Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
Haiti is in many ways a true social relic. Having lingered almost intact for more than a century and a half, this unfortunate country to a great extent is the past; its every ancient curiosity remains as precisely visible as a well-preserved archaeological artifact.
It is a land that may be seen under many aspects. Beauty is one of them, the beauty of mountain and sea, and the clouds and lights and mists that move over these. Exoticism is another. Colorful almost beyond description for the northern observer, everything in it is unfamiliar, fused out of dream-stuff into a wild semblance of reality. Poverty is still another, poverty more extreme than anywhere else in the hemisphere, more extreme than imagination, almost.
These are all proper angles of vision, but they reveal less of the nature of things than does the concept of division. In everything except the historical process itself there is a sundering, a discontinuity. Haitian geography, the frame of the national life, is as perverse and disruptive as anything outside the Indonesian archipelago. The long southern peninsula, the somewhat shorter northern peninsula, the middle area that separates rather than unites them, and the large island of Gonave in the bay of the same name, are continuous only in a formal sense. The straight-line distance from Port-au-Prince, the capital, to Jacmel on the southern coast, is a mere 40 miles. A road between the two centers exists, but only for a jeep or a Land Rover. Part of it consists of the rocky bed of a shallow stream, followed at the traveler's peril if sudden rains swell the flow of water, and the trip requires the better part of a day.
There is division among the people. If the intellectual élite is enlarged to include all those who can read and write, it still numbers less than 50,000, and the gulf between this generously defined élite (regardless of its own internal differences) and the illiterate others is very nearly a total barrier. There is division between city and countryside. All power, political endeavor, money and social standing, and about 10 percent of the population are in the few cities, very largely in Port-au-Prince, for this is one of the least urbanized nations in the world; in the countryside are 90 percent of the population and, with the fewest of exceptions, nothing whatsoever of power, political endeavor, money or social standing; and city and countryside meet only through the exploitation of the latter by the former. There is division in society, between those of lighter and those of dark skin, and between those few who can speak the refined and classical French of the socially elect, and those who speak only Creole. There is division even within the countryside, between a few grands dons, the peasants who have city connections and a bit of cash, and the typical peasants who have hardly more than their breath and the skins they were born with.
The root explanation of errant Haiti probably lies in the circumstances of the independence of which it is so proud. As a colony, St. Domingue had been one of the marvels of the world. It accounted, prior to 1789, for 40 percent of the entire foreign trade of France; by itself it outproduced the combined British possessions in the New World tropics; its traffic of ships, like the theatrical performances that may stand as the symbol of its abundant cultural life, numbered in the thousands annually. But the daughter of Africa, thoroughly seduced by Paris, was badly mistreated as well, and broke the relationship in a violent spasm. In 1804 Haiti became the first independent country in Latin America, and the first state in the world established through the revolt of slaves. There had been no time for tutelage in the arts of government, no sustained relation between ruler and ruled other than plantation slavery, no opportunity for the slow osmosis of acculturation. There was only the sharp stroke of violence, the destruction of the works of the hated French, and fold upon fold of isolation painstakingly gathered around the infant state.
By 1820 the founders of the nation-L'Ouverture, Dessalines, Pétion, Christophe-had all passed away and Haiti was becoming what it remains today, a peasant society of freeholders and renters and squatters bound by necessity to their small plots, a society imbued with the animist faiths of ancient Africa, poor, traditional, immobilized.
During the nineteen-year interval (1915-1934) in which the country was occupied by the U. S. Marines, the basic pattern of society was not altered and the old order, modified here and there, reasserted itself with surprising rapidity as soon as the alien military departed.
Then in 1957, with the advent of François Duvalier, the division that is characteristic of the nation was brought to a level of perfection never before attained. This rather short, mild, soft-voiced physician, harmless and even unattractive in appearance, vague in personality, bears within himself a genius for tyranny that has astounded the world; within a few years he had introduced several stratagems and institutional innovations that must surely be almost without precedent in the history of politics. Traces of cohesion in the governmental structure, and bits and pieces of an institutionalizing tendency visible in certain governmental departments that were developing a minor degree of autonomy under previous régimes have been swept away along with everything else by the wave of personal power with which Duvalier has inundated every former locus of strength and authority, public and private alike.
