Haiti seemed therefore a highly symbolic venue for a Latin American and Caribbean regional seminar, which would centre on the analysis of relationships between civil society and public authority. With the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on 29th February 2004 and the accompanying political turmoil, the destructuring of both political authority and civil society organizations increased the need to come up with such a debate.
On the side of public authority, the installed State apparatus may well not be able to create more than a “sham democracy”, for it has been set up and is controlled by the local oligarchy and by outside forces. It thus copies a political model which is foreign to the country’s realities, where people have not been part of the process.
On the part of civil society, the coup d’état of 1991-1994 had put a stop to the strong emergence of people’s movements which had started in 1986. In 1994, at the end of the crackdowns, these movements reactivated, but in a limited and more superficial way. What then is the present situation, since the fall of Aristide and the social vacuum he left behind in relation to the unanswered demands of the people?
On the local level, many civil society organizations bring with them diversified expressions, as they link up with local public authorities, showing much promise for the construction of democracy “from below” and with the citizens.
It was led by: