advantage.) Ogé’s rebellion was a sign of broader unrest in Saint-Domingue.
A slave rebellion of 1791 finally toppled the colony. Launched in August of that year, the revolt represented the culmination of a protracted conspiracy among black leaders. According to accounts of the rebellion that have been told through the years, François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture helped plot the uprising, although this claim has never been substantiated. Among the rebellion’s leaders were Boukman, a maroon and voodoo houngan (priest); Georges Biassou, who later made Toussaint his aide; Jean-François, who subsequently commanded forces, along with Biassou and Toussaint, under the Spanish flag; and Jeannot, the bloodthirstiest of them all. These leaders sealed their compact with a voodoo ceremony conducted by Boukman in the Bois Cayman (Alligator Woods) in early August 1791. On August 22, a little more than a week after the ceremony, the uprising of their black followers began.
The carnage that the slaves wreaked in northern settlements, such as Acul, Limbé, Flaville, and Le Normand, revealed the simmering fury of an oppressed people. The bands of slaves slaughtered every white person they encountered. As their standard, they carried a pike with the carcass of an impaled white baby. Accounts of the rebellion describe widespread torching of property, fields, factories, and anything else that belonged to, or served, slaveholders. The inferno is said to have burned almost continuously for months.
News of the slaves’ uprising quickly reached Cap Français. Reprisals against nonwhites were swift and every bit as brutal as the atrocities committed by the slaves. Although outnumbered, the inhabitants of Le Cap (the local diminutive for Cap Français) were well-armed and prepared to defend themselves against the tens of thousands of blacks who descended upon the port city. Despite their voodoo-inspired heroism, the ex-slaves fell in large numbers to the colonists’ firepower and were forced to withdraw. The rebellion left an estimated 10,000 blacks and 2,000 whites dead and more than 1,000 plantations sacked and razed.
Even though it failed, the slave rebellion at Cap Français set in motion events that culminated in the Haitian Revolution. Mulatto forces under the capable leadership of André Rigaud, Alexandre Pétion, and others clashed with white militiamen in the west and the south (where, once again, whites recruited black slaves to their cause). Sympathy with the Republican cause in France inspired the mulattoes. Sentiment in the National Assembly vacillated, but it finally favored the enfranchisement of gens de couleur and the enforcement of equal rights. Whites, who had had little respect for royal governance in the past, now rallied behind the Bourbons and rejected the radical egalitarian notions of the French revolutionaries. Commissioners from the French Republic, dispatched in 1792 to Saint-Domingue, pledged their limited support to the gens de couleur in the midst of an increasingly anarchic situation. In various regions of the colony, black slaves rebelled against white colonists, mulattoes battled white levies, and black royalists opposed both whites and mulattoes. Foreign interventionists found these unstable conditions irresistible; Spanish and British involvement in the unrest in Saint-Domingue opened yet another chapter in the revolution.
Social historian James G. Leyburn has said of Toussaint Louverture that “what he did is more easily told than what he was.” Although some of Toussaint’s correspondence and papers remain, they reveal little of his deepest motivations in the struggle for Haitian autonomy. Born sometime between 1743 and 1746 in Saint-Domingue, Toussaint belonged to the small, fortunate class of slaves employed by humane masters as personal servants. While serving as a house servant and coachman, Toussaint received the tutelage that helped him become one of the few literate black revolutionary leaders. Upon hearing of the slave uprising, Toussaint took pains to secure safe expatriation of his master’s family. It was only then that he joined Biassou’s forces, where his intelligence, skill in strategic and tactical planning (based partly on his reading of works by Julius Caesar and others), and innate leadership ability brought him quickly to prominence.
Le Cap fell to French forces, who were reinforced by thousands of blacks in April 1793. Black forces had joined the French against the royalists on the promise of freedom. Indeed, in August Commissioner Léger-Félicité Sonthonax abolished slavery in the colony.
Two black leaders who warily refused to commit their forces to France, however, were Jean-François and Biassou. Believing allegiance to a king would be more secure than allegiance to a republic, these leaders accepted commissions from Spain. The Spanish deployed forces in coordination with these indigenous blacks to take the north of Saint-Domingue. Toussaint, who had taken up the Spanish banner in February 1793, came to command his own forces independently of Biassou’s army. By the year’s end, Toussaint had cut a swath through the north, had swung south to Gonaïves, and effectively controlled north-central Saint- Domingue.
Some historians believe that Spain and Britain had reached an informal arrangement to divide the French colony between them– Britain to take the south and Spain, the north. British forces landed at Jérémie and Môle Saint-Nicolas (the Môle). They besieged Port-au-Prince (or Port Républicain, as it was known under the Republic) and took it in June 1794. The Spanish had launched a two-pronged offensive from the east. French forces checked Spanish progress toward Port-au-Prince in the south, but the Spanish pushed rapidly through the north, most of which they occupied by 1794. Spain and Britain were poised to seize Saint- Domingue, but several factors foiled their grand design. One factor was illness. The British in particular fell victim to tropical disease, which thinned their ranks far more quickly than combat against the French. Southern forces led by Rigaud and northern forces led by another mulatto commander, Villatte, also forestalled a complete victory by the foreign forces. These uncertain conditions positioned Toussaint’s centrally located forces as the key to victory or defeat. On May 6, 1794, Toussaint made a decision that sealed the fate of a nation.
After arranging for his family to flee from the city of Santo Domingo, Toussaint pledged his support to France. Confirmation of the National Assembly’s decision on February 4, 1794, to abolish slavery appears to have been the strongest influence over Toussaint’s actions. Although the Spanish had promised emancipation, they showed no signs of keeping their word in the territories that they controlled, and the British had reinstated slavery in the areas they occupied. If emancipation was Toussaint’s goal, he had no choice but to cast his lot with the French.
In several raids against his former allies, Toussaint took the Artibonite region and retired briefly to Mirebalais. As Rigaud’s forces achieved more limited success in the south, the tide clearly swung in favor of the French Republicans. Perhaps the key event at this point was the July 22, 1794, peace agreement between France and Spain. The agreement was not finalized until the signing of the Treaty of Basel the following year. The accord directed Spain to cede its holdings on Hispaniola to France. The move effectively denied supplies, funding, and avenues of retreat to combatants under the Spanish aegis. The armies of Jean-François and Biassou disbanded, and many flocked to the standard of Toussaint, the remaining black commander of stature.
In March 1796, Toussaint rescued the French commander, General Etienne-Maynard Laveaux, from a mulatto-led effort to depose him as the primary colonial authority. To express his gratitude, Laveaux appointed Toussaint lieutenant governor of Saint-Domingue. With this much power over the affairs of his homeland, Toussaint was in a position to gain more. Toussaint distrusted the intentions of all foreign parties–as well as those of the mulattoes–regarding the future of slavery; he believed that only black leadership could assure the continuation of an autonomous Saint-Domingue. He set out to consolidate his political and military positions, and he undercut the positions of the French and the resentful gens de couleur.
A new group of French commissioners appointed Toussaint commander in chief of all French forces on the island. From this position of strength, he resolved to move quickly and decisively to establish an autonomous state under black rule. He expelled Sonthonax, the leading French commissioner, who had proclaimed the abolition of slavery, and concluded an agreement to end hostilities with Britain. He sought to secure Rigaud’s allegiance and thus to incorporate the majority of mulattoes into his national project, but his plan was thwarted by the French, who saw in Rigaud their last opportunity to retain dominion over the colony.
Once again, racial animosity drove events in Saint-Domingue, as Toussaint’s predominantly black forces clashed with Rigaud’s mulatto army. Foreign intrigue and manipulation prevailed on both sides of the conflict. Toussaint, in correspondence with United States president John Adams, pledged that in exchange for support he would deny the French the use of Saint-Domingue as a base for operations in North America. Adams, the leader of an independent, but still insecure, nation, found the arrangement desirable and dispatched arms and ships that greatly aided black forces in what is sometimes referred to as the War of the Castes. Rigaud, with his forces and ambitions crushed, fled the colony in late 1800.
After securing the port of Santo Domingo in May 1800, Toussaint held sway over the whole of Hispaniola. This position gave him an opportunity to concentrate on restoring domestic order and productivity. Like Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri (Henry) Christophe, Toussaint saw that the survival of his homeland depended on an export-oriented economy. He therefore reimposed the plantation system and utilized nonslaves, but he still essentially relied on forced labor to produce the sugar, coffee, and other commodities needed to support economic progress. He directed this process through his military dictatorship, the form of government that he judged most efficacious under the circumstances. A constitution, approved in 1801 by the then still-extant Colonial Assembly, granted Toussaint, as Governor-general-for-life, all effective power as well as the privilege of choosing his successor.
Toussaint’s interval of freedom from foreign confrontation was unfortunately brief. Toussaint never severed the formal bond with France, but his de facto independence and autonomy rankled the leaders of the mother country and concerned the governments of slave-holding nations, such as Britain and the United States. French first consul Napoléon Bonaparte resented the temerity of the former slaves who planned to govern a nation on their own. Moreover, Bonaparte regarded Saint-Domingue as essential to potential French exploitation of the Louisiana Territory.
Taking advantage of a temporary halt in the wars in Europe, Bonaparte dispatched to Saint-Domingue forces led by his brother-in-law, General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc. These forces, numbering between 16,000 and 20,000–about the same size as Toussaint’s army–landed at several points on the north coast in January 1802. With the help of white colonists and mulatto forces commanded by Pétion and others, the French outmatched, outmaneuvered, and wore down the black army. Two of Toussaint’s chief lieutenants, Dessalines and Christophe, recognized their untenable situation, held separate parleys with the invaders, and agreed to transfer their allegiance. Recognizing his weak position, Toussaint surrendered to Leclerc on May 5, 1802. The French assured Toussaint that he would be allowed to retire quietly, but a month later, they seized him and transported him to France, where he died of neglect in the frigid dungeon of Fort de Joux in the Jura Mountains on April 7, 1803.
The betrayal of Toussaint and Bonaparte’s restoration of slavery in Martinique undermined the collaboration of leaders such as Dessalines, Christophe, and Pétion. Convinced that the same fate lay in store for Saint-Domingue, these commanders and others once again battled Leclerc and his disease-riddled army. Leclerc himself died of yellow fever in November 1802, about two months after he had requested reinforcements to quash the renewed resistance. Leclerc’s replacement, General Donatien Rochambeau, waged a bloody campaign against the insurgents, but events beyond the shores of Saint-Domingue doomed the campaign to failure.
By 1803 war had resumed between France and Britain, and Bonaparte once again concentrated his energies on the struggle in Europe. In April of that year, Bonaparte signed a treaty that allowed the purchase of Louisiana by the United States and ended French ambitions in the Western Hemisphere. Rochambeau’s reinforcements and supplies never arrived in sufficient numbers. The general fled to Jamaica in November 1803, where he surrendered to British authorities rather than face the retribution of the rebel leadership. The era of French colonial rule in Haiti had ended.
Independence of Haiti
On January 1, 1804, Haiti proclaimed its independence. Through this action, it became the second independent state in the Western Hemisphere and the first free black republic in the world. Haiti’s uniqueness attracted much attention and symbolized the aspirations of enslaved and exploited peoples around the globe. Nonetheless, Haitians made no overt effort to inspire, to support, or to aid slave rebellions similar to their own because they feared that the great powers would take renewed action against them. For the sake of national survival, nonintervention became a Haitian credo. Dessalines, who had commanded the black and the mulatto forces during the final phase of the revolution, became the new country’s leader; he ruled under the dictatorial 1801 constitution. The land he governed had been devastated by years of warfare. The agricultural base was all but destroyed, and the population was uneducated and largely unskilled. Commerce was virtually nonexistent. Contemplating this bleak situation, Dessalines determined, as Toussaint had done, that a firm hand was needed.
White residents felt the sting most sharply. While Toussaint, a former privileged slave of a tolerant white master, had felt a certain magnanimity toward whites, Dessalines, a former field slave, despised them with a maniacal intensity. He reportedly agreed wholeheartedly with his aide, Boisrond-Tonnerre, who stated, “For our declaration of independence, we should have the skin of a white man for parchment, his skull for an inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for a pen!” Accordingly, whites were slaughtered wholesale under the rule of Dessalines.
Although blacks were not massacred under Dessalines, they witnessed little improvement in the quality of their lives. To restore some measure of agricultural productivity, Dessalines reestablished the plantation system. Harsh measures bound laborers to their assigned workplaces, and penalties were imposed on runaways and on those who harbored them. Because Dessalines drew his only organizational experience from war, it was natural for him to use the military as a tool for governing the new nation. The rule of Dessalines set a pattern for direct involvement of the army in politics that continued unchallenged for more than 150 years.
In 1805 Dessalines crowned himself Emperor of Haiti. By this point, his autocratic rule had disenchanted important sectors of Haitian society, particularly mulattoes such as Pétion. The mulattoes resented Dessalines mostly for racial reasons, but the more educated and cultured gens de couleur also derided the emperor (and most of his aides and officers) for his ignorance and illiteracy. Efforts by Dessalines to bring mulatto families into the ruling group through marriage met with resistance. Pétion himself declined the offer of the hand of the emperor’s daughter. Many mulattoes were appalled by the rampant corruption and licentiousness of the emperor’s court. Dessalines’s absorption of a considerable amount of land into the hands of the state through the exploitation of irregularities in titling procedures also aroused the ire of landowners.
The disaffection that sealed the emperor’s fate arose within the ranks of the army, where Dessalines had lost support at all levels. The voracious appetites of his ruling clique apparently left little or nothing in the treasury for military salaries and provisions. Although reportedly aware of the discontent among the ranks, Dessalines made no effort to redress these shortcomings.
Instead, he relied on the same iron-fisted control with which he kept rural laborers in line. That his judgement in this matter had been in error became apparent on the road to Port-au-Prince as he rode with a column of troops on its way to crush a mulattoled rebellion. A group of people, probably hired by Pétion or Etienne-Elie Gérin (another mulatto officer), shot the emperor and hacked his body to pieces.
Under Dessalines the Haitian economy had made little progress despite the restoration of forced labor. Conflict between blacks and mulattoes ended the cooperation that the revolution had produced, and the brutality toward whites shocked foreign governments and isolated Haiti internationally. A lasting enmity against Haiti arose among Dominicans as a result of the emperor’s unsuccessful invasion of Santo Domingo in 1805. Dessalines’s failure to consolidate Haiti and to unite Haitians had ramifications in the years that followed, as the nation split into two rival enclaves.
Christophe’s Kingdom and Pétion’s Republic
Many candidates succeeded Dessalines, but only three approached his stature. Most Haitians saw Henry Christophe as the most logical choice. He had served as a commander under Toussaint and could therefore claim the former leader’s mantle and some of his mystique. Christophe was black like Dessalines, but he lacked Dessalines’s consuming racial hatred, and he was much more pragmatic in this regard. His popularity, especially in the north, however, was not strong enough to offset the mulatto elite’s growing desire to exert control over Haiti through a leader drawn from its own ranks. The mulattoes had two other candidates in mind: Gérin and Pétion, the presumed authors of Dessalines’s assassination.
In November 1806, army officers and established anciens libres (pre-independence freedmen) landowners–an electorate dominated by the mulatto elite–elected a constituent assembly that was given the task of establishing a new government. Members of the assembly drafted a constitution that established a weak presidency and a comparatively strong legislature. They selected Christophe as president and Pétion as head of the legislature, the earliest attempt in Haiti to establish what would later be known as the politique de doublure (politics by understudies). Under this system, a black leader served as figurehead for mulatto elitist rule.
The only defect in the mulattoes’ scheme was Christophe himself, who refused to be content with his figurehead role. He mustered his forces and marched on Port-au-Prince. His assault on the city failed, however, mainly because Pétion had artillery and Christophe did not. Indignant, but not defeated, Christophe retreated to north of the Artibonite River and established his own dominion, which he ruled from Cap Haïtien (which he would later rechristen Cap Henry). Periodic and ineffectual clashes went on for years between this northern territory and Pétion’s republic, which encompassed most of the southern half of the country and boasted Port-au-Prince as its capital.
The northern dominion became a kingdom in 1811, when Christophe crowned himself King Henry I of Haiti. Unlike Dessalines, who as emperor declared, “Only I am royal,” Christophe installed a nobility of mainly black supporters and associates who assumed the titles of earls, counts, and barons.