The army is the most important and informative example. From the time of its creation as an effective institution during the marine occupation, the army had stood at the central focus of national life; even under Duvalier it receives, together with the other security forces referred to below, between 60 and 70 percent of all government funds (education, in comparison, receives about eight to nine percent). Controlling telephone and telegraph communications between the capital and outlying areas, running the national airline, extending its chain of command into every hamlet through its police functions, the army was the only organized, structured body in the country, and for years it exercised ultimate political as well as police authority. None of this now remains. By a score of devices, by calculated discharges and appointments (as many as 70 officers have been dismissed at one time), by setting individuals and groups against one another, by enticements and bribery and violence, by the exile of even some of the officers who led the Duvalier movement within the army, Duvalier has splintered and outman?uvred the officer caste and reduced it to a corps of servile supporters. Every professionalizing tendency has been heavily suppressed; the Military Academy has been closed for years.
The President has caused the entire national arsenal, including the heavy weapons, to be stored in the basement of the National Palace, so that the beautiful, clean-lined white capitol is less a civil structure than a fortress. The present National Palace is the fourth of its kind; all three predecessors were blown up by the explosion of munitions stored in the basements.
The bizarre is linked to the violent, the comical to the tragic. On June 8, 1967, somewhat before midnight, Duvalier summoned 19 senior staff officers, including the Chief of Staff, to the National Palace, where they were loaded into a truck and taken to the dreaded Fort Dimanche, the scene of many horrors. At the rifle range adjacent to the fort they could see, in the macabre illumination of truck headlights, that 19 stakes had been planted in the ground and that 19 brother officers were already bound to them. The newly arrived staff officers were each given a rifle with a single bullet in the chamber. By order of the President, who attended and commanded in person, they were forced to raise their rifles and shoot their helpless colleagues. It was done without the wasting of a single bullet.
But the most important steps in the attrition of the armed forces were probably the successive creations of countervailing centers of military and police power loyal only to the President, and so lacking in organization that no opposition could coalesce around them. The first, whose assembling was begun in 1958, was the tonton macoute, named from the bogeymen of Haitian legend, recruited generally (although not invariably) among the toughs and outcasts of Port-au-Prince. Violent, often illiterate, men of no other prospect in life, many of them committed to a philosophy of strong black nationalism, they were given guns, access to rackets and oppressions, immunity and carte blanche, provided only that they would obey the orders of Duvalier without question or scruple. This they have done gladly. The Presidential Guard, with perhaps 700 members, traditionally an élite unit, was made into a second center of personal military power through selective promotions and a new semi-autonomous status. Reporting now not to the General Staff but to Duvalier, barracked on the grounds of the National Palace, with the basement armory under its control, the Guard is by this time largely an extension of the President. A third center has been formed by means of a special battalion, numbering about 500, and supplied with the most modern weaponry, which also reports directly to Duvalier and is barracked on the National Palace grounds. Finally, there is the Civilian Militia. Less secret than the tonton macoute and somewhat more presentable, the militia was given blue denim uniforms and directed to support the President in whatever might be necessary. The tonton macoute and the militia were later combined into the Service Volontaire Militaire.
The traditional army remains, but in a state so corrupted, broken apart and psychologically eroded from within that it is hardly more than the shadow of an institution.
As with the army, so has it been with individuals of high political standing. That the electoral opposition would be dealt with harshly was to be expected. But the President has also handled his civilian supporters in the same rough style as the army and the politicians. There is a kind of visible turning inward on his part, an evident constriction, a narrowing of life. It is as if Duvalier, having extracted whatever he could from his enemies and from rich nonpoliticians, has finally turned on close associates, plucking them bare after first exalting them.
