The Haitian Studies Association is an interdisciplinary scholarly organization created in 1987. Our mission is to promote the production, exchange, and dissemination of ideas and knowledge about Haiti and its Diaspora in a global context in order to inform pedagogy, practice, and policy.
International media often portray Haiti as being in continuous crisis since the successful revolution against slavery for independence and the birth of the Republic of Haiti in 1804. This representation of Haiti’s national history concurrently silences real concerns in the country and paints an incomplete picture of the current situation and its transnational roots and global connections. Throughout the world, people are protesting against neoliberal austerity, state corruption, the shift to authoritarianism, and unbridled repression. In exceptionalizing Haiti, Western critics fail to consider how Haitians fight valiantly for their freedom and sovereignty.
Mass outcries began in July 2018 after the International Monetary Fund directed the Haitian government to increase gas prices. Food prices rise as gas prices rise, since Haiti imports more than 50% of its food. These initial protests led some to question, “Where are the PetroCaribe funds?” Noting a number of incomplete infrastructure and sanitation projects throughout the country, activists demanded an inquiry into the dilapidation of more than $2 billion of PetroCaribe money earmarked for development. Haiti’s Supreme Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSCCA) found evidence of official corruption in which President Jovenel Moïse is implicated.
Since July 2018, protests have been met with repression. To date, the National Haitian Police (PHN) has killed over 30 protestors. The signatories of the two CSCCA reports have been threatened and many have gone into exile. Gangs for hire terrorize the population at large, especially neighborhoods known for dissent.
The massacre and dismemberment of approximately 60 people, including six children, in La Saline, in November 2018 still looms in the collective memory of protestors. Moreover, at least three journalists who critique state violence have been targets of extra-judicial killings. The Haitian state has been complicit in its inaction. People are dying: schools and healthcare facilities are closed.
Following the 31st Annual Conference in Gainesville from October 17 to October 19, 2019, while noting the absence of many HSA members living and working in Haiti, professors and students alike, wherein there was a strong show of support by more than a majority of attendees to take a position on the current situation in Haiti, the Haitian Studies Association issues this statement of solidarity with Haitians of all social categories, who demand change, government accountability, justice, security and a more dignified life.
HSA members are citizens and residents of many countries including Haiti, the United States, and Canada. We belong to and identify with diverse racial and ethnic communities with distinct political ideologies and religious beliefs.
As a collective of scholars of and on Haiti, it is our ethical imperative to add our voice in solidarity to demand:
Government accountability, beginning with an investigation and trial of the officials who embezzled the PetroCaribe funds;
The current Haitian President Jovenel Moïse to respect the rule of law;
The protection of the freedom of speech and assembly without fear of reprisal;
The protection of all Haitians from all forms of violence;
The protection and support for researchers in official investigations;
The non-intervention of foreign governments and agencies in the internal affairs of Haiti.