On October 15, 1994, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was returned to power as Haiti's leader, the first time a democratically-elected president replaced the "de facto" military leaders who deposed him. Irwin Stotzky, an adviser to Aristide, an expert on Haitian refugee litigation, and a witness to this historical process, provides an account of Aristide's reinstatement and explores the uncertain fate of democracy in Haiti today. While theory plays an important role in trying to understand and resolve the difficulties in making the transition to democracy, Stotzky argues that theory must be grounded in the real conditions of a country's society. This study offers that grounding, showing how Haiti's history of political corruption and its rigid class structure led not only to the bloody dictatorship that ruled the country from 1991 to 1994 but to its current dilemmas as well. For Haiti to escape the repetition of history, its governmental institutions must incorporate the goals of deliberative democracy to foster a moral consciousness among its people.
Mixing praise and blame for the actions taken by the Haitian government and the United States, Stotzky contends that the new system can take hold only if Haitian citizens come to respect the rule of law rather than live in fear of it. An unusual blend of political, historical, and moral concerns, the book recounts Haiti's halting and uncertain quest for democracy from the perspective of someone who played a leading part in every stage of that process.