The civil service has never exhibited much vitality, and now hardly exists as a coherent body. In practice, Duvalier has simply replaced experienced administrators with large numbers of devoted followers, giving new emphasis to the old truth that governmental employment in Haiti is not a matter of public administration but a form of national income distribution. The legislature has been reshaped as a unicameral body whose only purpose, like that of the two legislative houses formerly maintained by Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, is to approve bills unanimously, for the appearance of the thing. The cabinet no longer meets as a body because the suspicious President does not wish its members to have even that minor degree of access to each other; in the physical separation of all his advisers lies his own security. The Roman Catholic Church had its Archbishop expelled in 1960, on the comic charge that he had contributed $7,000 to communist students. Many Church officials and priests have been replaced with indigenous appointees whose politics are deemed sound; and excommunication has not disturbed the passive mien of the President. The press survives by printing praise and editorials composed in the National Palace. The university has been overpowered, the National Union of Haitian Students and the stubborn association of secondary school teachers have been broken up, and public education itself is more chimera than reality. The influential National Bank Employees Association has been infiltrated and corrupted. The labor unions, never a major element in this most unindustrialized of countries, are dormant.
A final division-the last one possible, it would seem-caps the long process by which public life has been broken apart: the rupture of the President's family. His son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel Max Dominque, long a man of influence and violence, was an intimate associate of the 19 officers who were executed in the dark of the night at Fort Dimanche. He was sent into exile at that time, the victim of a feud that has separated the family into hostile cliques. All his children were sent abroad during the latter part of 1969, where they and their spouses and followers doubtless maintain their factions and man?uvrings, concentrating keen eyes upon the opportunities that the day of succession will offer the most strong, cunning and unscrupulous.
What is strange in these phenomena is their peculiar intensity under Duvalier, their thoroughness rather than their fundamental essence, for the latter runs true to Haitian precedent. There has been a tendency among Americans to view Duvalier in the same way that Trujillo at the other end of Hispaniola was often regarded, as an aberration imposed by violence and sustained by little else. This is simply not true. Both dictators should be seen as very much the product of their history and their environment. They are both exceptional men, but exceptional within a tradition and milieu that reveal no qualitative historical discontinuity. That this is probably attributable in part in Haiti to personality deformation among wide numbers of the public, including failure of identification, too vivid a tension between dominance and submission, unresolved Oedipal problems and a tendency to paranoia-attributed by some to the prevailing patterns of child- rearing-only deepens rather than diminishes the psychological and sociological truth of these assertions.
As it always has been in the Dominican Republic, power in Haiti is traditionally personal. Only now, it is even more personal. The government is the chief executive's extension, and its resources are his resources, to use as and when he wishes for jobs, bribery, tactical advantage. Standing alone, the President lasts, in Rémy Bastien's splendid phrase, "as long as he can manage to keep the opposition divided, and the opposition is the whole conscious population minus one citizen-the President."[i]
Like public life, the Haitian economy reveals few changes that are not associated with retrogression.
Any reference to any economic subject in Haiti should be prefaced with a cautionary note. Statistics here have an unreal, even a surreal, quality that would be difficult to match in any other country. Figures from the published national budget, like all other statistics, owe more to art than to economics or accountancy, and less to the art of realism than to the art of Aesop. The budget exists only to comply with a constitutional formality, and it is balanced to the last gourde by the easy device of adding or taking away wherever necessary, with an abstract and Olympian detachment. But the scanty and unreliable evidence available all points in one direction-downward. The national monetary reserve, after repeated withdrawals, was reduced by 1968 to approximately $700,000, a figure so low as to induce incredulity. The national debt, $4 million in 1946, is now more than $52 million. In August 1966, the International Monetary Fund permitted Haiti to withdraw $1.5 million on an emergency basis, a most unusual transaction. Various government obligations to foreign creditors are unpaid. No new investment of any consequence is flowing into the economy, whether from abroad or from any domestic source. The pay of government workers is months in arrears. Per capita gross national product, whatever the truth of the statistics may be, is so low that only a handful of nations, almost all in Africa, present a picture so stark and tragic. Agricultural productivity per capita declined by 25 percent between 1952 and 1964. Sugar exports to the United States in 1968 amounted to only 27,300 tons, which was almost 674,000 less than the comparable figure for the Dominican Republic. In sum, there is hardly any money for anyone. There is no well-being.
