U.S. Department of State
Background Notes:  Haiti, October 1997
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.

Official Name:  Republic of  Haiti

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 27,750 sq. km. (10,714 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland.
Cities: Capital-Port-au-Prince (1995 est. pop. 1.5 million). Other 
cities-Cap Haitien (65,000).
Terrain: Mountainous; rest is plain.
Climate: Warm, semiarid; high humidity in many coastal areas.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective-Haitian(s).
Population (est.): 7.5 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.3%, 2% anticipated in 1997 (IMF).
Ethnic groups: African descent-95%, African and European descent-5%.
Religions: Roman Catholic-80%, Protestant-10%; voodoo practices 
widespread.
Languages: French (official), Creole (official).
Education: Years compulsory-6. Attendance-73% of  6 to 11 year-old
children; secondary school 15%. Adult literacy-35%.
Health: Infant mortality rate-74/1,000. Life expectancy-57 years.
Work force (est.): 3.6 million. Agriculture-66%. Industry and commerce-
20%. Services-14%.

Government

Type: Elected government.
Independence: 1804.
Constitution: 1987.
Branches: Executive-president. Legislative-Senate (27 Seats), Chamber of 
Deputies (83 Seats). Judicial-Court of Cassation.
Administrative subdivisions: Nine departments.
Political parties: Numerous, but the most prominent is the Lavalas Party 
founded by former President Aristide.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Economy

GNP (1997): $2.9 billion (unadjusted for inflation).
GNP growth rate (FY 1996): 2%; 1.8% expected growth in 1997 (IMF).
Inflation (FY 1996): 16%.
Per capita GNP (est.): $390.
Natural resources: Bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble.
Agriculture (44% of GNP): Products-coffee, sugarcane, rice, corn, cacao, 
sorghum, pulses, fruits, vegetables.
Industry (12% of GNP): Types-apparel, handicrafts, electronics, food 
processing, beverages, tobacco products, leather goods, furniture, 
printing, chemicals, steel, cleaning products, toiletries.
Services (44% of GNP): Types-commerce, government, tourism.
Trade (1996): Exports (to U.S.)-$150 million: apparel, mangos, essential 
oils, toys/sporting goods, electrical. Major market-U.S. (historically 
about 75%). Imports (from U.S.)-$558 million: rice, motor vehicles, 
soybean oil, machinery, sugar, wheat flour, petroleum. Major supplier-
U.S. (historically about 60%).
Exchange rate: About Haitian gourdes 17=U.S. $1.

PEOPLE

Haiti is one of the world's most densely populated countries, with 
approximately 250 people per square kilometer (650 per sq. mi.). About 
95% of the Haitians are of African descent; the rest of the population 
is mostly of mixed African-Caucasian ancestry. A few are of European or 
Levantine stock. About 70% of the people live in rural areas.

French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 
10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country's other 
official language. English is increasingly spoken among the young and in 
the business sector.

The state religion is Roman Catholicism which most of the population 
professes. Some have been converted to Protestantism by missionaries 
active throughout the country. Haitians, however, tend to see no 
conflict with voodoo traditions of African origin co-existing with 
Christian faiths.

Although public education is free, private and parochial schools provide 
perhaps 75% of educational programs offered. Only 63% of those enrolled 
will complete primary school; on average, it takes 16 years to produce a 
single graduate of the 6-year cycle. Though Haitians place a high value 
on education, most families cannot afford to send their children to 
secondary school.

Recent large-scale emigration to the U.S., and secondarily to Canada and 
Caribbean neighbors, has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth 
Department. About one out of every six Haitians lives abroad.

HISTORY

The Spaniards used Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and 
the Dominican Republic is the eastern) as a launching point to explore 
the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the 
western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and 
Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to 
France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers 
became planters, making Saint-Domingue-as the French portion of the 
island was then called-one of the richest colonies of the 18th-century 
French empire.