Below this aristocratic level, life in the northern kingdom was harsh, but not nearly so cruel as the conditions that had prevailed under Dessalines. Laborers remained bound to their plantations, but working hours were liberalized, and remuneration was increased to one-fourth of the harvested crop.
Christophe was a great believer in discipline. He brought African warriors from Dahomey (present-day Benin), whom he dubbed Royal Dahomets. They served as the primary agents of his authority. Incorruptible and intensely loyal to Christophe, the Dahomets brought order to the countryside.
Many people were dissatisfied with the strictness of Christophe’s regime. As productivity and export levels rose, however, the quality of their lives improved in comparison with revolutionary and immediately post-revolutionary days.
In the more permissive southern republic, where Pétion ruled as president-for-life, people’s lives were not improving. The crucial difference between the northern kingdom and the southern republic was the way each treated landownership. Christophe gave ownership of the bulk of the land to the state and leased large tracts to estate managers. Pétion took the opposite approach and distributed state-owned land to individuals in small parcels. Pétion began distributing land in 1809, when he granted land to his soldiers. Later on, Pétion extended the land-grant plan to other beneficiaries and lowered the selling price of state land to a level where almost anyone could afford to own land.
Pétion’s decision proved detrimental in the shaping of modern Haiti. Smallholders had little incentive to produce export crops instead of subsistence crops. Coffee, because of its relative ease of cultivation, came to dominate agriculture in the south. The level of coffee production, however, did not permit any substantial exports. Sugar, which had been produced in large quantities in Saint-Domingue, was no longer exported from Haiti after 1822. When the cultivation of cane ceased, sugar mills closed, and people lost their jobs. In the south, the average Haitian was an isolated, poor, free, and relatively content yeoman. In the north, the average Haitian was a resentful but comparatively prosperous laborer. The desire for personal autonomy motivated most Haitians more than the vaguer concept of contributing to a strong national economy, however, and defections to the south were frequent, much to the consternation of Christophe.
Pétion, who died in 1818, left a lasting imprint upon his homeland. He ruled under two constitutions, which were promulgated in 1806 and 1816. The 1806 document resembled in many ways the Constitution of the United States. The 1816 charter, however, replaced the elected presidency with the office of president for life.
Pétion’s largely laissez-faire rule did not directly discriminate against blacks, but it did promote an entrenched mulatto elite that benefited from such policies as the restoration of land confiscated by Dessalines and cash reimbursement for crops lost during the last year of the emperor’s rule. Despite the egalitarianism of land distribution, government and politics in the republic remained the province of the elite, especially because the control of commerce came to replace the production of commodities as the focus of economic power in Haiti. Pétion was a beneficent ruler, and he was beloved by the people, who referred to him as “Papa Bon Coeur” (Father Good Heart). But Pétion was neither a true statesman nor a visionary. Some have said that his impact on the nations of South America, through his support for rebels such as Simón Bolívar Palacios and Francisco de Miranda, was stronger and more positive than his impact on his own impoverished country.
Although Christophe sought a reconciliation after Pétion’s death, the southern elite rejected the notion of submission to a black leader. Because the president-for-life had died without naming a successor, the republican senate selected Pétion’s mulatto secretary and commander of the Presidential Guard (Garde Présidentielle), General Jean-Pierre Boyer, to fill the post. In the north, King Henry committed suicide in October 1820, after having suffered a severe stroke that caused him to lose control of the army, his main source of power. The kingdom, which had been ruled by an even narrower clique than the republic, was left ripe for the taking. Boyer claimed it on October 26 at Cap Haïtien at the head of 20,000 troops. Haiti was once again a single nation.
Boyer: Expansion and Decline
Jean-Pierre Boyer shared Pétion’s conciliatory approach to governance, but he lacked his stature as a leader. The length of Boyer’s rule (1818-43) reflected his political acumen, but he accomplished little. Boyer took advantage of internecine conflict in Santo Domingo by invading and securing the Spanish part of Hispaniola in 1822. He succeeded where Toussaint and Dessalines had failed. Occupation of the territory, however, proved unproductive for the Haitians, and ultimately it sparked a Dominican rebellion.
Boyer faced drastically diminished productivity as a result of Pétion’s economic policies. Most Haitians had fallen into comfortable isolation on their small plots of land, content to eke out a quiet living after years of turmoil and duress. Boyer enacted a Rural Code (Code Rural), designed to force yeomen into large-scale production of export crops. The nation, however, lacked the wherewithal, the enthusiasm, and the discipline to enforce the code.
Boyer perceived that France’s continued refusal to settle claims remaining from the revolution and to recognize its former colony’s independence constituted the gravest threat to Haitian integrity. His solution to the problem–payment in return for recognition–secured Haiti from French aggression, but it emptied the treasury and mortgaged the country’s future to French banks, which eagerly provided the balance of the hefty first installment. The indemnity was later reduced in 1838 from 150 million francs to 60 million francs. By that time, however, the damage to Haiti had been done.
As the Haitian economy stagnated under Boyer, Haitian society ossified. The lines separating mulattoes and blacks sharpened, despite Boyer’s efforts to appoint blacks to responsible positions in government. The overwhelming rate of illiteracy among even well-to-do blacks foiled Boyer’s intentions. Still, his government effected no substantial improvements in the limited educational system that Pétion had established. The exclusivity of the social structure thus perpetuated itself. Many blacks found no avenues in the bureaucracy for social mobility, and they turned to careers in the military, where literacy was not a requirement.
As Pétion’s successor, Boyer held the title of president-for- life. The length and relative placidity of his rule represented a period of respite for most Haitians after the violence and disorder that had characterized the emergence of their nation. Pressures gradually built up, however, as various groups, especially young mulattoes, began to chafe at the seemingly deliberate maintenance of the political and social status quo.
In the late 1830s, legislative opposition to Boyer clustered around Hérard Dumesle, a mulatto poet and liberal political thinker. Dumesle and his followers decried the anemic state of the nation’s economy and its concomitant dependence on imported goods. They also disdained the continued elite adherence to French culture and urged Haitians to forge their own national identity. Their grievances against Boyer’s government included corruption, nepotism, suppression of free expression, and rule by executive fiat. Banding together in a fraternity, they christened their organization the Society for the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The group of young mulattoes called for an end to Boyer’s rule and for the establishment of a provisional government.
The government expelled Dumesle and his followers from the legislature and made no effort to address their grievances. The perceived intransigence of the Boyer government triggered violent clashes in the south near Les Cayes. Forces under the command of Charles Rivière-Hérard, a cousin of Dumesle, swept through the southern peninsula toward the capital. Boyer received word on February 11, 1843, that most of his army units had joined the rebels. A victim of what was later known as the Revolution of 1843, Boyer sailed to Jamaica. Rivière-Hérard replaced him in the established tradition of military rule.
Decades of Instability, 1843-1915
Leyburn summarizes this chaotic era in Haitian history. “Of the twenty-two heads of state between 1843 and 1915, only one served out his prescribed term of office, three died while serving, one was blown up with his palace, one presumably poisoned, one hacked to pieces by a mob, one resigned. The other fourteen were deposed by revolution after incumbencies ranging in length from three months to twelve years.” During this wide gulf between the 1843 revolution and occupation by the United States in 1915, Haiti’s leadership became the most valuable prize in an unprincipled competition among strongmen. The overthrow of a government usually degenerated into a business venture, with foreign merchants–frequently Germans–initially funding a rebellion in the expectation of a substantial return after its success. The weakness of Haitian governments of the period and the potential profits to be gained from supporting a corrupt leader made such investments attractive.
Rivière-Hérard enjoyed only a brief tenure as president. It was restive and rebellious Dominicans, rather than Haitians, who struck one of the more telling blows against this leader. Nationalist forces led by Juan Pablo Duarte seized control of Santo Domingo on February 27, 1844. Unprofessional and undisciplined Haitian forces in the east, unprepared for a significant uprising, capitulated to the rebels. In March Rivière-Hérard attempted to reimpose his authority, but the Dominicans put up stiff opposition. Soon after Rivière-Hérard crossed the border, domestic turmoil exploded again.
Discontent among black rural cultivators, which had flared up periodically under Boyer, re-emerged in 1844 and led to greater change. Bands of ragged piquets (a term derived from the word for the pikes they brandished), under the leadership of a black, former army officer named Louis Jean-Jacques Acaau, rampaged through the south. The piquets who were capable of articulating a political position demanded an end to mulatto rule and the election of a black president. Their demands were eventually met but not by the defeated Rivière-Hérard, who returned home to a country where he enjoyed little support and wielded no effective power. In May 1844, his ouster by several rebel groups brought to power Philippe Guerrier, an aged black officer who had been a member of the peerage under Christophe’s kingdom.Guerrier’s installation by a mulatto-dominated establishment represented the formal beginning of politique de doublure; a succession of short-lived black leaders was chosen after Guerrier in an effort to appease the piquets and to avoid renewed unrest in the countryside. During this period, two exceptions to the pattern of abbreviated rule were Faustin Soulouque (1847-59) and Fabre Nicolas Geffrard (1859-67). Soulouque, a black general of no particular distinction, was considered just another understudy when he was tapped by the legislature as a compromise between competing factions. Once in office, however, he displayed a Machiavellian taste for power. He purged the military high command, established a secret police force–known as the zinglins–to keep dissenters in line, and eliminated mulatto opponents. In August 1849, he grandiosely proclaimed himself as Haiti’s second emperor, Faustin I.
Soulouque, like Boyer, enjoyed a comparatively long period of power that yielded little of value to his country. Whereas Boyer’s rule had been marked by torpor and neglect, Soulouque’s was distinguished by violence, repression, and rampant corruption. Soulouque’s expansive ambitions led him to mount several invasions of the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans turned back his first foray in 1849 before he reached Santo Domingo. Another invasion in 1850 proved even less successful. Failed campaigns in 1855 and in 1856 fueled mounting discontent among the military; a revolt led by Geffrard, who had led a contingent in the Dominican campaign, forced the emperor out of power in 1859.
Geffrard, a dark-skinned mulatto, restored the old order of elite rule. After the turmoil of Soulouque’s regime, Geffrard’s rule seemed comparatively tranquil and even somewhat progressive. Geffrard produced a new constitution based largely on Pétion’s 1816 document, improved transportation, and expanded education (although the system still favored the upper classes).
Geffrard also signed a concordat with the Vatican in 1860 that expanded the presence of the Roman Catholic Church and its preponderantly foreign-born clergy in Haiti, particularly through the establishment of parochial schools. The move ended a period of ill will between Haiti and the church that had begun during the revolutionary period.
Intrigue and discontent among the elite and the piquets beset Geffrard throughout his rule. In 1867 General Sylvain Salnave–a light-skinned mulatto who received considerable support from blacks in the north and in the capital- -forced Geffrard from office. The overthrow profoundly unsettled the country, and Salnave’s end came quickly. Rural rebellion among anti-Salnavist peasants who called themselves cacos (a term of unknown derivation) triggered renewed unrest among the piquets in the south. After several military successes, Salnave’s forces weakened, and the leader fled Port-au-Prince. Caco forces captured him, however, near the Dominican border, where they tried and executed him on January 15, 1870. Successive leaders claimed control of most of the country and then regularly confirmed their rule ex post facto through a vote by the legislature, but none succeeded in establishing effective authority over the entire country.
Rebellion, intrigue, and conspiracy continued to be commonplace even under the rule of Louis Lysius Félicité Salomon (1879-88), of the National Party (Parti National–PN), the most notable and effective president of the late nineteenth century. During one seven-year term and the beginning of a second, Salomon revived agriculture to a limited degree, attracted some foreign capital, established a national bank, linked Haiti to the outside world through the telegraph, and made minor improvements in the education system. Salomon, the scion of a prominent black family, had spent many years in France after being expelled by Riviére- Hérard. Salomon’s support among the rural masses, along with his energetic efforts to contain elite-instigated plots, kept him in power longer than the strongmen who preceded and followed him. Still, Salomon yielded–after years of conflict with forces led by the Liberal Party (Parti Liberal–LP), and other disgruntled, power-hungry elite elements.
Political forces during the late nineteenth century polarized around the Liberal and the National parties. Mulattoes dominated the Liberal ranks, while blacks dominated the National Party; both parties were nonideological in nature. The parties competed on the battlefield, in the legislature, within the ranks of the military, and in the more refined but limited circles of the literati. The more populist Nationalists marched under the banner of their party slogan, “the greatest good for the greatest number,” while the blatantly elitist Liberals proclaimed their preference for “government by the most competent.”
Haitian politics remained unstable. From the fall of Salomon until occupation by the United States in 1915, eleven men held the title of president. Their tenures in office ranged from six and one-half years in the case of Florvil Hyppolite (1889-96) to only months–especially between 1912 and 1915, the turbulent period that preceded the United States occupation–in the case of seven others.
Although domestic unrest helped pave the way for intervention by the United States, geostrategic concerns also influenced events. The United States had periodically entertained the notion of annexing Hispaniola, but the divisive issue of slavery deterred the nation from acting. Until 1862 the United States refused to recognize Haiti’s independence because the free, black, island nation symbolized opposition to slavery. President Ulysses S. Grant proposed annexation of the Dominican Republic in 1870, but the United States Senate rejected the idea. By the late nineteenth century, the growth of United States power and the prospect of a transoceanic canal in either Nicaragua or Panama had increased attention given to the Caribbean. Annexation faded as a policy option, but Washington persistently pursued efforts to secure naval stations throughout the region. The United States favored the Môle Saint-Nicolas as an outpost, but Haiti refused to cede territory to a foreign power.
The French and the British still claimed interests in Haiti, but it was the Germans’ activity on the island that concerned the United States most. The small German community in Haiti (approximately 200 in 1910) wielded a disproportionate amount of economic power. Germans controlled about 80 percent of the country’s international commerce; they also owned and operated utilities in Cap Haïtien and Port-au-Prince, the main wharf and a tramway in the capital, and a railroad in the north. The Germans, as did the French, aiming to collect the nation’s customs receipts to cover Haiti’s outstanding debts to European creditors, also sought control of the nearly insolvent National Bank of Haiti. This kind of arrangement was known technically as a customs receivership.
Officials in Washington were especially concerned about Germany’s aggressive employment of military might. In December 1897, a German commodore in charge of two warships demanded and received an indemnity from the Haitian government for a German national who had been deported from the island after a legal dispute. Another German warship intervened in a Haitian uprising in September 1902. It forced the captain of a rebel gunboat (that had waylaid a German merchant ship) to resort to blowing up his ship–and himself–to avoid being seized.
Reports reached Washington that Berlin was considering setting up a coaling station at the Môle Saint-Nicolas to serve the German naval fleet. This potential strategic encroachment resonated through the White House, at a time when the Monroe Doctrine (a policy that opposed European intervention in the Western Hemisphere) and the Roosevelt Corollary (whereby the United States assumed the responsibility for direct intervention in Latin American nations in order to check the influence of European powers) strongly shaped United States foreign policy, and when war on a previously unknown scale had broken out in Europe. The administration of President Woodrow Wilson accordingly began contingency planning for an occupation of Haiti.
Escalating instability in Haiti all but invited foreign intervention. The country’s most productive president of the early twentieth century, Cincinnatus Leconte, had died in a freak explosion in the National Palace (Palais National) in August 1912. Five more contenders claimed the country’s leadership over the next three years. General Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, who had helped to bring Leconte to power, took the oath of office in March 1915. Like every other Haitian president of the period, he faced active rebellion to his rule. His leading opponent, Rosalvo Bobo, reputedly hostile toward the United States, represented to Washington a barrier to expanded commercial and strategic ties. A pretext for intervention came on July 27, 1915, when Guillaume Sam executed 167 political prisoners. Popular outrage provoked mob violence in the streets of Port-au-Prince. A throng of incensed citizens sought out Guillaume Sam at his sanctuary in the French embassy and literally tore him to pieces. The spectacle of an exultant rabble parading through the streets of the capital bearing the dismembered corpse of their former president shocked decision makers in the United States and spurred them to swift action. The first sailors and marines landed in Port-au-Prince on July 28. Within six weeks, representatives from the United States controlled Haitian customs houses and administrative institutions. For the next nineteen years, Haiti’s powerful neighbor to the north guided and governed the country.
United States Occupation, 1915-34
Representatives from the United States wielded veto power over all governmental decisions in Haiti, and Marine Corps commanders served as administrators in the provinces. Local institutions, however, continued to be run by Haitians, as was required under policies put in place during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. In line with these policies, Admiral William Caperton, the initial commander of United States forces, instructed Bobo to refrain from offering himself to the legislature as a presidential candidate. Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, the mulatto president of the Senate, agreed to accept the presidency of Haiti after several other candidates had refused on principle.
