13 January, 2010

Cry Haiti!

The first post-colonial independent Black-led nation in the world. The only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. The only predominantly Francophone independent nation in the Americas. And one of  poorest country in the world and it is the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere, where about 80% of its population live below the poverty line. That is Haiti.

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Haiti: a country that, for decades, has been ruled by dictators and despots. When we think of the words 'voodoo', 'zombies' and 'Tontons Macoutes' - Haiti comes to mind. Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who ruled Haiti with an iron fist for 14 years, was delighted when US President John F Kennedy, on whom it is said the mad Doc had placed a curse, was assassinated on 22 November 1963. A country that has experienced military coups, UN sanctions and other tragedies such as severe storms and flooding - is now facing its worst moment. Of all countries in the world, the devastating earthquake that has just hit the country couldn't have come at a worst time. Haiti needs help. Most of all, from the US. What a shame: the US, with all its economic and military might, has a country so poor and desperate right at its back-yard. In September 2008, when Mr. Obama seemed most likely to win the US presidential race, I said:
Then there is Haiti: one of the most noble things that the next American leader can do, is to help much more in bringing change to one of the poorest countries in the World - Haiti. Real change. Change that can improve Haiti's economy and uplift the living condition of its people; a people who have been so ravaged by its rulers and by natural disasters. A people who, to survive, have been forced through the years to cut most of their country's trees and turn the once lush and green country, in to an environmental disaster zone. It's shameful, incredible and a pity that - the richest and most powerful country in the World, has one of its very closest neighbors living in such miserable and pathetic conditions.
Will America help Haiti now? Really help? Will the US president act and do what is noble and  do all it can to change and uplift lives in that very impoverished and desperate country? We all hope it will. As for Haitians, they too should act and do all it takes to change the incredible huge wealth gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority, 1% of whom own nearly half the country's wealth. All Haitians have to act. Both rich and poor. Creole speaking and French speaking. If Haitians do not most help themselves, they will keep on sinking. And Haiti will continue to be a living hell.

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