During this period, African slaves were brought to work the sugarcane 
and coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population-led by Toussaint 
L'Ouver-ture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe-revolted and 
gained control of the northern part of Saint-Domingue. 

In 1804, local forces defeated an army deployed by Napoleon Bonaparte, 
established independence from France, and renamed the area Haiti. The 
defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with contributing to 
Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States 
in 1804. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-
oldest republic after the United States in the Western Hemisphere. 
Haitians actively assisted the American Revolution and independence 
movements of Latin American countries.

Two separate regimes (north and south) emerged after independence but 
were unified in 1820. Two years later, Haiti conquered Santo Domingo, 
the eastern, Spanish-speaking portion of Hispaniola. In 1844, however, 
Santo Domingo broke away from Haiti and became the Dominican Republic. 
With    22 changes of government from 1843 until 1915, Haiti experienced 
numerous periods of intense political and economic disorder, prompting 
United States military intervention in 1915. U.S. military forces were 
withdrawn in 1934 at the request of the elected Government of Haiti.

From 1986, when the 30-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family ended, 
until 1991, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional governments. In 
1987, a constitution was adopted that provides  for an elected bicameral 
parliament, an elected president who serves as head of state, and a 
prime minister, cabinet of ministers, and supreme court appointed  by 
the president with Parliament's consent. The Haitian Constitution also 
provides for the election of mayors and administrative bodies 
responsible for local government.
Aristide and the 1991 Coup d'Etat

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic 
priest, won 67% of the vote in a presidential election that 
international observers deemed largely free and fair. Aristide took 
office in February 1991, but was overthrown by dissatisfied elements of 
the army and forced to leave the country in September of the same year. 
It is estimated that between 300 and 500 Haitians were killed in the 
days following the September coup, and 3,000 in the following three 
years. The coup created a large-scale exodus from the country; in fact, 
the Coast Guard rescued  a total of 41,342 Haitians from 1991 to 1992, 
more than the number of rescued refugees from the previous 10 years 
combined. 

From October 1991 to June 1992, Joseph Nerette, as president, led an 
unconstitutional de facto regime and governed with a parliamentary 
majority and the armed forces. In June 1992, he resigned and Parliament 
approved Marc Bazin as prime minister of a de facto government with no 
replacement named for president. Bazin sought to negotiate    a solution 
with exiled President Aristide and to end the economic embargo and 
diplomatic isolation of Haiti imposed after Aristide's ouster. In June 
1993, Bazin resigned and the UN imposed an oil and arms embargo, 
bringing the Haitian military to the negotiating table.

Transition to Democracy 

President Aristide and Gen. Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed 
forces, signed the UN-brokered Governors Island Agreement on July 3, 
1993, establishing a 10-step process for the restoration of 
constitutional government and the return of President Aristide by 
October 30, 1993. As part of this process, Robert Malval was sworn in as 
Prime Minister on August 30, 1993. The military derailed the process and 
the UN reimposed economic sanctions. Malval resigned on December 15, 
1993, but remained as acting Prime Minister for 11 more months. The 
political and human rights climate continued to deteriorate as the 
military and the de facto government sanctioned repression, 
assassination, torture, and rape in open defiance of the international 
community's condemnation.

In May 1994, the military selected Supreme Court Justice Emile 
Jonassaint   to be provisional president of its third de facto regime. 
The UN and the U.S. reacted to this extraconstitutional move by 
tightening economic sanctions (UN Resolution 917). On July 31, 1994, the 
UN adopted Resolution 940 authorizing member states to use all necessary 
means to facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and 
restore constitutional rule and Aristide's presidency.

