This report provides background information on the violent and authoritarian traditions that have characterized Haiti's political dynamics since Haiti attained independence in 1804. It examines Haiti's difficult path toward democracy after the fall of the Duvalier regime, from numerous short-lived governments until the election of Aristide. Finally, the report also surveys Aristide's rule and his subsequent overthrow by the Haitian military.
In 1915, the United States undertook a military occupation of Haiti to preempt any European intervention, to establish order out of civil strife, and to stabilize Haitian finances. During the nineteen-year occupation, U.S. military and civilian officials, numbering less than 2500 for the most part, supervised the collection of taxes and the disbursement of revenues, maintained public order, and initiated a program of public works. The Haitian government remained in place, but was subject to U.S. guidance. The Haitian people benefitted from the end of endemic political violence and from the construction of roads, bridges, and ports as well as from improved access to health care. The U.S. occupation was, nonetheless, deeply resented throughout Haitian society, and many of its accomplishments did not long endure its termination in 1934.
This report tracks the efforts to restore to office President Aristide of Haiti between the years 1991-1994. During this period, the main U.S. foreign policy concern was the restoration of the democratic process to Haiti. Closely related to this was the issue of Haitians attempting to flee to the United States by boat. Congressional concerns focused on human rights, Haitian migration, socioeconomic conditions, and drug trafficking.