Should donor countries cancel Haiti's foreign debt? Should the U.S. take a permanent role in Haiti's reconstruction? How will Chavez respond to an increased American presence in the region?
These questions are discussed with Bob Maguire, Director of the Haiti Program at Trinity Washington University in D.C., where he is a professor of International Affairs, and Chair of the U.S. Institute of Peace's Haiti Working Group, and Nikolas Kozloff, author of Hugo Chavez, Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S.
The conversation is moderated by François Pierre-Louis Associate Professor at CUNY, specializing in Caribbean and Haitian Politics.
Nikolas Kozloff is an expert on South America and a former fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, D.C. He contributes articles to Counterpunch, buzzflash.com, venezuelanalysis.com, Z Net, and blogs on senorchichero.blogspot.com. He has appeared on PBS World Focus, C-SPAN Washington Journal and The Daily Show and is the author of Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics and the Challenge to the US and Revolution! He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Robert Maguire is Director of the Haiti Program at Trinity Washington University in D.C.
Lenelle Moise is a Haitian-American poet and performance artist.
François Pierre-Louis is an associate professor of political science at Queens College.
Janera Soerel is the Founder and Publisher of JANERA.com. Born and raised on Curacao by Surinamese parents, Janera started college at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and finished her undergraduate degree at the London School of Economics. She then obtained a Masters in Monetary Economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
Economics degree in hand, Janera Soerel worked in investment banking on cross-border corporate finance deals in Italy and The Netherlands. Realizing that finance was not her life's work, she enrolled at Columbia University, graduating with a dual MBA/MIA degree in business and international affairs.
She subsequently spent time at a communications and branding firm in New York, where she learned about the power of the Web, images, and design.
Piles of unread issues of The Economist triggered an idea to create an attractive multimedia, content-driven global community Web site with a unique perspective on global politics and culture, for the mix of urban, educated, global gamechangers.
Robert Maguire, Director of the Haiti Program at Trinity Washington University, addresses the media's criticism of the Haitian government. "I think in a sense, the government of Haiti has gotten a bum rap," he says.
Country in the West Indies, occupying the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic to the east. Area: 10,695 sq mi (27,700 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 9,521,000. Capital: Port-au-Prince. Almost the entire population is of African or African-European descent. Languages: Haitian Creole, French (both official). Religions: Christianity (mainly Roman Catholic; also Protestant); also Vodou. Currency: gourde. Most of the land is mountainous, about two-thirds above 1,600 ft (490 m) in elevation. The mountain ranges alternate with fertile but overpopulated lowlands. Haiti's tropical climate is modified by the mountains and subject to periodic droughts and hurricanes. Its longest river is the Artibonite. The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti has a developing market economy based in large part on agriculture and light industries; coffee is the main cash crop. It is a multiparty republic with two legislative houses; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. For early history, seeHispaniola. Haiti gained its independence in 1804, after former slaves led by Toussaint-Louverture in the 1790s and by Jean-Jacques Dessalines in 1803 rebelled against French rule. The new republic encompassed the entire island of Hispaniola, but the eastern portion of the island was restored to Spain in 1809. It was reunited under Haitian Pres. Jean-Pierre Boyer (181843); after his overthrow the eastern portion revolted and formed the Dominican Republic. Haiti's government was marked by instability, with frequent coups and assassinations. It was occupied by the U.S. in 191534. In 1957 the dictator Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier came to power. Despite economic decline and civil unrest, Duvalier ruled until his death in 1971. He was succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, who was forced into exile in 1986. Haiti's first free presidential elections, held in 1990, were won by Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He was deposed by a military coup in 1991, after which tens of thousands of Haitians attempted to flee to the U.S. in small boats. When the military government stepped down in 1994, Aristide returned from exile and resumed the presidency. His associate René Préval replaced him in 1995, and in 2000 Aristide reclaimed the presidency, only to be driven from office and out of the country in 2004 as economic and political instability continued to plague Haiti. An international stabilization mission was established under the leadership of first the U.S. armed forces and then the United Nations. Under its oversight, an interim government led the country until 2006, when Préval again won election as president. In January 2010 a powerful earthquake struck the country, causing widespread destruction in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding region. Estimates of the death toll from the quake ranged upward to 200,000 or more.