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Is Haiti Doomed?

Updated on December 16, 2017

Let there be jobs . . . and hurricane relief!

The United States and the Caribbean nation of Haiti seem inextricably linked - for better or worse. In February 2004, Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile of his own free will, so the story goes anyway. Reportedly, Aristide had requested that the United States escort him from the country, because a band of murderous rebels was wreaking havoc in northern parts of the country. But some think Aristide was essentially abducted by the United States before he could further his political agenda, which the U.S. found objectionable. There were also accusations that Aristide was guilty of embezzlement and corruption, though these charges have never been proven.

A good friend of Aristide's, author Randall Robinson, was on the flight from Haiti with Aristide, and he has written a book about the alleged coup d'état, as he called it. The title of the book is Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President: An unbroken Agony. Robinson wrote that Aristide would never have left Haiti just because some rebels were causing trouble. Robinson also wrote that Aristide alienated the United States by advocating relief to the poor people of Haiti, a decidedly populist ideal, and he also rankled Group 184, an assemblage of white, French-speaking capitalists in Haiti.

Robinson wrote that the United States orchestrated the coup, and that the rebels causing trouble in the north of Haiti, murdering people in fact, were equipped and trained by the U.S. These M16-wielding rebels Robinson had actually seen for himself. Randall called them "American-backed thugs."

Be that as it may, but an undeniable fact is that Haiti, like many other poor countries in the world, is in serious trouble. Haiti is a small country, only 27,750 square kilometers and has a relatively high population of eight to nine million, most of whom earn less than $1 per day. The literacy rate is around 50 per cent, and about 70 per cent of the people live by subsistence agriculture. Like most poor people throughout the world, their fuel is wood, which comes from the nation's dwindling forest, less than four per cent of which still exists. Unfortunately, denuding the land has created soil erosion. According to the September 2008 issue of National Geographic, Haiti's food production per capita fell 30 percent from 1991 to 2002. And the island nation has few natural resources - bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold and marble, but mining comprises less than one per cent of the gross national product and employs less than one per cent of the work force. Unfortunately, Haiti has no fossil fuels and must import all it needs. It has one hydroelectric plant.

As is the case throughout Latin America, Haiti, despite being an exceeding poor country, is experiencing a population explosion. According to Joel Cohen’s book How Many People Can the Earth Support? global population is increasing from 1.5 to 2 percent per year, with most of that growth in developing countries such as Haiti. Worldwide this is an additional 90 million people per year. This growth rate doesn’t seem very large, but at this pace the world’s population could double by the year 2050. That’s well over 12 billion people – most of them dirt poor, a sobering realization indeed!

To make matters even worse, Haiti can't grow enough of its own food and must import large quantities of staples such as rice. Alas, the price of imported food has skyrocketed in recent months, a calamity which has precipitated the firing of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis. Reacting to such a price hike, people have rioted in the streets and, as of February 2006, 17 United Nations peacekeepers have been killed. Also, people have been reported eating "mud cookies" to fight off hunger pangs. President Rene Preval has been reluctant to cut taxes on food, and thereby reduce the cost, because such taxes pay for government programs such as job creation.

In June 2006, Aristide was replaced by Rene Preval, who seems determined to unite this fractious nation, ruled by a succession of dictators and provisional governments until Aristide's first election in 1991. Then a military coup ended Aristide's first term in office only months later.

When still in office, former president Aristide's goal was to improve the lot of Haiti's poor. His plan would have created 365 rural sections, each to have a primary school, a health clinic, and a business component, a cooperative of sorts, made viable by small loans and microcredits. Under the plan, raising the country's literacy rate would also be a major goal.

Childrens' home with a dirt floor
Childrens' home with a dirt floor
Shanty town
Shanty town
Scanvenging at the dump
Scanvenging at the dump
The vast refuse heap
The vast refuse heap

Work is life, you know, and without it, there’s nothing but fear and insecurity.

— John Lennon

Again, like many other poor countries in the world, Haiti’s biggest problem is the lack of jobs. In fact, the world’s biggest problem could be unemployment. Haiti’s unemployment rate is about 60 per cent. The country needs to attract companies, corporations and entrepreneurs, so that jobs can be created, thereby generating taxes on wages and salaries and creating and fostering an infrastructure that will in turn create even more jobs. After that, genuine prosperity for Haiti might be possible.

Hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, a native of Haiti, interviewed on a January 2009 edition of Sixty Minutes, said this on the subject: “We need to create jobs. We need job creations here (in Haiti).”

