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Caribbean & Central America - December 2018

HAITI: Politics in Haiti: the more things change, the more they stay the same

Haiti is known as a country of earthquakes, but more common than seismic events are ruptures in the body politic. With the appointment by President Jovenel Moïse of Jean-Henry Céant as Prime Minister in September 2018, the country welcomes its tenth head of government in as many years. The latest change came after a wave of protests forced the reversal of the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK) government’s ill-judged decision in July 2018 to increase fuel prices by 38%-51% overnight, the initial announcement having been quietly made while much-adored Brazil were playing their World Cup quarter-final. In a young democracy stunted by multiple coup d’états and external interventions, with turnout in elections barely topping 20% and a largely ineffective parliament, street demonstrations are the main means by which the opposition can mobilise and challenge policy. The incoming administration therefore starts on the back foot and firefighting, despite early policy statements recognising the need to address deep structural issues around infrastructure, health, and education, and to boost investment.

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