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Haiti Table of Contents



Government: Dynastic dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended in February 1986, when Jean-Claude Duvalier fled in face of popular revolt. He was succeeded by five-member National Council of Government (Conseil National de Gouvernement--CNG), made up of two military officers and three civilians. Members of constituent assembly, elected by popular vote in October 1986, produced new constitution ratified by plebiscite on March 29, 1987. Presidential elections held on November 29, 1987, disrupted by violent attacks perpetrated mainly by former members of Duvalier's paramilitary organization, the tonton makouts. Armed forces administered subsequent presidential balloting on January 17, 1988. In balloting marked by nonparticipation by major candidates and low voter turnout, Leslie F. Manigat elected president. Manigat overthrown on June 20, 1988, by military coup led by Lieutenant General Henri Namphy, who had headed CNG. Namphy suspended 1987 Constitution and ruled as dictator. Lieutenant General Prosper Avril, backed by significant faction of noncommissioned officer corps, overthrew Namphy on September 17, 1988. Avril partially reinstated 1987 Constitution in March 1989 and survived coup attempt in April 1989 by officers with Duvalierist ties. Avril promised elections and paid lip service to democracy but essentially ruled as a military dictator.

Politics: Long history of rule by military leaders and dictators. François Duvalier, elected September 1957 in fairest direct elections in country's history, went on to establish dictatorship based on terror, manipulation, and co-optation of citizenry mainly through mechanism of the tonton makouts. After Duvalier's death in 1971, power passed to his son, JeanClaude , whose excessive corruption and cronyism drained country's resources. Riots beginning in October 1985 overwhelmed the indecisive Duvalier and prompted military conspirators to demand his resignation and flight into exile in February 1986. PostDuvalier instability attributable to weakness of nation's institutions and to complete inexperience with pluralistic democratic government.

International Relations: Focused mainly on United States, country's leading trade partner and (traditionally) major source of foreign aid, and neighboring Dominican Republic. International condemnation of Duvalier regime isolated country during 1960s and 1970s. Jean-Claude's economic policies, calculated to attract foreign investment and tourism, relieved this isolation to some extent. Relations with other Latin American and Caribbean countries limited by linguistic and cultural disparities.

International Agreements and Membership: Party to Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty). Also member of United Nations, Organization of American States, InterAmerican Development Bank, World Bank (see Glossary), International Monetary Fund (see Glossary), and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Data as of December 1989