Our Work

Democracy in Haiti

Democracy and Governance

BAI and IJDH advocate to advance democratic self-government, effective institutions, and fair elections in Haiti that are grounded in human rights and free from foreign interference.

Haitians have a long history of mobilizing for democracy. Haiti became the world’s first free Black republic in 1804 by successfully revolting against enslavement and defeating Napoleon. In 1986, Haitians mobilized to end the brutal U.S.-supported Duvalier dictatorship and shortly thereafter organized the country’s first democratic elections. They elected a government that centered human rights and began the process of tackling socio-economic inequality that had emerged as a result of foreign-supported dictatorships, enslavement, and colonialism. 

The prospect of an independent and thriving Black nation has always posed a threat to the powerful countries that built their wealth and power through enslavement and imperialism. As a consequence, the United States and other foreign governments have often adopted policies that undermine Haitian sovereignty and sustainable economic development. These include a U.S. trade embargo and France’s imposition of a double debt for Haiti’s independence; supporting two coups against a democratically-elected Haitian government; manipulating elections; and propping up illegitimate, corrupt, repressive regimes that have deliberately dismantled Haiti’s democratic structures and accountability mechanisms. These policies continue to impede Haitian efforts to get back on a more stable, democratic path, with the latter directly responsible for Haiti’s present acute crisis.


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