“Haiti: Wither thou goest?”. Mickey Glantz. January 17, 2011

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Published on January 18, 2011 with No Comments

“Haiti: Wither thou goest?”. Mickey Glantz. January 17, 2011

The Republic of Haiti sat on a wall.
The Republic of Haiti had a great fall.
All the Great Powers and all the UN
Couldn’t put Haiti together again.
Or so it seems. Why not?

Haiti is a country with about 10 million inhabitants, almost 50 percent of which are 15 or under. It gained independence from France in 1804. It has had problems of various kinds since then, but not because of its independence. Throughout its history, it has only sporadically had what might be called a good government. It is quite clear that in the 20th century Haiti has not really seen a good government, at least as far as I can tell.

I read a popular history of Haiti written in 1954 and it was not flattering to US involvement in the country in the form of “gunboat diplomacy” in the first half of the 20th century. Papa Doc Duvalier came to power in 1957 and was a brutal dictator until the late 1970s when his 19 year old son took over, Baby Doc. Every government knew about the corrupt and brutal dictatorships but did nothing to help the Haitian people until riots brought down the Baby Doc regime. Off to France he went, into exile with the alleged $300 million he stole from his impoverished people.

The country is still a mess, even more so following the January 2010 earthquake. Tens of thousands of people are still living in tent towns, surviving with access only to minimal resources. A cholera outbreak in parts of Haiti have made the devastating situation in the western third of the island of Hispanola even worse. It seems that in Haiti when one crisis is dealt with two pop up in its place. The island nation seems unable to get a break from a constant stream of bad news.

This week, in the midst of the anniversary of the great earthquake 2010, the former ruthless dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier — deposed 25 years ago — chose to return to the country, allegedly to see how he could help it. The motive for his return, though, is not really known. He was a deadly corrupt dictator who jailed, tortured or had killed those who opposed his rule. His father, Papa Doc Duvalier, and his private army (Tonton Macoute) were much worse. They were evil. Thanks to the security blanket called national sovereignty, the United Nations did little to protect Haitian civil society from the wrath of the Duvaliers. Sadly, the USA also did little for the Haitians, probably because of its strategic geographic location … facing Cuba. A large portion of the Haiti’s young population are unaware of the horrors carried out by the Duvaliers.

Today, there are lots of NGO activities, aid programs and bilateral agreements between Haiti and other countries, each of which is trying to help the people. Yet, the people still suffer in great numbers, as there are more than these humanitarian efforts can help at any given point in time. The land surface is denuded. A large portion of the general population is not well educated, health problems afflict all ages, unemployment abounds, and most of the people are dirt poor. Making living conditions worse, the land surface has been deforested making the country prone to mudslides and rainfall runoff. But why is Haiti in such poor condition with so much assistance offered to the country before, during and after the deadly earthquake?

What is needed is radical, out-of-the-box thinking to break the downward spiral. Industrialized as well as industrializing countries such as Brazil and China have to step up, take charge on behalf of the citizens of Haiti and develop this small impoverished country.

There are other ideas as well. It seems that Haiti needs a new territory to inhabit (none to be found or offered). If not, it needs an enlightened honest government, a reliable flow of assistance, widespread reforestation, medical facilities, access to nutrition, and jobs, etc. A really radical (some will say retro) way to give Haitians a chance to get those things would be if the country were made a Mandate of the United Nations. Under the League of Nations, former German and Italian colonies were made Mandates after WWI put into the care of other (victor) nations. The UN Community of Nations would then take on the responsibility to create a sustainable Haiti within a fixed period of time.

League of Nations Mandate

If the collective wisdom of the industrial world world cannot collectively help to develop a small country with 10 million inhabitants, then it should stop telling billions of people in developing countries that there is hope for their economic development prospects and improved well being.

Success with Haiti would provide inspiration to other countries in the Fourth World (the bottom half of the Third World) that there is a bright light for them as well at the end of the economic development tunnel.

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