Haiti won its independence in 1804, when both enslaved and free people rebelled against their French colonial masters.
Since that time, Haiti has endured a number of brutal dictators. Two of the worst were François Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier (“Baby Doc”). Although Jean-Bertrand Aristide won Haiti’s first free democratic election in 1990, he was derailed twice by military coup d’états.
On July 7, 2021, Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated. In the months before, the country had been split on the fate of Moïse. At the heart of the dispute was the date Moïse’s presidential term was actually over. His supporters said that, thanks to a disputed election, there was one more year on his term. Opposition leaders said that Moïse’s term ended on February 7, 2021, four years after he took office. When the opposition attempted to swear in a new president, Moïse and his supporters decried their actions as a coup.
Things have been grim in Haiti for a long while, and today they are worse than ever. During his tenure, Moïse dissolved Parliament, undermined the judicial system and other institutions, and ruled by decree. Before his death, many Haitians accused Moïse and his cronies of stealing millions of oil dollars and, in December 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department issued sanctions on two top government officials and a gang leader for a 2018 anti-government gathering that left over 70 Haitians dead.
Over half of Haitians live on less than $2.41 a day, there has been a cholera epidemic since the 2010 earthquake, and food and clean drinking water is scarce for many. Elections are shady, violence is high, kidnappings, money-laundering and arms trafficking are commonplace, and the police are ineffective and corrupt. Practically everything about Haiti needs to be reformed.
The United States has been involved with Haiti since 1915, when U.S. Marines arrived to help stabilize the country. We still give them significant financial assistance.