Haiti's failed democratization : a study of the transition period

Haiti's failed democratization : a study of the transition period

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Haiti's failed democratization : a study of the transition period
Baez, Raymond
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Tampa, Florida
University of South Florida
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iv, 56 leaves ; 29 cm.


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Politics and government -- Haiti -- 1986- ( lcsh )
Democracy -- Haiti ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- Masters -- USF ( FTS )


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Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 1994. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 55-56).

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University of South Florida
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Universtity of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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020133011 ( ALEPH )
32341109 ( OCLC )
F51-00003 ( USFLDC DOI )
f51.3 ( USFLDC Handle )

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HAITI'S FAILED DEMOCRATIZATION A STUDY OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD by RAYMOND BAE Z thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Sociology University of South Florida August 1994 Major Professor: Laurel Graham, Ph.D.


Graduate School University of South Florida Tampa, Florida CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL Master's Thesis This is to certify that the MA thesis of RAYMOND BAEZ with a major in Sociology has been approved by the Examining Committee on July 5, 1994 as satisfactory for the thesis requirement for the Master of Arts degree Examining Committee: Major Professor: Laurel D. Graham, Ph.D. Member: Jenn?fer Friedman, Ph.D. Member: Sara Ph.D.


TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii 1. INTRODUCTION 1 2. THE HAITIAN STATE AND DUVALIERIST LEGACY 17 3. THE TRANSITION PERIOD 29 The Fall of the Regime 32 The Emergence of the Military as Agent of the Status Quo 37 The Victory of the Popular Movement 43 The Return to Authoritarianism 47 4. CONCLUSION 51 5. REFERENCES 55 i


HAITI'S FAILED DEMOCRATIZATION A STUDY OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD by RAYMOND BAEZ An Abstract of a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Sociology University of South Florida August 1994 Major Professor: Laurel D. Graham, Ph. D. ii


In February 1986, with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, the republic of Haiti took a first step in a transition process from authoritarianism to democracy. The transition period which culminated, in February 1991, with the investiture of a democratically elected government, was abruptly put to an end in September of the same year by a bloody military 'coup d'etat'. The return to an authoritarian regime transition reflected after five the failure years of a tumultuous of the democratization process. This study attempts to establish the fundamental causes of the failure of the Haitian democratic transition. The discussion of the different factors that contributed to the transition process is articulated around the theoretical assumption that the existence of deep social, political and economic inequalities in dependent capitalise-. countries constitutes a significant barrier to the implementation of reforms necessary to the institutionalization of democracy. The study consists of two parts. The first part examines the character of the Haitian state and emphasizes the aspects of the Duvalierist legacy that ended up thwarting the transition. The second part of the paper concentrates on the transition period and stresses the escalation of conflicts between the forces of the status quo represented iii


by the military institution and the forces of change embodied by the democratic popular movement. The underlying argument throughout this part is that the refusal of the military rulers to make a clean break with the previous order and the consistent resistance of the dominant class to the attempt at reforms initiated by the democratic government contributed to growing social and political tensions that triggered the military 'coup d'etat' and the return to authoritarianism. This analysis of the Haitian transition suggests that the democratization process failed because of the extreme social and political and the persistence of conflicts that are nurtured by the existing structures of domination. This conclusion supports the theoretical assumption that any attempt at democratization in dependent capitalist countries should involve the transformation of the state, that is the transformation of the socio-economic structures and the relationship of domination that undergirds it. Abstract Approved: ____ Major Professor: Laurel D. Graham, Ph. D. Professor Department of Sociology Date iv


1. INTRODUCTION During the last decade there has been a growing movement throughout the world, and particularly the ThirdWorld, to get rid of political dictatorships. Between 1974 and 1990, approximately 30 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin-America and the Caribbean made or were in the process of making a qualitative jump from authoritarianism to democracy (Huntington, 1991). In February 1986, with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship, the republic of Haiti joined this new wave of democratization. For almost thirty years, 1957-1986, Haiti was under the grip of the ferocious dictatorship of the Duvalier Dynasty (Francois Duvalier 1957-1971; Jean-Claude Duvalier 1971-1986). The departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier in February 1986, following a popular movement of contestation, was viewed by a large sector of the nation as the first step toward the establishment of a democratic state. When the Haitian people celebrated their victory over the evil of authoritarianism, they strongly believed in the advent of a new era in which freedom and social justice would prevail. They engaged in the destruction of the symbols of the old regime and voted in mass for the passage of a new


2 constitution designed to prevent the repetition of the absurdity of despotism and they thereby conveyed their will to rebuild the nation (Hurbon, 1987). There was no doubt that the reconstruction establishment of a State Haiti's history. of the nation implied the of law for the first time in In this regard, it is important to underline that the content of the demands articulated by different sectors of the Haitian population such as political organizations, student associations, peasant cooperatives and intellectuals, indicated a genuine desire for substantial change instead of a mere change of government. In asking for the organizing of free election, participation in the decision making process, the fair distribution of justice, freedom of expression and economic equality, the great majority of the masses expressed the desire to put an end to a state system that has been historically based on repression, coercion, exploitation and corruption. The passage from authoritarian rule to a democratic regime is not an easy process. As Julio Maria Sanguinetti (1993, 54-60) justly points out, the difficulties of a democratic transition stem from the fact that the legacy of the past is not easy to overcome. Therefore a democratic transition requires the constant management of such emotions as fear and impatience (fear of those tied to the old regime and impatience of those who advocate changes), a politic of inclusion which would guarantee stability, the careful


3 handling of such issues as human rights abuses and amnesty, the initiation of dialogue between political and military leaders, and the choice of measures that generate economic growth. Any action or decisions on the part of political leaders must seem to conform to democratic principles and above all, the transition must be perceived by the people as legitimate. There is no doubt that these observations represent an ideal agenda for any successful democratic transition, but one should be aware that each transition takes place under unique circumstances, carries its own history, political for every country tradition, social structures and socio-economic system that make the conditions and the measures that could guarantee a successful transition different. If social scientists as well as politicians agree on the fact that any attempt at democratization must take into account the particular political and socio-economic conjuncture of a given society, they also agree on the existence of some universal factors that can impede a democratic transition. According to the growing literature on the subject, the most common obstacles to the democratization process in Third-World countries are: the lack of democratic culture, the weakness of political institutions, conflict between civilian and military groups, political violence, deep social and economic inequalities, rampant corruption, political polarization and some exterior factors such as foreign influence on political and


4 economic problems {Diamond et al 1989,1990,1993; Huntington 1991; O 'Donnell and Schmitter 1986; Roberts 1985). The prevalence of these explanatory variables in recent works related to the problem of democracy in underdeveloped countries attests to their validity as a starting point for any study that will try to explain the causes of either the success or the failure of a democratic transition. In the case of Haiti, the transition period which started in February 1986 with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and culminated in February 1991 with the investiture of the government of the democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. This transition was abruptly put to an end in September of the same year, by a bloody military coup d'etat'. OVerall, the transition lasted five years which were marked by growing conflicts between the military and civil society, a series of coups and countercoups, an extreme social and political polarization, the radicalization of the popular movementas well as the anti-democratic sector; and all that on a background of political violence, repression, assassination and terror. These five years of political turmoil and social unrest indicated that right from the start the transition was faltering, allowing the build up of frustration and tension, and consequently widening social divisions. Such was the Haitian socio-political climate right before the democratic election held under international supervision in December 1990. This was the environment when, in February