With a figurehead installed in the National Palace and other institutions maintained in form if not in function, Caperton declared martial law, a condition that persisted until 1929. A treaty passed by the Haitian legislature in November 1915 granted further authority to the United States. The treaty allowed Washington to assume complete control of Haiti’s finances, and it gave the United States sole authority over the appointment of advisers and receivers. The treaty also gave the United States responsibility for establishing and running public-health and public-works programs and for supervising routine governmental affairs. The treaty also established the Gendarmerie d’Haïti (Haitian Constabulary), a step later replicated in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The Gendarmerie was Haiti’s first professional military force, and it was eventually to play an important political role in the country. In 1917 President Dartiguenave dissolved the legislature after its members refused to approve a constitution purportedly authored by United States assistant secretary of the navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. A referendum subsequently approved the new constitution (by a vote of 98,225 to 768), however, in 1918. Generally a liberal document, the constitution allowed foreigners to purchase land. Dessalines had forbidden land ownership by foreigners, and since 1804 most Haitians had viewed foreign ownership as anathema.
The occupation by the United States had several effects on Haiti. An early period of unrest culminated in a 1918 rebellion by up to 40,000 former cacos and other disgruntled people. The scale of the uprising overwhelmed the Gendarmerie, but marine reinforcements helped put down the revolt at the estimated cost of 2,000 Haitian lives. Thereafter, order prevailed to a degree that most Haitians had never witnessed. The order, however, was imposed largely by white foreigners with deep-seated racial prejudices and a disdain for the notion of self-determination by inhabitants of less-developed nations. These attitudes particularly dismayed the mulatto elite, who had heretofore believed in their innate superiority over the black masses. The whites from North America, however, did not distinguish among Haitians, regardless of their skin tone, level of education, or sophistication. This intolerance caused indignation, resentment, and eventually a racial pride that was reflected in the work of a new generation of Haitian historians, ethnologists, writers, artists, and others, many of whom later became active in politics and government. Still, as Haitians united in their reaction to the racism of the occupying forces, the mulatto elite managed to dominate the country’s bureaucracy and to strengthen its role in national affairs.
The occupation had several positive aspects. It greatly improved Haiti’s infrastructure. Roads were improved and expanded. Almost all roads, however, led to Port-au-Prince, resulting in a gradual concentration of economic activity in the capital. Bridges went up throughout the country; a telephone system began to function; several towns gained access to clean water; and a construction boom (in some cases employing forced labor) helped restore wharves, lighthouses, schools, and hospitals. Public health improved, partially because of United States-directed campaigns against malaria and yaws (a crippling disease caused by a spirochete). Sound fiscal management kept Haiti current on its foreign-debt payments at a time when default among Latin American nations was common. By that time, United States banks were Haiti’s main creditors, an important incentive for Haiti to make timely payments.
In 1922 Louis Borno replaced Dartiguenave, who was forced out of office for temporizing over the approval of a debtconsolidation loan. Borno ruled without the benefit of a legislature (dissolved in 1917 under Dartiguenave) until elections were again permitted in 1930. The legislature, after several ballots, elected mulatto Sténio Vincent to the presidency.
The occupation of Haiti continued after World War I, despite the embarrassment that it caused Woodrow Wilson at the Paris peace conference in 1919 and the scrutiny of a congressional inquiry in 1922. By 1930 President Herbert Hoover had become concerned about the effects of the occupation, particularly after a December 1929 incident in Les Cayes in which marines killed at least ten Haitian peasants during a march to protest local economic conditions. Hoover appointed two commissions to study the situation. A former governor general of the Philippines, W. Cameron Forbes, headed the more prominent of the two. The Forbes Commission praised the material improvements that the United States administration had wrought, but it criticized the exclusion of Haitians from positions of real authority in the government and the constabulary, which had come to be known as the Garde d’Haïti. In more general terms, the commission further asserted that “the social forces that created [instability] still remain–poverty, ignorance, and the lack of a tradition or desire for orderly free government.”
The Hoover administration did not implement fully the recommendations of the Forbes Commission, but United States withdrawal was well under way by 1932, when Hoover lost the presidency to Roosevelt, the presumed author of the most recent Haitian constitution. On a visit to Cap Haïtien in July 1934, Roosevelt reaffirmed an August 1933 disengagement agreement. The last contingent of marines departed in mid-August, after a formal transfer of authority to the Garde. As in other countries occupied by the United States in the early twentieth century, the local military was often the only cohesive and effective institution left in the wake of withdrawal.
Politics and the Military, 1934-57
The Garde was a new kind of military institution in Haiti. It was a force manned overwhelmingly by blacks, with a United States- trained black commander, Colonel Démosthènes Pétrus Calixte. Most of the Garde’s officers, however, were mulattoes. The Garde was a national organization; it departed from the regionalism that had characterized most of Haiti’s previous armies. In theory, its charge was apolitical–to maintain internal order, while supporting a popularly elected government. The Garde initially adhered to this role.
President Vincent took advantage of the comparative national stability, which was being maintained by a professionalized military, to gain absolute power. A plebiscite permitted the transfer of all authority in economic matters from the legislature to the executive, but Vincent was not content with this expansion of his power. In 1935 he forced through the legislature a new constitution, which was also approved by plebiscite. The constitution praised Vincent, and it granted the executive sweeping powers to dissolve the legislature at will, to reorganize the judiciary, to appoint ten of twenty-one senators (and to recommend the remaining eleven to the lower house), and to rule by decree when the legislature was not in session. Although Vincent implemented some improvements in infrastructure and services, he brutally repressed his opposition, censored the press, and governed largely to benefit himself and a clique of merchants and corrupt military officers.
Under Calixte the majority of Garde personnel had adhered to the doctrine of political nonintervention that their Marine Corps trainers had stressed. Over time, however, Vincent and Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina sought to buy adherents among the ranks. Trujillo, determined to expand his influence over all of Hispaniola, in October 1937 ordered the indiscriminate butchery by the Dominican army of an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Haitians on the Dominican side of the Massacre River. Some observers claim that Trujillo supported an abortive coup attempt by young Garde officers in December 1937. Vincent dismissed Calixte as commander and sent him abroad, where he eventually accepted a commission in the Dominican military as a reward for his efforts while on Trujillo’s payroll. The attempted coup led Vincent to purge the officer corps of all members suspected of disloyalty, marking the end of the apolitical military.
In 1941 Vincent showed every intention of standing for a third term as president, but after almost a decade of disengagement, the United States made it known that it would oppose such an extension. Vincent accommodated the Roosevelt administration and handed power over to Elie Lescot.
Lescot was a mulatto who had served in numerous government posts. He was competent and forceful, and many considered him a sterling candidate for the presidency, despite his elitist background. Like the majority of previous Haitian presidents, however, he failed to live up to his potential. His tenure paralleled that of Vincent in many ways. Lescot declared himself commander in chief of the military, and power resided in a clique that ruled with the tacit support of the Garde. He repressed his opponents, censored the press, and compelled the legislature to grant him extensive powers. He handled all budget matters without legislative sanction and filled legislative vacancies without calling elections. Lescot commonly said that Haiti’s declared state-of-war against the Axis powers during World War II justified his repressive actions. Haiti, however, played no role in the war except for supplying the United States with raw materials and serving as a base for a United States Coast Guard detachment.
Aside from his authoritarian tendencies, Lescot had another flaw: his relationship with Trujillo. While serving as Haitian ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Lescot fell under the sway of Trujillo’s influence and wealth. In fact, it was Trujillo’s money that reportedly bought most of the legislative votes that brought Lescot to power. Their clandestine association persisted until 1943, when the two leaders parted ways for unknown reasons. Trujillo later made public all his correspondence with the Haitian leader. The move undermined Lescot’s already dubious popular support.
In January 1946, events came to a head when Lescot jailed the Marxist editors of a journal called La Ruche (The Beehive). This action precipitated student strikes and protests by government workers, teachers, and shopkeepers in the capital and provincial cities. In addition, Lescot’s mulatto-dominated rule had alienated the predominantly black Garde. His position became untenable, and he resigned on January 11. Radio announcements declared that the Garde had assumed power, which it would administer through a three-member junta.
The Revolution of 1946 was a novel development in Haiti’s history, insofar as the Garde assumed power as an institution, not as the instrument of a particular commander. The members of the junta, known as the Military Executive Committee (Comité Exécutif Militaire), were Garde commander Colonel Franck Lavaud, Major Antoine Levelt, and Major Paul E. Magloire, commander of the Presidential Guard. All three understood Haiti’s traditional way of exercising power, but they lacked a thorough understanding of what would be required to make the transition to an elected civilian government. Upon taking power, the junta pledged to hold free elections. The junta also explored other options, but public clamor, which included public demonstrations in support of potential candidates, eventually forced the officers to make good on their promise.
Haiti elected its National Assembly in May 1946. The Assembly set August 16, 1946, as the date on which it would select a president. The leading candidates for the office–all of whom were black–were Dumarsais Estimé, a former school teacher, assembly member, and cabinet minister under Vincent; Félix d’Orléans Juste Constant, leader of the Haitian Communist Party (Parti Communiste d’Haïti–PCH); and former Garde commander Calixte, who stood as the candidate of a progressive coalition that included the Worker Peasant Movement (Mouvement Ouvrier Paysan–MOP). MOP chose to endorse Calixte, instead of a candidate from its own ranks, because the party’s leader, Daniel Fignolé, was only twenty-six years old–too young to stand for the nation’s highest office. Estimé, politically the most moderate of the three, drew support from the black population in the north, as well as from the emerging black middle class. The leaders of the military, who would not countenance the election of Juste Constant and who reacted warily to the populist Fignolé, also considered Estimé the safest candidate. After two rounds of polling, legislators gave Estimé the presidency.
Estimé’s election represented a break with Haiti’s political tradition. Although he was reputed to have received support from commanders of the Garde, Estimé was a civilian. Of humble origins, he was passionately anti-elitist and therefore generally antimulatto. He demonstrated, at least initially, a genuine concern for the welfare of the people. Operating under a new constitution that went into effect in November 1946, Estimé proposed, but never secured passage of, Haiti’s first social- security legislation. He did, however, expand the school system, encourage the establishment of rural cooperatives, raise the salaries of civil servants, and increase the representation of middle-class and lower-class blacks in the public sector. He also attempted to gain the favor of the Garde–renamed the Haitian Army (Armée d’Haïti) in March 1947–by promoting Lavaud to brigadier general and by seeking United States military assistance.
Estimé eventually fell victim to two of the time-honored pitfalls of Haitian rule: elite intrigue and personal ambition. The elite had a number of grievances against Estimé. Not only had he largely excluded them from the often lucrative levers of government, but he also enacted the country’s first income tax, fostered the growth of labor unions, and suggested that voodoo be considered as a religion equivalent to Roman Catholicism–a notion that the Europeanized elite abhorred. Lacking direct influence in Haitian affairs, the elite resorted to clandestine lobbying among the officer corps. Their efforts, in combination with deteriorating domestic conditions, led to a coup in May 1950.
To be sure, Estimé had hastened his own demise in several ways. His nationalization of the Standard Fruit banana concession sharply reduced the firm’s revenues. He alienated workers by requiring them to invest between 10 percent and 15 percent of their salaries in national-defense bonds. The president sealed his fate by attempting to manipulate the constitution in order to extend his term in office. Seizing on this action and the popular unrest it engendered, the army forced the president to resign on May 10, 1950. The same junta that had assumed power after the fall of Lescot reinstalled itself. An army escort conducted Estimé from the National Palace and into exile in Jamaica. The events of May 1946 made an impression upon the deposed minister of labor, François Duvalier. The lesson that Duvalier drew from Estimé’s ouster was that the military could not be trusted. It was a lesson that he would act upon when he gained power.
The power balance within the junta shifted between 1946 and 1950. Lavaud was the preeminent member at the time of the first coup, but Magloire, now a colonel, dominated after Estimé’s overthrow. When Haiti announced that its first direct elections (all men twenty-one or over were allowed to vote) would be held on October 8, 1950, Magloire resigned from the junta and declared himself a candidate for president. In contrast to the chaotic political climate of 1946, the campaign of 1950 proceeded under the implicit understanding that only a strong candidate backed by both the army and the elite would be able to take power. Facing only token opposition, Magloire won the election and assumed office on December 6.
Magloire restored the elite to prominence. The business community and the government benefited from favorable economic conditions until Hurricane Hazel hit the island in 1954. Haiti made some improvements on its infrastructure, but most of these were financed largely by foreign loans. By Haitian standards, Magloire’s rule was firm, but not harsh: he jailed political opponents, including Fignolé, and shut down their presses when their protests grew too strident, but he allowed labor unions to function, although they were not permitted to strike. It was in the arena of corruption, however, that Magloire overstepped traditional bounds. The president controlled the sisal, cement, and soap monopolies. He and other officials built imposing mansions. The injection of international hurricane relief funds into an already corrupt system boosted graft to levels that disillusioned all Haitians. To make matters worse, Magloire followed in the footsteps of many previous presidents by disputing the termination date of his stay in office. Politicians, labor leaders, and their followers flocked to the streets in May 1956 to protest Magloire’s failure to step down. Although Magloire declared martial law, a general strike essentially shut down Port-au-Prince. Again like many before him, Magloire fled to Jamaica, leaving the army with the task of restoring order.
The period between the fall of Magloire and the election of Duvalier in September 1957 was a chaotic one, even by Haitian standards. Three provisional presidents held office during this interval; one resigned and the army deposed the other two, Franck Sylvain and Fignolé. Duvalier is said to have engaged actively in the behind-the-scenes intrigue that helped him to emerge as the presidential candidate that the military favored. The military went on to guide the campaign and the elections in a way that gave Duvalier every possible advantage. Most political actors perceived Duvalier–a medical doctor who had served as a rural administrator of a United States-funded anti-yaws campaign before entering the cabinet under Estimé–as an honest and fairly unassuming leader without a strong ideological motivation or program. When elections were finally organized, this time under terms of universal suffrage (both men and women now had the vote), Duvalier, a black, painted himself as the legitimate heir to Estimé. This approach was enhanced by the fact that Duvalier’s only viable opponent, Louis Déjoie, was a mulatto and the scion of a prominent family. Duvalier scored a decisive victory at the polls. His followers took two-thirds of the legislature’s lower house and all of the seats in the Senate.
François Duvalier, 1957-71
Like many Haitian leaders, Duvalier produced a constitution to solidify his power. In 1961 he proceeded to violate the provisions of that constitution, which had gone into effect in 1957. He replaced the bicameral legislature with a unicameral body and decreed presidential and legislative elections. Despite a 1957 prohibition against presidential reelection, Duvalier ran for office and won with an official tally of 1,320,748 votes to zero. Not content with this sham display of democracy, he went on in 1964 to declare himself president for life. For Duvalier, the move was a matter of political tradition; seven heads of state before him had claimed the same title.
An ill-conceived coup attempt in July 1958 spurred Duvalier to act on his conviction that Haiti’s independent military threatened the security of his presidency. In December the president sacked the armed forces chief of staff and replaced him with a more reliable officer. This action helped him to expand a Presidential Palace army unit into the Presidential Guard. The Guard became the elite corps of the Haitian army, and its sole purpose was to maintain Duvalier’s power. After having established his own power base within the military, Duvalier dismissed the entire general staff and replaced aging Marinetrained officers with younger men who owed their positions, and presumably their loyalty, to Duvalier.
Duvalier also blunted the power of the army through a rural militia formally named the Volunteers for National Security (Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale–VSN), but more commonly referred to as the tonton makouts (derived from the Creole term for a mythological bogeyman). In 1961, only two years afterDuvalier had established the group, the tonton makouts had more than twice the power of the army. Over time, the group gained even more power. While the Presidential Guard secured Duvalier against his enemies in the capital, the tonton makouts expanded his authority into rural areas. The tonton makouts never became a true militia, but they were more than a mere secret police force. The group’s pervasive influence throughout the countryside bolstered recruitment, mobilization, and patronage for the regime.
