The Haitian Economic/Humanitarian Crisis Túlio Igor S. Pereira ECON 465:Current Issues in Latin American Economies Professor Ramon Castillo-Ponce Key Investigative Questions What is the outlook of the Haitian economy today? Which economic/social indicators seems to be the most alarming? What causational factors can explain the situation of the Haitian economy today? What are the possible solutions to this difficult conundrum? Is International aid an efficient way to promote economic stabilization and development in the country? Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. One of the poorest in the World. According to the World Bank: GDP = $11.18 billion (2010 est.) Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming Unemployment Rate: 50%?? (Peaked at 70% in the mid 1990’s according to US Agency for International Development-USAID) Around 54% of the population lives on less than US$1 a day and 78% on less than US$2 (2001 data). Key Facts About Haiti Source: Associated Press Source: Associated Press Source: Associated Press Source: Associated Press Source: Associated Press Source: Associated Press Additional Information on Mud Cookies: Video from the BBC (on Youtube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIEt3vsUHgY Articles from the Sunday Times and The Guardian: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_a nd_americas/article6281614.ece http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/29/food. internationalaidanddevelopment In this section I used interactive graphs with the Gapminder software which you can obtain for free at http://www.gapminder.org/downloads/ If you do not want to download the software, there is also an option to use it directly on the website (all you need in this case is a web browser with flash). The software has more than 600 indicators spanning over 200 years of data, so please feel free to play around with it! The ones I used were the following (Child Mortality vs. Income per Person and Life Expectancy vs. Income per Person): A Little Bit of History In 1697, Haiti became the French colony of Saint-Dominique. It was a successful colonial enterprise for France (especially in terms of the production of sugarcane),but it relied heavily on slave labor. In 1801, Pierre-Dominique Toussaint l'Ouverture declared Independence. Napoléon Bonaparte suppressed the independence movement, but it effectively triumphed in 1804 under JeanJacques Dessalines. The Revolution brought more divides than unity, and as a consequent result, a weakening of the economy. Disputes between light-skinned mulattoes (who dominated the economy) and the black population erupted. A New Era of Dictatorships In 1949, after four years of democratic rule by President Dumarsais Estimé, dictatorship returned under Gen. Paul Magloire, who was succeeded by François Duvalier, nicknamed “Papa Doc,” in 1957. Upon Duvalier's death in 1971, his son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc,” succeeded as ruler. He fled the country in 1986. On January 16, 2011, he made an unexpected return indicating that he wanted to help in the reconstruction of the country: "I'm not here for politics. I'm here for the reconstruction of Haiti," Throughout the 1990s the international community tried to establish democracy in Haiti. The country's first elected chief executive was Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. A UN peacekeeping operation started in 2000. The Worsening Effects of Natural Disasters The 2008 hurricane season was the most severe ever experienced in Haiti. Four storms--Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike wiped out 70% of Haiti's crops for the year (according to the Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO), leading food prices to increase even higher in the country. A massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010. More than 230.000 people died (est.) More than 1.3 million had to be displaced Most of the already precarious infrastructure literally collapsed. What Solutions Can Be Undertaken? 1) In the short term humanitarian aid may be needed (especially to provide basic nutrition to those most in need) 2) Political stabilization must be achieved (democratically elected governments and reduction in corruption) 3) Reconstruction of basic infrastructure 4) Heavy investments in education 5) Specialization in the manufacturing industry (especially the garment industry) Concluding Thoughts The Haitian Economic Crisis is the most severe in the Western Hemisphere. Political instability is one of the main reasons for the economic situation. International Financial Aid may be a solution in the short run, but in the long run Haiti must strive for economic independence.