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According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 79% of Haitians approve of U.S. leadership, with 18% disapproving and 3% uncertain, the highest rating for any surveyed country in the Americas.
Because of Haiti's location, Haiti has the potential to affect the stability of the Caribbean and Latin America and is therefore strategically important to the United States. Historically, the United States viewed Haiti as a counterbalance to Communist Cuba. Haiti's potential as a trading partner and an actor in the drug trade makes the nation strategically important to the United States. Moreover, both nations are tied by a large Haitian diaspora residing in the United States.
After Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804, through slave rebellion, the pro-slavery south worried this event could influence slaves in the US, and America refused to recognize Haiti's independence until 1862. President Andrew Johnson suggested annexing the island to secure influence over Europe in the Caribbean. The US government never followed through, but did post active military on the island during this period. Through the nineteenth century, people who were mixed-race and blacks often entered into conflicts and called on foreign intervention. During this period according to historian Hans Schmidt, the U.S. Navy sent ships to Haiti 19 times between 1857 and 1913 to "protect American lives and property" until the United States finally occupied Haiti in 1915.:330–331 One example of a US-Haiti conflict was the Môle Saint-Nicolas affair.
From 1915 to 1934 the U.S. Marines occupied Haiti. Prior to the occupation, the U.S. military took control of the banks and collected $500,000 to hold in New York. The Haitian constitution was written in a manner that prevented foreign entities from owning land or operating in Haiti. However, as a result of the occupation, the United States had influenced the Haitian government to rewrite the constitution to repeal an 1804 provision that forbade foreigners from owning land in Haiti. This occupation impacted the nation's economy as well as the people's self-image and independence. Ultimately, Haitians united in resistance of the U.S. occupation and U.S. forces left in 1934. Left behind was a newly trained Haitian Army (the Garde) consisting of mostly black soldiers and mulatto officers, who dominated political office until 1947.
From 1957 to 1971, Francois Duvalier governed Haiti under a repressive dictatorship, but some argue the United States tolerated the regime because it was staunchly anti-Communist and a counterbalance to Communist Cuba during the Cold War. [citation ] When Duvalier died, his son, Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") took over and maintained many of his father's policies.:3–4
The Reagan administration forced Baby Doc to leave in 1986, and when a repressive military dictatorship arose, President Reagan suspended aid. The George H.W. Bush Administration also embargoed and then blockaded Haiti, suspending all but humanitarian aid.:4
After the fall of the Duvalier family and other military regimes, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected in 1990, but he was toppled in a coup 7 months later. From 1991–1994 the Clinton Administration imposed an economic blockade, which further impoverished the country, and eventually the Clinton Administration intervened militarily in 1994 to restore Aristide to power.:4 U.S. support for Aristide waned following corruption concerns, and a February 2004 armed rebellion led to his exile.:4
After Rene Preval succeeded Aristide, aid flowed again to Haiti, totaling $1.5 billion from 1990 to 2005.:7
Some policy experts argue that U.S. policy and interventions have made problems in Haiti worse, making the country's well-being a U.S. responsibility.:5 U.S. policy toward Haiti is officially intended to foster and strengthen democracy; help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition; promote respect for human rights; and counter illegal migration and drug trafficking. The U.S. also supports and facilitates bilateral trade and investment along with legal migration and travel. U.S. policy goals are met through direct bilateral action and by working with the international community. The United States has taken a leading role in organizing international involvement with Haiti. The United States works closely with the Organization of American States (OAS), particularly through the Secretary General's "Friends of Haiti" group (originally a United Nations group that included the U.S., Canada, France, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, which was enlarged in 2001 to add Germany, Spain, Norway, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and The Bahamas), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and individual countries to achieve policy goals.
According to a 2005–2006 poll, 67 percent of Haitians would emigrate if they could, and 2 million people of Haitian descent live in the United States, 60 percent of whom are American-born. Four-fifths of Haiti's college-educated citizens live outside Haiti. Following the January 2010 earthquake, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily stopped deportations of Haitians and granted Temporary Protected Status for 18 months for Haitian Nationals.:ii
In 2010, Bill Clinton apologized for his role in demanding that Haiti drop tariffs on the importation of subsidized US rice, which had a negative effect on Haitian rice farmers in the North. On May 24, 2010, the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) was signed into US law, ensuring preferential tariffs for Haitian-produced garments. On October 22, 2012 acting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the keynote speech for the opening of the controversial Caracol industrial park.
In 2011 WikiLeaks leaked info that showed the Obama Administration fought to keep Haitian wages at 31 cents an hour when the Haiti government passed a law raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. 
Political insecurity and the failure of Haiti's governments to invest in developing the country's natural and human resources has contributed significantly to the country's current state of underdevelopment. U.S. efforts to strengthen democracy and help build the foundation for economic growth aim to rectify this condition. The U.S. has been Haiti's largest donor since 1973. Between FY 1995 and FY 2003, the U.S. contributed more than $850 million in assistance to Haiti. Since 2004, the U.S. has provided over $600 million for improving governance, security, the rule of law, economic recovery, and critical human needs. The President's budget request for FY 2007 was $198 million. U.S. Government funds have been used to support programs that have addressed a variety of problems.
Some experts, however, have criticized the conditional nature of U.S. aid to Haiti. Often U.S. aid is provided based on conditions dictated by U.S. policy goals, not by Haitian institutions. This appears to be the case for some NGO programs funded under USAID.:27 USAID also played a role in the eradication of the Creole pig, an important asset to small Haitian farmers, during the 1980s as part of an effort to combat an outbreak of the African swine fever virus.