However, in order to create jobs, Haiti needs more money, because poor people seldom create jobs. To provide this money, the wealthy of the country, perhaps Group 184, could be taxed more – perhaps much more – but if this happened, President Preval probably wouldn’t remain in power much longer and the country doesn’t need even more political uncertainty and turmoil. Or Haiti could request more money from the international dole, perhaps a loan from the World Bank would suffice. But many poor countries in Africa have collected foreign aid for decades with dubious results. Simply put, these countries, like Haiti, are still poor. More handouts would do Haiti little good.

But Haiti could collect billions of dollars another way – without appearing the beggar nation. Before he departed suddenly, Aristide had applied for restitution from France. Aristide wanted France to return the $93 million francs Haiti had been forced to pay in reparations following Haiti’s successful slave revolt, which lasted for 13 years in the late 1700s to early 1800s. Comprised mostly of freed slaves, Haiti became the world’s first black-led nation in 1804. This application was cancelled after Aristide’s ouster, but it could be made again.

Perhaps the United Stated could help persuade France to pay this restitution. After all, the United States had their share of slaves as well. If the United States doesn’t want to help in this way, maybe it could help Haiti develop the infrastructure needed to produce industries and enhance the overall economic development. A little stewardship by the U.S. could have a miraculous effect on Haiti. Rather than spend countless billions of dollars fighting foes in the Middle East and elsewhere, perhaps the U.S. should spend some of that money instead on developing jobs in a country such as Haiti – a democratic republic, that is, after all, just miles away. Money spent on preventing revolution or war could be a wiser option.

Without a serious improvement in the creation of jobs in Haiti, revolution may not be far off. Starving, dirt-poor people, when faced with hopelessness, have little to do but revolt and fight. In a similar situation, what would anybody do?

Of course, if there is such a revolution, the United States will probably have to send in troops to quell the uprising. They’ve done so many times and will have to continue doing so until Haiti reaches a sustainable level of economic stability, political tranquility and perhaps even happiness.

In a small country such as Haiti with few natural resources and a high population, prosperity may seem little more than a pipe dream. But if economic behemoths such as France and the United States do their share, Haiti might still escape the list of impoverished nations.

Is Haiti doomed?

Clearly its chances are not good.

© 2008 Kelley


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    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      That's the spirit, Matt! Haiti needs all the help it can get. I'm sure providing clean drinking water will make a dramatic difference. Later!

    • profile image

      Matt 7 years ago

      I'm not giving up on Haiti. Haiti is not doomed. I'm building a water treatment center there and it will make it.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 7 years ago from California

      You're right, Joseph D, many poor countries need population control. But how does one provide it in an effective way? Later!

    • profile image

      Joseph D 7 years ago

      So what if they get restitution? They need forced sterilization. One or two babies per woman should be the law. I say give them a choice. If they refuse cut off all aid.

    • profile image

      Water Damage 7 years ago

      As far as jobs what kind of jobs can you give to an undereducated population? Why would a company want to invest in a country that doesn’t even have proper roads and electricity? (Even the Romans thousands of years ago mastered that and in this modern day and age you can barely find good roads in Haiti). And why deal with the deeply rooted corruption.

    • profile image

      canbyte 8 years ago

      Not to be a wet blanket or anything but if you would read Diamond's book Collapse, you would have to conclude your statement is just naïve - not based on facts, just emotions. The best course of action now is to abandon hope - the secret sauce of the aid industry. They are just looking out for themselves, not the Haitians. Therefore, one must conclude that hope is stupid, not beneficial, at least at a societal level and from an honest perspective. Our inability to do that just prolongs the agony. But from a cynical perspective, the exact opposite becomes (pseudo) true!!! Kapish (capisce)?

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Before the earthquake Haiti had a slim chance to overcome its problems; now they only have hope - and only with the help of the international dole for the foreseeable future. Later!

    • profile image

      canbyte 8 years ago

      No hope for Haiti. Jared Diamond lays it out - no rain, no water, no soil - well, very little anyway -- much less than Dominican Republic. No industry, no education, no capital = no other way to make money. The island can't support even 1/10 of the people which means 10 million must leave or die. Who will take them? Who knows, given high AIDs and lousy stability factors to oversimplify. Hope means getting fertile women out of there, maybe the young men too as a bare minimum. Cruel, politically incorrect but realistic. Just like New Orleans - forget rebuilding, it's a complete waste. JIMHO of course.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Haiti is indeed a pitiful place. But there's always hope, right? Later!

