Overview and Government System

Haiti was once a place where its people were well fed and healthy. Today, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 1 out of 8 children die before they are 5. Life expectancy is 56 years. Human rights abuses against people who criticize the government are well recorded. Haiti has one of the highest rates of cholera and AIDS in the world.

On the surface Haiti has a democratic system of government that resembles that of the United States.

Haiti’s Political System

Haiti resembles the U.S. Government structurally.

There are three bodies of the government.

The Legislative The Executive The Judiciary

Each administrative entity must interact with the other so that the government can work efficiently.

Each administrative entity is independent of the other. No single body can control another.

The Executive

The President, Jovenel MOISE (since 7 February 2017)

The Head of Government. Prime Minister Dr. Jack Guy LAFONTANT (since 21 March 2017)

The Cabinet is chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president; parliament must ratify the Cabinet and Prime Minister's governing policy

Elections: The President is directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a single non-consecutive term).

The most recent election was held on 20 November 2016 after the Hurricane Matthew forced a postponement from the original first round presidential election date of 9 October 2016; a second round was not needed because Jovenel MOISE won an outright majority of votes cast in the first round.

The next regular election may be held in 2021

The Legislative

Is composed of two chambers (bicameral). The “Senat" or Senate (30 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two rounds if needed; members serve 6-year terms with one-third of the membership renewed every 2 years)

The “Chambre de deputes” or Chamber of Deputies (118 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two rounds if needed; members serve 4- year terms);

When the two chambers meet collectively it is known as L'Assemblee Nationale or the National Assembly that is convened for specific purposes spelled out in the constitution High chamber and the

The Judiciary

The Highest Court or Supreme Court or “Cour de Cassation” (consists of a chief judge and other judges); note - Haiti is a member of the Caribbean Court of Justice

How are Judges Chosen: Judges appointed by the president from candidate lists submitted by the Senate of the National Assembly; note - Article 174 of the Haitian Constitution states that judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for 10 years, whereas Article 177 states that judges of the Supreme Court are appointed for life

Junior Courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; magistrates' courts; special courts

Unfortunately the system of government has failed its people numerous times with numerous dictatorships and corrupt government officials who have enriched themselves at the expense of the people of Haiti. (Please see the timeline).

The largest city in Haiti is also it’s capital:

Port au Prince (In Creole Potoprens) is the capital of Haiti

What are the demographics of Port au Prince

There are 987,301 inhabitants who live in the centre of Port au Prince. 2,618,894 people live in the Metropolitan area, the neighborhoods of Delmas, Cite Soleil, Tabarre, Carrefour and Petionville).

Where is Port au Prince in Haiti

Port au Prince is located in the South West of Haiti, on the Gulf of Gonave.

How strong is the influence of French culture

In the Port au Prince area the influence of French culture and cuisine is prevalent, alongside the Creole culture. The food is frequently spicy and also often seasoned with rum or sugar. Among

the traditional dishes are a fish stew, marinated turkey, chicken creole and okras. Haitian dishes are usually accompanied by rice and string beans.

What are the principle museums of Haiti.

Numerous museums were destroyed by the earthquakes of January 12, 2010. The remaining museums are the Museum of Art, the National Archives, the National Library and the Ogier- Fombrun Colonial Museum.

What do Haitians do for fun

During the week ends, Haitians enjoy watching football (soccer) games at the Silvio Cator Stadium. The best known teams are Racing Club Haiti and Violette Athletic. Haitians love music and one of the more popular orchestras is Super Choucoune.

Haitian Medical system

Haiti spends 7% to 11% of its national budget toward health care. Of this amount, 80% is used for salary leaving the remains 20% for furniture and drugs. Much help comes from foreign countries such as U.S., Canada, France, Cuba, others.

The Haitian people are very poor and the government has a very small budget. Which prevents Haiti from providing social services.. The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability.

External assistance remains critical to keeping the economy afloat.

Haiti's most serious underlying social problem, the huge wealth gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority, 1% of whom own nearly half the country's wealth.

Up to date statistics are hard to find:

Birth mortality: 630 per 100,000 (2006) 75% of births are performed outside the healthcare system 15% of pregnant women never benefit of any prenatal care

Malnutrition rate among the less than 5 year old children are: 24% - chronic 9% - sharp and distinct 22% - extreme

Vaccination: Complete vaccinations for 21-23 months old does not surpass 41% TB is at 180 per 100,000 with 50% of those cases with HIV, Malaria, HIV Aids, TB, Diabetic,

Cholera and the Earthquake

It is impossible to talk about healthcare in Haiti without mentioning the January 2010 earthquake and the subsequent cholera epidemic which to date has affected 630,000 people and taken the lives of 7,500. It would be easy to believe that cholera was a direct result of the devastation of the earthquake and the heavy rains of the following June, July and August. Some two million people were forced to take shelter in overcrowded camps where living conditions were very poor.

