Jovenel Moïse and Haiti’s Economic, Political and Social Crisis

From the beginning of his political career, he was considered an actor prone to increase the country’s dependence on the U.S.

Jul 7. 2021

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated Wednesday in Port-au-Prince, led Latin America’s poorest country during 2017-2021, marked by deepening economic and political crisis, violence and insecurity, and radicalization of social protest.

Born in 1969 in the commune of Trou-du-Nord (North-West department), the former governor studied Political Science at the private Quisqueya University, located in Port-au-Prince, and then made a career in the business sector.

He was designated in 2015 as a presidential candidate by former president Michel Martelly (2011-2016) of the Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK).

According to the media, he was already considered prone to increase the country’s dependence on the United States and international aid from that moment on. Moreover, his eventual election was seen as the occasion for a possible setback in the country’s human rights situation.

Months later, in November 2016, he was elected President in the first round with 55.6 percent of the votes in elections. According to experts, about 21 percent of the eligible voters voted.

Massive protests against his government broke out in the summer of 2018 when the population took to the streets to reject the elimination of fuel subsidies, as recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This measure led to substantial gasoline price hikes.

Another generalized wave of discontent shook the Caribbean country at the beginning of 2019, motivated by the deterioration of living conditions, the increase in prices of the basic food basket, inflation, and the devaluation of the national currency (gourde).

The economic crisis, coupled with the effects of COVID-19 and the growing situation of insecurity (marked by clashes between criminal gangs, assaults, and kidnappings), drew the protests that began in mid-2020.

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Subsequently, the mobilizations incorporated the demand for Moïse to step down and make way for a democratic transition. Civil society pointed out to him that his mandate had ended in January 2021, but he reiterated that he would not leave the presidential chair.

The national political crisis also deepened since the former president ignored the legislative and local elections scheduled for 2019. Since then, he was left alone in power, and the opposition pointed out that he governed in an authoritarian manner.

His mandate was also tinged by allegations of corruption, as it happened when several sectors pressed to know the destination of funds delivered to the nation by the Petrocaribe energy cooperation agreement.

In an investigation report delivered to the Legislative, the Superior Court of Accounts of Haiti assured that companies belonging to the President and his predecessor, Martelly, were benefited with millionaire sums funds that were never seen again by the public.

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