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In Haïti

Click here to download the workshop report. (also available in French, Creole and Spanish)

The context

JPEG The year 2004 marked the 200th anniversary of Haiti’s independence. This date, like the situation of the country, unfortunately still remain the tragic expression of its “founding cataclysm”: a dialogue between civilizations which did not take place and whose effects continue to be felt.

Haiti seemed therefore a highly symbolic venue for a Latin American and Caribbean regional seminar, which would centre on the analysis of relationships between civil society and public authority. With the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on 29th February 2004 and the accompanying political turmoil, the destructuring of both political authority and civil society organizations increased the need to come up with such a debate.

On the side of public authority, the installed State apparatus may well not be able to create more than a “sham democracy”, for it has been set up and is controlled by the local oligarchy and by outside forces. It thus copies a political model which is foreign to the country’s realities, where people have not been part of the process.

On the part of civil society, the coup d’état of 1991-1994 had put a stop to the strong emergence of people’s movements which had started in 1986. In 1994, at the end of the crackdowns, these movements reactivated, but in a limited and more superficial way. What then is the present situation, since the fall of Aristide and the social vacuum he left behind in relation to the unanswered demands of the people?

On the local level, many civil society organizations bring with them diversified expressions, as they link up with local public authorities, showing much promise for the construction of democracy “from below” and with the citizens.

The project

JPEG In 2004, the devastating passage of the cyclone “Jeanne” and the general disorder in the country somehow overpowered the desire, though reaffirmed by local partners, to host the seminar. But, despite the uncertainties and situational difficulties, the project has been programmed in three stages :
  • Identifying and capitalizing on a dozen, long-term field experiences, in which civil society organized on the local level and the local public authorities work together in view of improving the people’s living conditions.
  • Organizing a synthesis-workshop in order to draw lessons from the capitalized experiences on the local level and to elaborate strategies from these for the construction of a national project.
  • Organizing an international seminar with strong Caribbean/Latin American participation. It would aim at taking a distance from the strictly Haitian experience and allowing Haitian social actors to share experiences with others, regarding relationships between civil society and public authorities, enabling local populations to exercise their citizenship in a better way.

Networks members

The workshop was co-organized by Development and Civilizations - Lebret-Irfed international centre, and ICKL.

It was led by:

  • Jorge Balbis, Vice-President of Development and Civilizations, executive secretary of ALOP (Asociacion latinoamericana de organizaciones de promocion)
  • Necker Dessables, Office de la Protection du Citoyen
  • Camille Chalmers, Director of the PAPDA (Haitian plea platform for an alternative developpment)

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