Prior to October 2010 there had been no cases of cholera in Haiti for nearly a century. Cholera is a dehydrating bacterial infection spread through water and food contaminated by human feces and the illness is exacerbated by heavy rains; poor sanitation; and limited clean water and associated poor hygiene, such as failure to wash hands after going to the toilet. Treatment for most people is surprisingly simple: oral rehydration treatment and, in severe cases, an intravenous rehydration with antibiotics.


Haiti has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in Latin America and the Caribbean. It faces the worst AIDS epidemic outside Africa and bears the greatest burden of HIV in the Western Hemisphere. The epidemic began in the late 1970s and has spread widely throughout the country. Today Haiti faces a generalized epidemic. This was aggravated by the earthquake.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults was estimated to be between 2.5% and 11.9% in 2003. An estimated 280 000 adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2003, and an estimated 24 000 adults and children died from AIDS during 2003.

Data only exists as of 1997, when hospital death certificates began to be collected. The data shows that AIDS is the leading cause of death in the country.

According to the Global Aids Response Progress Report 2016, HIV epidemic in Haiti is still widespread. Its prevalence is 2.2% [2.0%; 2.4%] among adults aged 15-49, the same level of prevalence as in 2006.


The problem with healthcare in Haiti is that there is no system and no structure, and no money. What healthcare facilities exist are inadequate, It is left to medical NGOs such as MSF, the Cuban Brigade and a few faith-based and charity clinics to provide what they can.

Haitian Culture and Important Holidays

Haitian culture is a mixture of Native Taino customs and French and Spanish Practices. Some of the Haitian holidays are:

• New Year- on January 1st, one of main Haitian holidays

• Independence Day- on January 1st, celebrates independence and restoration of countries original name, Haiti

• Hero’s Day- on January 2nd, pay respect to ancestors

• Carnival- on February 16th, Mardi Gras

• National Sovereignty Day- on May 22nd, dedicated to the head of state and to Haiti’s culture

• Dessalines Day- on October 17th, remembers the death of Jean Jacques Dessalines

• Vertieres Day- on November 18th, honors Haitian victory over French

• Discovery Day- on December 5th, day Columbus discovered Haiti

• Christmas- on December 25th, one of the prime holidays in Haiti

Music is central to Haitian Culture

There are numerous kinds of musical styles that are popular in Haiti:

Folk Music


Rara music is religious music played between Ash Wednesday up until Easter Sunday or in parts of Haiti on Easter Monday. This music has strong ties with the Voodoo religious tradition. This tradition is commonly confused with Haitian Carnival because both of these celebrations involve large groups of people dancing in the streets. During this time Rara bands roam the streets performing religious ceremonies.


Twoubadou is very similar to Salsa music. It is another form of folk music played with acoustic instruments. This type of music is usually played at airports, bars and restaurants.

Popular Music MIZKIK RASIN

Mizkik Rasin music developed over time and includes many different types of music like reggae, rock and funk rhythms. I


Kompa, in Creole, or Compas, in French is a modern Haitian Meringue. Kompa became popularized in the mid-1950s by Nemours Jean Basptise, a sax and guitar player. Nemours along with Webert Sicot became the two leaders of the group. Sicot later left the group and formed a new one. To make himself different from Nemours, Sicot called his music Candence Rampa. Even though this music is old it is still very popular throughout Haiti today.


The Haitian Hip-Hop movement in recent years has become very popular among Haiti and other Haitian communities, mostly with young people. Haitian Hip-Hop is often about social and political topics. The two most popular Hip-Hop artist in Haiti are Barikad Crew and Jimmy O.


Haitian Cuisine is greatly influenced by the French and African cuisine. Haiti’s cuisine is similar to other cooking styles in the Caribbean. Haitians use a variety of different vegetables, meats and rice/corn in almost every meal they make. Also Haitians had herbs and peppers often to strengthen the flavor on their meals. Dishes are often spicy, not mild and not too hot.