In August 1994, Haiti had parallel governments, the illegitimate 
military-backed Jonassaint regime that controlled the government 
apparatus in Haiti, and the constitutional government, whose members, 
like President Aristide, were in exile or who, like acting Prime 
Minister Malval, were blocked from carrying out their duties.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a 
Multinational Force (MNF) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a 
military intervention. In September, with U.S. troops prepared to enter 
Haiti in a matter of hours, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating 
team led by former President Jimmy Carter to discuss with the de facto 
Haitian leadership the terms of their departure. As a result, the MNF 
deployed peacefully, Cedras and other top military leaders left Haiti, 
and restoration of the legitimate government began, leading to 
Aristide's return on October 15.

Current Conditions

Elections for parliament and local government offices were held 
successfully between June and October 1995, although they were delayed 
by seven months and marred by serious administrative problems and some 
violence. President Aristide's Lavalas party and its affiliates swept 
into power at all levels. In the December 1995 presidential election, 
with Aristide barred by the Haitian constitution from succeeding 
himself, prominent Lavalas figure Rene Preval (who was Aristide's first 
prime minister in 1991) overwhelmed his 13 opponents by garnering 88% of 
the vote and took office the following February. Territorial elections 
designed to decentralize political power were held in early April 1997. 
The government of Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned on June 9, 1997.  
It has continued in caretaker status since.

With the situation in Haiti gradually stabilizing, the international 
security presence has been reduced. The MNF, which at one time had more 
than 20,000 troops in Haiti, gave way in March 1995 to a UN peacekeeping 
mission (UN Mission in Haiti) under U.S. leadership, including about 
6,000 troops. By mid-1996, the UN forces no longer included any U.S. 
military personnel, and the UN Special Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) had 
been scaled back to about 600 troops under Canadian leadership, as well 
as 300 international police monitors from six different countries. The 
UNSMIH mission, originally set to expire at the end of November 1996, 
was extended through July 31, 1997, then renamed the United Nations 
Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) and extended to November 30, 1997.  

The judicial system in Haiti is still weak and remains a high priority 
for the United States. USAID programs focus on improving administration 
in prosecutors' offices and the courts, establishing a case-tracking 
system, legal aid, and training for judges, court, and prosecutorial 
staff.  International and Haitian officials are cooperating to 
investigate several high-profile murders that may have been politically 
motivated, including the murders of opposition politicians Antoine Leroy 
and Mireille Durocher Bertin. The U.S. Government helped the Government 
of Haiti set up a Special Investigative Unit within the Haitian National 
Police, and the investigation of several of these crimes is in progress.  
Steps have been taken to end the culture of impunity that has dominated 
Haiti for decades.  The Office of Inspector General of the Haitian 
National Police investigates complaints against police officers, and 
over 100 have been dismissed.  Training continues in an effort to build 
the fledgling National Police into a nonpolitical, fully professional 
force committed to the rule of law.

Principal Government Officials

President-Rene Preval  
Prime Minister-Rosny Smarth  
Minister of Foreign Affairs-Fritz Longchamp  
Ambassador to the U.S.-Jean Casimir  
Ambassador to the OAS-Jean Casimir  
Ambassador to the UN-Pierre Lelong

The Embassy of Haiti is located at 2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW, 
Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-4090).

ECONOMY

Haiti's economic reform agenda under President Preval includes 
trade/tariff liberalization, modernization (privatization) of state-
owned enterprises, measures to control government expenditure and 
increase tax revenues, civil service downsizing, and financial sector 
reform. Structural adjustment agreements with the International Monetary 
Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and other 
international financial institutions are aimed at creating necessary 
conditions for private sector growth. The government  did show 
commitment to economic reform with the implementation of sound fiscal 
and monetary policies and the enactment of a "modernization" 
(privatization) law, along with the creation of the privatization 
council (CMEP), and the launching of its ambitious plan to privatize 
nine parastatals. Much of the population expected more immediate results 
from tough reforms. President Preval has failed to articulate the long-
range benefits of reform to the people. In March 1997, cries for the 
ouster of Prime Minister Smarth were heard resulting from Smarth's 
commitment to economic reform. The specter of former President Aristide, 
still intensely popular, also looms over discussion of economic reforms. 
He has been ready to criticize economic reform, possibly in an effort to 
solicit support from the populace, as there remains little question 
regarding his ambition to return to the presidency in 2001.