Haiti has been plagued for decades by extremely high unemployment and underemployment. The precipitous decline in urban assembly sector jobs, from a high of over 100,000 in 1986 to fewer than 20,000 in 2006, exacerbated the scarcity of jobs. To revitalize the economy, U.S. assistance attempts to create opportunities for stable sustainable employment for the growing population, particularly in rural areas. More recently, programs that help to increase commercial bank lending to micro-enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector, have helped to create a significant number of jobs. U.S. assistance is channeled primarily through private voluntary agencies and contractors to ensure efficient implementation of U.S. assistance programs.
Haiti is a major transshipment point for South American narcotics, primarily cocaine, being sent to the United States. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken a number of steps, including vetting and training the counter narcotics division of the Haitian National Police, providing material assistance and training to the Haitian Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, and obtaining the expulsion of several traffickers under indictment in the United States.
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti's history occurred on January 12, 2010 and registered 7.0 on the Richter scale. The quake centered 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince and caused catastrophic damage. U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten issued a disaster declaration and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) became the lead agency for the U.S. government's response to the disaster. USAID authorized $50,000 for the initial implementation of an emergency response program. The U.S. government also established an interagency task force to coordinate search and rescue efforts, logistics and infrastructure support, provision of assistance, and conducting needs assessments.:ii
Recent reporting suggests that some in-kind humanitarian aid from the United States has disrupted some of Haiti's internal markets, including the rice supply chain.
Although the State Department and Defense Department have set aside $98.5 million to remove 1.2 million cubic yards of debris, efforts are hampered however by lack of equipment and resources
On January 14 the Obama administration announced $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Haiti to meet its immediate needs, in addition to pre-existing funding appropriated for Haiti. USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) sent a 32-member Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).:11
U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) oversaw the Department of Defense's (DOD) response, and it deployed military assets in Operation United Response that supported U.S. and international assistance efforts. As of February 2010, DOD had 20,458 military personnel stationed in Haiti or in its waters. Twenty-six Navy and Coast Guard vessels, 68 helicopters, and over 50 fixed-wing aircraft assisted in the transportation of supplies, relief and rescue personnel, and casualties. U.S. Air Force Special Operations command personnel dispatched to Port-au-Prince within 24 hours of the earthquake and restored air traffic control capability and enabled airfield operations, provided immediate medical services, and conducted search and rescue missions. As of February 2010, DOD delivered 2.1 million bottled waters, 1.79 million food rations, more than 100,000 pounds of medical supplies, and more than 844,000 of bulk fuel. Additional tasks undertaken by DOD personnel include casualty treatment both ashore and afloat, aerial reconnaissance to assist rescue/supply efforts, the distribution of hand-held commercial radios, and the provision of radio broadcast capacity for emergency services information.:12
On 11 January 2018, The Washington Post reported that, in a discussion on protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, Donald Trump said, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Furthermore, he claimed that anyone trying to migrate from Haiti had AIDS and that they were "vectors of HIV." After the report was released, Trump denied on Twitter that he used the term "shithole countries", but said that he used tough language in regards to the countries. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the United Nations condemned Trump's comment, describing it as "racist". Laurent Lamothe, the former president of Haiti, also criticized Trump's comment. Following several days of riots over Trump's comments, the American embassy in Port-au-Prince was closed on 23 January 2018.
Further opportunities for U.S. businesses include the development and trade of raw and processed agricultural products; medical supplies and equipment; rebuilding and modernizing Haiti's depleted infrastructure; developing tourism and allied sectors—including arts and crafts; and improving capacity in waste disposal, transportation, energy, telecommunications, and export assembly operations. Haiti's primary assembly sector inputs include textiles, electronics components, and packaging materials. Other U.S. export prospects include electronic machinery, including power-generation, sound and television equipment, plastics and paper, construction materials, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and lumber. Benefits for both Haitian and American importers and exporters are available under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA)--which provides for duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. components or materials—the successor program to the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and the HOPE Act, which provides additional duty-free preferences for qualifying apparel/textiles products and automotive wire harnesses.
U.S. export opportunities also exist for four-wheel-drive vehicles, consumer electronics, rice, wheat, flour, animal and vegetable fats, meat, vegetables, and processed foodstuffs. The Government of Haiti seeks to reactivate and develop agricultural industries where Haiti enjoys comparative advantages, among which are essential oils, spices, fruits and vegetables, and sisal. The government encourages the inflow of new capital and technological innovations. Additional information on business opportunities in Haiti can be found at the Country Commercial Guide for Haiti.
Individuals wishing to practice a trade in Haiti must obtain an immigrant visa from a Haitian Consulate and, in most cases, a government work permit. Transient and resident traders must also have a professional ID card.
Property restrictions still exist for foreign individuals. Property rights of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. No foreigner may own more than one residence in the same district, or own property or buildings near the border. To own real estate, authorization from the Ministry of Justice is necessary.
In fact, the question of minimum wage could be another drag on investors' interest. Under a recently enacted law, the minimum wage should now be roughly $6.85 a day for garment work. But factory owners have simply refused to pay the higher wages. A recent survey by the International Labor Organization found not a single factory in Haiti currently complying with the new law. Sae-A declined to comment on particulars, stating only that its employees "are compensated in accordance with local laws and regulations."
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