5 1991, the new democratically elected government took office, and faced, above all, the difficult if not impossible task of democratic consolidation. In this regard, the military coup d'etat, which occurred six months later, confirmed the failure of the transition. But WHY did the transition process fail ? A simple answer to this question would be that the widely acknowledged factors mentioned above which could constitute significant obstacles to the democratization process remained present during the Haitian transition experience, hence, contributing to the maintenance of the crisis. The limit of such an explanation lies in the fact that it fails to reveal the unique features and essence of the crisis. Therefore, in order to come up with a valid answer to this question one should try to pinpoint the reasons why these obstacles persisted in this particular context. Recent works on the issue of democratic development in Third-World countries tend to attribute the persistence of violence social unrest and intolerance that can account for the breakdown of democratization to two dominant factors: 1) the lack of experience with democracy (political culture), and 2) the endemic social conflict due to the existence of deep socio-economic inequalities (Diamond et al 1989, 1990; Huntington 1991; 0' Donnell and Schmitter 1986; Roberts 1985) In fact, both explanations reflect the reality of Third-World societies. But, as I will


6 show, while the insistence on democratic culture is misleading, the emphasis on the socio-.economic structures constitutes a more solid ground for a discussion of the difficulties of democratization in countries of the periphery. To the proponents of the cultural argument, the failure of democratization in some Third-World countries stems primarily from their lack of democratic tradition (Huntington,1991; Lipset 1993; Diamond and al 1993). Samuel Huntington summarizes the cultural argument in these words: the world's great historic cultural traditions vary significantly in the extent to which their attitudes, values, beliefs, and related behavior patterns are conducive to the development of democracy. A profoundly anti-democratic culture would impede the spread of democratic norms in the society... (Huntington 1991, 298). It follows that democracy is a form of government that is suitable only to Western countries because other cultures carry some norms which are not favorable to the advent of democratic procedures (Huntington 1991, 298-309; Lipset 1993, 136-137). The difficulties that certain countries encounter in their attempt to overcome authoritarianism have some cultural roots that manifest themselves at the level of politics through the endurance of strong anti-democratic sectors or standpatters and the lack of real commitment to democratic values on the part of political leaders


7 (Huntington 1991,294-309). In their book, Politics in Deyelooing Countries, Larry Diamond, Juan Linz and Seymour Lipset (1990,17) express a similar argument when they propose that democratic success in developing countries may be traced not only to the growth of democratic values but also to their roots in a country's historical and cultural traditions. These authors, relying on case studies of different developing countries, assert that the existence of deeply rooted democratic values in a country's political culture is a central factor for the success of democratization; and that only countries which have had previous experiences with some degree of democratic practices hold a good chance to achieve a successful consolidation (Diamond et al 1989, 1990). Note that in their assessment of factors that can facilitate or jeopardize the development of democracy, proponents of the cultural thesis acknowledge the importance of some more structural variables such as State and social:-, structures, political institutions, the socio-economic development, the military and the influence of international factors. But, they tend to subordinate these factors to the issue of political culture. The cultural obstacles argument is limited as a causal explanation for the persistence of negative factors associated with the failure of democratization. First, as Samuel Huntington (1991,310-311) justly points out, "similar


8 arguments have not held up in the past," and the complexity of cultural traditions coupled with the dynamic character of cultures forbids the perception of one culture as inherently democratic or anti-democratic. Characterizing the insistence upon "civic culture in recent works on democracy as misleading, Philippe Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl ( 1993, 47) object to the idea that the occurrence of democracy in a society is dependent on how deeply certain democratic values are rooted in that country's culture. Instead, they argue that the entrenchment of democratic habits involves a long process, one that can even take generations, and to insist that this must happen prior to democratization is to condemn some contemporary democratic experiences to failure; therefore" ... the far more benevolent and ingrained norms of civic culture are better thought as a product and not as a producer of democracy" (Schmitter and Karl 1993, 47). One should also underline that the long history of the struggle of the people of the Third-World against political dictatorships -a struggle articulated around such as freedom of speech, economic equalities, participation, government accountability, human rights -is enough to prove that the cultural argument in itself does not stand. For, as in the Haitian case, the large majority of the masses, through the demands mentioned above, expressed its willingness to put an end to the practice of coercion, repression and economic exclusion associated with authoritarianism as a regime. But, a tiny sector of society,


who happens opposed any to be wealthy and well attempt to change the educated, political 9 stubbornly and socio-economic system through the consistent use of violence and terror. In such a situation, culture loses its relevance as a viable explanation for the collapse of the democratization process. In such a context of group or class antagonism, the study of democratic development in Third World countries must not avoid such central issues as political and economic interests and the role of conflict. In other words, to understand the cause and the persistence of the various obstacles to democratic consolidation, it becomes necessary to view them within the economic and social context of the conflictual relationships of classes. In this regard, one can rely on the various dependency theories which situate their reflection on the prospect of democracy in Third-World countries within the larger context of the international division of labor within the capitalist world and the resulting sharp conflictual economic and social relationships of classes that it produces in Third-World societies. The emergence within the dependency theories tradition of a new body of literature which emphasizes the internal social dimensions of developing countries instead of focusing on largely external dynamics of imperialism in advanced capitalist countries" (Evans 1979,16) offers a good theoretical framework for the study of democratization in


lO dependent capitalist countries. As Peter Evans ( 1979:27) writes of recent dependency theory: ... while the external relations are the starting point for the analysis of dependence, most of the emphasis is on the internal class relations of dependent countries. Starting with the pertinent assumption that most Third World countries are dependent and capitalist, (to the dependency theorists), the main characteristic of these societies is the relationship of domination which exists between a tiny and wealthy elite often linked to foreign capital and a very large and poor peasantry and working class; this relationship of domination allows a continuous accumulation of wealth for the local bourgeoisie and its foreign partners while assuring the constant marginalization of the larger sector of society. These structures of domination, which constitute the basis of the dependent capitalist states and guarantee the reproduction of dependent capitalism, require a strong political regime in order to keep in check the subordinate strata of society (O'Donnell 1973; Cardoso 1979; Roberts 1985). According to Guillermo O 'Donnell (1973), authoritarianism as a regime ensures the exclusion and deactivation of the popular sector that is so important for the maintenance of the existing structure of class domination. According to Fernando Enrique Cardoso ( 1979,


11 38) it is important to distinguish between state and regime; the state is the "basic pact of domination that exists among social classes and the norms which guarantee their dominance over the subordinate strata" while a regime refers to the rules existing between the political institutions and the "political nature of the ties between citizens and rulers." Therefore, according to Cardoso, in order to preserve the structure of domination a state can rely on different kinds of political regimes: authoritarian, fascist, as well as democratic. Therefore, instead of focusing too much on "the idea of a simple economic determination of politics it would be preferable to explore "the degree of 'compatibility' between different forms of dependent capitalist states and different types of regimes" (Cardoso 1979, 39 -40) Relying on the works of O'Donnell and Cardoso, Kenneth Roberts (1985, 13-26) underlines the incompatibility between the underlying social structure of dependent capitalism democracy as a political system. Roberts argues that there are some fundamental obstacles to the institutionalization of democracy as a political system in dependent capitalist societies. One of The major obstacles is the absence of ideological hegemony of the dominant sector over the subordinate strata of society. This nonhegemonic situation requires an authoritarian form of regime to guarantee the structure of domination. Any attempt at democratization would require the elite support of social reforms


