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)


Immigrants – Why I chose not to be one.

I am one of the very few people who opted not to become a citizen of the numerous countries I was privileged to live and study in.

My mother, a Norwegian immigrant, was always puzzled as to why, I, her daughter, would get up and walk away every time the topic of “changing my citizenship to that of a Norwegian” would come up.

The idea of changing one’s citizenship and to be labeled as an immigrant just so that one can live, study and work in a western country in my opinion is absurd. I lived, studied and worked in a lot of countries and I did all that legally on a student visa as well as a resident visa. And the beauty of it is that I never changed my citizenship, and I came back to the country I was born to and used the knowledge, which I gained while living in those countries, to contribute to the welfare of my country and my people. I think of all those people who abandoned their country and left it for better employment and a better life. All I can say to them is,” come back and spent a few years in your land of birth and invest some of your time, knowledge and the skills you have gained throughout the years to help your people and your country. For that is the greatest gift which you can give to the land and the people who gave you life.

There are some Americans and Europeans who view the overwhelming entry of legal and illegal immigrants and refugees throughout the years into their countries have been the cause to the rise of terrorism. Do you blame them for thinking this way? I know I don’t. After all, most of these immigrants and refugees do come from terrorist countries.

I know a few Americans who have repeatedly blamed Congress for getting rid of the National Origin Act of 1924 and the Asiatic Barred Zone of 1917 in 1965. These Americans, who are my friends, feel that Congress’s decision has cost their country and people dearly. Their country has become susceptible to terrorist attacks and their traditional American way of life is disintegrating.

For those of you want to know what the National Origin Act of 1924 and the Asiatic Barred Zone of 1917 is, here it is:

The National Origin Act was established “to confine immigration as much as possible to western and northern European stock”.

The Asiatic Barred Zone was created “to exclude all persons from Asia”.

I don’t know if you agree with everything I have written. If you do, then you, like me, are concerned for not only the country which is rightly yours by birth, but also for the damage most immigrants are doing to themselves and us by living in countries where they are not welcome and do not belong.


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