External aid is essential to Haiti's future economic development. Haiti 
is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest 
in the world. Comparisons of social and economic indicators show that 
Haiti has been falling behind other low-income developing countries 
(particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti's economic 
stagnation is the result of earlier inappropriate economic policies, 
political instability, a shortage of good arable land, environmental 
deterioration, continued use of traditional technologies, undercapitali- 
zation, and a weak national savings rate.

The consequences of the 1991 coup d'etat and irresponsible economic and 
financial policies of the de facto authorities greatly accelerated 
Haiti's economic decline. Following the coup, the United States adopted 
mandatory sanctions, and the OAS instituted voluntary sanctions aimed at 
restoring constitutional government. International sanctions culminated 
in the May 1994 UN embargo of all goods entering Haiti except 
humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine. The assembly sector, 
heavily dependent on U.S. markets for its products, employed up to 
80,000 workers in the mid-1980s. During the embargo, employment fell 
from 36,000 workers in 1991 to 400 in October 1994. Since the return of 
constitutional rule, assembly sector employment has gradually recovered 
to a level of 17,600 in June 1997.

Private domestic and foreign investment has been slow to return to 
Haiti, as businesses have awaited the establishment of stable political 
conditions and enhanced security. International financial institutions 
and donor agencies have committed substantial sums to assist Haiti in 
restoring and expanding its physical infrastructure. Further investment 
in infrastructure is a necessary condition for future economic growth. 
High domestic interest rates, tight monetary policies by the Central 
Bank, and poorly developed internal capital markets are other factors 
restraining economic performance.

As political stability increases in Haiti, tourism could take its place 
next to export-oriented manufacturing (the assembly sector) as a 
potential source of foreign exchange. Remittances from abroad now 
constitute a significant source of financial support for many Haitian 
households.

Workers in Haiti are guaranteed the right of association, and trade 
organizing activities are protected by the labor code. A legal minimum 
wage of 36 gourdes a day (approximately U.S. $2.20) applies to most 
workers in the formal sector.

FOREIGN RELATIONS AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

Haiti is one of the original members of the United Nations and several 
of its specialized and related agencies, as well as the Organization of 
American States (OAS). It maintains diplomatic relations with 37 
countries.

The international community rallied to Haiti's defense during the three 
years of illegal military rule from 1991 to 1994. In the end, a total of 
31 countries participated in the U.S.-led MNF which, acting under UN 
auspices, intervened in September 1994 to help restore the legitimate 
government and create a secure and stable environment in Haiti. At its 
peak, the MNF had over 23,000 troops, mostly Americans, and more than 
1,000 international police monitors. Within six months, the troop level 
was gradually reduced as the MNF was replaced smoothly by the UN Mission 
in Haiti (UNMIH), consisting of some 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops and 
900 civilian police, who were charged with maintaining the secure 
environment which the MNF had helped establish. A total of 38 countries 
participated in UNMIH.

From March 1995 to February 1996 UNMIH was led by the U.S., which kept 
about 2,500 troops in Haiti. As U.S. troops were withdrawn in early 
1996, Canada assumed the leadership of UNMIH and its successor, the UN 
Support Mission in Haiti, which as of July 1996 included 1,300 troops 
from Canada and Pakistan and about 300 police monitors from 6 countries. 
UNSMIH's mandate was similar to that of UNMIH and originally ran from 
July to December 1996. The mandate was extended through the end of July 
1997, and was followed by the UNTMIH, which will expire on November 30, 
1997.  

