"The Embargo" by Glodel Mezilas, Ph.D.

Mezilas is a professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He is the author of Haití más allá del espejo (2011) and Genealogie de la theorie sociale en Amerique Latine (2013), and has written numerous articles on epistemology and philosophy of culture in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As a result of the military coup against President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1991, the United Nations (UN), of which Haiti is a founding member state, sanctioned the Haitian military, imposing an embargo, with the objective of accelerating a return to democracy. The military coup had occurred at a time when the country began breathing a new era of democracy, of peace and of national reconstruction after 29 years of dictatorship. The coup aimed at reestablishing the "ancient regime," with the support of the bourgeoisie, the conservative wing of the army, paramilitary militia members and the United States of America.

The embargo had many consequences for the country. At the economic level, the country lost a quarter of its production from 1992 to 1994. It became poorer than under the dictatorship of the Duvalier dynasty. Per capita production was an estimated $250 per year; and in regards to food, Haiti couldn’t produce even two thirds of what it had produced years before. More than 70 percent of Haitians lived on less than $1 per day. The child mortality increased and exports decreased. Exports were $226 billion in 1980, but fell to $110 billion by 1995. The GDP fell 30 percent between 1991 and 1995. Meanwhile the population increased two to three percent per year. In that same period, the production of cereals diminished. The economic disaster impacted social configuration, the issue of urbanization, and the impoverishment of the whole society.

At the political level, the embargo ultimately weakened Haiti’s already weak state. The army was unable to stop the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1994 or its own demobilization in 1995. To finish, let’s say that the embargo reinforced the dependence of the Haitian state and economy on foreigners, limiting the national capacity to face the challenges of a new world order. The return of democracy in 1994 did not lead to economic recovery or the consolidation of the state.