“The roots of discontent in these countries lie in their poverty”. – Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail
With elections less than a week away, Haiti’s progress amidst decades of extreme poverty and corruption may be on the horizon. This is not to say that the state’s stabilization will be an easy feat. Woefully dependent on UN and foreign assistance, Haiti remains one of the world’s poorest countries. With unemployment hovering around 40%, a literacy rate of less than 50%, and 80% of the Haitian population living below the poverty line, tens of thousands of Haitians have fled to neighboring Dominican Republic in search of work and opportunities. What Haitians have found instead is a status of statelessness. Due to various social and political issues that have emerged as a result of mass Haitian migration to Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic has increasing refused to recognize the citizenship of many Haitians who have migrated to the country, whether legally or illegally.
Keeping in mind the importance of political rights as essential for state development and citizen opportunities, reviving Haiti’s democratic institutions is a necessary move in order to take a step towards progress. Haitian elections to be held on Sunday, 9 August 2015 will be the first elections held since the devastating 2010 earthquake which left the country in shambles. Efforts to stabilize Haiti in 2015 will require the restoration of necessary infrastructures and democratic institutions in Haiti, following successful democratic elections.
A state unable to provide for its citizens within its territory is unable to protect the rights of its citizens outside of its borders. A successful Haiti will be a Haiti that can protect and provide rights to its citizens, within Haiti in the hopes of mitigating emerging issues of citizenship and deportation of Haitian nationals living abroad. With 2015 elections quickly approaching, the post-election period must be characterized by an international commitment to Haiti’s stability and a Haitian commitment to development in upcoming years.