After Duvalier had displaced the established military with his own security force, he employed corruption and intimidation to create his own elite. Corruption–in the form of government rake-offs of industries, bribery, extortion of domestic businesses, and stolen government funds–enriched the dictator’s closest supporters. Most of these supporters held sufficient power to enable them to intimidate the members of the old elite who were gradually co-opted or eliminated (the luckier ones were allowed to emigrate).
Duvalier was an astute observer of Haitian life and a student of his country’s history. Although he had been reared in Port-au- Prince, his medical experiences in the provinces had acquainted him with the everyday concerns of the people, their predisposition toward paternalistic authority (his patients referred to him as “Papa Doc,” a sobriquet that he relished and often applied to himself), the ease with which their allegiance could be bought, and the central role of voodoo in their lives. Duvalier exploited all of these points, especially voodoo. He studied voodoo practices and beliefs and was rumored to be a houngan. He related effectively to houngan and bokò (voodoo sorcerers) throughout the country and incorporated many of them into his intelligence network and the ranks of the tonton makouts. His public recognition of voodoo and its practitioners and his private adherence to voodoo ritual, combined with his reputed practice of magic and sorcery, enhanced his popular persona among the common people (who hesitated to trifle with a leader who had such dark forces at his command) and served as a peculiar form of legitimization of his rapacious and ignoble rule.
Duvalier weathered a series of foreign-policy crises early in his tenure that ultimately enhanced his power and contributed to his megalomaniacal conviction that he was, in his words, the “personification of the Haitian fatherland.” Duvalier’s repressive and authoritarian rule seriously disturbed United States president John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy administration registered particular concern over allegations that Duvalier had blatantly misappropriated aid money and that he intended to employ a Marine Corps mission to Haiti not to train the regular army but to strengthen the tonton makouts. Washington acted on these charges and suspended aid in mid-1962. Duvalier refused to accept United States demands for strict accounting procedures as a precondition of aid renewal. Duvalier, claiming to be motivated by nationalism, renounced all aid from Washington. At that time, aid from the United States constituted a substantial portion of the Haitian national budget. The move had little direct impact on the Haitian people because most of the aid had been siphoned off by Duvalierist cronies anyway. Renouncing the aid, however, allowed the incipient dictator to portray himself as a principled and lonely opponent of domination by a great power. Duvalier continued to receive multilateral contributions. After Kennedy’s death in November 1963, pressure on Duvalier eased, and the United States adopted a policy of grudging acceptance of the Haitian regime because of the country’s strategic location near communist Cuba.
A more tense and confrontational situation developed in April 1963 between Duvalier and Dominican Republic president Juan Bosch Gaviño. Duvalier and Bosch were confirmed adversaries; the Dominican president provided asylum and direct support to Haitian exiles who plotted against the Duvalier regime. Duvalier ordered the Presidential Guard to occupy the Dominican chancery in Pétionville in an effort to apprehend an army officer believed to have been involved in an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap the dictator’s son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, and daughter, Simone Duvalier. The Dominican Republic reacted with outrage and indignation. Bosch publicly threatened to invade Haiti, and he ordered army units to the frontier. Although observers throughout the world anticipated military action that would lead to Duvalier’s downfall, they saw events turn in the Haitian tyrant’s favor. Dominican military commanders, who found Bosch’s political leanings too far to the left, expressed little support for an invasion of Haiti. Bosch, because he could not count on his military, decided to let go of his dream to overthrow the neighboring dictatorship. Instead, he allowed the matter to be settled by emissaries of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Resistant to both domestic and foreign challenges, Duvalier entrenched his rule through terror (an estimated 30,000 Haitians were killed for political reasons during his tenure), emigration (which removed the more activist elements of the population along with thousands of purely economic migrants), and limited patronage. At the time of his death in 1971, François Duvalier designated his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, as Haiti’s new leader. To the Haitian elite, who still dominated the economy, the continuation of Duvalierism without “Papa Doc” offered financial gain and a possibility for recapturing some of the political influence lost under the dictatorship.
Jean-Claude Duvalier, 1971-86
The first few years after Jean-Claude Duvalier’s installation as Haiti’s ninth president-for-life were a largely uneventful extension of his father’s rule. Jean-Claude was a feckless, dissolute nineteen-year-old, who had been raised in an extremely isolated environment and who had never expressed any interest in politics or Haitian affairs. He initially resented the dynastic arrangement that had made him Haiti’s leader, and he was content to leave substantive and administrative matters in the hands of his mother, Simone Ovid Duvalier, while he attended ceremonial functions and lived as a playboy.
By neglecting his role in government, Jean-Claude squandered a considerable amount of domestic and foreign goodwill and facilitated the dominance of Haitian affairs by a clique of hard- line Duvalierist cronies who later became known as the dinosaurs. The public displayed more affection toward Jean-Claude than they had displayed for his more formidable father. Foreign officials and observers also seemed more tolerant toward “Baby Doc,” in areas such as human-rights monitoring, and foreign countries were more generous to him with economic assistance. The United States restored its aid program for Haiti in 1971.
Jean-Claude limited his interest in government to various fraudulent schemes and to outright misappropriations of funds. Much of the Duvaliers’ wealth, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, came from the Régie du Tabac (Tobacco Administration). Duvalier used this “nonfiscal account,” established decades earlier under Estimé, as a tobacco monopoly, but he later expanded it to include the proceeds from other government enterprises and used it as a slush fund for which no balance sheets were ever kept.
Jean-Claude’s kleptocracy, along with his failure to back with actions his rhetoric endorsing economic and public-health reform, left the regime vulnerable to unanticipated crises that were exacerbated by endemic poverty, including the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic and the widely publicized outbreak of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the 1980s. A highly contagious and fatal disease, ASF plagued pigs in the Dominican Republic in mid-1978. The United States feared that the disease would spread to North America and pressured Jean-Claude to slaughter the entire population of Haitian pigs and to replace them with animals supplied by the United States and international agencies. The Haitian government complied with this demand, but it failed to take note of the rancor that this policy produced among the peasantry. Black Haitian pigs were not only a form of “savings account” for peasants because they could be sold for cash when necessary, but they were also a breed of livestock well-suited to the rural environment because they required neither special care nor special feed. The replacement pigs required both. Peasants deeply resented this intrusion into their lives.
Initial reporting on the AIDS outbreak in Haiti implied that the country might have been a source for the human immune deficiency virus. This rumor, which turned out to be false, hurt the nation’s tourism industry, which had grown during Jean-Claude Duvalier’s tenure. Already minimal, public services deteriorated as Jean- Claude and his ruling clique continued to misappropriate funds from the national treasury.
Jean-Claude miscalculated the ramifications of his May 1980 wedding to Michèle Bennett, a mulatto divorcée with a disreputable background. (François Duvalier had jailed her father, Ernest Bennett, for bad debts and other shady financial dealings.) Although Jean-Claude himself was light-skinned, his father’s legacy of support for the black middle class and antipathy toward the established mulatto elite had enhanced the appeal of Duvalierism among the black majority of the population. By marrying a mulatto, Jean-Claude appeared to be abandoning the informal bond that his father had labored to establish. The marriage also estranged the old-line Duvalierists in the government from the younger technocrats whom Jean-Claude had appointed. The Duvalierists’ spiritual leader, Jean-Claude’s mother, Simone, was eventually expelled from Haiti, reportedly at the request of Michèle, Jean-Claude’s wife.
The extravagance of the couple’s wedding, which cost an estimated US$3 million, further alienated the people. Popular discontent intensified in response to increased corruption among the Duvaliers and the Bennetts, as well as the repulsive nature of the Bennetts’ dealings, which included selling Haitian cadavers to foreign medical schools and trafficking in narcotics. Increased political repression added to the volatility of the situation. By the mid-1980s, most Haitians felt hopeless, as economic conditions worsened and hunger and malnutrition spread.
Widespread discontent began in March 1983, when Pope John Paul II visited Haiti. The pontiff declared that “Something must change here.” He went on to call for a more equitable distribution of income, a more egalitarian social structure, more concern among the elite for the well-being of the masses, and increased popular participation in public life. This message revitalized both laymen and clergy, and it contributed to increased popular mobilization and to expanded political and social activism.
A revolt began in the provinces two years later. The city of Gonaïves was the first to have street demonstrations and raids on food-distribution warehouses. From October 1985 to January 1986, the protests spread to six other cities, including Cap Haïtien. By the end of that month, Haitians in the south had revolted. The most significant rioting there broke out in Les Cayes.
Jean-Claude responded with a 10 percent cut in staple food prices, the closing of independent radio stations, a cabinet reshuffle, and a crackdown by police and army units, but these moves failed to dampen the momentumof the popular uprising against the dynastic dictatorship. Jean-Claude’s wife and advisers, intent on maintaining their profitable grip on power, urged him to put down the rebellion and to remain in office.
A plot to remove him had been well under way, however, long before the demonstrations began. The conspirators’ efforts were not connected to the popular revolt, but violence in the streets prompted Jean-Claude’s opponents to act. The leaders of the plot were Lieutenant General Henri Namphy and Colonel Williams Regala. Both had privately expressed misgivings about the excesses of the regime. They and other officers saw the armed forces as the single remaining cohesive institution in the country. They viewed the army as the only vehicle for an orderly transition from Duvalierism to another form of government.
In January 1986, the unrest in Haiti alarmed United States president Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration began to pressure Duvalier to renounce his rule and to leave Haiti. Representatives appointed by Jamaican prime minister Edward Seaga served as intermediaries who carried out the negotiations. The United States rejected a request to provide asylum for Duvalier, but offered to assist with the dictator’s departure. Duvalier had initially accepted on January 30, 1986. The White House actually announced his departure prematurely. At the last minute, however, Jean-Claude decided to remain in Haiti. His decision provoked increased violence in the streets.
The United States Department of State announced a cutback in aid to Haiti on January 31. This action had both symbolic and real effect: it distanced Washington from the Duvalier regime, and it denied the regime a significant source of income. By this time, the rioting had spread to Port-au-Prince.
At this point, the military conspirators took direct action. Namphy, Regala, and others confronted the Duvaliers and demanded their departure. Left with no bases of support, Jean-Claude consented. After hastily naming a National Council of Government (Conseil National de Gouvernement–CNG) made up of Namphy, Regala, and three civilians, Jean-Claude and Michèle Duvalier departed from Haiti on February 7, 1986. They left behind them a country economically ravaged by their avarice, a country bereft of functional political institutions and devoid of any tradition of peaceful self-rule. Although the end of the Duvalier era provoked much popular rejoicing, the transitional period initiated under the CNG did not lead to any significant improvement in the lives of most Haitians. Although most citizens expressed a desire for democracy, they had no firm grasp of what the word meant or of how it might be achieved.
The Constitution of Haiti
Last Updated/ Ultima actualización: January 17, 2002
The Haitian people proclaim this constitution in order to:
Ensure their inalienable and imprescriptible rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; in conformity with the Act of Independence of 1804 and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1948.
Constitute a socially just, economically free, and politically independent Haitian nation.
Establish a strong and stable State, capable of protecting the country’s values, traditions, sovereignty, independence and national vision.
Implant democracy, which entails ideological pluralism and political rotation and affirm the inviolable rights of the Haitian people.
Strengthen national unity by eliminating all discrimination between the urban and rural populations, by accepting the community of languages and culture and by recognizing the right to progress, information, education, health, employment and leisure for all citizens.
Ensure the separation and the harmonious distribution of the powers of the State at the service of the fundamental interests and priorities of the Nation.
Set up a system of government based on fundamental liberties, and the respect for human rights, social peace, economic equity, concerted action and participation of all the people in major decisions affecting the life of a nation, through effective decentralization.
The Republic of Haiti
Its emblem and its symbols
The Republic of Haiti
Haiti is an indivisible, sovereign, independent, cooperatist, free, democratic and social republic.
The city of Port-au-Prince is the capital and the seat of government. This seat may be moved elsewhere for reasons of force majeure.
The national colors shall be blue and red.
The emblem of the Haitian Nation shall be a flag with the following description:
a. Two (2) equal sized horizontal bands: a blue one on top and a red one underneath;
b. The coat of arms of the Republic are: a Palette surmounted by the liberty cap, and under the palms a trophy with the legend:
In Union there is Strength
The national motto is: Liberty; Equality, Fraternity.
The national anthem shall be the “Dessalinienne.”
All Haitians are united by a common language: Creole.
Creole and French are the official languages of the Republic
The monetary unit shall be the gourde, which is divided into centimes.
The cult of the personality is categorically forbidden. Effigies and names of living personages may not appear on the currency, stamps, seals, public buildings, streets or works of art.
Use of effigies of deceased persons must be approved by the Legislature.
Territory of the Haitian Republic
The territory of the Haitian Republic comprises:
a. The western part of the island of Haiti and the adjacent island of la Geneva, La Tortue, I’Ile à Vache, les Cayemittes, La Navase, La Grande Caye and the other islands of the Territorial Sea;
b)It is bounded on the east by the Dominican Republic, on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south and west by the Caribbean Sea or Sea of the Antilles;
c. The air space over the land sea of the Republic.
The territory of the Haitian Republic is inviolable and may not be alienated either in whole or in part by any treaty or convention.
The territory of the Republic is divided and subdivided into Departments, Arrondissements, Comunes, Quartiers and Comunal actions.
The law determines the number and boundaries of these divisions and subdivisions, and regulates their organization and operation.
The regulations governing Haitian nationality shall be determined by law.
Any person born of a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are themselves native-born Haitians and have never renounced their nationality possesses Haitian nationality at the time of birth.
Haitian nationality may be adquired by naturalization.
After five years of continuous residence in the territory of the Republic, any foreigner may obtain Haitian nationality by naturalization, in conformity with the regulations established by law.
Haitians by naturalization shall be allowed to exercise the right to vote but they must wait five(5) years after the date of their naturalization to be eligible to hold public posts other than those reserved by the Constitution and by law for native-born Haitians.
Haitian nationality is lost by:
a. Naturalization in a foreign country;
b. Holding a political post in the service of a foreign country;
c. Continuous residence abroad of a naturalized Haitian without duly granted authorization by a competent official. Anyone who loses his nationality in this manner may not reacquire it.
A naturalized Haitian may recover his Haitian nationality by meeting all of the conditions and formalities imposed on aliens by the law.
Dual Haitian and foreign nationality is in no case permitted.
Basic Rights and Duties of the Citizen
The Nature of the Citizenship
Citizenship entails both civil and political rights.
The enjoyment, exercise , suspension and loss of these rights are regulated by law.
The age of majority is eighteen (18) years.
Al Haitians, regardless of sex or marital status, who have attained twenty-one years of age may exercise their political and civil rights if the meet the other conditions prescribed by the Constitution and by law.
Haitians shall be equal before the law, subject to the special advantages conferred on native-born Haitians who have never renounced their nationality.
Right to life and Health
The State has the absolute obligation to guarantee the right to life, health, and respect of the human person for all citizens without distinction, in conformity with the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man.
The death penalty is abolished in all cases.
The crime of high treason consists in bearing arms in a foreign army against the Republic, serving a foreign nation in a conflict with the Republic, in any official’s stealing state property, intrusted to his management, or any violation of the Constitution by those responsible for enforcing it.
The crime of high treason is punishable by forced labor for life without commutation of sentence.
The State recognizes the right of every citizen to decent housing, education, food and social security.
The State has the obligation to ensure for all citizens in all territorial divisions appropriate means to ensure protection, maintenance and restoration of their health by establishing hospitals, health centers and dispensaries.
Individual liberty is guaranteed and protected by the State.
No one may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases determined by law and in the manner it prescribes.
Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no one may be arrested or detained other than by written order of a legally competent official.
For such an order to be carried out, the following requirements must be met:
a. It must formally state the reason in Creole and in French for the arrest or detention and the provision of the law that provides for punishment of the act charged.
b. Legal notice must be given and a copy of the order must be left with the accused at the time of its execution;
c. The accursed must be notified of his right to be assisted by counsel at all phases of the investigation of the case up to the final judgment;
d. Except where the perpetrator of a crime is caught in the act, no arrest by warrant and no search may take place between six (6) p.m. and six (6) a.m.
e. Responsibility for an offense is personal, and no one may be arrested in the place of another.
Any unnecessary force or restraint in the apprehension of a person or in keeping him under arrest, or any psychological pressure or physical brutality, especially during interrogation, is forbidden.
No one may be interrogated without his attorney or a witness of his choice being present.
No one may be kept under arrest more than forty-eight (48) hours unless he has appeared before a judge asked to rule on the legality of the arrest and the judge has confirmed the arrest by a well-founded decision;
In the case of a petty violation, the accursed shall be referred to a justice of the peace, who shall then hand down a final decision.