12 {democratization of the economy) and an indispensable or at least apparent commitment to social justice that would provide political and ideological legitimacy to the state. Without the presence of these conditions, social and political turmoil will persist and the institutionalization of democracy will become a vain illusion. For, democracy as a political system founded upon the principle of majority rule is incompatible with an economic system which engenders majority exclusion and marginalization {p24). It is therefore obvious that any study of the process of democratization in developing countries, and particularly in the Latin American dependent capitalist states cannot disregard such fundamental issues as political and structural reforms. Indeed, during the transition period these issues constitute the ground for confrontation between the agents of the status quo and the advocates of change. This period is often characterized by the relaxation of restraints on political activities and freedom of speech. It is also within this period that the popular sector raises such sensitive issues as the abolishment of human rights abuses by members of the authoritarian regime, compensation and social justice, land reforms, and a timetable for the organization of general elections, thereby creating a climate of social tension. The high poli tization of this period and the new found freedom of expression allows the


13 growing mobilization of the popular sector that is usually represented by trade unions, grass-roots movements, intellectuals, artists, clergymen, defenders of human rights, and professional associations [which] support each other's efforts toward democratization and coalesce into a greater whole which identifies itself as the 'people' (O'Donnell and Schmitter 1986, 54). The base of this socio-political front is largely made up of members of the lower class of society who have been excluded from the political and economic arenas, and who are pressing for democratization not only at the political level but also at the economic and social levels. Opposing this sector is the privileged strata, which includes "hard-liners" of the former regime, who are committed to authoritarianism as the only way to avoid chaos and re-establish hierarchical authority, members of the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie, who favor a controlled democracy out of fear of the radicalization of popular demand, and a network of individuals from various social origins, who benefited one way or the other from the old regime. Within such a context democracy soon becomes the hostage of class interests. In the middle of these two opposed groups lies the military which usually emerges as the institution in charge of the transition process. As an institution the military


14 reflects society and its stratification. In this respect, the degree of involvement of certain members of the military with the authoritarian regime as well as the nature of their ties with different sectors of society could contribute to the outcome of the transition. The efficiency of the armed forces as the manager of the transition depends not only on its unity as a corps, but also on the commitments of the high command to democracy. For, it is obvious that the fate of the transition will depend on the careful management of sensitive issues and a permanent and consistent effort to reconcile divergent interests. The failure to do so could lead to intense social polarization, social strife, and persistent political unrest that eventually provokes a return to authoritarianism. It is within this perspective of tension and conflicts inherent to the social formation of the dependent capitalist state that I will study the Haitian transition period (1986-1990). Haiti presents all the features of societies situated at the periphery of the capitalist world economy. The Haitian economy is totally dependent on external markets for the export of its agricultural products and it relies on foreign aid and investment as well as imported technology (Weinstein and Segal 1992, 179). Above all, Haiti has the characteristic social structure of a dependent capitalist state: a tiny elite linked to foreign capital, a small middle class and a large marginalized sector made up of the peasantry, the working class and the growing numbers of


15 urban dwellers. That underlying social structure finds its source in the character of the Haitian state and in the system of domination that it serves to perpetuate. The Haitian state has always existed and functioned in the interest of the dominant class that controls it. And, the recurrence of authoritarian regimes in Haiti reflects the need of the dominant class to keep in check the subordinate sectors in order to maintain its political and economic domination. For, only the use of repression and coercion can guarantee the exclusion of the lower classes from the political and economic scene. In this respect the Haitian oligarchy has always relied on the military to preserve its interest. This alliance between the military and the oligarchy had been vital for the reproduction of this system of political, social and economic domination of a minority over the large majority of the population and constituted a major obstacle to any democratic opening. Under the Duvalier regime the tightening of the alliance between the government, the military and the bourgeoisie led to an increasing exploitation and marginalization of the masses. The regression of the economy, due to administrative inefficiency and rampant corruption, aggravated the misery of the masses. As the gap between the wealthy and the poor widened the Haitian society became more polarized, that situation triggered the popular discontent and the mass mobilization that contributed to the fall of the dictatorship. The military emerged as the


16 'caretaker' of a democratic transition that ended with a return to authoritarianism. In this thesis I will argue that the transition failed because of the unwillingness of the military to initiate the necessary reforms that would have cleared the way toward the institutionalization of democracy. I will examine the Duvalierist state and its legacy, highlighting the main factors that thwarted the transition. I will discuss the growing conflicts that marked the transition period by stressing the confrontation between the military which emerged as guardian of the status quo and the popular sector. Finally I will underline the factors that contributed to the military coup d'etat' against the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.


17 2. THE HAITIAN STATE AND DUVALIERIST LEGACY One major aspect of all transitions is the necessity to deal with the legacy of the past in order to move forward with the arduous task of democratization. In the case of Haiti, the weight of the Duvalierist legacy could not be overlooked in any attempt at democratization. Indeed, as many Haitian and non-Haitians scholars rightly observed, the tensions and crisis that punctuated the transition process (and ultimately led to its failure) were symptomatic of the difficulties in finding a way out of Duvalierism, that is to say the Duvalierist state with the political, social and economic system that sustained it (Hurbon 1987; Trouillot 1990; Abbott 1988; Weinstein and Segal 1990) Thus, any attempt to install democracy in Haiti required a significant departure from the structures of the Duvalierist state. For above all, the struggle for democracy should be a struggle for the transformation of the state. The Duvalierist regime with its basic structure of coercion, repression, corruption, clientelism and exclusion of the subordinate sector of society represented the continuation of the series of authoritarian regimes that prevailed in the history of Haiti as an independent nation.


18 The prevalence of authoritarianism as a regime had been related to the fact that soon after Haiti's independence in 1804, the Haitian State became the only avenue for wealth accumulation and social promotion for the bourgeoisie and the middle class. According to Haitian historian Alex Dupuy ( 1989) and Haitian Anthropologist Michel Rolph Trouillot (1990), with the precariousness of an export-import economy and the increasing competition of foreign merchants, control over the State became imperative for the Haitian bourgeoisie in order to maintain its domination as a class and to guarantee its access to the surplus wealth. As Dupuy (1989, 116) points out, the State, through its power to intervene in and regulate the economy, made it a potentially lucrative source of accumulation. Indeed, in Haiti, control over the State and its prebends, from the period of the revolution onward, became the primary basis for the formation and consolidation of the class power of the bourgeoisie. But, the Haitian bourgeoisie had never been an homogeneous class; besides regional and occupational differences, the main division lied in the conflict between the mulatto and the black members of the elite who respectively claimed the right to rule. That situation engendered permanent struggles between different factions of the bourgeoisie for the conquest of the state apparatus and the economic and social privilege that came with it. Consequently, on one hand, the conquest of power could be achieved mainly through the means of 'coups d etat', thus


19 implying some alliances with members of the military and therefore ensuring the dominant role of this institution in Haitian politics. On the other hand, the management of power required the privatization of the executive branch, a certain control over the judiciary and parliamentary branch of government, and the establishment of a large network of clientele, thus increasing the growing number of urban parasites living off the state (Dupuy 1989, 116-117). The invasion of the political scene by the bourgeoisie and its hold on the state was only possible with the exclusion of the group that constitutes the majority of the Haitian population: the peasantry. And, since this social class was burdened with filling the state treasury through the payment of heavy taxes of all kinds its exploitation and exclusion from the political process became a necessary condition for the existence of that system of domination. As Weinstein and Segal (1992, 21) rightly observe: the black and brown families at the top of the political and economic systems extracted as much as they could from their victims, the peasants; their greed was unrestrained, partly because they felt that they must maximize their profits while holding on to power and partly because they did not view peasants as citizens. The perception that the state is the primary means to enhance their economic and social status coupled with a deep disdain for the peasantry enabled the bourgeoisie to justify


