Haiti was the first black republic in the 19th century, created by a revolution that overthrew slavery maintained by French colonial rule.
But independence came at a cost and Haiti had to pay billions in compensation, which left the country bankrupt since its creation.
Added to the nation’s bankruptcy, high levels of inequality and poverty have persisted over the years, and political attempts to fight corruption have not ended well.
Jean Bertrand Aristide, the country’s first democratically-elected president in 1994, was removed from office twice when he confronted the country’s elite.
In 2010, a powerful magnitude 7 earthquake left the country destroyed and killed between 200,000 and 300,000 people. It left more than 1.5 million people displaced and the international community saw the disaster as an opportunity to rethink foreign aid.
But little has changed in Haiti a decade after the devastating earthquake.
Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise talks to Al Jazeera about reconstruction efforts and what is next for the country.
“We must not confuse the post-earthquake crisis with the socioeconomic crisis that we are currently going through in Haiti. The socioeconomic crisis is a permanent crisis. The state we have today is a predatory state that is governed by a few corrupt oligarchs who seek to control the key areas of development,” Moise explains.
Over $13bn were pledged to help Haiti recover from the earthquake. But according to the UN,Haitians only received half of the money they were promised by donors, led by the United States. Most of the funds were spent on short-term programmes to assist people with food, water and healthcare.
“This money should have been spent on building villages around Port-au-Prince, villages which would provide homes for I would say, tens of thousands of families. In terms of results, no reconstruction has actually taken place and I am someone who believes in lasting structural development,” says Moise.
Last year thousands took to the streets to protest against corruption, demanding President Moise’s resignation.
“Today it is as if I am being crucified, people are shouting: ‘Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!’,” Moise says arguing that he has been fighting against corruption despite the accusations from protesters.
Moise was mentioned in a corruption scandal involving the PetroCaribe fund, a strategic oil alliance signed with Venezuela where Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, bought subsidised oil from Venezuela. The Haitian government was supposed to use the extra money for social programmes and to advance the economy.
But billions from the fund were embezzled by those in charge and President Moise was mentioned in a 600-page investigation.
“I was placed on a cross and I descended from it to talk to the people to tell them that is was not my aim to work against them and now the people are beginning to understand,” he says.
Source: Al Jazeera