In the case for more serious offenses or crimes, an appeal may be filed, without prior permission, simply by addressing a petition to the presiding judge of the competent civil court, who, on the basis of the oral statement of the prosecutor, shall rule on the legality of the arrest and detention, in a special session of the court, without postponement or rotation of judges, all other cases being suspended.
If the arrest is judged to be illegal, the judge shall order the immediate release of the arrested person and that order shall be enforceable immediately, regardless of any appeal to a higher court or the supreme court for an order forbidding enforcement of the judgment.
Any violation of the provisions on individual liberty are arbitrary acts. Injured parties may, without prior authorization, appeal to the competent courts, to bring suit against the authors and perpetrators of these arbitrary acts, regardless of their rank or the body to which they belong.
Government officials and employees are directly liable under civil and administrative criminal law for acts carried out in violation of rights. In such cases, civil liability extends to the State as well.
Freedom of Expression
Every Haitian has the right to express his opinions freely on any matter by any means he chooses.
Journalists shall freely exercise their profession within the framework of the law. Such exercise may not be subject to any authorization or censorship, except in the case of war.
Journalists may not be compelled to reveal their sources. However, it is their duty to verify the authenticity and accuracy of information. It is also this obligation to respect the ethics of their profession.
All offenses involving the press and abuses of the right of expression come under the code of criminal law.
The right of petition is recognized. It is exercised personally by one or more citizens but never in the name of a body.
All petitions to the Legislative Branch must give rise to the regulatory procedure for ruling upon their purpose.
Freedom of Conscience
All religions and faiths shall be freely exercised. Everyone is entitled to profess his religion and practice his faith, provided the exercise of that right does not disturb law and order.
No one may be compelled to belong to a religious organization or to follow a religious teaching contrary to his convictions.
The law establishes the conditions for recognition and practice of religions and faiths.
Freedom of Aassenbly and Association
Freedom of unarmed assembly and association for political, economic, social, cultural or any other peaceful purposes is guaranteed.
Political parties and groups shall compete with each other in the exercise of suffrage. They may be established and may carry outh their activities freely. They must respect the principles of national and democratic sovereignty. The law determines the conditions for their recognition and operation, and the advantages and privileges reserved to them.
The police authorities must be notified in advance of assemblies outdoors in public places.
No one may be compelled to join any association of any kind.
Education aaand Teaching
The State guarantees the right to education. It sees to the physical, intellectual, moral, professional, social and civic training of the population.
Education is the responsibility of the State and its territorial divisions. They must make schooling available to all, free of charge, and ensure that public and private sector teachers are properly trained.
The first responsibility of the State and its territorial divisions is education of the masses, which is the only way the country can be developed. The State shall encourage and facilitate private enterprise in this field.
Primary schooling is compulsory under penalties to be prescribed by law. Classroom facilities and teaching materials shall be provided by the State to elementary school students free of charge.
Agricultural, vocational, cooperative and technical training is a fundamental responsibility of the State and its communes.
Preschool and maternal training, as well as nonformal education are encouraged.
Higher education shall be open to all, on an equal bases, according to merit only.
The State shall see to it that each territorial division, communal Section, commune or Department shall have the essential educational establishments adapted to the needs of their development, without however prejudicing the priorities assigned to agricultural, vocational, cooperative and technical training, which must be widely disseminated.
The State guarantees that the handicapped and the gifted shall have the means to ensure their autonomy, education and independence.
The State and its territorial divisions have the duty to make all necessary provisions to intensify the literacy campaign for the masses. they encourage all private initiatives to that end.
Teachers are entitled to a fair salary.
There shall be freedom of education at all levels. This freedom shall be exercised under the control of the State.
Except where perpetrators of crimes are caught in the act, the premises of educational establishments are inviolable. No police forces may enter them except with the permission of the supervisors of those establishments.
This provision does not apply when an educational establishment is used for the purposes.
Freedom to Work
Freedom to work is guaranteed. every citizen has the obligation to engage in work of his choice to meet his own and his family’s needs, and to cooperate with the State in the establishment of a social security system.
Every employee of a private or public institution is entitled to a fair wage, to rest, to a paid annual vacation and to a bonus.
The State guarantees workers equal working conditions and wages regardless of their sec, beliefs, opinions and marital status.
Trade union freedom is guaranteed. any worker in the public or private sector may join a union representing his particular occupation solely to protect his work interests.
Unions are essentially nonpolitical, nonprofit, and nondenominational. No one may be forced to join a union.
The right to strike is recognized under the limits set by law.
The minimum age for gainful employment is set by law. Special laws govern the work of minors and servants.
Private property is recognized and guaranteed. The law specifies the manner of acquiring and enjoying it, and the limits placed upon it.
Expropriation for a public purpose may be effected only by payment or deposit ordered by a court in favor of the person entitled thereto, of fair compensation established in advance by an expert evaluation.
If the initial project is abandoned, the expropriation is canceled. The property may not be subject to any speculation and must be restored to its original owner without any reimbursement for the small holder. the expropriation measure is effective upon the startup of the project.
Nationalization and confiscation of goods, property and buildings for political reasons are forbidden.
No one may be deprived of his legitimate right of ownership other than by a final judgment by a court of ordinary law, except under an agrarian reform.
Ownership also entails obligations. Uses of property cannot be contrary to the general interest.
Landowners must cultivate, work, and protect their land, particularly against erosion. the penalty for failure to fulfill this obligation shall be prescribed by law.
The right to own property does not extend to the coasts, springs, rivers, water courses, mines and quarries. They are part of the State’s public domain.
The law shall establish regulations governing freedom to prospect for and work mines, or bearing earths, and quarries, ensuring an equal share of the profits of such exloitation to the owner of the land and to the Haitian State or its concessionnaires.
The law shall set conditions for land division and aggregation in terms of a territorial management plan and the well-being of the communities concerned, within the framework of agrarian reform.
Scientific, literary and artistic property is protected by law.
The inhabitants of the Communal Sections have the right of preemption for the exploitation of the State’s land in the private domain located in their locality.
Right to Information
The State has the obligation to publicize in the oral, written and televised press in the Creole and French languages all laws, orders, decrees, international agreements, treaties, and conventions on everything affecting the national life, except for information concerning national security.
Right to Security
No person of Haitian nationality may be deported or forced to leave the national territory for any reason. No one may be deprived for political reasons of his legal capacity and his nationality.
No Haitian needs a visa to leave or return to the country.
No citizen, whether civilian or military, may be denied access to the courts open to him under the Constitution and the laws.
Military personnel accused of the crime of high treason against the country shall be tried in a court of ordinary law.
Military courts have jurisdiction only:
a. In the case of violation by military personnel of regulations in the Manual of Military Justice;
b. In the case of conflicts between members of the armed forces;
c. In the case of war.
Cases of conflicts between civilians and military personnel, abuses, violence and crimes perpetrated against a civilian by a member of the military in the performance of his duties are under the jurisdiction of courts for ordinary law.
No house search or seizure of papers may take place except under the terms of the law and in the manner prescribed by it.
Persons detained temporarily awaiting trial must be held separately from those who are serving sentence.
Prisons must be operated in accordance with standards reflecting respect for human dignity according to the law on this subject.
No penalty may be established except by law nor applied except in cases that the law determines.
No own may be compelled in cases of crimes, minor offenses, or petty violations to bear witness against himself or his relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or the second degree of affinity.
No one may be compelled to take an oath except in the cases and in the manner provided for by law.
The State shall see to it that a Civil Pension Retirement Fund is established in the public and private sectors. The fund shall receive contributions from employers and employees, in accordance with the criteria and in the manner established by law. The granting of a pension is a right and not a privilege.
Freedom and privacy of correspondence and any other forms of communication are inviolable. They may be limited only by a well-founded judicial ruling, according to the guarantees by law.
Under the Constitution and the law, a jury is established in criminal cases for violent crimes and political offenses.
The law may not be made retroactive except in criminal cases when it favors the accused.
Duties of the Citizen
Citizenship entails civic duties. Every right is counterbalanced by a corresponding duty.
Civic duties are the citizen’s moral, political, social and economic obligations as a hole to the State and the country. These obligations are:
a. To respect the Constitution and the national emblem;
b. To respect the laws;
c. To vote in elections without constraint;
d. To pay his taxes;
e. To serve on a jury;
f. To defend the country in the event of war;
g. To educate and improve himself;
h. To respect and protect the environment;
i. To respect scrupulously the revenues and properties of the State;
j. To respect the property of others;
k. To work to maintain peace;
l. To provide assistance to persons in danger;
m. To respect the rights and freedom of others.
Failure to abide by these provisions shall be punishable by law.
Compulsory civic service for both sexes is established. The terms thereof shall be set by law.
The conditions under which aliens may be admitted to or remain in the country are established by law.
Aliens in the territory of the Republic shall enjoy the same protection accorded to Haitians, under the law.
Aliens enjoy civil, economic and social rights subject to legal provisions on the right to own real property, the practice of a profession, engaging in wholesale trade, serving as a commercial representative, and engaging in import and export operations.
The right to own real property is accorded to aliens resident in Haiti for the needs of their sojourn in the country.
However, aliens residing in Haiti may not own more than one dwelling in the name Arrondissement. They may in no case engage int he business of renting real estate. However, foreign companies engaged in real estate promotion shall receive the benefits of a special status regulated by law.
The right to own real property shall be accorded also to aliens residing in Haiti and to foreign companies for the needs of their agricultural, commercial, industrial, religious, humanitian or educational enterprises, within the limits and under the conditions prescribed by law.
No alien may be the owner of a building bounded by the Haitian land order.
The right terminates five(5) years after an alien ceases to reside in the country or the operation of this companies have terminates, pursuant to the law establishing regulations to be followed for the transmission and liquidation of property owned by aliens.
Violators of the above provisions and their accomplices shall be punished as provided for in the law.
An alien may be expelled from the territory of the Republic if he becomes involved in the political life of the country, or in cases determined by law.
The right to asylum for political refugees is recognized.
National sovereignty is vested in all citizens.
Citizens directly exercise the prerogatives of sovereignty by:
a. Electing the President of the Republic;
b. Electing members of the Legislature;
c. Electing members of all other bodies or all assemblies provided for by the Constitution and by law.
Citizens delegate the exercise of national sovereignty to three (3) branches of government:
1. The Legislative Branch;
2. The Executive Branch;
3. The Judicial Branch.
The principle of separation of the Three (3) branches is embodied in the Constitution.
The Three (3) branches constitute the essential foundation of the organization of the State, which is civil.
Each branch is independent of the other two (2) in the powers it exercises separately.
None of them may, for any reason, delegate their powers in all or in part, nor go beyond the bounds set for them by the Constitution and by law.
Each of the Three (3) branches is entirely responsible for its own acts.
Territorial Divisions And Decentralization
The territorial divisions are the Communal Sections, the Communes and the Departments.
The law may create any other territorial division.
The CommunalSection is the smallest administrative territorial entity of the Republic.
Each Communal Section is administered by a council of three (3) members elected by universal suffrage for four (4) years. They may be re-elected an indefinite number of times.
Their mode of organization and operation is regulated by law.
The Administrative Council of the Communal Section is assisted in its work by an Assembly of the Communal Section.
The state is obligated to establish for each Communal Section the structures required for social, economic, civic and cultural training of its population.
Members of the Administrative Council of the Communal Section must:
a. Be Haitians and be at least twenty-five (25) years of age;
b. Have resided in the Communal Section for two (2) years before the elections and continue to reside there:
c. Enjoy civil and political rights and never been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights.
Communes have administrative and financial autonomy. Each Commune of the Republic is administered by a Council, known as the Municipal Council, of three (3) members elected by universal suffrage.
The President of the council is assisted in its work by a Municipal Assembly composed among others, of a representative of each of its Communal sections.
The Municipal Council is assisted in its work by a Municipal Assembly composed, among others, of a representative of each of its Communal Sections.
The Municipal term is four (4) years, and its members may be re-elected for an indefinite number of terms.
The mode of organization and operation of the Commune and the Municipal Council are regulated by law.
Members of a Municipal Council must:
a. Be Haitians;
b. Have attained twenty-five (25) years of age;
c. Enjoy civil and political rights;
d. Have never been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights;
e. Have resided at least three (3) years in the Commune and undertake to reside there for the duration of their term.
Each Municipal Council is assisted at its request by a Technical Council furnished by the Central Government.
The Municipal Council may be dissolved for negligence, embezzlement, or maladministration, legally determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
If it is dissolved, the Departmental Council shall immediately fill the vacancy and call upon the Permanent Electoral Council to elect, in sixty (60) days starting from the date the Council is dissolved, a new Council and shall manage the affairs of the Commune for the remainder of the term. This procedure also applies to vacancies occurring for any other reason.
The Municipal Council manages its resources for the exclusive benefit of the Municipality and renders its accounts to the Municipal Assembly which in turn reports to the Departmental Council.
The Municipal Council has priority in management of the State’s real property in the private domain located within the limits of its Commune. They may not be subject to any transaction without the prior consent of the Municipal Assembly.
The Arrondissement is an administrative division that may comprise several Communes. Its organization and operations are governed by law.
The Department is the largest territorial division. It comprises the Arrondissements.
The Department has legal personality and is autonomous.
Each Department is administered by a Council of three (3) members elected for four (4) years by the Departmental Assembly.
Members of the Departmental Council are not necessarily drawn from the Assembly, but they must:
a. Be Haitians and at least twenty-five (25) years of age;
b. Have resided in the Department three (3) years before the elections and undertake to remain there during their term;
c. Enjoy civil and political rights and have newer been sentenced to death, personal restraint, or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights.
The departmental Council is assisted in its work by a Departmental Assembly made up of:
One (1) representative form each Municipal Assembly.
The following may attend Assembly meetings in an advisory capacity:
a. Deputies and Senators of the Department;
b. One (1) representative of each socie-professional association or union;
c. The Departmental Delegate;
d. The Director of Public Services of the Department.
The Departmental Council draws up the Department’s development plan in cooperation with the Central Government.
The organization and operations of the Departmental Council and the Departmental Assembly are regulated by law.
The Departmental Council manages its financial resources for the exclusive benefit of the Department and renders its accounts to the Departmental Assembly, which in turn reports to the Central Government.
The Departmental Council may be dissolved in the event of embezzlement or maladministration legally determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
If it is dissolved, the Central Government appoints a Provisional Commission and calls upon the Permanent Electoral Council to elect a new Council for the remainder of the term within sixty (60) days of the dissolution.
Delegates and Vice Presidents
In each Departmental Capital, the Executive Branch appoints a Representative, who bears the title of Delegate. A Vice Delegate placed under the authority of the Delegate is also appointed in each Arrondissement Capital.
Delegates and Vice Delegates ensure coordination and control of public services and exercise no repressive police function.
Other duties of delegates and Vice Delegates are determined by law.
The Executive is assisted by an Interdepartmental Council, the members of which are designated by the Departmental Assemblies on the basis of one (1) per Department.
This Representative chosen form among the members of the Departmental Assemblies serves as liaison between the Department and the Executive Branch.
The interdepartmental Council, in concert with the executive, studies and plans projects for decentralization and development of the country from the social, economic, commercial, agricultural and industrial standpoint.
It attends working meetings of the Council of Ministers, when they discuss subjects mentioned in the preceding paragraph and has the right to vote.
Decentralization must be accompanied by deconcentration of public services with delegation of power and industrial decompartmentalization for the benefit of the departments.
The law determines the organization and operation of the Interdepartmental Council, and the frequency of the meetings of the Council of Ministers, in which it participates.
The Legislative Branch
Legislative power shall be vested in two (2) representative Houses. One (1) House of Deputies and one (1) Senate, comprising the Legislature or Parliament.
The House of Deputies
The House of Deputies is a body composed of members elected by direct suffrage by the citizens and is responsible for exercising, on their behalf and in concert with the Senate, the functions of the legislative branch.
Each Municipal Authority comprises an electoral district and elects one (1) Deputy.
The law sets up to three (3) the number of Deputies at the level of large built-up areas.
Pending application of the above subparagraphs, the number of Deputies may not be fewer than seventy (70).
Deputies are elected by an absolute majority of votes cast in the Primary Assemblies, according to the conditions and in the manner prescribed by the Electoral Law.