20 the existing socio-economic structures. In Gramscian terms, the Haitian dominant classes have never been able (or never really were interested in) to exercise "ideological hegemony" over the subordinate social sectors. In such nonhegemonic situation authoritarianism becomes the only way to guarantee the existing structures of domination. In fact, the different factions of the Haitian bourgeoisie never challenged the system as such. It is within this environment that one can understand the Duvalierist state and its legacy. For, if the Haitian state had always been a repressive, parasitic and predatory state, under the Duvaliers regime these characteristics were pushed to their extreme. In 1957, Francois Duvalier came to power under the banner of the black power ideology which claimed that political power must be assumed by representatives of the black majority of the population. This ideology also implied that only a black leadership would care for the well-being of the masses. This black power movement was a reaction to the predominance of members of the minority mulatto elite within the different branches of the state apparatuses. Behind the populist rhetoric of the black ideology was the willingness of the black faction of the bourgeoisie and the black members of the middle class to capture state power in order to balance the economic power of their mulatto counterparts. Indeed, Francois Duvalier, with his ultimate goal of keeping himself in power at any price, established a dictatorship that would


21 politically and economically benefit mostly the black bourgeoisie and some sectors of the black middle class, but also the mulatto elite whose economic domination had never been challenged. As Dupuy (1989, 157-158) observes, Duvalier did not intend to change the class structure of Haiti, nor eliminate the economic dominance of the bourgeoisie and the exploitative system that supported it. On the contrary, the Duvaliers' dictatorship not only guaranteed the continuation of the existing system of domination, but pushed it to the extreme. It is not my intent here to engage in an exhaustive analysis of the Duvalierist regime; my purpose here will be to emphasize some elements of the Duvalier legacy that can be seen as the main factors that ended up thwarting the democratic transition. The fact of the matter is that the system of terror, graft and corruption that sustained the Duvalierist regime during thirty years would have not lasted without the indiscriminate used of violence against the general population and particularly against the peasantry and the urban proletariat. These groups have been the victims of the political and economic discrimination of the regime, the neutralization of all major social institutions, the encouragement of cronysm, and the alliance between the traditional dominant sector of the local bourgeoisie and foreign capital. This system worked so well that at the fall of the dictatorship, Jean-Claude Duvalier left a country


22 politically and socially polarized, a society under the grip of corrupted and inefficient national institutions. More concerned with keeping themselves in power, the Duvaliers never gave priority to the development or improvement of the national economy. Most of the State revenues were basically shared between the Duvalier family and the regime high functionaries while the remainder went to support various groups of partisans, to ensure the loyalty of military officers and to bribe whoever could work to the benefit of the regime. The concepts of "infrastuctural development or social services were totally foreign to the government. sociologist, Laenec Hurbon, points out: the economy not being a preoccupation for the regime, theft and generalized corruption are the system ordinary mode of working. Social mobility becomes impossible. Only those who collaborate with the regime can have a chance to improve their condition (Hurbon 1987, 37) As the Haitian Within such a context, while the large majority of the population ended up living in subhuman conditions, only a tiny minority of society enjoyed the country's wealth. With an annual per capita income of about $300, Haiti is regarded as the most impoverished country of the Western Hemisphere. On one hand, 78% of the rural population and 55% of the urban population live under the level of absolute poverty; 3


23 out of 4 children suffer from malnutrition; about 80% of the population is illiterate; the minimum wage for the working class was 3 U.S. Dollars per day until 1991 (Castor 1992, 31; Dupuy 1989, 184; Weinstein and Segal 1992,3) On the other hand, members of the Haitian bourgeoisie have a annual per capita income of more than $120,000; accounting for only one percent of the population, this minority swallows up 44% of the national income; about 4,000 families own the country's wealth (Castor 1992, 32; Dupuy 1989, 184). Thus, the Haitian society is divided in two different worlds: one of abject poverty and one of absolute wealth, with the existence of the former explaining the presence of the latter" (Castor 1992, 32). The tension and violence to such a level of social polarization could only contribute to the stalling of the democratization process. In such a context of deep social and economic antagonism, only the presence of strong, efficient and credible national institutions under the direction of individuals with a deep commitment to democratic values and reform could have guaranteed the success of the transition. Such was not the case. The practice of neutralization, domestication and cooperation of all the institutions applied by the Duvalier regime left the country with institutions totally oriented toward the maintenance of the system of domination established by the regime and a political class committed only to its own interests. It goes without saying, that the lack of legitimacy of the


24 state institutions with their conservative function impeded the transition. At this point, because of the major role that it played during the transition period, the military is the institution that should retain our attention. The military has always been a dominant factor in Haitian politics and a permanent obstacle to the development of democracy. During the 19th century, the necessity to defend the young nation against foreign invaders and the emergence of regional military lords with their private armies led to the frequent intervention of the military in government affairs and the dominance of military officers as rulers. The reorganization of this institution during the American occupation (1915-1934) led to the transformation of the Haitian military into a professional organization with a centralized bureaucracy. Trained by the U.S. marines for the task of ensuring internal security, this new army emerged as a repressive force which, under the pretense of maintaining political stability, reinforced the authoritarian character of the state (Dupuy 1989, 133 Trouillot 1990, 104-107) But, both before and after the American occupation the Haitian army always acted on behalf of the oligarchy in power. Thus, this institution has always been the backbone of the system of domination. At this point, it is worth noting that in Haiti there is no separation between the army and the police. Both the regular army and the police are under the supervision of the military high command. In other words, police work had


25 always been the responsibility of the military. This combination of tasks reinforced the power of the military. Under the Duvalier dynasty, the military became totally committed to the regime. Having witnessed the determinant role of the military in the making and demise of preceding governments, Francois Duvalier, who also came to power with the help of the army, understood that his own government could last only by inducing the absolute and unconditional submission of the military. He succeeded in that task by: 1) retiring most of the officers belonging to the high command and promoting only pro-duvalierist officers; 2) establishing an armed militia, the de la Securite Nationale (internationally known as the dreaded Tontons Macoutes), under his personal and direct control. This militia was made up of individuals coming from different social sectors was created as a counterforce to the military; 3) encouraging and stimulating corruption within the officers corps to ensure their loyalty (Laguerre 1993, 105-123; Dupuy 1989, 160; Trouillot 1990, 154-157; Dominique 1992, 26-27). Jean-Claude Duvalier continued his father's policy toward the military by: 1) opening the military academy only to former classmates and to sons of Duvalierist families 2) facilitating more than ever the enrichment of officers through various legal and illicit activities. The widespread practice of using their military position for the accumulation of personal wealth allowed an increasing number of officers to establish themselves as


26 legitimate entrepreneurs in the commercial and business world as well as allowing them to engage in activities such as contraband and drug trafficking (Laguerre 1993, 153-154; Dominique 1992, 25-28). Thus, after thirty years of Duvalierism, the army, which was to eventually be in charge of managing the transition, was almost entirely made up of officers who had, in one way or another, profited from the. old regime and whose ties to the interests of the ruling class had become tighter and stronger than ever. Therefore, throughout the transition period, the maintenance of the status quo would constitute the priority of the military institution and its allies within the dominant class. The failure of the dominant class to achieve a certain degree of hegemony represents another major obstacle to the process of democratization. Indeed, the century old practice of exploiting the masses of peasants and the working classes with the total support of the state and its institutions contributed to the development within the dominant classes of a deep feeling of disdain and contempt for those subordinate sectors of society. With the middle class on their side, the oligarchies felt the need neither to justify their dominance over the rest of society nor to contribute to the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the masses. During the Duvalier era, the alliance of the black bourgeoisie and middle class with the economically dominant mulatto sector and foreign capital for the plundering of the state treasury and the sharing of


