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Haitian Economic Crisis Fuels New Crisis

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In February 2019, massive protest and violence broke out in Haiti, near the capital of Port-au-Prince, leaving the country in catastrophe. News that the Haitian government has misused the funds from PetroCaribe—an oil agreement Haiti had with Venezuela, intended for fund Haitian social development—sparked the protests. Savings from the deal, which was supposed to provide Haiti with Venezuelan oil at discounted rates and low interest rates, were supposed to fund social programs for health care, child care, education, and housing.

Ten years since Haiti’s massive earthquake, its economy remains precarious  and citizens inclined to question their political leaders’ credibility took to the streets in response to the news that their nation owes $2 billion in debts to Venezuela, even as the promised social programs have gone unfunded. The disorder—including public protests, mass jailbreaks, and shortages of food, fuel and drinking water—have disrupted businesses, schools, and hospitals, and led to calls for the prime minister, Jovenel Moise, to resign.

As of March 2019, the PBS NewsHour appears to have been the only major, establishment news organization in the US to cover this story.

Sources:

Kelley Czajka, “Violent Anti-Government Protests in Haiti,” Pacific Standard, February 16, 2019, https://psmag.com/news/violent-anti-government-protests-in-haiti-in-photos.

Jacqueline Charles, “For Haitians, a reprieve from violence and protests on Sunday, but uncertainty remains,” Miami Herald, February 17, 2019,  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article226369690.html.

Student Researcher: Kristen Oakley (Drew University)

Faculty Evaluator: Lisa Lynch (Drew University)

Daniel Christof

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