The price of defiance
For many, Haiti will conjure up little more than images of the recent earthquake and perhaps stir vague memories of Papa Doc Duvalier, immortalised in Graham Greene’s novel, The Comedians.
Review by Joe Taylor of the National Community Activists’ Network
Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean and the first black-led republic in the world. But it is presently the poorest country in the western hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Its richest 1% own nearly half the country’s wealth.
Jeb Sprague’s book adds flesh to the bare bones of these statistics:
“This country is dying. It is running out for fresh water. Less than 2% of its natural forested areas remain; as a consequence, agriculture is devastated. Though wracked with poverty and disease the population continues to grow – and continues to migrate from rural to urban areas, chiefly Port-au-Prince.”
[Quote from a US official at the US embassy in Haiti]
Haiti is still suffering the consequences of defiance, as Sprague makes clear, probing the aftermath of the 2004 internationally sanctioned coup against Haiti’s first democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrant Aristide. Aristide, a liberation theologist priest, has the painful distinction of being overthrown twice by military coups, once in 1991 and the second time in 2004.
The years following the second coup, in which Aristide was spirited to the Central African Republic on a US military plane, saw some 4,000 political murders and the repression of Aristide supporters and members of his Fanmi Lavalas party. In a Machiavellian twist, Aristide is currently facing accusations that he exploited street children for political gain….
Read the entire review on A World to Win