It’s time to break the cycle of violence in Haiti — without foreign intervention  


Haiti is in crisis — one that will soon leave millions of people on the brink of starvation. 

Since the beginning of March, Haiti has been at the mercy of well-resourced gangs that have taken over Port-au-Prince, burned down police stations, stormed the port and airports, freed over 4,000 inmates from the capital’s two main prisons, and threatened genocide against the people. Although the country’s prime minister announced he would resign once a transitional council is in place, terror continues to engulf the capital.  

Last week, gangs closed in on the neighborhood of Petion-Ville — a suburb of Port-au-Prince — and robbed banks, ransacked businesses and gunned down whoever crossed their path. Children, women and men hid out and trembled in fear. With the closing of ports and airports halting the flow of food imports into the country, and with roadblocks limiting the movement of people, a full-fledged humanitarian crisis is imminent.  

The World Food Programme warns that 1.4 million Haitians are on the brink of famine. With each passing day, the situation gets more dire and the prospect of a transitional council more elusive.  

There seems to be a cycle, almost a rhythm, to political upheavals in Haiti. Elections are held, the candidate that fits the whims of the international community emerges the victor, then fallout ensues. The corrupt president or prime minister fights tooth and nail to hold onto power, then, amid popular uprising, foreign actors help broker a transitional government to organize the next election. From afar, this new crisis seems like business as usual. But this time, things are different.  

This crisis is far worse. Schools are shut down, hospitals are emptied, children are taught to drop down and hold their breath to avoid close-range gunshots amid piles of corpses that have been left to rot. The ragtag police force is outgunned and outmatched. As the country sinks deeper into anarchy, a good number of Haitians who are already scraping by below the absolute poverty line are at risk of dying. A Haitian solution, albeit improbable, may be the only solution to bring a sustainable peace. 

Though it would be difficult, such a solution can be achieved if we enlist the aid of the vast Haitian diaspora. A significant majority of the Haitian intelligentsia resides outside of Haiti, particularly in the USA and Canada. They are in academia, international organizations, private sectors, etc. Many of them are experts in mediation and conflict resolution. They are solving problems in other parts of the world and would be more than happy to help solve problems in their motherland — if they are called upon and given a chance.  

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This selective group of Haitians from the Diaspora can be part of a mediation council to facilitate dialogue among politicians and the business leaders to come up with a solution to bring peace in the country, charter a path for good governance with responsible leaders that will commit to eradicating corruption, and put in place the conditions for economic development. A Haitian-made solution should include the Diaspora because the remittances they send to Haiti, which go directly to the people, total more than the country receives in foreign aid. According to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, remittance flow into Haiti reached $4.5 billion — 16.3 percent of GDP in 2023.  

It is time that Haiti starts leveraging the reputation, knowledge and successes of its Diaspora to put the country on a real path to economic development as many other developing countries have done. This time the solution cannot be a band-aid put in place by outsiders. The stakes are too high. It is time that Haitians sit at the table and make decisions on issues that pertain to them.  

Dimy Doresca is clinical associate professor at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, director of the Institute for International Business, and a native of Haiti. 

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