Haiti in the Balance

Haiti in the Balance: Why Foreign Aid Has Failed and What We Can Do About It

TERRY F. BUSS
WITH ADAM GARDNER
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 230
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wphjk
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  • Book Info
    Haiti in the Balance
    Book Description:

    Even after years of receiving considerable foreign aid, Haiti remains an impoverished, tremendously fragile state. Over a span of ten years, the United States spent over $4 billion in aid to Haiti, yet the average Haitian still has to survive on one dollar a day. Why has assistance been so ineffectual, and what can we learn from Haiti's plight about foreign aid in general? Haiti in the Balance tackles those questions by analyzing nearly twenty years of Haitian history, politics, and foreign relations. Terry Buss and his colleagues at the National Academy on Public Administration found a general failure to reinforce the capacity of institutions at all levels of Haitian government. Building up that system of institutions appears to be a necessary precursor to a nation using foreign aid in the most effective manner. Such an effort demands improved security, a more professional (and less corrupt) bureaucracy, and eventually decentralization and perhaps even some privatization. Different levels of government must be willing to learn how best to work with one another: according to Buss, "Haitian governments seemed consumed by politics, rather than good governance." People still matter, and so does administration. Until we learn that lesson, even the most generous foreign aid will not fulfill its intent.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0164-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. IX-X)
    Eric Walcott

    The publication of this book is timely, and urgently needed, because it adds fresh insights into ongoing discussions regarding what is an appropriate development assistance approach for Haiti. If Haiti is considered a failed state, this may be a reflection of what happens when development actors become politicized in an already fragile environment and when the commitment to the national good of a country’s political and business elites—supposedly the natural gatekeepers of the welfare of the state—is nonexistent or dysfunctional. The putative leaders of the Republic of Haiti continue to view the country and its resources in the...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. XI-XII)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
  6. 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-9)

    Why explore foreign assistance failures in Haiti? A country of 8 million people, about the size of Maryland, just 600 miles off the coast of Florida (it shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic)—Haiti is one of several extreme cases: it has received billions in foreign assistance, yet persists as one of the poorest and worst governed countries in the world. At the same time, Haiti is of strategic importance to the United States because of its location, perpetual state of violence, and instability, its role as a base for drug trafficking, its potential as a trading...

  7. 2 HAITI IN EXTREMIS
    (pp. 10-19)

    Haiti’s economy, society, and environment have rendered it a basket case among nations: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the poorest in the world.¹ Successive Haitian governments have been either unwilling or unable to govern or to alleviate poverty. Consequently, Haiti has been of grave concern to the international community for humanitarian reasons.

    In 1954 the novelist Graham Greene wrote: Haiti is “distressed, tropical, ramshackle, overcrowded, poor and on the brink of civil war.” The facts of Haitian poverty are startling (UN–Government of Haiti 2004; see also Lundahl 1979). About three-fourths of the...

  8. 3 POLITICAL HISTORY
    (pp. 20-47)

    Haiti celebrated its 200th anniversary as the Western Hemisphere’s second oldest republic in 2004 (the name derives from the original inhabitants’ name for the island, Ayti) (see Pierre 2005; Heinl and Heinl 2005). In 1992 Haiti celebrated the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” by Christopher Columbus of the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is the only slave colony to gain its independence by overthrowing a European power in armed revolt. Virtually from its colonization by Europeans to the present day, Haiti has been plagued by political instability, violence, tyranny, corruption, and autocracy, not to mention foreign and internal exploitation—including slavery—...

  9. 4 FOREIGN ASSISTANCE
    (pp. 48-67)

    Since 1944, Haiti has relied heavily upon on-again, off-again foreign assistance from the United States and the international community. Before 1990 assistance was meager, by today’s standards. In 1980 aid was about $131 million. In 1983 the UN Development Program estimated foreign assistance to Haiti to be at least $167 million, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) placed it more at $200 million. From 1990 to 2003, though, Haiti received allotments of more than $4 billion in foreign assistance from bilateral and multilateral sources. The World Bank has estimated that between 1969 and 2004 Haiti received $8.3 billion...

