Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 17:15:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <>
Subject: (fwd) Haiti: Training Justices and Human R
To: Bob Corbett <>
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Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 17:06:02 -0800
From: Robert Corbett <>

Conflicts over Land in the Artibonite

From a report from Peace Brigades International, Haiti, July 1996

A large department north of the capital, the Artibonite valley suffers some particularly intractable land conflicts. The land there is extremely rich, well-irrigated, and thus quite valuable. The population of the region is steadily increasing.

A broad array of actors and dynamics have led to the numerous land conflicts. For instance, one traditional practice is for one farmer to put a piece of land at the disposition of another—esentially a loan based purely on an oral agreement. Conflicts frequently arise when the first farmer or his heirs, or even the real owner of the field, comes to claim it. Other conflicts are dominated by the large landowners, whose financial means are so far beyond those of the small farmers that they have near- complete impunity in the methods they choose to defend their interests. Others farmers have been completely despoiled of their land. Forced to eke out their living somehow, and understandably, bitterly frustrated, there are many among them who sink to the role of paid thugs—carrying out acts of violence on bahalf of others.

Haiti does not have strong social regulatory structures, like those known in Africa, for example, whose authority would permit solving conflicts without bloodletting. In addition, Haitian have two centuries of habit of getting along without the state, which was generally incapable of acting and when it did intervene made things worse. Now they have a state they are being asked to trust. But the lack of training—and often of motivation—of the police, judges of the peace, notaries, surveyors, and other state agents, oftens betrays this trust.