Corruption as an Impediment to Development: The Case of Haiti


By: FE Olivier, Ph.D.,D.Min.

Since gaining independence, corruption has been pervasive in the country, creating a vicious cycle where successive governments have failed to break the chains of decay. This pernicious reality has become entrenched in the mechanisms of power, transforming leaders into corrupt tribal chiefs, enriching themselves at the expense of the already impoverished and disenchanted population.

The international community, often seen as a recourse, is sometimes complicit in this corruption by providing funds intended for development that ultimately fills the pockets of corrupt leaders.

For example, the funds allocated for reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake. Despite promises and efforts from the international community, a large portion of these funds never reached vulnerable populations, diverted by a political elite hungry for power and personal enrichment. Various corruption monitoring organizations, such as Transparency International, have documented this grim reality, shedding light on the extent of the problem.

Public Contracts: a Source of Illicit Enrichment for the Political Elite

Another striking example is public contracts, often awarded to companies close to the government without transparent bidding processes. These contracts, funded by international aid or by the taxes of Haitian citizens, become sources of illicit income for political elites and their allies. This practice creates a climate of injustice and despair among the population, fueling the cycle of poverty and political instability.

Furthermore, corruption has disastrous consequences for essential public services such as education and healthcare. Funds intended to improve these vital sectors are often misappropriated, leaving schools and hospitals in a state of disrepair and depriving the population of desperately needed services. This situation creates a sense of abandonment and frustration, fueling discontent and social instability.

Descending into Chaos: When Victims Become Perpetrators

The current situation in Haiti is desperate, marked by a downward spiral where victims of society, often marginalized and abandoned by institutions, turn into agents of violence and chaos. These individuals, often labeled as “bandits,” are actually products of a failing and corrupt social system, where poverty, despair, and lack of opportunities drive them to extreme paths for survival.

On the one hand, we have the victims of Haitian society, individuals who have been left behind and deprived of access to essential resources, education, and meaningful economic opportunities. They face an environment marked by distrust in institutions, chronic political instability, and a lack of prospects. In this context of despair, some of these individuals turn to criminal activities, using violence as a means of survival and claiming their place in a society that has rejected them.

On the other hand, we have the architects of this reality, the political and economic elites, who have consolidated their power and wealth at the expense of the Haitian people. These “architects” often perceive power as a divine privilege, justifying their corrupt acts to maintain order and stability. They believe they are entitled to everything, using their influence and resources to perpetuate their domination and protect their selfish interests.

This toxic dynamic creates a vicious circle of violence and repression, where successive governments, instead of addressing the needs of their people, use force and coercion to maintain their grip on power. Popular protests and uprisings are often met with bloodshed, further reinforcing feelings of frustration and powerlessness among the population.

In this context, traitors, those who betray the aspirations of the Haitian people to preserve their status quo, often seek refuge in regional alliances such as CARICOM to defend their interests. They continue to promote a policy of exclusion and exploitation, sacrificing the people’s needs for their enrichment and maintenance of power.

However, the Haitian people have finally said “enough.” Armed with courage and determination, victims of society demand inclusive national dialogue and the creation of a new Haiti, denouncing the manipulations of the international community and ready to risk their lives for justice and dignity. They reject the failing and corrupt system that has kept them in misery and despair for too long, demanding radical change that puts the interests of the people at the center of all political and economic decisions.

In the face of this alarming reality, it is imperative to establish mechanisms to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law in Haiti. This requires strong political will, both nationally and internationally, as well as significant institutional and legal reforms. Furthermore, involving civil society and the media in this process is crucial, promoting transparency and accountability.

In conclusion, corruption in successive Haitian governments is a significant obstacle to sustainable development and stability. To overcome this monumental challenge, addressing the root causes of corruption and promoting a culture of integrity and accountability is essential. Only a holistic and concerted approach involving all stakeholders can break the cycle of corruption and build a better future for the Haitian people.


  1. Transparency International Haiti, “Report on Corruption in Haiti,” 2020.
  2. World Bank, “Report on Development in Haiti: Challenges and Opportunities,” 2019.
  3. Haitian Institute of Statistics and Informatics (IHSI), “Survey on Living Conditions in Haiti,” 2018.
  4. Haitian Observatory of Corruption and Impunity (OHCI), “Analysis of Governance in Haiti,” 2021.
  5. Center for Research and Action for Development (CRAD), “Combatting Corruption and Sustainable Development in Haiti,” 2017.
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