Working Paper
Towards the Abyss?

The Political Economy of Emergency in Haiti

Towards the Abyss? The Political Economy of Emergency in Haiti analyzes the various factors that have contributed to create a protracted humanitarian emergency situation in Haiti. The first section deals with the economic causes, the interplay between population growth, erosion and falling rural incomes, the failure of import substitution in manufacturing and the rise and near destruction (during the 1991-94 sanctions episode) of the export assembly sector. Thereafter the role of politics is examined: the degeneration of government into a kleptocracy during the nineteenth century and the perpetuation of the predatory state until the present. The economic consequences of this are highlighted. The third section deals with the antagonistic relation between the state and the masses, the exploitation of the latter by the former and the failure to stimulate development of the state. Section four analyzes the open conflict between the rulers and the population from 1986 to 1994, the failure to break away from the predatory state, the rise and fall of Jean- Beitrand Aristide and the fatal impact on the economy of the 1991 coup d'etat and the ensuing international economic sanctions. Finally the most important present problems are examined: the fragile judicial system, the weak economy and the failure to obtain even a minimum consensus in politics. All these may in the future contribute to put Haiti back into an acute crisis situation.