In order to spur Haiti's economic recovery, international development 
banks and donor agencies have pledged to provide over $2 billion in 
assistance by 1999. Additional support depends on the passage by 
Parliament of significant portions of the economic reform program 
negotiated between the Government of Haiti and the International 
Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and other international financial 
institutions. Unfortunately, Parliament continues to delay a vote on the 
government's budget and international assistance agencies grow 
increasingly weary of committing long-term funds to such a tenuous 
situation. The IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and UN 
Development Program, all have resident representatives in Haiti. The 
European Union contributes economic assistance to Haiti under the Lome 
Accords, which Haiti joined as a full member in 1989. Major bilateral 
donors are led by the United States, with the largest bilateral 
assistance program, and include Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.

There are 283 private voluntary organizations which coordinate different 
help networks in the country. Led by the U.S., the international 
community feeds 1.3 million Haitian people a day. USAID's food 
assistance program, PL 480, plays a large role in providing necessary 
food supplies to the population.

U.S.-HAITI RELATIONS

U.S. policy toward Haiti is designed to foster democracy, help alleviate 
poverty in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, and promote respect 
for human rights. As President Clinton stated on the eve of the U.S.-led 
intervention in 1994, "U.S. involvement was based on the need to protect 
our interests, to stop the brutal atrocities that threaten. . .Haitians; 
to secure our borders and to preserve stability and promote democracy in 
our hemisphere." The United States has taken a leading role in 
organizing international efforts at the United Nations, the Organization 
of American States, with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and 
individual countries to achieve these objectives.

Maintaining good relations with and fostering democracy in Haiti are 
important for many reasons, not the least of which is its geographical 
proximity to the continental United States. In addition to a steady 
stream of legal immigrants in the U.S., tens of thousands of 
undocumented Haitian migrants were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast 
Guard during the    1991-94 period of illegal military rule. With the 
return of the de jure government in 1994, the flow of migrants has 
virtually stopped, although if unrest arises again, the potential 
remains for a mass influx of migrants yet again. Thus, the U.S. is 
determined to promote a stable democracy in Haiti-a country historically 
plagued by autocratic rule and recurring political violence. In 
addition, the U.S. provides relief to Haiti to prevent severe poverty, 
environmental degradation, and poor public health conditions.

U.S. Economic and Development Assistance

Many of Haiti's conditions can be attributed to its history of unstable 
regimes. To bolster the stability of Haiti's fragile democracy, the U.S. 
has led the effort to rebuild Haiti's economy. The U.S. has been the 
largest donor since 1973, with a total aid package of $135 million in 
FY1996 (on an obligation basis) and $120 million in FY1997. In addition 
to financial support, the U.S. provides human resources. The U.S. 
restarted its Peace Corps initiatives in Haiti last year with the return 
of volunteers to Haiti. The U.S. has also contributed extensively to the 
reform of Haiti's economy with a focus on the following areas:
  
	strengthening governance and responsiveness in public sector 
institutions; 
	strengthening private sector participation in an emerging civil 
society; 
	supporting sustainable private sector economic growth;  
	encouraging the privatization of inefficient parastatals under the 
Haitian privatization council; and  
	protecting and developing the human resource base.

Additional U.S. efforts include the establishment of the U.S.-Haiti 
Business Development Council, an Overseas Private Investment Corporation 
commercial loan program, and the Caribbean Basin Initiative, all 
providing greater market opportunities for American and Haitian 
businesses.

USAID appropriations in FY1996 for Haiti totaled $140 million, 
consisting of $72 million in Economic Support Funds, $26 million in 
development assistance, and $42 million in PL-480 food aid. These 
appropriations have been used to achieve such objectives as fostering 
democratic institutions, increasing private sector employment and 
income, helping Haiti fund its arrears to international institutions, 
providing humanitarian aid, increasing agricultural production, and 
promoting health and population efforts. Substantial election assistance 
has and continues to be provided for voter education, polling 
activities, transportation, and the procurement of ballots. To 
circumvent public sector weakness and inefficiency, U.S. development 
assistance is largely channeled through non-governmental organizations 
in Haiti.