27 economic monopolies reinforced the archaic mentality of the oligarchies. Moreover, the repressive role of the army and particularly the Tontons Macoutes in controlling the rural peasantry and the urban proletariat encouraged within the bourgeoisie the conviction that the country was their private property while increasing within the subordinate sectors the perception of the state, that is the dominant coalition, as the obstacle to their emancipation. Within such a context, one can understand that the ruling classes never bothered to establish ideological hegemony This lack of hegemony did not enabled the dominant class to develop a political message that would appeal to the masses and prevent the capture of the state by the popular sector. Consequently, throughout the transition, the dominant classes increasingly saw democratization as a threat to their privileges while the rest of the population would perceive it as the only path to economic and social salvation. Therefore, political polarization became inevitable. These social and political realities attested to the need for structural changes as a requirement for the institutionalization of democracy in Haiti. In other words, in the Haitian case, any attempt at democratization should necessarily imply the transformation of the state. But, as stated above, these changes which should have been the priorities during the transition never occurred due to the weight of the Duvalierist legacy. Hence, instead of


28 consensus and concession, the transition period was marked by growing conflicts and political violence.


29 3. THE TRANSITION PERIOD On February, 7 1986, Duvalier' s departure marked the end of the dictatorship while the installation of a military controlled government opened the door to a new era in Haiti's history. With the dissolution of the authoritarian regime and the pledge of the new government to launch the process that would lead to the advent of a democratic regime, the transition had officially begun. The outburst of joy and the contagious jubilation that erupted within the Haitian population at the news of the departure of the man, who to them, symbolized thirty years of savage repression and social and economic degradation was understandable. Moreover, the optimistic hopes of the masses for a regime that would guarantee human rights and social economic and:-, political emancipation were reasonable. But, reality is often unyielding, for after six years of tenuous struggle led under the banner of political and social changes against the forces of the status quo, the Haitian people are today facing a dictatorship that surpasses the Duvalier's in terms of violence and discrimination against the subordinate social sectors. Indeed the overthrow of the government of the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand


30 Aristide, and the emergence of a new form of authoritarianism not only marked the end of the transition, but its failure. How one can explain this regression? As I have mentioned above, social scientists tend to agree that there are no guarantees that the transition period which follows the dissolution of an authoritarian regime will result in the installation of a democratic one. In fact, studies of transitions to democracy that occurred in different European and Latin American countries emphasize the uncertainties inherent to the transition process (O'Donnell, Schmitter and Whitehead, 1986 ). According to Guillermo 0' Donnell and Phillip C. Schmitter, these uncertainties can be explained by the fact that during the transition the rules of the political game are not defined. Not only are they in constant f 1 ux, but they are usually arduously contested; actors struggle not just to satisfy their immediate interests and/or the interests of those whom they purport to represent, but also to define rules and procedures whose configuration will determine likely winners and losers in the future (O'Donnell and Schmitter 1986, 6) Hence, this absence of defined rules and the underlining conflicts of interests that characterize the transition can easily contribute to the build up of tension and ultimately to the emergence of political turmoil that


31 could lead to its collapse. Since the need for change is at the basis of the transition, the first task of any transitional government should be to take measures in that direction. But, changes do not come without resistance, for if certain sectors of society support the idea of reform, others have an interest in the maintenance of the status quo. And, even among the sectors which agree on the need for changes there is likely to be some disagreement on the means to achieve them. In more concrete terms, after the fall of an authoritarian regime the different social groups or institutions that benefitted from it can constitute a powerful barrier to any attempt at changing the existing system while those who have been marginalized can become increasingly aggressive in their push for the institution of a new order. So, amid the climate of conflicts and contestation that tends to characterize the transition period, only the recourse to negotiation and consensus can provide the chance for a more or less successful outcome. These considerations lead us to the heart of the problems that could account for the failure of the Haitian transition. As I have underlined in the preceding chapter, in a context of deep social, economic and political inequalities resulting from the existence of definite structures of domination which allow one sector of society to accumulate wealth while another is confined to subhuman living conditions, there are very few chances of achieving any kind of compromise. Indeed the roots of the failure of


32 the transition lie in the escalation of conflicts due to the willingness of the dominant classes allied with the hierarchy of the military to keep intact the socio-political structures that guarantee their privileges, and the strong determination of the popular sector to induce the activation of the democratization process as the only way to capture state power and ensure the implementation of reforms. Thus, the failure of the democratization process can be explained by the emergence of the military as guardian of the status quo, and its systematic use of violence against the popular movement which provoked the radicalization of the latter; the electoral victory of a candidate representing the popular sector and his attempt at opening reforms that triggered the military 'coup d'etat.' It will be necessary to clarify the circumstances that led to the fall of the authoritarian regime in order to understand the subsequent development of the transition period. The Fall of the Duvalier Regime. During almost three decades the Duvaliers and their supporters enjoyed the control of the state and its prebends at the expense of civil society which was held hostage through careful monitoring by government security forces and the threatening presence of the dreaded Ton tons Macoutes. But, nothing lasts forever. By the beginning of the 80's, the decades-long practice of state funds embezzlement by the


33 Duvalier family and high officials of the regime, the waste of public funds through the distribution of bribes coupled with endemic administrative negligence and the virtual absence resulted of any plan of national in a deep economic crisis. economic development Understandably, the segments of the population which suffered the most were the lowest classes, particularly the peasantry and the urban proletariat. The regime remained completely indifferent to the growing hardship that the masses confronted. Absorbed in their luxurious lifestyle, the beneficiaries of the system, from the lowest Macoutes to the high level officials and their bourgeois allies were totally oblivious of the plight of the people. As the crisis worsened, in the rural areas as well as in the ,proviricia1 towns and the slums of the capital "despair turned (Trouillot 1990, into anger 219) By and anger into defiance" 1984, the first mass demonstrations against the regime erupted. During the two years that followed, manifestations of popular discontent through demonstrations, strikes and roadblocks increased. Facing a major political crisis the regime responded with constant repression while trying to make some concessions by allowing the functioning of political parties and by releasing political prisoners. But, neither repression nor concession could subdue the revolt of a civil society that once and for all demanded the end of the dictatorship as the


34 first step toward the establishment of democracy. On February 7, 1986, Jean-Claude Duvalier left Haiti. There is no doubt that the upsurge of political action by the oppressed classes played a crucial role in the dissolution of the authoritarian regime. For, the consistent pressure of the popular movement provoked not only the international isolation of Duvalier's government, but also dissension within the regime itself that precipitated its collapse. But, as Alfred Stepan (1986, 78-79) observes, society-led regime termination is more likely to lead to a change of leadership than to democratization. And, according to Stepan the most likely outcome of sharp crises of authoritarian regimes stemming from diffuse pressures and forces in society is either a newly constituted successor authoritarian government, or a caretaker military junta promising elections in the future. These observations closely parallel the circumstances surrounding the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier and their impact on the subsequent development of the transition. For as I will explain, if the revolt of the popular sectors and their continuous mobilization was indispensable for the termination of the regime, it lacked the organization and the coordination that was necessary to push its agenda of democratization. These limits of the popular movement


