Haiti is a wounded patient who never finishes recovering. The Caribbean country was hit this Saturday by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that has destroyed several of its provinces and has left at least 1,200 people dead. One more disaster for a country that has not yet finished rebuilding after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, in which more than 250,000 people died and which, in turn, is going through a political crisis after the assassination in July of President Jovenel Moïse. The nation of 11 million people has not found respite from a situation of permanent turmoil for decades.
The country is the poorest in the American continent and accumulates a series of tragedies that prevent it from going forward despite the support of the international community. Added to natural phenomena – such as earthquakes and hurricanes, which are common due to their geographical location – are the rampant corruption of its authorities and politicians who have tried to lead the Government in recent years, as well as the emergence of criminal gangs that They have sophisticated their activities — arms trafficking and support for drug trafficking routes — leading the nation into a spiral of violence.
After the 2010 earthquake, the international community turned to helping Haiti and dozens of non-governmental organizations landed in Port-au-Prince, the capital, to establish plans to deliver aid to its inhabitants. Resources have not stopped arriving on the island: the United States estimates that in the last 10 years, 13,000 million dollars have been sent. Former President Moïse acknowledged to this newspaper, five months before he was assassinated, that the resources sent by the international community were not used by the local authorities. “We did not know what to do with the projects that came from international funds,” he said then.
Moïse attributed this inability to harness resources to political instability and endemic government corruption. The president was assassinated on the night of July 7 by a group of hitmen who broke into his house. The investigation into the assassination still has not found the masterminds and accumulates unknowns regarding the arrest of former Colombian military personnel who were hired for the operation. Moïse sought to stay in power for one more year than the period for which he had been elected in 2016, which had already sparked protests and tensions among the population.
“The international community has to work to investigate money laundering, arms trafficking, human rights abuses and other illegal acts carried out by Haitian authorities and private sector leaders,” said Emmanuela Douyon, an expert in public policy before the United States Congress earlier this year. Douyon has insisted with his testimonies before the congressmen that a strategy is necessary to seek the stability of Haiti in the long term so that the country stops being the deposit of millions of dollars that do not contribute to improving the lives of Haitians. 60% of the population lives in poverty, according to World Bank estimates.
The difficult history of Haiti shows a large number of episodes that have prevented it from drawing a perspective for its future. The former French colony was the first country to become independent in the 19th century and has incurred large debts to its colonizer since its emergence as a nation. After decades of fighting for its identity, in the 20th century the country suffered from the Duvalier dictatorship: in 1957 François Duvalier, known as daddy doc, who established an autocratic government and remained in power until his death in 1971. In that year, his son Jean-Claude Duvalier, also called Baby Doc, it continued with the authoritarian system until its fall in 1986. Since then, the country has tried to establish democratic governments that are constantly being replaced.