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Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy

Robert Fatton Jr.
Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy
ISBN: 978-1-58826-060-4
ISBN: 978-1-58826-085-7
2002/237 pages/LC: 2001048934
Also of interest:  Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery  and The Roots of Haitian Despotism both by Robert Fatton Jr.

"An important book that does more than any recent publication to clarify contemporary Haitian political history."—Kevin Meehan, The Latin Americanist

"Anyone proposing or implementing suggestions for programs to assist in Haitian democratization would be well-advised to read Fatton's book."—Roy Thomas, International Journal

"A recurring theme in this engrossing text is the difficulty in constructing democracy in the midst of poverty.... Fatton goes further and seeks to connect these nettlesome issues of class to Haiti's seemingly eternal curse, the sticky matter of color, in a manner that is wholly original.... For those seeking to gain a firmer grasp of present realities in Haiti, this book fills the gap."—Gerald Horne, Journal of Haitian Studies

"Ambitious and illuminating."—Peter Dailey, New York Review of Books

"Haiti's Predatory Republic is a formidable book that explains like no other the roots of the current crisis in that impoverished Caribbean country. Accessible to professionals and lay readers alike, it undoubtedly will be seen as the definitive work on contemporary Haitian politics."—Alex Dupuy, Wesleyan University


The collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 gave rise to optimism among Haitians in all walks of life—to hopes for a democratic journey leading to economic development, political renewal, and social peace. The reality of the subsequent years, however, has not been so sanguine. Robert Fatton analyzes the vicissitudes of politics in Haiti from the demise of Duvalier through the events of 2001.

Despite a relatively stable period since Jean Bertrand-Aristide assumed the Haitian presidency for the second time, in 1994, Fatton reveals a country in which the imperfect trappings of liberal democracy coexist with violent struggles to monopolize the few sites of public power with any access to wealth and privilege. Haiti's Predatory Republic, while recognizing the possibilities of a happier future, tells a somber story of an apparently endless transition to democracy.


Robert Fatton Jr. is professor in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. His numerous publications include Predatory Rule: State and Civil Society in Africa and The Making of a Liberal Democracy: Senegal's Passive Revolution.


  • Introduction.
  • Class, State, and Civil Society in Haiti.
  • The Fall of Duvalier and the Contradictions of Democratization.
  • The Rise, Fall, and Second Coming of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
  • The Vicissitudes of Lavalasian Power.
  • The Antagonistic Present and Future Alternatives.
  • Toward a Compromise?
  • Conclusion.