Foreign policy and defense
Haiti has been internationally isolated
during periods when democracy has been disrupted.
However, the country is highly dependent on foreign aid,
both for its economy and for its security.
The relationship with the United States is of the
utmost importance. US aid is an important part of
Haiti's economy and the US has long been the country's
most important export and import market. Many Haitians
travel to the United States, most illegally. Following
the severe earthquake in 2010, many Haitians received
Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a temporary residence
permit for people from countries affected by war or
affected by natural disasters. Following Donald Trump's
take-over as President of the United States in 2017, it
was decided that this protection status for Haitians was
no longer needed and approximately 59,000 Haitians lost
their right to reside in the United States. This has
been strongly criticized by human rights organizations,
which believe that Haiti has no opportunity to receive
so many people.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Haiti for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Another problem in American-Haitian relations is
Haiti's role as an intermediary in South American drug
exports to the United States.
France's leading donor
The old colonial power France has in various ways
committed to Haiti and played an active role when
President Aristide resigned in exile in 2004.
Relationships then improved as the transitional
government abolished a long-standing Haitian claim for
reimbursement of damages from the 19th century to France
(see Older history). Other leading donors are Canada and
Relations with the neighboring Dominican Republic
have at times been tense but improved since the
mid-1990s. Many regime opponents from Haiti have moved
to neighboring countries during different periods, which
sometimes creates conflicts. Near a border town, the
Dominican Republic opened a free trade zone in 2002 that
provides access to cheap and legal Haitian labor.
Thousands of Haitians go to the neighboring country
every year for seasonal work in agriculture or
construction, sometimes under slave-like conditions, but
many of them are expelled from time to time. Since the
introduction of a controversial foreign law by the
Dominican Republic in 2015, around 135,000 Haitian
migrants were forced to return to Haiti in just one
year. Many were deported, others fled after threats and
some of them now live in camps under miserable
conditions. In mid-2016, however, a bilateral commission
was re-established whose purpose was, among other
things, to resolve issues related to border trade,
transport and migration.
Contacts with other countries in the region have also
improved, and in 1996 diplomatic relations with Cuba
were resumed after 32 years of interruption. Cuban
doctors were sent to Haiti as volunteers and assistance
were given in education and industry. Ten years later,
an approach was started to Venezuela, which among other
things supplies oil at favorable prices (which, however,
has failed due to the precarious political-economic
situation in Venezuela).
Haiti is one of the shrinking number of small nations
that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of
the People's Republic of China, and Taiwan is an
important trading partner.
Haiti has been a member of the Caribbean economic
cooperation organization Caricom since 2002. Caricom had
a leading role in the mediation efforts between Aristide
and the opposition and opposed the US and France pushing
through Aristide's departure (see Modern History). The
organization refused to recognize the transitional
government but its membership was restored in 2006.
Haiti's defense force was dissolved in 1995 (see
Modern History). From 2004, the UN force Minustah was
given the main responsibility for maintaining the order.
A new national police force and a small coastguard force
were formed with the help of the US and the UN. A few
hundred police officers, several with backgrounds in the
army, were dismissed for suspected involvement in drug
trafficking, extrajudicial executions and kidnappings.
In the autumn of 2006, the United States lifted parts of
a 15-year arms embargo for better police arming. The
police force, in spite of inadequate equipment, had,
together with Minustah, participated in several battles
against the armed street gangs. About 1,000 police
officers per year have been trained and the police corps
is estimated to be at the end of 2017 at the planned
In 2017, security and order were also considered to
be so good that the peacekeeping force Minustah could be
dismantled. Although the UN force has contributed to
restoring stability in Haiti, it has also received
criticism from human rights organizations, including
that soldiers from it triggered the widespread cholera
epidemic (see Social Conditions) and sexually exploited
In October 2017, Minustah was replaced by a smaller
UN police force of 1,300 men (Minujusth) with the task
of supporting the judicial institutions and the national
police. Minujusth lost weight gradually and in October
2019 it was also dissolved (see Calendar). This set the
point for 15 years of peacekeeping efforts in Haiti,
even though the situation in the country is anything but
An embryo for a new army is being built up, among
other things, with educational support from Ecuador.
President Jovenel Moïse has stated his intention to
restore Haiti's armed forces.
FACTS - DEFENSE
150 men (2017)
50 men (2015)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
0.0 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
0.0 percent (2017)
Arms import clear sign from USA
The United States partially repeals a gun embargo introduced in 1991.
Six-party government is formed
A six-party coalition government is formed, with Jacques-Edouard Alexis as
prime minister. Préval took office as president in mid-May.
Lespwa is greatest when the parliamentary elections are completed
The end result after the second round of parliamentary elections is that
Lespwa will be the largest in both chambers, but without his own majority.
Turnout is reported to be at 28 percent.
Presidential election gives victory to Préval
The election is the first since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide overthrew
two years earlier. Trouble arises when it is reported that René Préval, from the
newly formed party Lespwa, received 49 percent of the vote in the presidential
election. That is much more than any other of the total 33 candidates, but not
enough for victory in the first round. The electoral authority decides to
distribute the blank votes between the candidates, in proportion to the approved
votes. Now Préval gets 51 percent which gives victory in the first round. UN and
OAS election observers accept the unusual measure.