February 2019 | Haiti: an oblivion that refuses to be a thing of the past, by Arturo García Rosa

Arturo García Rosa
President & Founder, SAHIC

In the constant spirit of providing information on Latin American markets, sharing tips with the hotel and tourism business community, revealing secrets and, above all, opening the door for those who will eventually, sooner rather than later, find themselves doing business and continuing to develop the industry in the region, last month I focused on a forgotten market -based on many reasons- that presents itself as a source of opportunities in a future I imagined to be near. I am referring to the article "Tourism in Haiti: from Columbus to oblivion" published in the January newsletter.

At this point and after the events that took place, it seems that article shows a high lack of opportunity. A few hours after it was published, a new crisis has broken out in Haiti with a wave of looting and protests that has left at least nine dead, many wounded, a few arrested and that, for the moment, seems to have no end.

Haiti, the poorest country in America, the one devastated by the earthquake of January 12, 2010, is experiencing a severe economic crisis that has unleashed those violent protests demanding the resignation of its president Jovenel Moise, who last February 7 completed his second year of a mandate extending until February 2022 in a country where, since the end of the Duvalliers era with the departure of the son of dictator "Papa Doc" (Francois Duvallier), Jean Claude, in 1986, have had 20 presidents in 30 years, an average of 1.5 years of mandate!!!

Haiti has been living a real diaspora since 2013. Thousands of Haitians have fled their country in search of better living conditions, mainly to the Dominican Republic, Canada, the USA, the Bahamas and Chile, even though there are also large Haitian communities in Paris, Caracas, Havana, Kingston (Jamaica) and Marseille.

Those who remain in Haiti do so within the framework of an economy that has been left below the poverty line (US$ 2.41 a day for almost 60% of the population and more than 24% below the extreme poverty line, US$ 1.23 a day, according to World Bank figures). According to the UN, it ranks 145th out of 177 on the HDI - Human Development Index.

In this context, population´s indignation increases with the scandal of the alleged million-dollars misappropriation of funds from the Petrocaribe program through which Venezuela provides it with crude oil at soft prices.

An audit presented earlier this month revealed irregularities between 2008 and 2016 and involved 15 former ministers and current officials, as well as a company linked to the current president before he became president.

Some opponents are calling for a transitional government, while President Moise has called for a dialogue that is not yet underway.

Meanwhile, the international community has held a single demonstration through the Core Group (ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, USA, EU and OAS representative) urging a dialogue to face the crisis.

Many believe that the international community's lack of interest is due to the fact that the only thing Haiti has to show is poverty.

Regardless of the solution, which we hope will be the best that its inhabitants can find in the shortest possible time, we continue to believe that tourism will be an important tool of development for a country that has to rebuild itself and has in this industry the means to do so.

It is and will be our commitment to continue researching and alerting the business community about the different markets in the region. We hope that all countries in the region can have a framework where businesses can multiply for the good of their general population, within a general setting that encourages the participation of players from all over the world.

Until next time.

Haiti Contrasts:

Sources: EFE, AFP, El Comercio, Perú & Pixabay

Camila Lavori