The first Caribbean nation to earn independence is now struggling to preserve democracy. While the opposition screams for change, the president demands a longer term. During his five-year presidential term, the Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has declared war on the Haitian nation to remain in power until February 7, 2022. Recently, Haiti suffered an alleged coup when citizens claimed Jovenel Moïse’s time in presidency was over. Michel Martelly, Haiti’s former president, left office amid an electoral crisis in fear of violence and allegations of fraud. As Jovenel Moïse had on the primary elections, he took power until the upcoming elections approached. Jovenel Moïse has been in power since 2016 but claims his five-year long term does not culminate until 2022 because of the prolongation of elections at the beginning of his term.
The Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK) played a big role in the outcome of the election . Through the funding of his campaign, the PHTK helped Mr. Moïse obtain exposure and create a wider national presence than other political parties across the nation. As a result, Moïse came in first place with 55.67 percent of the vote. Although the PHTK was running democratically, their successful support for Mr. Moïse can impact the future of Haiti’s democracy. As many scholars have determined, political parties strengthen the power of presidents, especially autocrats. The people fear that the support of his political party will extend Mr. Moïse’s time in power after February 7, 2022 as he proclaims it’s his last day in power. Mr. Moïse has the support of powerful institutions all throughout the country which he has given power to dominate the people and establish dominance over them.
Other nations have intervened in the Haitian crisis to avoid further damage. The United States has imposed sanctions on Mr. Moïse’s allies for providing political protection and weapons to violent gangs that targeted opposition areas. Not only are Mr. Moïse and his close allies violating human rights by limiting their freedom of individuality, but he is also inciting violence within his own nation to emphasize the fact that he is in power and things should run as he mandates. His allies have even hurt high ministates due to their stance on his presidency and in fear that they would overthrow his government. Knowing that these people are highly educated about politics, and their knowledge on how democracies work, Mr. Moïse has silenced their voices to avoid their knowledge from spreading during his transition to an autocratic regime. Mr. Moïse claims he is not a dictator because his time in presidency is yet to be up, however, his actions speak for themselves.
Throughout his presidency, Mr. Moïse has eliminated two-thirds of the Senate leaving the country with only eleven elected officials in office as he refused to hold any elections over the course of his four years as elected president. This is, indeed, a threat to the Haitian democracy as President Moïse is not only silencing the people, but he is also eliminating checks and balances. One can assume Mr. Moïse is trying to gather power through the institutions that allow him to do so democratically. By eliminating those who oppose to his ideas and holding closer those who are in his favor President Moïse is trying to obtain Haiti’s absolute power and gradually erase democracy. One can assume that President Moïse has not ran another electoral election to restrict participation without violating the democratic norms. Mr. Jovenel Moïse has plans to end his term on February 7, 2022. However, it is in his plans to make changes to the constitution. This is a common move authoritarians’ make when pursuing an autocratic regime as changes in the constitution can assert the dictator’s authority to be formal. Nancy Bermeo explains how authoritarians do not necessarily take power overnight. Instead, their process is gradually slow allowing weakening of power amongst democratic institutions which to the people is perceived as a problem beyond the president and therefore, the people put all their trust in the president to fix such issue. Mr. Moïse’s proposal to amend the constitution can be a strategy to extend his time in power in a legal manner. Based on the actions mentioned above, one might assume that Mr. Moïse is gathering the people he needs to approve his ascent t in power and have a support team to defeat the people’s backlash.
Jovenel Moïse’s regime is not an explicit autocracy. However, many would agree that his regime is on the rise to erase democracy along with the hard efforts many have done to preserve democracy in such impoverished nation. His actions, along with the actions of those who support him, explicitly demonstrate his desire to reach an autocratic regime. A coup d’état does not help improve Haiti’s socio-economic situation. Especially, when the leader of the country is far more concerned about power than helping people. Inciting and creating more violence amongst a nation that is powerless, and silenced by their poverty, is a pattern of the rise of Mr. Moïse’s autocratic regime. It is clear he wants to demonstrate to the people that he is not leaving power and that he is soon getting rid of the system that allows them to democratically elect other presidents.
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