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Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a long and tumultuous history. The two countries are joined by geography but separated by language and scarred by reciprocal massacres. Yet after a brief thaw in the wake of Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, relations between the two halves of the Hispaniola island are once again unravelling.

The latest contretemps was triggered by a far-reaching, controversial judgement by the Dominican Constitutional Court in September. The Dominican Republic has long held that anyone born in the country is automatically a national, but the judges ruled that those born while “in transit” do not qualify – including the children of Haitian migrants that have historically done most of the country’s menial labour. 

By Laurent Lamothe, Prime Minister of Haiti

Today, the global apparel and light manufacturing industry is undergoing a transformation, with international buyers increasingly looking towards the Western Hemisphere to source goods in light of rising costs and concerns over worker safety standards in several Asian countries.

Haiti is well-positioned to create tens of thousands of jobs and harness the opportunity it presents for our growing apparel industry. Our nation has a deep history in the apparel sector, which at one time employed more than 100,000 workers and today employs 31,000. Indeed, Haiti is poised to meet international demand, be a good partner to buyers, and importantly, improve the livelihoods of our people. In other words, Haiti is open for business. 

Persuading a Brazilian company to invest $300,000 in chickens in Haiti may sound like a rather tall order. Not, though, if you’re Muhammad Yunus.

The Nobel peace prize winner and Brasil Foods (BRF), the world’s biggest poultry exporter, have teamed up to create an entire chicken production chain in the Caribbean country. 

Such is the shock at the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the US that it has gone largely unnoticed that long-suffering Haiti was hit very badly too.

Not only is Haiti’s death toll of 54 much higher given that only 10m people live in the impoverished Caribbean nation, but Sandy destroyed thousands of hectares of crops, making the import-dependent country even more reliant on expensive foreign food. 

You could hardly argue that things have been going well lately for Haiti. Quite apart from being cruelly ravaged more than two years ago now by an earthquake from which it is still struggling to recover, more recently the Caribbean country’s president was struck down by a pulmonary embolism, while a rogue band of paramilitaries stormed parliament in his absence, and is still refusing to disband despite repeated demands from the government.

But there are one or two more positive developments. 

It has now been two years since an earthquake tore apart Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, and it’s obvious that there’s widespread dissatisfaction at the excruciatingly slow progress of reconstruction.

But amid all the desperation, there have been some successes, in which the private sector has exercised an important role. Ideally, it would play a much bigger part. 

Finally, Haiti’s long and drawn out presidential elections are over, and there is a winner: the flamboyant carnival singer Michel Martelly, self-styled “bad boy of kompa” (a kind of slowed down, Haitian version of merengue).

Whatever we may think of “Sweet Micky”, or “Tèt Kale” (bald head), as he is variously known, the arrival of a new government is a chance to usher in a new phase of the reconstruction process, with much of Port-au-Prince still lying in ruins after the earthquake struck well over a year ago. 

A group of protesters carry posters of Michel Martelly as they parade on the street in Pettion Ville, HaitiThe situation developing in Haiti does not look promising. With serious outbreaks of violence across the country in protest against “massive fraud” in the recent presidential elections, those that hoped the vote might produce the strong government that is so desperately needed to haul Haiti out of the ditch could be disappointed.

The multiple consequences of an unstable government that neither Haitians nor the international community regard as legitimate are almost too dismal to contemplate. But there is no question that the reconstruction process to which international donors have pledged to contribute almost $11bn will suffer. 

It’s very hard to be upbeat about Haiti at the moment. Lurching from crisis to crisis, it is in the thick of a cholera epidemic, which the UN now thinks could affect double the amount of people – 400,000 – than it had previously thought. Worse, the outbreak could undermine elections this Sunday, and consequently the legitimacy of the resulting government, which is so crucial if the reconstruction process is to succeed.

But occasionally there are positive developments, however small. 

After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January, people around the world whipped out their mobile phones to send millions of dollars in aid via text message to charities including the Red Cross. Now a new $10m fund aims to help Haitians use their own mobile phones to send, receive and store money – services known as “mobile money” or “mobile banking”.

The fund, a partnership between the Gates Foundation and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will award cash to companies that set up mobile banking services in Haiti. More than a third of the island nation’s banks, ATMs, and money transfer locations were destroyed in the quake, according to the Gates Foundation – and few Haitians had access to traditional banking in the first place.