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Root Causes of Poverty in Haiti Essay

Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the sub continent of South America. The present level of poverty in this country can be traced back to the turbulent history of the first Black nation in the world. After they were able to destroy the Napoleonic army in the series of bloody battles freeing themselves from the French control and bringing to an end the slavery, Haiti was proclaimed free in 1804.

The ruling elites were faced with a daunting task, they were faced with a difficult choice of whether they should restore the economy through reinstatement of the sugar plantation or preserving emancipation through allowing small holding systems which were inefficient. (Fass, S 1990) The Haitians were opposed to a system of forced labor in the plantation regarding it as slavery. They instead called for the independent land distribution for all the people. This decision has been pointed out as one of the factors that led to the reduction of the earning power of the newly independent citizens of Haiti.

France demand for compensation for the losses of the French farmers in the slave revolution left the country in a bad situation economically, crippling it completely and making the young nation deeply indebted. The economic boycott by the slave owning powers added salt to the injury as the economy could not survive under those conditions. The effects of these measures by the foreign powers on this Caribbean nation had a great effect on the economy and the effects are still being felt up to this time through the widespread poverty that has affected this country for so long.

(Tata, R 1982) The inherent instability in this country especially on the political terrain has been a major contributor to the high levels of poverty being experienced in this nation. In the period between 1843 and 1915, twenty heads of states served this nation with only one of them serving the prescribed term in office; others were thrown out before the expiry of their terms through different means. The heightened political instability in Haiti has deprived the citizens a peaceful environment which is very vital for economic development and empowerment.

(Coupeau, S 2004) The American occupation of this nation between 1915 and 1934 further helped in increasing poverty rather than reduce it among the ordinary Haitians citizens. The American multinational companies made extraordinary profits at the expense of the local Haitians. They exploited the cheap labor offered by the citizens and instead of ploughing back the huge profits they made as a result the companies repatriated it to their mother country to boost the wealth.

This further condemned the Haitians to abject poverty since their resources were being exploited by foreign nation without any direct benefit. The American invasion only served to impoverish the tiny nation leaving the citizens more vulnerable to poverty than ever before. (Dupuy, A 1999) The recent economic and political history of this nation is just an extension of the past. Americans left this country in 1934 but left a puppet government which they continued to manipulate.

This government looked well after the American business interest in the country. Developing the country beyond the economic capital was not in the agenda of the new government therefore widespread poverty continued to be the order of the day in the rural areas. The subsequent government did not solve the problems that were facing the Haitians rather they preoccupied themselves with amassing wealth for themselves while majority of the people were languishing in poverty. (Dayon, J 1998)

Today Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and one of the least developed nations in the world. The nations has not made much economic and social progress since its independence since the 1980s. It is now ranked at the bottom in terms of economic progress in the world. Half of the population in this country lives below the poverty line. The situation has been as a result of poor governance coupled with historical inequalities that have never been addressed.

The historical events in this tiny American nation have played a big role in the sad state of affairs. (Foster, C and Valdman, A 1984) References Dupuy, A (1999) Haiti in the World Economy, Westview Press Tata, R (1982) Haiti Land of Poverty, University Press of America Fass, S (1990) Political Economy in Haiti, The Drama of Survival, Transactional Books Coupeau, S (2004) History of Haiti, Greenwood Publishing Group Dayon, J (1998) Haiti: History and the Gods, University of California Foster, C and Valdman, A (1984) Haiti Today and Tomorrow, University Press of America


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