A solution in Haiti: Try Freedom
By Garrett Glass
Mar 3, 2004
The troubles of Haiti are once again making front-page news all over the world. Every expert from Amnesty International to French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepein has an opinion about what needs to be done to fix the problems. There are some fundamental issues, however, that often go ignored in all the demands for foreign military intervention and financial aid.
In Haiti’s 200-year quest for freedom, one of the most crucial components of freedom, which leads to prosperity, has never been effectively implemented or even seriously tried (much less respected). The Haitian system of establishing property rights is so convoluted, complicated and corrupt that to the average citizen of Haiti owning any property will always remain just a dream. The connection between poverty and the lack of property rights is often overlooked.
Haiti’s history of abusing property rights traces its roots back to Jean-Jacques Dessalines when he declared himself emperor for life in 1803 and nationalized almost all the French plantations. He employed “communist” ideas almost fifty years before Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto. Sadly, Haiti’s record of protecting property rights hasn’t improved much since.
Hernando de Soto in his insightful and accurate book “The Mystery of Capital” discovered that to obtain a legally recognized title to property in Haiti takes over 11 years and 111 bureaucratic steps involving 32 separate offices and countless forms to be filed. The CIA world factbook estimates Haiti’s adult illiteracy rate is 53%. Anyone that has purchased property knows that the requisite forms can be confusing for even a fully literate person. The government’s attempt to intentionally maintain a cumbersome system of owning and registering property keeps the underclass impoverished and the wealthy in control. Read more…