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Pigs, Peasants, and Politics in Haiti: Migdal's Theory of Peasant Participation in National Politics and the Fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier

Author(s): Asbed, Greg

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Abstract: This essay examines the popular movement—known as the dechoukaj ("up- rooting")—that led to the fall of Duvalier and created the impetus for Haiti's first democratic elections in over thirty years. The essay employs Migdal's theory of peasant participation in national politics to analyze the dechoukaj movement. The U.S.-directed eradication of the Haitian Creole pig in the early 1980s precipitated a deep economic crisis in rural Haiti that threatened the subsistence of peasant communities. As a result, thousands of Haitian peasants turned to Catholic Church-based community groups for economic and social security. These organizations addressed the peasants' material needs and provided channels for develop- ing group and class consciousness. At the same time, the Catholic Church in Haiti began to expand and articulate its political agenda. The union of a stable, national institution (the Catholic Church) with a large, motivated constituency (a newly mobilized peasantry) made the Church-based dechoukaj movement the most important political challenge to "Duvalierism" during the final years of the Duvalier dictatorship. It also created the foundations for continued Church involve- ment in Haiti's transition to liberal democracy.
Publication Date: 1991
Pages: 67-84
Type of Material: Journal Article
Series/Report no.: Volume 2;
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Public and International Affairs
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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