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September 6th, 2005
Unfinished Country
Handbook: Haiti's Developing Civil Society: Intro

The Haitian state has never been able to create stable institutions, nor has it built public infrastructure adequate to serve the needs of its people or business community. As a result, Haiti’s people have faced not only a 200-year-long series of political crises, but they’ve found themselves facing a daunting — and potentially catastrophic — set of economic, social, and environmental challenges.

Where the state has been unable to serve, private institutions have begun to step in. Unthinkable under the dictatorship of François Duvalier, non-governmental organizations began to evolve during the brief period of liberalization instituted during Jean-Claude Duvalier’s reign, and began to work more publicly after Jean-Bertrand Aristide came to power in 1991. Today, a multitude of local and regional groups, along with several international organizations, serve Haitians who have been underserved by their own government. Meanwhile, intrepid journalists and outspoken artists keep those people informed and entertained, and provide an arena in which the Haitian people can express themselves, against the odds.

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