  10. 5 FOREIGN AID AND FOREIGN POLICY
    (pp. 68-85)

    Haiti is strategically important to the United States. Lying just 600 miles off the U.S. coast, and a stone’s throw from Cuba, Haiti must remain a viable, stable, and strategic partner of the United States in the Caribbean. Its location as a drug transfer point for Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States is of concern. From a humanitarian perspective, Haiti’s extreme poverty remains an embarrassment to both Latin Americans and North Americans. Some observers lament the periodic influxes of Haitian refugees and migrants who flee repressive governments or seek economic opportunity. The sizable Haitian community in the...

  11. 6 FOREIGN ASSISTANCE FAILURES
    (pp. 86-129)

    There is strong consensus among various aid donors—Canada, France, the United States; multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Commission, and UN; and regional organizations such as the Organization of American States and Caricom (Caribbean Community)—that foreign assistance to Haiti has failed to achieve its goals and is likely to continue to do so long into the future unless certain drivers of failure are eliminated. The reasons for failure stem in part from bilateral and multilateral foreign assistance policy and implementation, and of course the embargo and military intervention also have set...

  12. 7 LESSONS LEARNED: REFORMING FOREIGN ASSISTANCE
    (pp. 130-153)

    There is little agreement about how to make foreign assistance effective, not only in the Haitian context but also in other fragile, postconflict countries and in developing countries generally. Much remains to be learned. In fact, knowledge about what works best in development is currently in flux, judging from the discussions held at numerous aid effectiveness conferences, on everything from harmonization through conditionality to comprehensive assistance models or approaches and creation of new specialized organizations to work on solutions. In the past few years, multinational and bilateral entities have created organizations to work on postconflict issues. The United States created...

  13. 8 LESSONS LEARNED: GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRACY PROGRAMS
    (pp. 154-168)

    Failure of democratization programs in Haiti suggests that donors ought to rethink assumptions under which civil society organizations (CSOs) are developed, elections are offered, grassroots participation in politics is promoted, individuals are supported over institutions, and legitimacy in government is spawned. Rule-of-law programs are most effective when courts, prosecution, law enforcement, and prisons are treated as a justice system within a larger set of executive- and legislative-branch reconstruction and reform. National reconciliation and justice following conflict must be effectively pursued. And reform of the civil service, decentralization, and privatization should be delayed until normalization has been achieved, and should not...

  14. 9 RENÉ PRÉVALʹS FIRST TWO YEARS IN OFFICE: 2006–08
    (pp. 169-182)

    The preceding chapters recount the seemingly endless problems Haiti must solve if it is to become a well-functioning democracy, and shed its designation as a fragile state. Haiti did not become a fragile state overnight, and in spite of everyone’s best efforts, it will not evolve into a well-functioning democracy any time soon. In the meantime, is Haiti on the right track in the short term to achieve its goals in the future? Here we look at President René Préval’s first two years in office (he was elected on February 21, 2006): How is his administration doing as this relates...

  15. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 183-186)
    Edward J. Perkins

    Terry Buss and Adam Gardner have presented a clear and compelling review of the sometimes tragic development efforts directed toward Haiti and of the concept of foreign aid and development in this history. This book contains findings that illuminate successes and failures and the reasons for each. This does not mean that a panacea for all times is offered, but clearly it does represent a path whose guideposts will lead to better and more effective foreign policy and attendant development policies. The important contribution in these pages is how to achieve development for the most needy and seemingly the most...

  16. APPENDIX A PRESIDENTS OF HAITI, 1804 TO PRESENT
    (pp. 187-188)
  17. APPENDIX B THE HAITI TRANSITION INITIATIVE: A CASE STUDY
    (pp. 189-192)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 193-206)
  19. REFERENCES
    (pp. 207-220)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 221-230)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-232)