To be elected a member of the House of Deputies, a person must:
1. Be a native Haitian and have never renounced his nationality;
2. Have attained twenty-five (25) years of age;
3. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights for any crime of ordinary law;
4. Have resided at least two (2) consecutive years prior to the date of the elections in the electoral district he is to represent;
5. Own at least one real property in the district and practice a profession or trade;
6. Have been relieved, if need be, of his responsibilities as a manager of public funds.
Deputies are elected for four (4) years and may be reelected an indefinite number of times.
The take office on the second Monday of January, and sit in two (2) annual meetings. The duration of their term comprises a legislative session.
The first session runs from the second Monday of January to the second Monday of May; the second session, from the second Monday of June to the second Monday of September.
The House of Deputies is completely replaced every four (4) years.
Beside the duties conferred upon it by the Constitution as a branch of the Legislature, the House of Deputies has the duty of arraigning the Chief of State, the Prime Minister, the Ministers and the Secretaries of State before the High Court of Justice, by a majority of two-thirds (2/3) of this members. The other powers of the House of Deputies are assigned by the Constitution and by law.
The Senate is a body composed of members elected by direct suffrage of the citizens and charged with exercising on their behalf, in concert with the House of Deputies, the duties of the Legislative Branch.
The number of Senators is set at three (3) per Department.
A Senator of Republic is elected by universal suffrage by an absolute majority of votes in the Primary Assemblies held in the geographic Departments, under the terms prescribed by the Electoral Law.
Senators are elected for six (6) years and may be reelected an indefinite number of times.
The Senate is permanently session.
The Senate may however adjourn, but not during the Legislative Section. When it adjourns, it leaves a permanent, committee charged with handling current business. The committee may not make any decisions, except to convene the Senate.
In emergencies, the Executive may also convene the Senate before the end of the adjournment period.
One-third (1/3) of the Senate is replaced every two (2) years.
To be elected to the Senate, a person must:
1. Be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced his nationality;
2. Have attained thirty (30) years of age;
3. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights for a crime of ordinary law;
4. Have resided in the Department he will represent, at least four (4) consecutive years prior to the date of the elections;
5. Own at least one (1) real property in the Department and practice a profession or trade there;
6. Have been relieved, if need be, of his responsibilities as a manager of public funds.
In addition to the responsibilities incumbent upon it as a branch of the Legislature, the Senate shall have the following powers:
1. To propose to the Executive the list of Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) justices according to the provisions of the Constitution;
2. Constitute itself as a High Court of Justice;
3. Exercise all other powers assigned to it by this Constitution and by law.
The National Assembly
The meeting in a single Assembly of the two (2) branches of the Legislature constitutes the National Assembly.
The National Assembly meets to open and close each session and in all cases provided for by the Constitution.
The powers of the National Assembly are limited and may not be extended to matters other than those especially assigned to it by the Constitution.
The Assembly’s powers are:
1. To receive the constitutional oath of the President of the Republic;
2. To ratify any decision to declare war when all efforts at conciliation have failed;
3. To approve or reject international treaties and conventions;
4. To amend the Constitution according to the procedure indicated herein;
5. To ratify decisions of the Executive to move the seat of the Government in cases determined by the first article of this Constitution;
6. To decide on when a state of siege shall be declared, to order with the Executive that Constitutional guarantees shall be suspended, and to decide on any request to renew that measure;
7. To contribute to selecting members of the Permanent Electoral Council, pursuant to article 92 of this Constitution;
8. To receive at the opening of each session the report on the Government’s activities.
The National Assembly is presided over by the President of the Senate, assisted by the President of the House of Deputies acting as Vice President. the Secretaries of the Senate and the House of Deputies are the Secretaries of the National Assembly.
In the event the President of the Senate is unable to discharge his duties, the National Assembly shall be presided over by the President of the House of Deputies, and the Vice President of the Senate shall then become Vice President of the National Assembly.
In the event the two (2) Presidents are unable to discharge their duties, the two (2) Vice-Presidents shall replace them, respectively.
Sessions of the National Assembly are public. However, they may be held in closed session at the request of five (5) members, and the resumption of public sessions shall then be decided by an absolute majority.
In emergencies, when the Legislature is not in session, the Executive Branch may call a special session of the National Assembly.
The National Assembly may not meet or take decisions and pass resolutions without a majority of each of the two (2) Houses being present.
The Legislature has its seat in Port-au-Prince. However, depending on the circumstances, this seat may be transferred elsewhere to the same place and at the same time as that of the Executive Branch.
Exercise of Legislative Power
A session of the Legislature dates from the opening of the two (2) Houses meeting as the National Assembly.
In the interval between regular sessions and in emergencies, the President of the Republic may call a special session of the Legislature.
The Chief of the Executive Branch reports on that measure by a message.
In the event the Legislature is convened in special session, it may not decide on any matter other than that for which it was called.
However, any Senator or Deputy may introduce a matter of general interest in an Assembly of which he is a member.
Each House checks and validates the credentials of its members and is the final judge of any disputes that may arise in this regard.
The members of each House shall take the following oath:
“I swear to discharge my duties, to maintain and safeguard the rights of the people, and to be faithful to the Constitution”.
Meetings of the two (2) Houses are public. Each House may meet in closed session at the request of five (5) members, and the decision to resume public meetings shall then be taken by a majority vote.
The Legislature takes the laws on all matters of public interest.
Laws may be initiated by each of the two (2) Houses as well as by the Executive Branch.
However, only the Executive Branch may initiate budget laws, laws concerning the assessment, percentage and manner of collecting taxes and contributions, and laws designed to generate revenues or to increase revenues and expenditures of the Government, Bills introduced on these matters must be voted on first by the House of Deputies.
In the event of disagreement between the two (2) Houses regarding the laws mentioned in the preceding paragraph, each House shall appoint, by voting on a list of an equal number of members, a parliamentary committee that will make a final decision on the disagreement.
If a disagreement occurs with regard to any other law, a decision on it will be postponed until the following session. If, at that session, and even in the case of replacement of the Houses no agreement is reached on the law when it is introduced again, each House shall appoint, by taking a vote on a list of an equal number of members, a parliamentary committee to decide on the final text that will be submitted to the two (2) Assemblies, beginning with the one that originally voted on the law. If these additional deliberations produce no result, the Bill or proposed law will be withdrawn.
In the event of disagreement between the Legislature and the Executive Branch, the disagreement shall, at the request of one of the parties, be referred to the Conciliation Committee provided for in article 206 below.
If the Committee fails to reach a decision it shall draw up a report of nonconciliation, which it shall remit to the two (2) high parties and inform the Supreme Court thereof.
Within two weeks of receipt of this report, the disagreement shall be referred to the Supreme Court. Sitting as a full court, the Court shall hand down its decision forthwith, setting all other matters aside. Its decision shall be final and is binding on the high parties. If, meanwhile, the high parties reach agreement, the terms of the agreement shall as a matter of course terminate the procedure under way.
In no case may the House of Deputies or the Senate be dissolved or adjourned, nor shall the terms of their members be extended.
Each House shall, in accordance with its regulations appoint its staff, establish discipline for them and determine the manner in which they shall perform their duties.
Each House may impose on its members for reprehensible conduct, by a two thirds (2/3) majority vote, disciplinary penalties, except for expulsion.
Any member of the Legislature shall be disqualified as a Deputy or Senator, if, during his term, he has received a final sentence by a court of regular law, which renders him ineligible to serve.
Members of the Legislature are inviolable form the day the take oath up to the expiration of their term, subject to the provisions of article 115 below.
They may at no time be prosecuted or attacked for the opinions and votes cast by them in the discharge o their duties.
No member of the Legislature shall be subject to civil imprisonment during his term of office.
No member of the Legislature may during his term be arrested under ordinary law for a crime, a minor offense or a petty violation, except by authorization of the House of which he is a member, unless he is apprehended in the act of committing an offense punishable by death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights. In that case, the matter is referred to the House of Deputies or the Senate without delay of the Legislature is in session, and if not, it shall be taken up the next regular or special session.
Neither of the two (2) Houses may sit or take action without the presence of a majority of its members.
All acts of the Legislature must be approved by a majority of the members present, unless otherwise stipulated in this Constitution.
Each House has the right to investigate matters brought before it.
All bills must be voted on article by article.
Each House has the right to amend and to divide articles and amendments proposed. Amendments voted on by one House may be part of a bill only after it has been voted on by the other House in the same forme and in identical terms. No bill shall become a law until it has been voted on in the same form by the two (2) Houses.
Any bill may be withdrawn from discussion so long as it has not been finally voted upon.
Any bill passed by the Legislature shall be immediately forwarded to the President of the Republic, who, before promulgation it, has the right to make objections to it in all or in part.
In such cases, the President of the Republic send back the bill with his objections to the House where it was originally passed, If the bill is amended by that house, it is sent to the other Houses with the objections.
If the bill thus amended is voted on by the second House, it will be sent back to the President of the Republic for promulgation.
If the objection are rejected by the House that originally passed the bill, it shall be returned to the other House with the objections.
If the second House also votes to reject it, the bill is sent back to the President of the Republic, who must then promulgate it.
Rejection of the objection is voted on by either House by the majority stipulated in article 117. In such cases, the votes of each House shall be taken by secret ballot.
If in either House the Majority stipulated in the preceding paragraph is not obtained for the rejection, the objections are accepted.
The right of objection must be exercised within eight (8) full days starting with the date of the receipt of the bill by the President of the Republic.
If within the prescribed deadline, the President of the Republic has made expiration, the bill must be promulgated unless the session of the Legislature has ended before exploration of the deadline, in which case, the bill is deferred. At the opening of the following session, the bill thus deferred is sent to the President of the Republic to exercise his right of objection.
A bill rejected by one of the two (2) Houses may not be introduced again in the same session.
Bills and other acts of the Legislature and the National Assembly shall enter into force with their promulgation and their publication in the Official Gazette (Journal Officiel) of the Republic.
Bills shall be numbered and included in the printed and numbered bulletin entitled BULLETIN OF LAWS AND ACTS.
The bill is dated on the day of it final adoption by the two (2) Houses.
No one may submit petitions in person to the Legislature.
Only the Legislature Branch has the authority to interpret laws, which it does by passing a law.
Each member of the Legislature receives a monthly stipend from the time he takes oath.
Service as a member of the Legislature is incompatible with any other duty remunerated by the State, except that of teacher.
Every member of the two (2) Houses has the right to question and interpellate a member of the Government or the entire Government on events and acts of the Administration.
As interpellation request must be seconded by five (5) members of the body concerned. it becomes a vote of confidence or of censure when passed by a majority of that body.
When the interpellation request ends in a votes of censure on a question concerning a Government program or declaration of general policy, the Prime Minister must submit his Government’s resignation to the President of the Republic.
The president must accept that resignation and appoint new Primer Minister, pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution.
The Legislature may not pass more than one vote of censure a year on a question concerning a Government program or declaration of general policy.
In the case of the death, resignation, disqualification, judicial interdiction, or acceptance of a duty incompatible with that of a member of the Legislature, the Deputy or Senator shall be replaced in his Electoral District for only the remainder of his term by a by-election called by the Primary Electoral Assembly to be conducted by the Permanent Electoral Council in the month he vacancy occurs.
The election shall take place within thirty (30) days after convocation of the Primary Assembly, pursuant to the Constitution.
The same procedure shall apply in the absence of an election or in the event that elections are declared null and void by the Permanent Electoral Council in one or more Electoral Districts.
However, if the vacancy occurs during the last regular session of the Legislature or after that session, a by-election may not be held.
The following may not be elected members of the Legislature:
1. Government concessionnaires or contractors for the performance of public services;
2. Representatives or agents of Government contractors or concessionnaires, or companies or corporations that have Government concessions or contracts;
3. Delegated, Vice Delegates, judges, and officers of the Public Prosecutor’s Office whose duties have not terminated six (6) months before the date set for the elections;
4. Any person who comes under the other cases of ineligibility stipulates by this Constitution and by law.
Members of the Executive Branch and the Director Generals of Government departments may not be elected members of the Legislature unless they resign at least one (1) year before the date of the elections.
The Executive Branch
The Executive power is vested in:
a. The President of the Republic, who is the Head of State.
b. The Government, which is headed by a Prime Minister.
The President of the Republic
The President of the Republic is elected in direct universal suffrage by an absolute majority of votes. If that majority is not obtained in the first election, a second election is held.
Only the two (2) candidates who, if such be the case, after the withdrawal of more favored candidates, have received the largest number of votes in the first election may run in the second election.
The term of the President is five (5) years. This term begins and ends on the February 7 following the date of the elections.
Presidential election shall take place the last Sunday of November in the fifth year of the President’s term.
The President of the Republic may not be re-elected. He may serve an additional term only after an interval of five (5) years. He may in no case run for a third term.
To be elected President of the Republic of Haiti, a candidate must:
a. Be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced Haitian nationality;
b. Have attained thirty-five (35) years of age by the election day;
c. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights for a crime of ordinary law;
d. Be the owner in Haiti of at least one real property and have his habitual residence in the country;
e. Have resided in the country for five (5) consecutive years before the date of the elections;
f. Have been relieved of this responsibilities if he has been handling public funds.
Before taking office, the President of the Republic shall take the following oath before the National Assembly: “I swear before God and the Nation faithfully to observe and enforce the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, to respect and cause to be respected the rights of the Haitian people, to work for the greatness of the country, and to maintain the nation’s independence and the integrity of its territory”.
Duties of the President of the Republic
The President of the Republic, who is the Head of State, shall see to the respect for and enforcement of the Constitution and the stability of the institutions. He shall ensure the regular operations of the public authorities and the continuity of the State.
The President of the Republic shall choose a Prime Minister from among the members of the majority party of the Parliament. In the absence of such a majority, the President of the Republic shall choose his Prime Minister in consultation with the President of the Senate and the President of the House of Deputies.
In either case, the President’s choice must be ratified by the Parliament.
The President of the Republic shall terminate the duties of the Prime Minister upon the letter’s submission of the Government’s resignation.
The President of the Republic is the guarantor of the nation’s independence and the integrity of its territory.
He shall negotiate and sign all international treaties, conventions and agreements and submit them to the National Assembly for ratification.
He shall accredit ambassadors and special envoys to foreign powers, receive letters of accreditation from ambassadors of foreign powers and issued exequatur to consuls.
He declares war, and negotiates and signs peace treaties with the approval of the National Assembly.
With the approval of the Senate, the President appoints, by a decree issued in the Council of Ministers, the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the Commander-in-chief of the police, ambassadors and consul generals.
By a decree issued in the Council of Ministers, the President of the Republic appoints the directors general of the civil service, and delegates and vice delegates of Departments and Arrondissements.
He also appoints, with the approval of the Senate, Administrative Councils of Autonomous Agencies.
The President of the Republic is the nominal head of the armed forces, but he never commands them in person.
He has the seal of the Republic affixed to all laws and promulgates them within deadline stipulated by the Constitution. Before the expiration of that deadline, he may avail himself of his right of objection.
He sees to the enforcement of judicial decisions, pursuant to the law.
The President of the Republic has the right to perform and commute sentences in all res judica cases, except for sentences handed down by the High Court of Justice as stipulated in this Constitution.
He may grant amnesty only for political matters as stipulated by law.
If the President finds it temporarily impossible to discharge his duties the Executive Authority shall be vested in the Council of Ministers under the Presidency of the Prime Minister, so long as the disability continues.
Should the office of the President of the Republic become vacant for any reason, the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic, or in his absence, the Vice President of that Court, or in his absence, the judge with the highest seniority and so on by order of seniority, shall be invested temporarily with the duties of the President of the Republic by the National Assembly duly convened by the Prime Minister- The election of a new President for a new five (5) year term shall be held at least forty-five (45) and no more than ninety (90) days after the vacancy occurs, pursuant to the Constitution and the Electoral Law.
The acting President may in no case be a candidate in the next Presidential election.
The President of the republic shall have no powers other than those accorded to him by the Constitution.
At the opening of each annual session of the Legislature, the President of the Republic shall deliver a message to the Legislature on the State of the Nation. This message may not be debated.
The President of the Republic shall receive a monthly salary from the Public Treasury upon taking the oath of office.
The President of the Republic shall have his official residence in the National Palace, in the capital city, unless the seat of the Executive Branch is moved.
The President of the Republic presides over the Council of Ministers.
The Government is composed of the Prime Minister, the Ministers and Secretaries of State. The Prime Minister is the head of the Government.
