Politics of Haiti

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The Politics of Haiti have often been defined with conflict when strongmen have taken over the government. Only within the later part of the twentieth century, has normal political activity established.

History[edit]

On February 29, 2004, a coup d'état ousted the popularly elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, allegedly with the assistance of the French and United States governments; U.S. and French soldiers were on the ground in Haiti at the time, recently arrived (See controversy).[1] The first elections since the overthrow were held on February 8, 2006 to elect a new President. René Préval was declared to have won with over 50 percent of the vote. Runoff elections for legislative seats were held on April 21.

In 2008, Parliament voted to dismiss President Preval's Prime Minister following severe rioting over food prices.[2] His selected replacement for the post was rejected by Parliament, throwing the country into a prolonged period without a government.[3]

Yvon Neptune was appointed Prime Minister on March 4, 2002, but following the overthrow of the government in February 2004, he was replaced by an interim Prime Minister, Gérard Latortue. The constitutional Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune languished in jail for over a year, accused of complicity in an alleged massacre in Saint-Marc. United Nations officials, expressing scepticism towards the evidence, called for either due process or his release. Having entered custody in June 2004, Neptune was formally charged on September 20, 2005, but was never sent to trial. He was finally released on 28 July 2006. The last Prime Minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis, entered office in 2006 and was removed in April 2008. Michèle Pierre-Louis received approval to become the next Prime Minister from both houses in July.

Corruption[edit]

Political corruption is a common problem in Haiti. The country has consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt nations according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure of perceived political corruption. In 2006, Haiti was ranked as the most corrupt nation out of the 163 that were surveyed for the Index.[4] In 2012, Haiti was #165 out of #176.[5] The International Red Cross reported that Haiti was 155th out of 159 countries in a similar survey of corrupt countries.[6] In 2013, Haiti ranked #8 in the Failed States Index[7]

Creole in Politics and Corruption[edit]

French has been the major language in Haitian politics since the colonial era. Scholars have since referred to Creole, the other language of Haiti as linguistically inferior. Creole grammar is said to be simplified and lacking sophistication compared to its European ancestors. This original demotion of the language created an subordinate sociopolitical, economic, and biological status for the country's majority that had been relocated by slavery. [8]

Today, Creole is spoken by 90-95% of the country. The remaining are bilingual and speak both French and Creole. Per the 1987 Constitution, both Creole and French are official languages of Haiti. [9] However, French is still the main language taught in schools and used in politics. With only 2-5% speaking the language of the politics, Creole speakers are politically disenfranchised. Haitian Creole and French are mutually unintelligible, so the vast majority of citizens cannot communicate with leaders in the language of their choice. [10]

This disenfranchisement is furthered by the lack of a systematic educational system. Literacy programs failed in the 1980s, and French is still the language being used to instruct students.[11] Haitian linguist, Yves Dejean, recalls warnings posted in the principal's office forbidding the use of Creole. In the 1970s, only one percent of the children who entered kindergarten stayed on track to obtain state certificate at the end of the sixth grade.[12] Even after the literacy programs of the 1980s, 90% of the teachers ten years after the decree were still not able to encompass the Creole language into the education system. The language handicap makes education and furthermore, political enfranchisement almost impossible.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "BBC NEWS Haitian senators vote to fire PM". news.bbc.co.uk. April 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  3. ^ "BBC NEWS Haiti MPs reject new PM candidate". news.bbc.co.uk. May 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  4. ^ "2006 Corruption Perceptions Index reinforces link between poverty and corruption". Transparency International. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  5. ^ Transparency International. "Corruptions Perception Index". 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Hoping for change in Haiti's Cité-Soleil". International Red Cross. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  7. ^ Fund for Peace. "Failed States Index 2013". Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Piere-Michel Fontaine. "Language and Society Development: Dialectic of French and Creole Use in Haiti," Latin American Perspectives 8(1981):28-46.
  9. ^ DeGraff, Michel. "Against Creole Exceptionalism," Linguistic Society of America 79 (2003): 391-410.
  10. ^ DeGraff, Michel. "Linguist's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Creole Exceptionalism," Language in Society 34(2005):533-591
  11. ^ Hebblethwaite, Benjamin. "French and Underdevelopment, Haitian Creole and Development: Educational Language Policy Problems and Solutions in Haiti," Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 27(2012)255-302.
  12. ^ *12. Dejean, Yves. "An Overview of the Language Situation in Haiti," International Journal of Sociology of Language 102(2009): 73-83.