    • profile image

      yeah yeah  8 years ago

      doomed? god-damned is more fitting. not only will Haiti never be the same but it is a lost cause. more then likely the people of Haiti will migrate to neighboring countries which in return will cause conflicted with Cuba and the Dominican republic (who aren't open to new visitors) anyway things are not gonna get better. in fact i believe that the end result is gonna lead to ww3. checkout my hub called the beginning of world war 3 (the Haitian conspiracy) under the name yeah yeah


      -yeah yeah

    • profile image

      Small Talk 8 years ago

      The video referred to by Dutch84 (2 years ago)has now been removed by YouTube. Right?

    • profile image

      Agirl 8 years ago


      I would be happy to communicate further.

      I'm not really much of a writer, so I don't think I'll need to create a hub. But I will give you a temporary e-mail address you can e-mail. And then we can exchange e-mails.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Thank you very much for your insights into the problems of Haiti. I wish you were a "hubber" so we could communicate further. Why don't you join up and write some hubs? Hope to hear from you again. Later!

    • profile image

      Agirl 8 years ago

      I find it interesting about these stories don’t take into consideration the details and reality of the situation at hand. I know that for every effect there is a cause, so I can’t completely blame Haitian people for the “doomed” situation that they are in, but I have to say. I’ve met some of the worse kinds of people in Haiti. A lot of whom would rather not work and are always chasing the next “get something for nothing” way to make money. Or trying to squeeze the maximum out of you. Example: Could you in good conscious tell someone you will make 100 business cards for them for $300 USD? A Haitian man would and then try to put you down for not going for it. And this was not a poor doomed Haitian man trying to make enough money for a rainy day because he is starving. Mind you this is not an isolated case. If I start to tell you the lovely stories of my experience with the wonderful people of Haiti you might just ‘doom’ them to hell. Oh, no need for that they are already in hell.

      I strongly believe that “as a man thinketh so he will be”. Haiti will be doomed until the mentalities changes. Can the “developed world” change mentalities?

      Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,

      And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes

      The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,

      Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:—

      He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:

      Environment is but his looking-glass.

      And as far as jobs what kind of jobs can you give to an undereducated population? Why would a company want to invest in a country that doesn’t even have proper roads and electricity? (Even the Romans thousands of years ago mastered that and in this modern day and age you can barely find good roads in Haiti). And why deal with the deeply rooted corruption.

      But because my parents are Haitian and I do have family in Haiti I still want to think that there is hope. That’s just another human quality that “economic behemoths” can’t control.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      I've never been to Haiti; I've only read about it. This story of yours is indeed poignant, as it points out the difficulties encountered while helping such failed states as Haiti. Thanks very much for your comment. Later!

    • profile image

      Agirl 8 years ago

      Kosmo, I'm curious are you Haitian? Have you been to Haiti? I just want to bring another perspective to this story. I went to Haiti to try to start a business and I had a very frustrating experience. The people will try to rob you in anyway they can and from all levls, from government officials to office secretary. Its very pitiful and discouraging. It makes you not even want to care.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      Only the so-called developed world can save Haiti. But, in fairness to countries such as the U.S., how much time and money can it afford to spend on countries such as Haiti or Somalia, not to mention Afghanistan?...

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I can't believe any people doomed, but is there hope? I've traveled places where that question flies into my mind frequently. I note we all have questions, but no answers.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 8 years ago from California

      I certainly hope you're right, Paul. Thanks for the comment. Later!

    • profile image

      Paul 8 years ago

      yeS Haiti is Doom if that's what your are wishing for. United State Of America Bureaucrat distroyed Haiti from the begining of times. Haiti no longer belong to the people of Haiti physically, it is now owned by the New World Order multi institution corporations like (Brazil, USA, France , Canada). I believe those country main objective is to kill the Haitian's people with Biological war fairs, just like they experiments on Haitians in the past with Mental illness vaccination and biological weapons like AIDS, Bacteria,Viruses Toxins,Vaccinations, and bring the people to their knees. One thing clear is that Haitian people will prevail.

    • profile image

      Julie 9 years ago

      You are talking about jobs in Haiti but I think you should talk about how many people don't have jobs because that would give us an idea of how poor they are.

    • dutch84 profile image

      dutch84 10 years ago

      this post reminds me of this:


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