35 facilitated the emergence of the military on the political scene. The unbearable misery experienced by the masses was enough to set in motion their revolt against the government, and their persistence and uncompromising determination as well as their demand for democracy reflected a certain degree of political awareness. This qualitative difference made it harder for the government to recuperate or diffuse the movement of contestation through palliative measures and brutal force. The popular opposition that the regime faced was the result of a broad democratic movement that included some progressive religious groups, students, trade unionists, political and social organizations, progressive intellectuals, the independent press and even some liberal members of the bourgeoisie (Dupuy 1989, 185-186). At the core of this movement was the progressive sector of the Catholic Church which, through the teaching of the theology of liberation, had engaged in the systematic work of 'consciousness-raising I among the masses. Articulating their message around the issue of social justice, progressive priests and nuns managed to stimulate the people, to bring them to stand up for their rights and not give up, to take initiatives to free themselves and improve their situation. Through the 'ti legliz I (popular church) the people found a new spirit of solidarity and the hope that things could change. In reality, every sector of the democratic movement contributed to this work of


36 'consciousness-raising' through their consistent denunciation of the regime's policies and practices. So, the demands for democracy voiced by the demonstrators not only reflected their acknowledgement of the existing political system as the main source of their problems, but also the awareness of their needs. That apparent level of political consciousness within the population certainly contributed to the endurance and the force of its opposition to the Duvalier dictatorship. But, the popular movement was not yet well politically organized and lacked the coordination to ensure the enforcement of democracy. In any event, it was politicized enough to keep alive the protests that ultimately led to the erosion of the regime support and to its termination. Certainly, Jean-Claude Duvalier could have stayed in power at the price of tremendous bloodshed. But, in the last two months of his government, this option became more and more impossible as he was losing the support of former supporters and political allies as well as the support of the bourgeoisie which as a block feared that the increasing popular discontent could jeopardize the very system that sustained their privileges. The withdrawal of support from the dominant classes carne as the result of the failure of the government to crunch the growing protest of the population. The bourgeoisie as well as strong segments of Duvalierist supporters quickly understood that the use of violence against demonstrators only added fuel to the fire


37 and that the only solution in order to save the system was to pressure the dictator to leave. R-elying mainly on the militia and the army, two institutions that monopolized the use of violence, Duvalier and his government still hoped to get through the crisis. But, the last blow to the regime came from the military which showed an increasing neutrality as many officers refused to go along with the repression while the threat of a coup d'etat by the high command became imminent (Trouillot 1990, 219-220). This change of position of the army finally convinced the dictator that it was time to leave. By moving in that direction, the hierarchy of the military not only responded to the wish of the dominant sectors of society, but also acted in their own interests which were tied to the oligarchy. To the elite as a whole the strategy was simple: sacrifice Jean-Claude Duvalier in order to break the popular opposition and save the system. To the military, facilitating the departure of dictator not only allowed them to appease the masses and regain some kind of credibility, but also allowed them to emerge as the institution capable of managing the crisis. Above all their smooth intervention ensured their role as caretaker of the transition process. The Emergence of the Military as Agent of the Status Quo. The intervention of the Haitian military on the political scene had a double significance. First, it was


38 meant to forestall mass actions and break the popular movement; second, by assuming power, the military had a hand in determining the direction of the transition. Despite their pledge to steer the country toward democracy, to respect human rights and to guarantee freedom of speech and association, as the transition unfolded, the agenda of the military became clearer: to deactivate the popular movement through tacit or open repression and to impose their own brand of democracy through carefully controlled elections. This institution, still dominated by Duvalierist officers, had its own interest in keeping intact the existing structures of domination and the political system that sustained it. In other words the members of the military hierarchy who were in charge of the transition were no democrats, and it is no surprise that through decisions and actions during the transition period revealed themselves as agents of the status quo. their they From 1986 to 1990 the different transitional governments that purely military, succeeded themselves (civilian-military, and-military controlled) shared one thing in common: their systematic opposition to the democratic movement. The demands for change, justice and democracy by the population fell on the deaf ears of the generals. As the popular pressure increased so did the repression. The issues and events that demonstrate the negative role of the military during the transition are numerous, but some of them are salient enough to retain our attention.


39 The first clash between the JDilit.ary and the popular democratic sector occurred around the issue of the prosecution of notorious human rights abusers from the previous regime. always retained This of "settling the attention of students accounts" has of democratic transition. If there is a consensus on the sensitive character of the issue, there are disagreements on the ways to deal with it. While some analysts favor a policy of clemency as a way to ease the tension inherent to transition, others make a strong case for imposing judgment upon human rights offenders as a way to "provide social and ideological support for political democracy" (O'Donnell and Schmitter 1986, 30). In Haiti, some of the abuses were too fresh to be ignored, and the population was exerting pressure to have the criminals brought to justice. But instead, the military helped the worst Duvalierist criminals flee the country, and even protected those who chose to stay though they were facing threats of popular justice. Meanwhile they did not hesitate to open fire on demonstrators that opposed their behavior. Another source of conflict, was the issue of 'deduvalierization' which suggested "the renewal of political personnel" in order to "give increased legitimacy to institutions that were devalued under the old regime" (Dumas 1988, 16-17). In asking for the uprooting of Duvalierist forces from the state apparatus, the popular democratic opposition not only exposed the problem of the legitimacy


40 and credibility of those who held power, but also indicated the need for their removal as a necessary step toward democratization. To the democratic opposition, the path toward democratization required the presence of individuals committed to the ideal of democracy and reform within the state institutions. It was clear that if justice was to prevail and corruption stopped, the Duvalierist administration had to be replaced. The uprooting of Duvalierist forces never really occurred. If under pressure the military sacrificed one or two individuals, they maintained the remaining Duvalierist forces in their privileged and powerful positions. Moreover, under the successive military governments that emerged during the transition, corruption reached new heights. Nepotism and clientelism increased; diversion of public funds by top government officials and government functionaries escalated; contraband resumed. If members of the army benefitted the most from this situation, in general it was the same social sector as before which took advantage of that situation. Facing the reluctance of the military to initiate changes necessary for a democratic opening, the democratic sector increased its pressure to obtain the elaboration of a new constitution and the organization of elections. The military leaders complied with both demands. In March, 1987, the Haitian people overwhelmingly approved the new constitution by referendum. The 1987 constitution was very liberal in essence, but above all it presented some


41 safeguards against dictatorship by l imiting the president's term in office to one year and by reducing the power of the executive; it met the needs of the peasants and popular classes by recognizing Creole as an official language, by classifying voodoo as a religion which rightly belonged to the national patrimony and by acknowledging the necessity of an agrarian reform; it forbade former collaborators of the Duvalier regime to run or hold public office for a period of ten years and it made provisions for the creation of a electoral council in charge of organizing and supervising the elections (Dupuy 1989,193; Hurbon 1987,23). To the democratic sector, the exclusion of the Duvalierists from the political process as well as the establishment of an independent electoral council curtailing the influence of the army, represented a door out of Duvalierism. The army and their Duvalierist allies saw the constitution not only as an act of defiance, but also as a threat. The elections were set for November 1987. But as that date got closer, confrontation became inevitable. The elections represented the best opportunity for the popular democratic movement to capture state power through the establishment of a democratically elected government that would respond to the need for an alternative social and economic system. To ensure their victory at the elections, the different social groups behind the popular movement, from political parties to peasant organizations, joined together to present a unique candidate for the presidential


42 elections. The army faced a much more organized opposition than earlier. Consequently, state sponsored violence increased, the army targeted the electoral council and went as far as to try to dissolve it. Meanwhile the Duvalierists threatened to start a civil war if their candidate was rejected. The electoral council, referring to the article of the constitution rejected the candidacy of all Duvalierists. On election day, November 29 1987, as the victory of the candidate of the popular movement was imminent, Duvalierists thugs backed by the army opened fire on lines of waiting voters at various polls killing hundreds of people. The electoral council called off the elections. Once again the military had the last word. The failure of the elections of November 1987, set the pace of the transition for the three following years. The army made its point that if ever democracy had to happen it would be on its own terms and that its priority was to preserve the continuity of the system. From 1987 to 1990, to justify their continued power, the successive military leaders have argued that the Haitian people were not ready for democracy and that work and food were their only needs. In fact the military perceived the masses as a bunch of illiterate and immature people who needed a strong hand to guide them. Meanwhile they were unable to subdue social mobilization which gained in intensity and in organizational quality.


