The Economist: Building a reluctant nation: Haiti
This tenuous foothold of law and order is a microcosm of Haiti's snail-like progress a year after René Préval was elected as president of the poorest and most lawless country of the Americas. The election came two years after the ousting of the thuggish socialist regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the hands of a rebel band and American and French troops.
For a failing state, the election was a success. Mr Préval, a moderate former president who was once an ally of Mr Aristide, won just over 50% of the vote. But he did not form a government until June, after legislative elections. Local elections followed in December, with more due in March. All this voting gives Haitians the chance of a fresh start, but it has also diverted resources from other priorities.
The most pressing issue remains crime. The government tried at first to negotiate with the criminal gangs. But kidnaps, assaults and drug-trafficking rose. A UN scheme under which those who hand in guns get job training has few takers. The new, tougher policy is aimed at regaining control of places like Cité Soleil, a district of more than 200,000 people which has been too dangerous for aid groups to enter.
Even in Port-au-Prince's richer suburbs, rubbish fills the streets. The economy has stopped contracting. Venezuela supplies subsidised oil and Haitians in the United States send money home. But Haiti still depends on foreign aid for over 65% of the state budget. A job-creation scheme, backed by $128m from the United States and the World Bank, is only just starting up. According to the bank, 83% of skilled Haitians live abroad. Driven out by instability and poverty, they have yet to show any sign of returning.