A Timeline of Haitian History-Key Events. 1492 Columbus Reached Haiti Columbus reached Haiti in 1492, quickly bringing an end to the vibrant native culture of the Taino people. 1508 Spanish Slave Trade Established The Spanish officially established the African slave trade in 1508, providing an ongoing supply of slaves moving into Haiti. 1592 Last Queen of Haiti Executed The last native queen of Haiti, Queen Anacona of the Taino Kingdom in Haiti, was executed by the Spanish. 1625 French Settlers Reached Haiti The first French settlers reached Haiti in 1625. The French influence significantly shaped Haiti over coming centuries, even after Haitian independence from France. 1751 Slave Rebellions in Saint-Dominique Slave rebellions began in 1751 in Saint-Dominique. These challenged the status quo and put white slaveholders at risk, since they were dramatically outnumbered. August 14, 1791 Haitian Revolution Began On August 14, 1791, the Haitian revolution began. Slave rebellions had already been common in Haiti. The revolution was military and political, leading to widespread massacres of white landowners. April 4, 1792 French Legislature Granted Equal Rights The French legislature formally granted legal rights to all French people and those within French colonies. This legislation was the first step in the abolition of slavery. 1793 Toussaint Gained Power(1793 to 1799) Over the years between 1793 and 1799, the military general ; consolidated power and gained additional political power through military actions. February 4, 1794 Abolition of Slavery in All French Colonies The French legislature officially abolished slavery in all French colonies, including Haiti, in February 1794. July 8, 1801 Haitian Constitution of 1801 Haiti drafted its first constitution in 1801. This constitution made the military leader, Toussaint, governor for life. March 1802 Defeated by French Forces The military leader, Toussaint, was defeated by the French in March 1802. Toussaint had the support of the Spanish, but not the Haitian peoples. January 1, 1804 Haitian Independence In January 1804, Haiti declared itself independent of French control, under the leadership of the revolutionary. January 1, 1807 Division of Haiti In 1807, Haiti split into the Republic of Haiti and the State of Haiti, divided between North and South, following a significant battle. December 31, 1843 Constitution of 1843 After some political strife in Haiti, a new constitution was drafted and president appointed in 1843. July 28, 1915 U.S. Occupation Began Following a period of significant unrest, U.S. troops occupy Haiti. The United States remained in control of Haiti until 1934. August 14, 1934 Occupation Ended The U.S. Occupation ended in August 1934. By 1935, the people of Haiti have a new constitution. October 22, 1957 "Papa Doc" Duvalier Elected Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier is elected President of Haiti. He goes on to institute a reign of terror and presidency for life. He is succeeded by his son. December 16, 1990 Democratic Elections In December 1990, after a long period of totalitarian rule, Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected president. He supported the poor; however, he was soon deposed by a military coup. 1994 U.S. Occupation Following repeated bouts of violence and unrest, the country of Haiti was occupied by U.S. forces with the support and approval of the United Nations. Several months later, the UN officially took over; however, U.S. forces remained key to the occupation. Earthquake On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck the city of Port-au Prince. More than 230,000 people were killed and the city's infrastructure destroyed.

“Project Edeline”

On January 12, 2010, Edeline Felizor was on the third floor of a teachers’ college in Port au Prince when the most devastating earthquake in history struck, changing lives forever. During the next several days, in total darkness amidst the moans and screams of the dying, unable to move with her arm pinned down by debris, Edeline sang gospel songs to herself and whomever was still alive around her. As she lie there with horrific pain from a broken neck and five fractured vertebrae, she was miraculously rescued and slowly dug out of the rubble. Edeline was placed on the sidewalk where she lay for three days without any medical care, immobile in a demolished city totally paralyzed. Results from the only functioning x-ray machine in the entire city then got her transferred on their truckambulance to the US Navy helicopter base. The Israeli surgeons were astounded that she was alive as any sudden movement during her transports on the deeply gutted dirt roads, given the severity of her injury, could have easily severed her spine. Through numerous successive efforts and pennies collected, Edeline was transferred to the USNS Comfort ship, where she underwent a delicate operation, requiring four screws to fuse her spinal column with her skull. Her life saved, after 10 days of recuperation, she was returned to Port Au Prince with other patients in a small boat. Reunited with her family, she now needed physical therapy in order to not spend the rest of her life as a shut-in invalid; even a wheelchair is a rare luxury in Haiti. But physical therapy was nonexistent in Port Au Prince so Shewman sponsored her and her sister, Isemene, to come to San Diego on special humanitarian parole visas. Dr. Lee Rice and physical therapist, Stephanie Hoffman, volunteered their medical services. Edeline plans to devote the rest of her life in the same manner as she did before her accident — serving people. “My dream has always been to help children.” Edeline says. “God granted me life after the earthquake and now it is even more important that I serve Him and my people. I want to do that through a school that will give hope to the poorest children in Haiti." Despite the tremendous need, education is not free in Haiti. Yearly subscriptions, uniforms, books and school supplies must be bought by families at both private and public schools. The result is that huge numbers of kids do not attend school. Edeline's dream of helping children of Haiti was fulfilled in 2010 when Project Edeline was established under the non-profit organization “Youth Without Borders”. The elementary school in Croix des Bouquets now serves 205 young Haitian children, many of whom were stranded and homeless after the earthquake. The goal is to serve the poorest children in the surrounding area where none would be denied an education because of inability to pay. Help Us Help Haiti by educating the children of Haiti.

$300/yr Sponsors a student for a year and allows them to attend Institut Edeline and receive 2 meals/day $1000/yr Sponsors a teacher for a year ** Any amount helps us all make a difference.


100% of your donation goes directly to Institut Edeline Youth

  Without Borders is a 501c3