43 The Victory of the Popular Movement. As Duvalier did, the military underestimated the strength and the determination of the popular opposition. If the popular movement that led to the overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship lacked in organization and coordination, the popular opposition that the military encountered was qualitatively different. On one hand since the aborted elections of 1987, the popular coalition of movements and parties had been actively organizing. To the different transitional governments they presented an unified front that intervened repeatedly on the political scene through well staged manifestations, and coordinated general strikes and permanent denunciations of the military regimes. On the other hand, the level of politization of the masses had increased to the point that their demands showed a certain degree of class consciousness and ideological radicalization. From that point on, general protests corruption, high cost of living and repression were redefined as specific social demands such as agrarian and taxes reforms, wage increase, and economic and political decentralization (Midy 1992) These demands which were at the forefront of the popular movement reflected the need for social changes and indicated the increasing occupation of the political space by the popular classes through peasants' associations and labor unions. This emergence of these historically marginalized sectors on the political scene


44 marked their determination to end their exclusion by defending their rights to participate in the decision process. To the popular opposition as a whole, the struggle for democracy was in fact a struggle for a new social contract that demanded the transformation of the political and socio-economic structures of the state itself. During the first four years of the transition (1986-1990), the popular opposition became better organized, ideologically stronger and politically more experienced. These improvements explained the failure of the deliberate and repressive policy of demobilization attempted by the army. Certainly the popular movement experienced some setbacks, but each time it came back stronger. Its strong and permanent mobilization was instigating the frequent change of transitional governments (four governments in four years) due to coups d'etat' that reflected not only dissensions among the dominant sector, but also division within the army itself and its increasing difficulty to cope with the crisis and keep the traditional system alive. This unstable political situation did not persist without major consequences for the national economy which deteriorated rapidly due, on the one hand, to the frequent general strikes and on the other, to the rampant corruption and increasing contraband activities. The emergence of competitive factions within the military, its incapacity to solve the political, social and economic problems coupled with the radicalization of the popular movement which showed


45 signs of its readiness to use violence, indicated that the crisis had reached a dead end. Losing the support of the bourgeoisie, isolated by the international community and overwhelmed by the pressure from popular opposition, the military finally handed power to a civilian government whose task was to organize new elections. The elections of December 1990 which led to the victory of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the candidate of the popular sector, were the first democratic elections in Haitian history. The landslide victory of Aristide (70% of the vote) can be explained by many factors. 1) As a Catholic priest, Aristide had been working with the poor in the slums of the capital acquiring a first hand experience of the unspeakable misery of the masses. As an adherent of the theology of liberation which emphasizes social justice he had been a vigorous critic of the Duvalier regime and frequently denounced the selfishness of the dominant classes and their unrestricted exploitation of the poor. As a Aristide showed his commitment to the masses by articulating his message around the themes of social change, the need for reform, the necessity to allow the participation of the popular classes in the decision-making process and above all the de-Duvalierization of the system. In short, Aristide responded to the willingness of the large majority of the population to move on with the establishment of a democracy based not only on political freedom, but also on social and economic justice and participation. And last, he had the


46 strong support of the broad coalition that constituted the popular opposition. 2) The candidate of the bourgeoisie, Marc Bazin, a former economist of the World Bank, had made his reputation as the minister of finance fired by Jean-Claude Duvalier trying to implement fiscal reform and curbing corruption in the Duvalier administration and was well liked by Washington (Dupuy 1989, 194). As a candidate, Bazin emphasized the need for economic development, falling short of criticizing the system that maintained the underdevelopment of the country. Trapped in an empty rhetoric, his incapacity to appeal to the masses reflected the longtime failure of the dominant classes to establish some kind of hegemony. Therefore, in an honest election Bazin was no competition for Aristide. 3) The free and honest character of the elections was due to the supervision of international organizations which through their presence "neutralized the classic interventions of the army, the oligarchy and foreign powers into the electoral process" (Castor 1992, 39). The capture of state power by the popular sector indicated the incapacity of the dominant classes to prevent what they perceived as a threat to their traditional power. But, due mainly to their archaism the different sectors of the Haitian elite were not ready to comply with the constraint of a democratic outcome, and even less with the


advent of social change. In this regard the against Aristide's government marked the transition and the return to authoritarianism. The Return to Authoritarianism. 47 'coup d'etat' end of the Aristide' s government lasted only seven months (February 1991-September 1991). These months were marked by growing tensions between the government and different institutions and social groups due to the start of the implementation of reform in various areas. Reform was a priority for the institutionalization of democracy. Aristide' s' government emerged from a democratic election with the specific mandate of initiating the transformation of the basic structures of the political and social system which was at the core of the Haitian crisis. It was not an easy task since the government faced a Duvalierist system left intact by the military regimes. Furthermore it inherited the legacy of four years of growing political polarization on the background of civil unrest and brutal repression which constituted important obstacles to the building of consensus. The government had to move on. It engaged in the reorganization of the public administration, an inefficient, corrupt and overstaffed Duvalierist stronghold which absorbed most of the state revenue. The government initiated a fiscal reform that would ensure the payment of taxes by all social sectors. To allow the free


48 development of commerce and encourage healthy competition, it proceeded to suppress all monopolies controlling the sale of basic products and took some necessary measures to combat the contraband that directly threatened regular commerce. It also dissolved the rural police whose arbitrary, corrupt and repressive practices had long been a burden for the peasantry (Castor 1992, 35). And, as stipulated by the 1987 Constitution, it started the procedure that would lead to the separation of the police from the army ( in Haiti, the police is part of the army). By taking those steps, Aristide's government shook the bases of the established system and attacked its very mechanism of exploitation and domination. These reforms, as necessary as they were to the process of democratization, were perceived by the various sectors of the dominant classes as threats to their privileges and interests. According to the new rules and procedures that were shape within this stage of the transition, the future winner would obviously be civil society. And the potential losers would encompass the sector of the bourgeoisie which had always enjoyed tax exemptions and commercial monopolies, middle class functionaries who had been victims of the compression and reform in the public administration, many members of the military hierarchy who had benefited from the drug trafficking and the contraband activities, as well as the military as a whole which saw its eventual separation with the police as a threat to its domination, and finally


49 the Duvalierists who could not come to term with their loss of power, and a large sector of the political class who was not ready to accept democratic rules. These are the traditional forces of domination that will instigate the military 'coup d'etat'. On September, 30, 1991, the hierarchy of the military institution organized a coup d'etat' to topple the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Conscious of the popular support of the government and having experienced the strength and determination of popular mobilization, this time, the army moved fast. Soldiers occupied the streets and surrounded the various slums of the capital and provinces where support for Aristide was stronger and opened fire with heavy machine guns. On the first day of the 'coup, hundreds were killed. After one week, as the massacre continued, casualties climbed to thousands. The violence that followed the 'coup' indicated that this time the army was prepared to annihilate the popular movement once and for all; the strategy was to 'kill the chicken in the egg' The violence also reflected the degree of panic and fear of the privileged social sectors which supported the 'coup d'etat.' As I mentioned above, in Haiti, any attempt at democratization should involve a transformation of the state. By initiating reforms, Aristides' government was on the right track, by shifting the state from its traditional role of instrument of class domination to one of an


50 institution in the service of the general interest. While democracy is the only way to guarantee the general interest, only authoritarianism can ensure class domination. So, a return to authoritarianism was the only option for the forces of resistance to change to ensure the continuation of their privileges. Within that context, one can understand the various factors which precipitated the military 'coup d'etat' that marked the failure of the transition.


