Institutionalizing Democracy In Haiti

Mar 23, 2004


Dr. Jack Goldstone
Professor of Public Policy
George Mason University

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Many Americans believe that coups and political upheavals happen only in countries oceans away.  The reality of Haiti shatters this illusion.  In this poor country, the U.S. has over 100 years of political intervention and “nation building” experience, yet Haiti remains mired in poverty and has never escaped its classification as a failed state.

In the wake of the most recent coup, the U.S. has again found itself involved in Haiti’s political environment.  As we look to the future of Haiti, and its hope for prosperity, we need to ask ourselves what we have learned from past experiences there and present “nation building” exercises so that we can help provide the Haitian people with the best chance of creating a peaceful, growing society.

In this seminar we will address important questions such as:

  • Would the return of Aristide itself create a stable foundation for Democracy?  Are elections alone a solution?
  • What roles would  a new government in Haiti need to adopt in order to gain legitimacy among its people?
  • How much of a problem is corruption among public and private entities?  What are the the implications?
  • Can lessons learned recently in Iraq be applied to Haiti?  How are the situations similar or dissimilar?
  • To what extent would the U.S. need to be involved to guarantee success?

Participants in this seminar will walk away with a greater understanding of the complexities the U.S. faces in Haiti as well as a clearer picture of the options U.S. policymakers have to improve the live of its poorest neighbor.