Democratic gains cannot be sustained without demonstrable improvement in 
the economy and access to opportunities for Haiti's poor. For this 
reason, objectives of providing assistance to Haiti include policy 
reform and expanding credit availability. Initiatives advancing 
democratic processes and institutions, promoting economic recovery, 
reorienting humanitarian relief activities toward developmental 
activities, stemming environmental degradation, and enhancing 
agricultural yields and incomes, lay a solid foundation for political 
stability and sustainable development.

The loss of between 50,000 to 70,000 jobs in the formal sector alone 
since 1991 provides perspective on the challenges the government faces 
in revitalizing the economy. Notwithstanding this challenge, efforts to 
increase commercial bank lending in productive activities in the 
agricultural sector through guarantees have already resulted in 
thousands of new jobs for unemployed Haitian agricultural workers. A 
transitional program has also been established to ease rural mass 
unemployment which employed as many as 50,000 workers per day. To combat 
unemployment, the U.S. helped secure an additional $55 million from the 
World Bank to continue a highly successful job creation program started 
with $35 million from USAID. 

Humanitarian assistance from Haitian and U.S. NGOs includes food for up 
to     1 million Haitians and helps reinforce the planning and 
management capacities of the Ministry of Public Health and Population. 
In addition to sponsoring vaccination programs, the U.S. Government has 
financed basic health care services accessed by more than 2 million 
people. Health services are also provided for child survival, 
reproductive health, and rape victims. By providing economic assistance, 
the U.S. seeks to improve the quality of life for Haitians.

Security Assistance

The Government of Haiti is committed to the success of the Haitian 
National Police (HNP), and U.S. active support for their efforts will 
remain strong for a considerable period to come. More than 5,000 
recruits completed training in modern law enforcement. The U.S. has now 
turned its efforts to more specialized training to further strengthen 
key areas of importance. U.S. instructors from the International 
Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) are 
providing specialized training to select HNP officers in such areas as 
crowd control, operation of firearms, and VIP protection. Most 
importantly, experts within ICITAP are working closely with the Haitian 
Government in recruiting and training qualified individuals to fill mid-
level supervisory positions. Finally, the U.S. has provided materiel 
from military stocks through the police training program to help equip 
the HNP, once the U.S. established that sufficient inventory controls 
were in place. Great strides have been made with Haiti's first civilian 
law enforcement force with a drop in reports of human rights violations 
and a new respect for the law. 

U.S. Business Opportunities

Support of the Haitian economy continues through the private sector. The 
U.S. has been and remains Haiti's largest trading partner. With a number 
of U.S. businesses, including banks, airlines, oil companies, 
agribusiness, and U.S.-owned assembly plants, more than 8,300 American 
(mostly Haitian-American) residents, and as many as 1,500 American 
tourists in Haiti at one time, the U.S. maintains its strong economic 
presence in this new democracy.

Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and 
trade of medical supplies and equipment, rebuilding and modernizing 
Haiti's depleted infrastructure, tourism, waste disposal, 
transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly 
operations. Because of the assembly sector's importance, opportunities 
exist for U.S. exporters to supply this industry.  Primary inputs 
include textiles, electronics components, packaging materials, and raw 
materials used in the manufacture of toys and sporting goods. Other U.S. 
export prospects include construction materials, plumbing fixtures, 
hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers 
and exporters are available under the 806 and 807/HTSUS Programs (U.S. 
Customs laws on products assembled from U.S. components or materials), 
and under the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

Markets exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, 
wheat, flour, sugar, and processed foodstuffs. The government wants to 
reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys 
considerable comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, 
spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the 
inflow of new capital and technological innovations.

Establishing a Business

For foreigners to set up a business in Haiti, one must obtain a 
residence visa, and a transient businessman or woman must have a locally 
licensed agent to conduct business transactions within the country. 
Requirements for individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti 
include obtaining an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate; obtaining 
a work permit, with some exceptions; and all transient and resident 
traders must have a professional ID card.
 
Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property 
rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 
6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one 
residence in the same district nor own property or buildings near the 
border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice 
is necessary.

Hurdles for businesses in Haiti include poor infrastructure; crime; the 
port, which is the most expensive in the Caribbean; and customs delays. 
The government places a 30% withholding tax on all profits received. 
There is little direct investment, though more is incoming than outgoing 
(see Economy).

Foreign investment protection is provided by the constitution of 1987, 
which permits expropriation of private property for public use or land 
reform with payment in advance. American firms enjoy free transfer of 
interest, dividends, profits, and other revenues stemming from their 
investments, and are guaranteed just compensation paid in advance of 
expropriation, as well as compensation in case of damages or losses 
caused by war, revolution, or insurrection.

Policy Background

After the September 1991 coup d'etat ousted Haiti's democratically 
elected government, the United States was pressured to take action. The 
United States imposed a series of economic sanctions on Haiti, followed 
by the OAS and ultimately the UN adopting a series of economic sanctions 
aimed at restoring constitutional rule to the country. As political 
conditions worsened, however, the United States intervened militarily in 
Haiti under UN auspices with Operation Uphold Democracy. Launched on 
September 19, 1994, Operation Uphold Democracy's aim was initially to 
restore Haiti's democratically elected government, and later to 
establish and maintain a safe and secure environment for institutional 
reform and democracy (see History). A peaceful operation set the stage 
for a multinational force to be established.

The U.S. has led the training for judicial officials and the reform of 
the court and prison systems. The U.S. has led the movement to support 
democracy and maintains a visible presence in Haiti. The U.S., along 
with the international financial institutions, has encouraged the 
privatization of inefficient parastatals and the move toward private 
enterprise.

Principal U.S. Officials 

Ambassador-William Lacy Swing  
Deputy Chief of Mission-Robert C. Felder  
Public Affairs Officer-Meg Gilroy 

The U.S. embassy in Haiti is located on Harry Truman Blvd., Port-au-
Prince
(tel: (509) 22-0200;(fax: (509) 23-1641.

OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)  
1615 M Street, NW  
Washington, DC 20527 
tel: (202) 457-7200
fax: (202) 331-4234

U.S. Department of Commerce  
14th and Constitution Ave., NW  
Washington, DC 20230  
Haiti Hotline (202) 482-4302  
Haiti Telefax (202) 482-2521 

Office of Latin America and the Caribbean 
tel: (202) 482-0704
fax: (202) 482-0464

Caribbean/Latin American Action  
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310  
Washington, DC 20036  
tel: (202) 466-7464 
fax: (202) 822-0075

Association des Industries d'Haiti (ADIH)  
Bldg. Le Triangle Delmas 31, #139  
Port-au-Prince  
tel: (509) 46-4509 or (509) 46-4510

Centre Pour la Livre Entreprise et la Democratie (CLED)  
37, Avenue Marie-Jeanne,
No. 8  B.P. 1316
Port-au-Prince 
tel: (509) 22-9720
fax: (509) 22-9721

Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie d'Haiti  
P.O. Box 982  
Port-au-Prince 
tel: (509) 22-0281 or  (509) 22-2475

Haitian American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HAMCHAM)  Complexe 
384, Delmas Road  P.O. Box 13486 Delmas  Port-au-Prince tel: (509) 57-
4767, fax not available. 

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION 

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel 
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate 
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of 
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by 
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information 
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: 
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). 
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will 
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. 
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is 
required). The CABB also carries international security information from 
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of 
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication 
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a 
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
4000. 

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas 
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country 
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). 
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's 
World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov; this site has a link to 
the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible at 
gopher://gopher.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis 
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or 
fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, 
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet 
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information. 

[end document]
Return to Western Hemisphere Background Notes Archive
Return to Background Notes Archive Homepage
Return to Electronic Research Collection Homepage