The driver of the taxi in the capital sits at the wheel of his publique, a car so advanced in decrepitude that its very appearance on the streets excites curiosity and admiration as well as revulsion. The standard fare between any two points in Port-au-Prince is 12 cents, and gas costs 60 cents a gallon. Small wonder that the driver often asks for his payment in advance so that he may purchase a quarter of a gallon en route, lest he not arrive. Nor any wonder that he turns off the ignition of the wretched vehicle and coasts down every tiny slope, coasts even for a gas-free 75 feet on a level street.
Out in the country the Vodun ceremonies honoring Guede, the god of death, are well into their course in the hour following midnight. The priest who leads the rites holds in his hand the chicken whose neck has been wrung, a chicken seemingly contrived of bone and skin and feather, with no intimation of flesh, a bird nourished on dust and gravel, whose rickety body pronounces a tiny indelible judgment on all the hardness and privation of Haiti.
Interspersed here and there in the long decline have been periods of forward momentum, hesitant and soon arrested; but the ebbing of man's endeavor over a period of almost two centuries cannot be mistaken. In the year of the storming of the Bastille, half a million slaves and a few thousand French planters in colonial St. Domingue produced plantation exports on the order of approximately $75 million, a figure that is about twice the value of the export wealth created today by a population at least eight times as numerous as it was then. Of what other country in the world can it be said that its productive achievements are now but a small fraction of what they were 180 years ago?
These characteristics of Haiti, seen in its internal perspective, are not dissimilar to its circumstances as part of the world community. The tradition of isolation and of abandonment by the rest of the world, born in the year of independence and nurtured by the separateness and pride that the great event inculcated among the élite, encountered no substantial reversal during the nineteenth century. Aid from the outside is minimal. The United States suspended both diplomatic relations and aid for a time beginning in 1963, due to the extreme internal repression taking place then, and also to the tendency of previous aid simply to disappear, as if an ocean liner had plunged to the bottom, leaving only an oil slick and a brief pillar of air bubbles.
On occasion, during recent years, Haiti has even refused to grant diplomatic immunity to U.N. research ships and personnel while they pursued a regional fisheries project within territorial waters. No country in the Hemisphere seems to be more cut off from others in every respect; more self- contained. In this, as in the internal phases of the state, the nation imitates its master-Duvalier, the most self-contained of men.
However, constructive change is neither impossible nor totally absent in Haiti. The Agricultural and Industrial Development Institute, for example, after functioning for several years, has shown some progress in the region around Aux Cayes in the south; the small irrigation project in the Artebonite Valley has shown results; a small Development Bank has been functioning for a few years; and Haitian export of manufactured goods to the United States, unchanged in value between 1962 and 1967, almost doubled in 1968. But positive change or growth hardly exists at this time. Nor is it conceivable that any substantial degree of such change can occur during the incumbency of the present régime. Everything is stilled until events bring forth a new government, and, one hopes, a new direction and a new commitment to human achievement.
When that moment comes, however, there will be difficulties that are almost incalculable.
The first among these must certainly be the existence and the characteristics of the folk religion, Vodun, whose flexible orthography includes such other acceptable spellings as Vodu, Vodou, Voudon, Vaudoun, Vaudou, Voudoun, Vaudauc, Vodoun, and in English, Voodoo. Its significance lies in its encompassing quality, not as a religion only, but as a system of concepts covering and explaining all human and supernatural activity, the bridge between the known and the unknown, between pattern and anarchy. Harold Courlander perceptively analyzes it:
"If [Vodun] has had more meaning to most Haitians than Christian doctrine, it is because Christianity has seemed to offer only doctrine and guidelines to behavior, whereas Vodoun offers doctrine, social controls, a pattern of family relations, direct communication with original forces, emotional release, dance, music, meaningful socializing, drama, theater, legend and folklore, motivation, alternatives to threatening dangers, individual initiatives through placation and invocation, treatment of ailments by means of herb lotions and rituals, protection of fields, fertility, and a continuing familiar relationship with the ancestors."[ii]
It is, quite literally, an explanation for all life and for all things, living and dead.
