Monday, January 18, 2010

Newsy: How to rebuild Haiti

The St. Petersburg times wrote an excellent article on the history of Haiti. The US has spectacularly interfered with the nation  since the Haitians rebelled from their French colonials masters. At that time Haiti was hell on earth.

The French were making huge profits in forestry and sugar off the backs of black slaves. The French had to import 500,000 new slaves every year to replace the black people who preished in Haiti.

When the Haitian Revolution succeeded, the Southern slave states became highly alarmed about the world's first black republic in 1804. The United States refused to recognize the new nation for fear of undermining its own slavery system. The US led a worldwide boycott against Haiti that lasted until the end of the U.S. Civil War in 1865.

Concerned about risks to the Panama Canal,  the US occupied the entire island of Hispaniola during World War I. In the Dominican Republic (DR), Americans trained an army headed by Rafael Trujillo, who became president and then dictator of the DR.

The Haitians had their own dictator, Papa Doc Duvalier. U.S. economic and military aid — along with American manufacturers drawn to Haiti by cheap wages — helped keep Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc), in power for nearly three decades.

But the regime's downfall began in the early '80s when the United States insisted that Haiti destroy its entire pig crop after an outbreak of swine flu.

That threw thousands of pig farmers out of work and started an uprising that led to "Baby Doc's'' exile to Paris in 1986.The US sent a C-141 to Port au Prince to evacuate the dictator to France. The C-141 also transported five heavy trunks for the Duvalier family.

Haiti no longer even produces its own food which it was able to do prior to 1950. The International Monetary Fund persuaded it to reduce import tariffs in the '80s, U.S. rice poured into the country and put many rice farms out of business. Today, three-fourths of Haiti's rice comes from the United States.

What could be done to improve the situation in Haiti. First, the country should follow the model of Costa Rica, one of the best government is the world and get rid of the Armed Forces. This would prevent coups that have plagued the nation. 

Jean-Bertrand Aristide was one of the better leaders of Haiti. Under Aristide's leadership, his party implemented many major reforms. These included greatly increasing access to health care and education for the general population, increasing adult literacy, increased protections for those accused of crimes, improved training for judges, prohibiting human trafficking, and disbanding the Haitian military, which had primarily been used against the Haitian people.

Aristride  also improved human rights and political freedoms, doubled the minimum wage, instituted land reform and assistance to small farmers, provided boat construction training to fishermen, established a food distribution network to provide low cost food to the poor at below market prices, built low cost housing, and attempted to reduce the level of government corruption.

However, there were also a lot of a corruption that included wire transfers to fictitious companies, corruption, nepotism and drug trade during his regime.

sources: St. Petersburg Times and Wikipedia

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