The Government conducts the policy of the Nation. It is responsible before Parliament under the terms stipulated by the Constitution.
To be appointed Prime Minister, a person must:
1. Be a native-born Haitian, and never have renounced Haitian nationality;
2. Have attained thirty (30) years of age;
3. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights;
4. Own real property in Haiti and practice a profession there;
5. Have resided in the county for five (5) consecutive years;
6. Have been relieved of his responsibilities if he has been handling public funds.
Powers of The Prime Minister
With the approval of the President, the Prime Minister shall choose the members of his Cabinet of Ministers and shall go before Parliament to obtain a vote of confidence on his declaration of general policy. The vote shall be taken in open ballot, and an absolute majority of both Houses is required.
In the event of a vote of nonconfidence by one of the two (2) Houses, the procedure shall be repeated.
The Prime Minister enforces the laws. In the event of the President of the Republic’s absence or temporary inability to perform his duties, or at his request, the Prime Minister presides over the Council of Ministers. He has the power to issue rules and regulations but he can never suspend or interpret laws, acts or decrees, nor refrain from enforcing them.
In concert with the President of the Republic, he is responsible for national defense.
The Prime Minister appoints and dismisses directly or by delegation Government officials, according to the provisions of the Constitution and the law on the general regulations for Government operations.
The Prime Minister and the Ministers may appear before the two (2) Houses to support bills and the objections of the President of the Republic and to reply to interpellation.
Acts of the Prime Minister are countersigned, if need by the Ministers responsible for enforcing them. The Prime Ministers may be assigned a Ministerial portfolio.
The Prime Minister and the Ministers are jointly responsible for the acts of the President of the Republic and of their ministers that they countersign. They are also responsible for enforcement of the laws in the areas of their competence.
The duties of the Prime Minister and of a member of the Government are incompatible with membership in the Parliament. If such a case occurs, the member of Parliament must choose one duty or the other.
In the event of the Prime Minister’s resignation, the government remains in place until the appointment of a successor, in order to transact current business.
The Ministers and Secretaries of State
The President of the Republic presides over the Council of Ministers. The number of Ministers may be no fewer than ten (10).
When he deems it necessary, the Prime Minister may appoints Secretaries of State to the Ministers.
The number of Ministers is set by law.
Holding a ministerial post is incompatible with the exercise of all other public employment, except for higher education.
Ministers are responsible for the acts of the Prime Minister that they countersign. They are jointly responsible for enforcement of the laws.
In no case may an oral or written order of the President of the Republic or of the Prime Minister release Ministers from the responsibilities of their office.
The Prime Minister, the Ministers and the Secretaries of State receive monthly salaries established by the Budgetary law.
Ministers appoint certain categories of Government employees by delegation of the Prime Minister, according to the conditions set by the law on Government operations.
When one of the two (2) Houses during an interpellation calls into question the responsibility of a Minister by a vote of censure passed by an absolute majority of its members, the Executive shall recall the Minister.
The Judicial Power shall be vested in the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), the Courts of Appeal, Courts of First Instance, Courts of Peace and special courts, whose number, composition, organization, operation and jurisdiction are set by law.
Civil rights cases are exclusively the competence of the courts.
No court and no jurisdiction in disputed matters may be established except by law. No special court may be established under any name whatever.
Judges of the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal are appointed for ten (10) years. Judges of the Courts of First Instance are appointed for seven (7) years. Their term begins at the time they take their oath of office.
Supreme Court justices are appointed by the President of the Republic form a list submitted by the Senate of three (3) persons per court seat. Judges of the Courts of Appeal and Courts of First Instance are appointed from a list submitted by the Departmental Assembly concerned; Justices of the Peace are appointed from a list draw up by the Communal Assemblies.
The law regulates the conditions required for serving as a judge at any level. A School of the Magistrature shall be established.
Judges of the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeal and the Courts of First Instance are appointed for life. They may be removed from office only because of a legally determined abuse of authority or be suspended following and indictment leveled against them. They may not be reassigned, without their consent, even in the case of a promotion. Their service may be terminated during their term of office only in the event of a duly determined permanent physical or mental incapacity.
The Supreme Court does not try cases on their merits. Nevertheless, in all cases other than those submitted to a jury, when a case between the same parties is tried upon second appeal, even with an incidental plea of defense, the Supreme Court, accepting the appeal, shall not remand the case to a lower court but shall rule on the merits, sitting as a full court.
However, in the case of appeals from temporary restraining orders or orders of examining magistrates, grants of appeal pronounced in connection with such orders or from final sentences of the Peace Courts or decisions of special courts, the Supreme Court, admitting the appeal, shall pronounce a decision without remanding the case.
The duties of a judge are incompatible with any other salaried duties, except for education.
Court proceedings are public. However, they may take place in closed session in the interest of public order and good morals, at the decision of the Court.
Sentences may not be delivered in closed session in cases of political offenses or offenses involving the press.
All order or judgments shall state the grounds for the decision and shall be handed down in a public hearing.
Orders or judgments are delivered and executed in the name of the Republic, They shall include writs of execution to officers of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and agents of the police and armed forces. Acts of notaries shall be put in the same form when their compulsory execution is involved.
The Supreme Court rules on both fact and law in all cases of decisions handed down by military courts.
When litigation is referred to it, the Supreme Court, sitting as a full Court, shall rule on the unconstitutionality of the laws.
The interpretation of a law given by the Houses of the Legislature shall be imposed for the purpose of that law without retroactively taking away any rights acquired by res judicata.
The Courts shall apply Government decrees and regulations only insofar as they are in conformity with the law.
The law determines the jurisdiction of the courts and tribunals, and regulates the manner of preceedings before them.
The law also provides for disciplinary penalties to be taken against judges and officers of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, except for Supreme Court Justices, who are under the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice for abuse of authority.
The High Court of Justice
The Senate may constitute itself as a High Court of Justice. the proceedings of this Court are presided over by the President of the Senate, assisted by the President and Vice President of the Supreme Court as Vice President and Secretary, respectively, except where the Justices of the Supreme Court and officers of the public Prosecutor’s Office assigned to that court are involved in the accusation, in which case, the Senators, one of whom shall be designated by the accused, and the Senators so appointed shall not be entitled to vote.
The House of Deputies, by a majority of two-thirds (2/3) of its members, shall indict:
a. The President of the Republic for the crime of high treason or any other crime or offense committed in the discharge of his duties;
b. The Prime Minister, the Ministers and the Secretaries of State for Crimes of high treason and embezzlement or abuse of power or any other crimes or offenses committed in the discharge of their duties;
c. Members of the Permanent Electoral Council and the Superior Court of Auditors and the Court of Administrative Disputes for serious offenses committed in the discharge of their duties;
d. Supreme Court justices and officer of the Public Prosecutor’s Office before the Court for abuse of authority;
e. The Protector of Citizens (Protecteur du citoyen).
Members of the High Court of Justice serve on an individual bases, and no opening proceedings, take the following oath;
“I swear before God and before the Nation to judge with the impartiality and the firmness appropriate to an honest and free man, according to my conscience and my deep-seated conviction”.
The High Court of Justice shall designate, by secret ballot and an absolute majority of votes, from among its members a Committee of Enquiry.
The decision in the form of a decree shall be handed down on the report of the Committee of Enquiry by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the members of the High Court of Justice.
The High Court of Justice shall not sit unless a majority of two-thirds (2/3) of its members are present.
The Court may not impose any other penalties than dismissal, disqualification or deprivation of the right or exercise any public office for no less than five (5) years and no more than fifteen (15) years.
However, the convicted person may be brought before ordinary courts, in accordance with the law, if there is reason to impose other penalties or to rule on the institution of civil action.
Once a case is brought before the High Court of Justice, the Court must sit until it renders its verdict, regardless of the length of the sessions of the Legislature.
The Permanent Electoral Council
The Permanent Electoral Council is responsible for organizing and controlling with complete independence all electoral procedures throughout the territory of the Republic until the results of the election are announced.
The Council also drafts the Electoral Bill that it submits to the Executive Branch for the necessary purposes.
The Council sees to it that the electoral lists are kept up-to-date.
The Permanent Electoral Council consists of nine (9) members chosen from a list of three (3) names proposed by each of the Departmental Assemblies:
3 are chosen by the Executive Branch;
3 are chosen by the Supreme Court;
3 are chosen by the National Assembly.
The above-mentioned organs see to it as far as possible that each of the Departments are represented.
Members of the Permanent Electoral Council must:
1. Be native-born Haitians;
2. Have attained forty (40) years of age;
3. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal constraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights;
4. Have been relieved of their responsibilities if they have been handling public funds;
5. Have resided in the country at least three (3) years before their nomination.
Members of the Permanent Electoral Council are appointed for a nine (9) year nonrenovable period. They may not be removed from office.
One-third of the members of the Permanent Electoral Council are replaced every three (3) years. The President is chosen form among its members.
Before taking office, the members of the Permanent Electoral Council take the following oath before the Supreme Court;
“I swear to respect the Constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Law and to discharge my duties with dignity, independence, impartiality and patriotism.”
In the event of a serious offense committed in the discharge of their duties, the members of the Permanent Electoral Council are liable for prosecution before the High Court of Justice.
The seat of the Permanent electoral Council is in the capital. Its jurisdiction extends throughout the territory of the Republic.
Members of the Permanent electoral Council may not hold any other public post, nor may they be a candidate of an elective post during their term.
In the event of dismissal, a member of the Council must wait three (3) years before he may run for an elective post.
The Permanent Electoral Council shall rule on all disputes arising either in elections or in the enforcement or the violation of the Electoral Law, subject to any legal prosecution undertaken against an offender or offenders before the courts of competent jurisdiction.
In the event of a vacancy caused by a depth, resignation or any other reason, the member shall be replaced following the procedure established in article 192 for the remainder of his term, taking into account the branch of government that had designated the member to be replaced.
The law determines the rules for organization and operation of the Permanent Electoral Council
The Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes
The Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes is an independent and autonomous financial and administrative court. It is responsible for administrative and jurisdictional control of Government receipts and expenditures, verification of the accounts of the Government enterprises and of the territorial divisions.
The Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes hears cases against the State and the territorial divisions, the Administration and Government officials, public services and citizens.
Its decisions ate not subject to appeal, except to the Supreme Court.
the Supreme Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes comprises two (2) sections:
1. The Financial Control Section
2. The Administrative Disputes Section.
The Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes participates in drawing up the budget and is consulted on all matters concerning legislation on public finances and on all draft financial or commercial contracts, agreements and conventions to which the State is a party. It has the right to conduct audits in all Government agencies.
Members of the Superior Court of auditors and Administrative Disputes must:
a. Be Haitians and never have renounced their nationality;
b. Have attained thirty-five (35) years of age;
c. Have been relieved of their responsibilities of they have been handling public funds;
d. Have a Bachelor of Law degree, be a certified public accountant or hold an advanced degree in government administration, economics or public finance;
e. Have five (5) years experience in public or private administration;
f. Enjoy civil and political rights.
Candidates for membership on the Court shall submit their applications directly to the Office of the Senate of the Republic. The Senate elects the ten (10) members of the Court, who select the Court’s President and Vice President form among them.
Court members have a ten (10) year term and may not be removed
Before taking office, the members of the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative disputes shall take the following oath before a section of the Supreme Court:
“I swear to respect the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, to discharge my duties properly and loyally and to conduct myself at all times with dignity”.
Members of the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes are under the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice for any serious offenses committed in the discharge of their duties.
The Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes shall submit each year to the Legislature within thirty (30) days following the opening of the first legislative session a complete report on the country’s financial situation and on the efficacy of Government expenditures.
The organization of the above-mentioned court, its membership regulations and its mode of operation are established by law.
The Conciliation Comission
The Conciliation Commission is responsible for settling disputes between the Executive Branch and the Legislature and the two (2) Houses of the Legislature. Its members are as follows:
a. The President of the Supreme Court – President;
b. The President of the Senate – Vice President;
c. The President of the House of Deputies – Member;
d. The President of the Permanent Electoral Council – Member;
e . The Vice President of the Permanent electoral Council – Member;
f. Two (2) members designated by the President of the Republic – Member.
The mode of operation of the Conciliation Commission is determined by law.
Protection of Citizens
An office known as the OFFICE OF CITIZEN PROTECTION is established to protect all individuals against any form of abuse by the government.
The office is directed by a citizen bearing the title of PROTECTOR OF CITIZENS. He is chosen by consensus of the President of the Republic, the President of the Senate and the President of the House of Deputies. His term is seven (7) years and may not be renewed.
His intervention on behalf of any complainant is without charge, whatever the court having jurisdiction might be.
A law sets the conditions and regulations for the operation of the Office of Citizen Protection.
The UniversityY – The Academy – Culture
Higher education is free. it is provided by the University of the Haitian State (Univertité d’État d’Haiti), which is autonomous and by the superior public schools and the superior private schools accredited by the State.
The State must finance the operation and development of the Haitian State University and the public superior schools. Their organization and their location must be planned from the perspective of regional development.
The Establishment of research centers must be encouraged.
Authorization for operation of universities and private superiors schools is subject to the technical approval of the Council of the State University, to a majority of Haitian participation in the capital and faculty, and to the obligation to teach primarily in the official language of the country.
The universities and the private and public superior schools provide academic and practical instruction adapted to the trends and requirements of national development.
An organic law regulates the establishment, location and operation of university and public and private superior schools in the country.
A Haitian Academy shall be established to standardize the Creole language and enable it to develop scientifically and harmoniously.
Other academies may be established.
The title Academy Member is purely honorific.
The law shall determine the mode of organization and operation of academies.
Archaeolical, historical, cultural, folklore and architectural treasures in the country, which bear witness to the grandeur of our past. are part of the national heritage. Consequently, monuments, ruins, sites of our ancestors’ great feats of arms, famous centers of our African beliefs, and all vestiges of the past are placed under the protection of the State.
The law determines special conditions for this protection in each sphere.
The finances of the Republic are decentralized. Financial management is the responsibility of the Minister concerned. The Executive, assisted by an Interdepartmental Council, draws up the law that sets the portion and nature of public revenue allotted to the territorial divisions.
No Government levy may be established except by law. No charge or tax, whether imposed by a Department, a Municipality, or Communal Section, may be established without the consent of its territorial divisions.
No preferential tax treatment may be established.
No tax exemption, increase, decrease or elimination may be established except by law.
No pension, bonus, allotment or subsidy charged to the Public Treasury may be authorized unless provided by law. Pensions paid by the State are indexed to the cost of living.
Subject to special provisions thereon, the holding of two or more salaried public offices at the same time is strictly forbidden, except posts in education.
Procedures for preparation of the budget and its execution are determined by law.
Enforcement of the Law on the Budget and on Public Accounts is monitored by the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes and by the Budget Office.
National monetary policy is set by the Central Bank jointly with the Minister of Economics and Finance.
An autonomous public agency with legal personality and financial autonomy performs the functions of a Central Bank. Its regulations are determined by law.
The Central Bank has exclusive authority to issue as legal tender throughout the territory of the Republic, paper money representing the monetary unit, and coins, according to the name, weight, description, amount and use set by law.
The budget of each Ministry is divided into chapters and sections, and must be voted upon article by article.
Amounts to be drawn on budget allocations may in no case exceed one-twelfth of the appropriations for a particular month, except in December, because of bonuses paid to all Government employees and officials.
General accounts of receipts and expenditures of the Republic shall be kept by the Minister of Finance according to an accounting method established by law.
The General accounts and budgets stipulated in the receding article, accompanied by a report from the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes must be submitted to the Legislative Houses by the Minister of Finance no later than fifteen (15) days after the opening of the legislative session. The same applies to the annual balance sheet and statement of operations of the Central Bank and to all other accounts of the Haitian State.
The Government fiscal year begins on October 1 of each year and ends on September 30 of the following year.
Each year the Legislature issues:
a. The statement of receipts and expenditures of the Government for the preceding year, or years;
b. The Government General Budget containing the rough estimates and the portion of funds allocated to each Ministry of the year.
However, no proposal or amendment may be introduced into the Budget when it is being voted upon, without provision of the ways and means therefore.
No increase or reduction may be made in the allocation of Government funds, except by amendment of the laws relating thereto.
The Legislative Houses may refrain from doing any legislative work until the above documents are submitted to it. They shall refuse to grant the Ministers discharge when the accounts submitted do not in themselves, or by supporting documents, provide the necessary data for verification and evaluation.