Jérémie Bréda offers a young Haitian student's explanation:
"You whites walk out in the morning and a butterfly crosses your path, and you think it's pretty and forget it. But for some of us that butterfly would have significance that affects the entire day, even maybe an entire life. All events are connected-it's a different world."[iii]
With its home in the peasant countryside and the peasant heart, and its attractions for higher circles only grudgingly admitted, Vodun first engaged the sympathetic attention of the intellectual élite about four decades ago. The mouvement folklorique began to flourish, and with it the conviction that Vodun was the core of the national tradition and the Haitian mystique. It lent itself to the surge of primitive art for which the country soon became world famous, and to the speculations of a legion of anthropologists, sociologists, musicologists and folklorists; and with this development Vodun's fluid penetration of every circle of Haitian life was complete.
Politics had long since received the stamp of the African cults. Vodun is said to have been linked to abortive slave revolts as early as 1757, and it certainly was an important element of cohesion among the insurgent slaves who established the nation. It was opposed by L'Ouverture, Dessalines and Christophe, who sought to establish a national state on European lines, and Vodun triumphed over all of them. Their successors came to terms with the local gods and spirits. A few heads of state, notably the rather fantastic Emperor Soulouque, were open adherents.
It was left for Duvalier, however, to reap the full harvest of political potential that Vodun represents. His long studies of the popular faith convinced him that it was the ground upon which the joint edifice of church and state might be constructed under an architecture of absolute power, and his courtship of Vodun was open. It was the courtship, however, of a man who seeks not a true love but a mariage de raison, and it may be, as Rémy Bastien has suggested, that it is the President's absence of true belief, rather than devotion, that has enabled him to reduce the houngans, the Vodun priests who form a very loose countrywide network, to political subservience.
Whatever the explanation, the fact remains that Vodun has been assimilated into the power of the régime, and that the effects of this upon public affairs, regardless of the manner in which Haitian life evolves, will be long felt. And the fact also remains that Vodun, thus solidly established on every level, has become a profoundly conservative influence whose pervasive presence and total incompatability with modern modes of thought will infinitely complicate the construction of any new sociopolitical or cultural order. That task, difficult in any event in the face of Vodun's presence, is all the more intractable because so little is known of the sociology of the folk faith.
The relationship between peasant and land is a second troublesome aspect of Haitian life. Ever since Pétion and Boyer established a national pattern of small holdings through land distribution to the military veterans of the wars of independence and otherwise, the agricultural design has become, through inheritance and necessity, a pattern of increasingly tiny divisions and subdivisions. Haiti's rudimentary form of agriculture has proven so far to be stoutly resistant to every progressive measure. No new land is available, and the old mountainside plots refuse to submit even to the plow, let alone to complicated machinery.
Hardly less impenetrable a problem arises with language. Education in Haiti is a necessity so urgent that it would be impossible to overemphasize its priority; but education in what language? Ninety percent of the population speaks only Creole, a language without any adequate dictionary or written grammar or principles of spelling or advanced course materials or literature. It is also a language that leads to a closed world; and it is itself composed of regional dialects whose social precedence, and therefore whose wide acceptability, are subject to prestige factors that are difficult to assess and implement. Should education be in this language that divorces nine-tenths of the people from all contact with public and official life? Or should it be encouraged in French, despite the fact that few peasant children can comprehend a paragraph of it? Or should both languages be abandoned, as has been urged rather wishfully, in favor of Spanish?
The fanaticisms that are born of race have risen to new prominence in recent years, bringing further stress to another traditional problem. When President Lescot, the last of the line of mulatto presidents, was overthrown in 1946, black consciousness came into its own, taking its provenance not only from politics but also from the emotional strength of négritude that was conceived in the 1930s, the important Bureau d'Ethnologie that was founded in 1941, and from the many intellectuals who had already spent years combing the intricacies of Vodun for the true, black Afro-Haitian cultural legacy, the authentic and legitimate thing. Under Duvalier, who believes that he invented black power, this process of racially based nationalism has passed into obsession; négritude is strong, and Haiti has been ordained by God to follow the destiny it seeks under Duvalier; social forces that will be difficult to reconcile with progressive change have been let loose.
