Early last year a powerful earthquake hit Haiti—the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere—killing tens of thousands of people and destroying most of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital city. The tragedy led to a heated public debate about the connection between the impact of natural disasters and poverty and about the causes of underdevelopment.
Most experts agreed on one point: much of the destruction of lives and property could have been prevented since Haiti's underdevelopment (a manmade condition) had made Haitians more vulnerable to the effects of the earthquake. However, serious disagreements emerged when they offered explanations of why Haiti was so chronically poor and underdeveloped, as the following two quotes illustrate.
"This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story. It's a story about poorly constructed buildings, bad infrastructure and terrible public services.... it is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty. Why is Haiti so poor? As Lawrence E. Harrison explained...Haiti, like most of the world's poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10. We 're all supposed to politely respect each other's cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them. " (David Brooks, New York Times, January 14, 2010)'
"Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.... [It is] the result of a...longer-term history of deliberate impoverishment and disempowerment. Haiti is routinely described as the "poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. " This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression. It is this poverty and powerlessness that account for the full scale of the horror in Port-au-Prince today. Since the late 197 Os...hundreds of thousands of Port-au-Prince residents now live in desperately sub-standard informal housing, often perched precariously on the side of deforested ravines. The selection of the people living in such places and conditions is itself no more "natural" or accidental than the extent of the injuries they have suffered. The noble "international community" which is currently scrambling to send its "humanitarian aid" to Haiti is largely responsible for the extent of the suffering it now aims to reduce. " (Peter Hallward, Guardian, January 13, 2010).2
compare and contrast the views expressed by Brook and Hallward in the above two quotes and draw on your knowledge of modernization and dependency perspectives to explain whose ideas (Brooks or Hallward?) offer a better explanation of underdevelopment
I'm certainly no expert and know nothing of the history of Haiti, but Hallward seems to say that someone else is responsible for Haitians not being able to take care of themselves while Brooks places the blame on the Haitians themselves for their poor condition.
If, as seems to be the case from the very limited information here, Haitians have had decades to improve things and no effort has been made then the majority of the responsibility rests on them and not the evil colonial forces from the distant past.
From my understanding, it was a combination of factors, but the legacy of colonialism gets the bulk of the blame. It's not accurate to say that "evil colonial forces" are a thing of the distant past in Haiti. Their influences extended well into the modern era, and are arguably still active today.
Since you say you know nothing of Haitian history, here's a quick overview:
Haiti finally finished repaying the colossal debt ($20 billion in today's dollars) that France demanded after independence in 1947, and in the process it destroyed most of its natural resources (especially its native forests), decimated funding for education and other social services, and similar.
While still repaying the debt, it was placed under a crippling, decades-long embargo by the US, which was afraid its own slaves would get ideas from the Haitian slave revolt, and was later forcefully occupied by the US from 1915-1934. A few decades after that, the US supported the Duvalier dictators, who proceeded to rape the country further, and in the 90's the US dumped millions of tons of subsidized rice and sugar into Haiti after the World Bank and IMF forced it to open its markets, underselling Haitian farmers, destroying what remained of the Haitian rural economy, and forcing hundreds of thousands into city slums in search of work. Needless to say, most of these slums were a tad short on earthquake-proof buildings.
by Kathryn L Hill15 months ago
N O Thttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkZiUDPE19g
by Kerizareth6 years ago
My country Haiti is in debt, because France made them pay an independence fee of 90 million dollars over 200 years ago. Which took Haiti approximately 120 years to pay off. Due to the economic changes and inflammation,...
by Susie Lehto15 months ago
Please, watch this short video: Shocking Footage! Haiti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IWrPXt7NJ4Do what you can, if all you can do is pray...be earnest. Call your US Congressmen, call the media and...
by bonetta hartig7 years ago
or were they just trying to do the right thing and decided to byepass the red tape...
by MechanicGuy58567 years ago
Concerning the situation with the missionaries in Haiti, I believe that they are innocent. That is my opinion and while others may have their own opinions on this topic, this is not the primary issue. The American...
by Michael Willis7 years ago
I normally stay away from the religion threads and subjects of controversy, but Pat Robertson's claim that the Earthquake is punishment from God on the Haiti people because they made a 'Pact with the Devil" is...
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