Examination and payment of the General Administration Accounts and all accounts of public funds are effected according to the method established by law.
If for any reason whatever the Legislative Houses do not act upon the budget for one or more Ministerial Departments before they adjourn, the budget or budgets of the Departments concerned shall remain in force until a new budget is voted on and adopted.
In the event that, through fault of the Executive Branch, the Budget of the Republic has not been voted upon, the President of the Republic shall immediately call a special session of the Legislative Houses for the sole purpose of voting on the Government budget.
Autonomous agencies and enterprises and entities subsidized wholly or in part by the Public Treasury shall be governed by special budgets and salary and wage systems approved by the Executive Branch.
For the purpose of maintaining constant and careful supervision over Government expenditures, a fifteen-ember Parliamentary Committee with nine (9) Deputies and six (6) Senators shall be elected by secret ballot at the beginning of each regular session, to report on the management Ministers, in order to enable the two (2) Assemblies to give them discharge.
This Committee may engage the services of specialists to assist it with its monitoring functions.
The Civil Service
The Haitian Civil Service is the instrument by which the State carries out its missions and achieves its objectives. To ensure its viability, it must be managed honestly and efficiently.
Government employees and officials shall be exclusively in the service of the State. It is their duty to abide faithfully by the norms and ethics determined by law for civil servants.
The law establishes the organization of the various Government structures and stipulates the conditions for their operation.
The law shall regulate the civil service on the basis of aptitude, merit and conduct. It shall guarantee security of employment.
The civil service is a career. No official may be hired except by competition or by meeting other conditions prescribed by the Constitution and by law, nor may he be dismissed except for causes specifically determined by law. Dismissals must in all cases be ruled upon by the Court of Administrative Disputes.
Career service officials are not members of any particular Government agency but are members of the civil service, which makes them available to the various Government agencies.
Officials indicated by law have the obligation to declare the status of their net worth to the Clerk of the Civil Court within thirty (30) days following their entry into service. The Government Auditor must take every step he deems necessary to verify the accuracy of the declaration.
Government employees and officials may form associations to defend their rights under the conditions established by law.
Holders of public office or positions, particularly Ministers and Secretaries of State, officers of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Delegates and Vice Delegates, ambassadors, private secretaries of the President of the Republic, members of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Director Generals of the Ministerial Department of autonomous agencies, and members of the Administrative Council are not eligible for the Government career service.
The law punishes violations committed against the treasury and unjust gain. Officials who have knowledge of such actions have the duty to report them to the competent authorities.
Unjust gain may be determined by all types of evidence, particularly presumption of a sharp disproportion between the official’s means acquired after his entry into service and the accumulated amount of salaries and emoluments to which the post he has occupied entitles him.
Officials guilty of the above offenses are entitled to only the twenty-year statute of limitation. This limitation period begins to run with the termination of their duties or the causes that would have prevented any prosecution.
The State has the duty to avoid major salary disparities in the civil service.
Economics and Agriculture
Economic freedom shall be guaranteed so long as it is not contrary to the public interest.
The State shall protect private enterprises and shall endeavor to see that it develops under the conditions necessary to increase the national wealth in such a way as to ensure the participation of the largest possible number of persons in the benefits of this wealth.
The State encourages in rural and urban areas the formation of cooperatives for production, processing of raw materials and the entrepenurial spirit to promote the accumulation of national capital to ensure continuous development.
Agriculture, which is the main source of the Nation’s wealth, is a guarantee of the well-being of the people and the socio-economic progress of the Nation.
A special agency to be known as THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF AGRARIAN REFORM shall be established to organize the revision of real property structures and to implement an agrarian reform to benefit those who actually work the land. This Institute shall draw up an agrarian policy geared to optimizing productivity by constructing infrastructure aimed at the protection and management of the land.
The law determines the minimum and maximum area of basic farm units.
The State has the obligation to establish the structures necessary to ensure maximum productivity of the land and domestic marketing of foodstuffs. Technical and financial management units shall be established to assist farmers at the level of each Communal section.
No monopoly may be established to benefit the State and the territorial divisions except in the exclusive interest of society as a whole. Such a monopoly may not be granted to any private individual.
The import of foodstuffs and their byproducts that are produced in sufficient quantity in the national territory is forbidden, except in the event of force majeure.
the State may take charge of the operation of enterprises for the production of goods and services essential to the community in order to ensure continuity in the event the existence of these establishments should be threatened. Such enterprises shall be grouped in a comprehensive management system.
Since the environment is the natural framework of the life of the people, any practices that might disturb the ecological balance are strictly forbidden.
the State shall organize the enhancement of natural sites to ensure their protection and make them accessible to all.
To protect forest reserves and expand the plant coverage, the State encourages the development of local sources of energy: solar, wind and others.
Within the framework of protecting the environment and public education, the State has the obligation to proceed to establish and maintain botanical and zoological gardens at certain points in its territory.
The law specifies the conditions for protecting flora and fauna, and punishes violations thereof.
No one may introduce into the country wates or residues of any kind from foreign sources.
The State protects the family, which is the foundation of society.
It must also protect all families regardless of whether they are constituted within the bonds of marriage. It must endeavor to aid and assist mothers, children and the aged.
The law ensures protection for all children. Any child is entitled to love, affection, understanding and moral and physical care grow its father and mother.
A family Code must be drawn up to ensure protection and respect for the rights of the family and to define procedures of the search for affiliation. Courts and other Government agencies charged with the protection of these rights must be accessible free of charge at the level of the smallest territorial division.
The Armed Forces and the Police Force
The “Public Forces “la Force Publique) are composed of two (2) distinct bodies:
a. The Armed Forces of Haiti, and
b. The Police Forces.
No other armed corps may exist in the national territory.
All members of the police and armed forces shall take an oath of allegiance and respect for the Constitution and the flag at the time of their enlistment.
The Armed Forces
The armed Forces comprise the Land, Sea and Air Forces and the Technical Services.
The Haitian Armed Forces are set up to ensure the security and integrity of the territory of the Republic.
The Armed Forces are in practice commanded by a general officer bearing the TITLE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE HAITIAN ARMED FORCES.
The Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, pursuant to the Constitution, is chosen from among the general officers on active service.
His term is set at three (3) years and is renewable.
The Armed Forces are apolitical. Their members may not be part of any political group or party, and they must observe the strictest neutrality.
Members of the Armed Forces exercise their right to vote, under the Constitution.
The duties of the Armed Forces are:
a. Defend the country in the event of war;
b. Protect the country against threats from abroad;
c. See to surveillance of the land, sea and air boundaries;
d. At the well-founded request of the Executive, they may land assistance to the police when the latter are unable to handle a situation;
e. Assist the Nation in the event of a natural disaster;
f. In addition to their regular duties, the Armed Forces may be assigned to development work.
Military personnel on active duty may not be appointed to any Government post, except temporarily to perform a specialized service.
To be a candidate for an elective post, all military personnel on active duty must be laced on inactive service or on entirement one (1) year before publication of the electoral decree.
The military career is a profession. Its ranking, terms of enlistment, ranks, promotions, discharges, and retirement are determined by the regulations of the Haitian Armed Forces.
Military personnel are under the jurisdiction of a military court only for offenses and crimes committed in wartime or for violations of military discipline.
They may not be discharged, placed on inactive service, placed on half pay, or retired early except with their consent. If such consent is not given, the party concerned may lodge an appeal with the court of competent jurisdiction.
Military personnel retain for life the last rank obtained in the Haitian Armed Forces. They may be deprived of their rank only by a final judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The State must award benefits to military personnel of all ranks, fully guaranteeing their physical security.
Within the framework of compulsory civilian national services for both sexes, provided for by article 52-3 of the Constitution, the Armed Forces participate in organizing and supervising that service.
Military service is compulsory for all Haitians who have attained eighteen (18) years of age.
The law sets the method of recruitment, and the length and regulations for the performance of these services.
Every citizen has the right to armed self defense, within the bounds of this domicile, but has no right to bear arms without express well-founded authorization from the Chief of Police.
Possession of a firearm must be reported to the police.
The Armed Forces have a monopoly on the manufacture, import, export, use and possession of weapon of war and their munitions, as well as war material.
The Police Forces
The Police Force is an armed body.
It operates under the Ministry of Justice.
It is established to ensure law and order and protect the life and property of citizens.
Its organization and mode of operation are regulated by law.
The Commander in Chief of the Police Forces is appointed, in accordance with the Constitution, for a three (3) year term, which is renewable.
An Academy and a Police School have been established, whose organization and operations are set by law.
Specialized sections, particularly the Penitentiary Administration, the Firemen’s Service, the Traffic Police, the Highway Police, Criminal Investigations, the Narcotics Service and the Anti-Smuggling Service, have been established by the law governing the organization, operation and location of the Police Forces.
The police, as an auxiliary of the Justice System, investigate violations, offenses and crimes committed, in order to discover and arrest the perpetrators of them.
In the exercise of their duties, members of the “Public Forces” are subject to civil and penal liability in the manner and under the conditions stipulated by the Constitution and by law.
National and legal holidays shall be celebrated by the Government and private and commercial enterprises.
The national holidays are:
1. Independence Day, January 1;
2. Heroes’ Day, january 2;
3. Agriculture and Labor Day, May 1;
4. Flag Day and University Day, may 18; and
5. Battle of Vertières’õ Day, which is also ARMED FORCES DAY, November 18.
Legal holidays shall be determined by law.
The National Assembly may not ratify any international treaty, convention or agreement containing clauses contrary to this Constitution.
International treaties, conventions and agreements are ratified in the form of a decree.
Once international treaties or agreements are approved and ratified in the manner stipulated by the Constitution, they become part of the legislation of the country and abrogate any laws in conflict with them.
The Haitian State may join an Economic Community of States insofar as the association agreement stimulates the social and economic development of the Haitian Republic and does not contain any clause contrary to this Constitution.
No place or part of the territory may be declared in a state of siege except in the event of civil war or invasion by a foreign force.
The act of the President of the Republic declaring a state of siege must be countersigned by the Prime Minister and by all of the Ministers and contain an immediate convocation of the National Assembly to decide on the desirability of the measure.
The National Assembly decides with the Executive Branch as to what constitutional guarantees may be suspended in the pàrts of the territory placed under a state of siege.
The state of siege is lifted if it is not renewed by a vote of the National Assembly every fifteen (15) days after its entry into force.
The National Assembly shall be in session for the entire duration of the state of siege.
Thirty (30) days after his election, the President of the Republic must deposit with the Clerk of the Court of First Instance of his domicile a notarized inventory of all his movable and immovable goods, and he shall do the same at the end of his term.
The Prime Minister, the Ministers and Secretaries of State are subject to the same obligation within thirty (30) days of their installation and of the termination of their duties.
No general expenditures or compensation whatever shall be granted to members of the major organs of the State for any special duties that may be assigned to them.
In national elections, the State assumes responsibility, in proportion to the number of votes cast, for a portion of the expenses incurred in the election campaigns.
Only parties that obtain nationally ten percent (10%) of the votes cast, with a minimum of five percent (5%) of the votes cast in one Department, are eligible to receive these Government funds.
Amendments to the Constitution
On the recommendation, with reason given to support it, of one of the two (2) Houses or of the Executive Branch, the Legislature may declare that the Constitution should be amended.
This declaration must be supported by two-thirds (2/3) of each of the two (2) Houses. It may made only in the course of the last Regular Session of the Legislative period and shall be published immediately throughout the territory.
At the first session of the following legislature period, the Houses shall meet in a National Assembly and decide on the proposed amendment.
The National Assembly may not sit or deliberate on the amendment unless at least two-thirds (2/3) of the members of each of the two (2) Houses are present.
No decision of the National Assembly may be taken without a majority of two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast.
The amendment passed may enter into effect only after installation of the next elected President. In no case may the President under the Government that approved the amendment benefit from any advantages deriving therefrom.
General elections to amend the Constitution by referendum are strictly forbidden.
No amendment to the Constitution may effect the democratic and republican nature of the State.
The National Council of Government shall remain in operation up to February 7,1988, the date of the investiture of the President of the Republic elected under this Constitution, in accordance with the electoral timetable.
The National Council of Government is authorized to issue in the Council of Ministers, pursuant to the Constitution, decrees having the force of law until the Deputies and Senators elected under this Constitution take up their duties.
Every Haitian who has adopted a foreign nationality during the twenty-nine (29) years prior to February 7, 1986, may, by a declaration made to the Ministry of Justice within two (2) years after publication of the Constitution, recover his Haitian nationality with the advantages deriving therefrom, in accordance with the law.
In light of the situation of Haitians that have become expatriates voluntarily or involuntarily the deadlines for residence stipulated in this Constitution are extended for a full year for the next elections.
When the next elections are held, the term of the three (3) Senators elected for each Department shall be established as follows:
a. The Senator who has received the largest number of votes shall have a term of six (6) years;
b. The Senator receiving the second largest number of votes shall have a term of four (4) years;
c. The Senator in third place shall be elected for two (2) years.
Following this each elected Senator shall have a term of six (6) years.
Awaiting the establishment of the Permanent Electoral Council provided for in this Constitution, the National Council of Government shall set up a Provisional Electoral Council of nine (9) members, charged with drawing up and enforcing the Electoral Law to govern the next elections, who shall be designated as follows:
1. One for the Executive Branch, who is not an official;
2. One for the Episcopal Conference;
3. One for the Advisory Council;
4. One for the Supreme Court;
5. One for agencies defending human rights, who may not be a candidate in the elections;
6. One for the Council of the University;
7. One for the Journalists Association;
8. One for the Protestant religions;
9. One for the National Council of Cooperatives.
Within two weeks following ratification of this Constitution, the bodies or organizations concerned shall inform the Executive of the name of their representative.
If any of the above bodies or organizations does not appoint a member, the Executive shall fill the vacancy or vacancies.
The mission of the Provisional Electoral Council shall end when the President-elect takes office.
The members of the first Permanent Electoral Council shall divide among them by lot the terms of nine (9), six (6), and three (3) years, stipulated for replacement of the Council by thirds (1/3).
For ten (10) years following publication of this Constitution, and without prejudice to any criminal action or civil suit for damages, none of the following may be candidates for any public office;
a. Any person well known for having been by his excess zeal one of the architects of the dictatorship and of its maintenance during the last twenty-nine (29) years;
b. Any accountant of public funds during the years of the dictatorship concerning whom there is presumptive evidence of unjustified again;
c. Any person denounced by public outcry for having inflicted torture on political prisoners or for having committed political assassinations.
The Provisional Electoral Council charged with receiving the registration of candidates, shall see to the strict enforcement of this provision.
All decrees expropriating real property in urban and rural areas of the Republic of the last two (2) Haitian governments for the benefit of the State or companies in the course of incorporation shall be annulled if the purpose for which such actions were taken has not been attained during the last 10 years.
Any individual who was the victim of confiscation of property or arbitrary dispossession for political reasons during the period from october 22, 1957 to February 7,1986 may recover his property before the court of competent jurisdiction.
In such cases, the procedure shall be expedited as for emergency matters, and the decision may be appealed only to the Supreme Court.
Sentences to death personal restraint or penal service or the loss of civil rights for political reasons from 1957 to 1986 shall constitute no impediment to the exercise of civil and political rights.
Within six (6) months starting from the time the first President elected under the Constitution of 1987 takes office, the Executive Branch is authorized to proceed to carry out any reforms deemed necessary in the Government Administration in general and in the Judiciary.
All Codes of Law or Handbooks of Justice, all laws, all decree laws and all decrees and orders (Arrêtés) currently in force shall be maintained in all matters not contrary to this Constitution.
All laws, all decree laws, all decrees arbitrarily limiting the basic rights and liberties of citizens, in particular:
a. The decree law of September 5, 1935 on supertitious beliefs;
b. The law of August 2, 1977 establishing the Court of State Security (Tribunal de la Sureté de l’État).
c. The law of July 28, 1975 placing the lands of the Artibonite Valley in a special status;
d. The law of April 29, 1969 condemning all imported doctrines;
Are and shall remain repealed.
This Constitution shall be published within two weeks of its ratification by referendum. It shall enter into force as soon as it is published in the MONITEUR, the Official Gazette of the Republic.
Given at the Legislative Palace, in Port-au-Prince, the seat of the Constituent National Assembly, on March 10, 1987, in the One Hundred Eighty-Fourth Year of Independence.