Perhaps as a consequence of all these severe problems, as well as of other deficiencies in the public order, one finds in Haiti large apathy and indifference that in themselves constitute a separate problem, and a rigid barrier to change. At the top, the government is not really interested in changes of any kind. President Duvalier believes, probably with a sincere conviction that goes beyond the Bible on his desk and the picture of the Pope on his wall, that the spiritual is more important than the material, and that mental waves have an effectiveness denied to most scientific innovations, whose effect on the people may be negative. Those among the vast black majority who might be expected to pursue entrepreneurial interests have generally not done so, for the pattern of values of black Haiti, long adjusted to very conservative craft traditions and to the modest marketing operations maintained entirely by peasant women, is not in the least inclined toward business and commerce, both of which imply a faint disrepute.
Finally, a very basic truth: The culture of Haiti is in all possible respects so unlike that of the Western world from which assistance in the processes of change must come that the transmission of that change will inevitably be hindered by a thousand obstacles as yet hardly even suspected. Haitian society is not the transitional variety with which the American and European assistance technicians are familiar, but truly a traditional society. Its devotion to the land-as the source of nourishment, as the root of sanctity and symbolism-carries memory back to an order of value and consciousness buried deep in the past. Religion and music testify to the continuity of centuries, a continuity that has survived tribal destruction and the dispersal of people and culture. It is a cultural continuity in which the norms are those of coöperation rather than of individualism, characterized by the group solidarity that is implicit in the musical superimposition of chorus and leader, singing both simultaneously and independently, and in the group songs whose performers achieve both spontaneity and unity. It is a cultural continuity unreceptive to mechanical arts, as every user of the telephone system in Port-au-Prince realizes as soon as he attempts to dial one of the numbers listed in the current telephone directory, printed in 1954; a culture that has adapted itself to conditions in which even animals of burden find no place or purpose.
The unique personality of the country seems to be compounded of the curiosities of personality observed in individuals of every rank. The President himself, at the top, finds such an affinity in the number 22 that he scheduled his election for a September 22, and his inauguration for an October 22, and has attributed to his own ouanga à mort-death curse-the assassination of President Kennedy on a November 22. On the lower rungs of the social order stand the working women who sell to passersby on the streets of the capital vegetables or meat cooked on small charcoal grills. The space around each of these little installations erected in back of the sidewalks has been scratched clear of all grass or green growth so that the lady of the grill may stand and work on bare dirt, mud or dust as the case may be. Why? Because the bare dirt represents cleanliness and order to her, and the grass does not.
Logic and reason, and cause and effect, appear in shapes that the non- Haitian will hardly recognize, as if they were things seen in vaguest outline through a depth of clear shimmering water, transformed weirdly into parodies of themselves.
The European diplomat in Port-au-Prince called at the laundry on his way home to pick up his shirts that had been promised for the day before. They had not been washed.
"But why not?" the diplomat asked in some heat. "After all, you promised they would be ready yesterday."
"Yes" the laundryman replied with patient equanimity, "and if you had called for them yesterday, they would have been done on time."
It is difficult to discuss U. S. policy toward Haiti except in terms of negatives, a reflection of the larger negativism that has marked Haitian life for two centuries. The question of priorities is hardly intelligible in an environment in which it seems to be necessary to do everything simultaneously because nothing has been done hitherto. In theory, total national reconstruction, a fresh beginning, is called for; and little that has been achieved since independence and the days of the legendary founders of the state would be helpful in that effort.
One must start with several admissions, whose cumulate effect is to limit very materially the range of possible accomplishment in Haiti.
Given our almost total lack of sound information about what goes on in the country, we must assume at the outset that Haiti is not an environment within which the United States as a nation, or individual Americans in substantial numbers, can perform effectively. It would be difficult to find anywhere a society more resistant to American norms, American understanding, American practices, American aspirations.