51 4. CONCLUSION An explanation for the failure of the democratic transition in Haiti lies in the existence of sharp conflictual economic and social relationships of classes that are inherent to dependent capitalism. The various obstacles that ended up thwarting the democratization process found their source within the relationship of domination which ensure the accumulation of wealth for a minority and the population. The increasing social and misery of political the rest of polarization the that characterized Haitian society at the time of the transition were the result of deep social, political and economic inequalities. The impossibility to resolve conflicts that degenerated into civil unrest and political turmoil stemmed from the very incompatibility of the socio-economic structure of dependent capitalism with the political and social equalities and the provision of equal economic opportunities required by the democracy as a regime. Indeed, the transition period that followed the fall of the Duvalier regime was marked by growing confrontation between the different groups and institutions that benefitted from the previous regime and the popular sector


52 that pressed for changes. At issue was the implementation of reforms that would lead to the transformation of the Haitian state which has always functioned as an instrument of domination at the service of the Haitian oligarchy. The unwillingness of the dominant class to abandon a system that guaranteed its privileges and the growing mobilization of the masses which demanded political, social and economic democratization contributed to the escalation of conflicts. The civil unrest and political turmoil that emerged from this climate of tension left little room for the initiation of negotiation and the achievement of consensus. Moreover, the conflicts that clouded the transition period were fostered by the endurance of the Duvalierist legacy. The alliance between the Duvalier's government and the traditional dominant sector of the local bourgeoisie and foreign capital reenforced the political and economic discrimination against the peas an try and the urban proletariat. The government ensured the exclusion of these groups from the political and economic process through the use of repression and coercion. In doing so, the Duvalier regime pushed the existing system of domination to its extreme, and upon his departure Jean-Claude Duvalier left a country socially and politically polarized. But, nothing was more detrimental for the transition process than the corrupt and repressive army that the dictator left behind. The members of the hierarchy of the military institution who were in charge of the transition have been


53 deeply involved in the maintenance of the dictatorship and have developed very close ties with the Haitian bourgeoisie. Indeed, the military remained a Duvalierist dominated institution which has its interests in the maintenance of the existing structures of the Haitian society. Its emergence as guardian of the status quo contributed to the failure of the democratic transition through the army's resistance to initiate any democratic reform and the consistent use of violence against the popular sector. The refusal of the military to make a clean break with the structure and practice of the previous regime has been determinant in the outcome of the transition. The military 'coup d'etat' that put an end to the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide confirmed the opposition of the military hierarchy and their allies within the dominant class to any attempt at reforms that could endanger their privileges. The return to authoritarianism that marked the of the transition cannot be attributed to the lack of democratic culture within the Haitian society. While it is true that Haitians have had almost no experience with democracy, it is also true that their extensive experience with authoritarianism was certainly extensive enough to convince the Haitian people and particularly the lower classes that a regime that would allow the rule of law and the advent of social justice is better than one that


54 guarantees the reproduction of a system based on exclusion and marginalization. The failure of the democratic transition in Haiti and the return to authoritarianism has its roots in the endemic conflicts of interests that make difficult the institutionalization of democracy within the socio-economic structures of dependent capitalism. Such findings support a structural and economic explanation of the difficulties of democratization in dependent countries as reflected in the works of O'Donnell (1973,1986), Cardoso (1979) and Roberts (1985) rather than a cultural one. One can only agree with Kenneth Roberts (1985, 24) when he states that "long-term democratization may not be possible without the prior transformation of the dependent capitalist state and the structure of domination which undergirds it." In this thesis I have tried to acknowledge only the internal factors that contributed to the failure of the attempt at democratization in Haiti. In order to have a more complete picture of the transition period further studies should concentrate on the weight of external factors, such as the role of the U.S.A, on the outcome of the transition.


55 REFERENCES Abbott, E. (1988). Haiti: The Duyaliers and Their Legacy. New York: Simon and Schuster. Cardoso, F. ( 1979) "On the Characterization of Authoritarian Regimes in Latin America." In Collier, D.. The New Authoritarianism in Latin America. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Castor, S. (1992). "Les Structures de Domination et Resistance au Changement." In O.N.G .. Groupes de base et Democratie en Haiti. Association Quebecoise des Organismes de Cooperation Internationales. 31-40. Diamond, L., & Linz, J. ( 1989) "Politics, Society and Democracy in Latin America." In Diamond, L. Linz J., & Lipset, S. Democracy in Developing Countries: Lati n America. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Diamond, L. Linz, J., & Lipset, S. (1990). Politics in Developing Countries: Comparing Exoeriences with Democracy. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Dominique, J. (1992). "L'Armee d'Haiti, un obstacle a la Democracie. in 0. N. G. ; Grouoes de Base et Democratie en Haiti. Association Quebecoise des Organismes de Cooperation Internationale, 24-30. Dumas, P. (1988). "Legitimizing Politics." In Haiti's Future: Views of Twelve Haitian Washington D.C.: The Wilson Center Press. Dupuy, A. (1989). Haiti in the World Economy. Westview Press. Morse, R. Leaders. Colorado: Evans, P. (1979). Dependent Develooment. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Huntington, S. (1991). The Third wave. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Hurbon, L. (1987). Comprendre Haiti: Essai sur l'Etat. la Nation. la Culture. Port-au-Prince: Henry Deschamps.


56 Laguerre, M. (1993). The Military and Society in Haiti. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press. Lipset, s. (1993). "The centrality of Political Culture." in Diamond, L. & Plattner, F. The Global Resurgence of Democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Midy, F. (1992). "Contribution des O.N.G. Haitiennes au processus Democratique en Haiti." In O.N.G .. Grouoes de Base et Democratie en Haiti. Association Quebecoise des Organismes de Cooperation Internationale, 60-65. O'Donnell, G. (1973). Modernization and Bureaucratic Berkeley: University of California. Authoritarianism. O'Donnell, G. & Schmitter, P. (1986). "Tentative Conclusion about Uncertain Democracies. In 0 Donnell G. Schmitter, P. & Whitehead, L. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Roberts, K. (1985). Democracy and the Dependent Capitalist State in Latin America. Monthly Review: October 1985, 12-26. Sanguinetti, J. (1993). "Present of the Transition." In Diamond, L. & Plattner, M. The Global Resurgence of Democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University. Schmitter, P. & is not." Resurgence University Kar 1 T ( 19 9 3 ) In Diamond, L. of Democracy. Press. "What Democracy is . and & Plattner, F. The Baltimore: Johns Hop:K ns Stepan, A. (1986). "Paths toward Re-Democratization: Theoretical and Comparative Considerations." In O'Donnell, G., Schmitter, P. & Whitehead, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. Prospects for Democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Trouillot, M.R. (1990). Haiti: State against Nation. the Origins and Legacy of Duyalierism. New York: Monthly Review Press. Weinstein, B. & Segal, A. Politics. New York: ( 1992) Haiti: The Failure of Praeger Publishers.


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