Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The people of this land
Cry out for a leader,
For hunger, crime and corruption
is all what remains,
for the present and future generation
to survive and coexist.

Where is the lush green tropical rainforest,
And the Caribbean Pine,
Which once use to flourish and cover,
This land of mine?

Where is the hope and happiness,
that should fill the hearts and minds,
of all God’s Haitian children
who are just like
you and I?

When will you come dear leader?
For time is swiftly passing by.

Here are a few facts of the people of Haiti, which I have gathered from Holly Peters-Golden’s book “Culture Sketches”.

1) Only 2 per cent of the country’s original rainforest remains (Catanese 1999). As a consequence, much of the soil has been eroded away, the topsoil running into the oceans (where it takes its toll on marine life and fishing).

2) Rural poverty and deforestation are the result of –

a) Haiti’s long history of political instability. The succession of violent and chaotic regimes sometimes only lasting months, made long – range planning for ongoing problems impossible, and concerns about the environment and economy of the rural peasants singularly unimportant.

b) The shift of power from rural areas to the capital, Port- au- Prince has resulted in “continuing avoidance of investment in rural and physical capital in ways that would effectively improve agricultural productivity and rural income”.

3) In the 1980’s, Haiti’s already devastated economy received two more blows –

a) Creole pigs, a staple in the rural pheasant economy, were struck by an outbreak of African swine fever. In an attempt to curb the spread of disease, the government (encouraged by USAID) ordered every pig killed without offering their owners any form of compensation. Recognizing the catastrophic results of this policy, a small number of an American breed of pigs were brought in, but were unsuited to the Haitian environment and could not survive.

b) The decline of the tourism industry. The association of Aids with Haiti, promulgated both by the media and by health experts, brought foreign travel to a halt. In fact, it was American vacation travel, which brought AIDS to Haiti in the first place, and not the other way around. (Farmer 1994). However, both political unrest and health concerns led to official warnings that American citizens not travel to Haiti. The Haitian tourist market has yet to rebound.

4) Rising population and diminishing agricultural yield have led to an influx of rural peasants seeking jobs in the capital, Port-au-Prince. While this work was sometimes available in earlier times, over the past twenty years it has become nearly impossible to find, resulting in urban centers of impoverished unemployed. In one such slum, nearly a quarter of a million people are packed into five square kilometers with neither running water nor a sewage system. (Doggett and Gordon 1999)

5) 90 per cent of the population of Haiti are poor. 10 per cent are wealthy. The distinction between Haiti’s poor and wealthy are drawn along the lines of religion, language and skin color. The poor majority are of African descent, speak Creole and practice voudon (voodoo). The wealthy are most often the descendants of African slaves and French landowners, lighter skinned, French-speaking and Roman Catholic. Michel-Rolph Trouillot, a Haitian anthropologist, describes the feeling most well-off urban Haitians have for “the common people of Haiti” as “contempt.” (1990:229)



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