And, as indicated above, it must be recognized that the Duvalier government is not a weird aberration that will some day disappear, leaving no trace. It is merely another Haitian government, only much more so, concentrating all that is demeaning and socially destructive in what has gone before. The future is unlikely to produce a clear political mutation.
From these assumptions it follows that however justified American hopes for democratic polities elsewhere in the Caribbean may or may not be, they have nothing in common with Haitian realities. Good government is too much to hope for in the decades ahead, and it will be necessary at best to settle for adequate government, free of the deepest blemishes and wildest excesses.
And a final assumption: while the Duvalier government remains in power, there is little that the United States should attempt beyond the maintenance of its present policy of correct and rather distant relations, and watchful waiting from afar. The influence that the United States can exert in Haiti at the present time, as events in this decade have clearly demonstrated, scarcely exists. The Haitian social order is too diffuse and unsophisticated to generate those sources of leverage that can often be grasped by foreign powers. Diplomatic isolation, denial of aid, measures of boycott-what do these things really matter to a nation almost self- contained on a subsistence basis, and to a government whose almost sole concern is for the retention of internal power?
Under these circumstances, the basic postulate of American policy should be the rigorous avoidance of any deep and unilateral involvement of the United States in Haitian affairs. Whatever must or can be done from, the outside should be entrusted to some form of joint institutional or international endeavor; the multilateral approach is essential.
What international agency would be best equipped to aid Haiti? A challenge of this kind might generate fresh vitality in the Organization of American States (OAS). And in fact, the technical and diplomatic Mission that the OAS now maintains in Haiti, working both with the government and by itself to improve and modernize the environment, is the most interesting recent development within the OAS, as well as an unheralded and little-noted innovation in regional statecraft. The concept of the Mission goes back to July 1967, when a small group of no more than four specialists was put together to assist the Haitian government in education, tourism and natural resources, and to establish a presence on the part of the regional organization. The Mission, proceeding with discretion, took hold; by the summer of 1970 its membership increased to 14, divided among three task forces. The first of these concerns itself with transportation and other forms of infrastructure. The second has sectoral responsibilities in such fields as agriculture, industry and tourism. The third maintains liaison with the government in regard to fiscal matters, taxation and public administration. The membership of the Mission is multinational, and includes specialists from Chile, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina and the United States.
All parties concerned seem satisfied with the programs of this pathbreaking body, and its assignments are slowly being broadened. Work is progressing on the preparation of capital projects. This preliminary activity may quite possibly lead to greater involvement on the part of the Inter-American Development Bank, and to the appearance of the World Bank; this would be constructive, for the World Bank in particular has tended to view Haitian ventures warily.
Finally, as in the case of Cuba, planning within regional bodies and within the State Department should be directed to the assimilation of Haiti into a design of Caribbean functional relationships and purposes that may be termed a Caribbean Community. When the Duvalier government ends, the work of the OAS Mission that has been described could serve as a helpful introduction to the more permanent associations and forms of the Community. Haiti has too long dwelt apart from the rest of the Caribbean; it has too long absented itself from the councils of the region, whose influence would set in motion currents of thought that might wash away old encrustations of myopia and passivity. The opening of Haiti to the full impact of regional life might not produce immediate and tangible economic effects; quite possibly there would be little benefit in that aspect for some time to come; but certainly in the social and psychological and political domains- in the domain of human purpose and will and activity-the full participation of Haiti in a Caribbean Community at the earliest moment possible would bring new life to the oldest of the Caribbean nations.
[i] Rémy Bastien, "Vodoun and Politics in Haiti," in "Religion and Politics in Haiti." Washington: The Institute for Cross-Cultural Research, 1966, p. 57.
[ii] Harold Courlander, "Vodoun in Haitian Culture," in "Religion and Politics in Haiti." Washington: The Institute for Cross-Cultural Research, 1966, p. 21.
[iii] Jérémie Bréda, "Life in Haiti: Voodoo and the Church," The Commonweal, May 24, 1963.