The social, cultural, and Political issues of Poverty and Hunger in Haiti
The republic of Haiti is a Creole and French Speaking Caribbean nation, who has been the first nation of the Caribbean to revolt against slavery and gained its independence. Nether less, Haiti is the first black led nation in the world and the only nation who gained its independence trough slavery rebellion, which make Haiti a unique Nation. Haiti had facing many issues such as economical, social, cultural, politics, violence, health, and beside been violated, repressed, abused, and neglected many times over the past years, Haiti is still struggling today with many others new difficulties. Will Haiti ever become independent from international support, and gain more equity toward its population?
Haiti is located in the west side of the Island of Hispaniola. The Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic share this island.
Even so, Haiti is the first Republic that gains its independence and revolt against slavery. A new system of Slavery was quickly created toward the servant, and the children were the first victim of this new structure.
Adult servant usually serves in homes of upper class family in exchanges of a salary. Sadly children were use as a home labor as well but they usually serve at the home of many middle class families. In fact, many poor families cannot afford to keep feeding their children. In the hope for a better future for the child, they usually sell them to richer family. In exchange of the work inside the house the child is suppose to be able to go to school and receive a descent education and shelter. However, in many cases, the child is neglected and abuse and do not receive any of it. The child labor is tough and the child barely receive a meal per day of food.
These children are called “restavek” it is a Creole term than mean “stay with” and it is consider by many international organization as a child slavery in the cases where child need are not congregate.
Some other children are called The “Street children” they were children, who had no family and were not supervise by any institution. They had many different little jobs in the street such as car washer or a market helper, but a lot of them served the president Jean Bertrand Aristide under his secret army and become killers. The Street children besides stealing in order to survive, they also sell their bodies to prostitution. This is why many of them catch sexual transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS due to no protected sexual activities.
Even when the child was able to go to school, the educational system needed a lot of improvement and those needs were also neglected by the government. There is a huge gap between private school and public school. The public schools are over crowned. The number of students in one classroom is outrageous. The school buildings are in a pity condition, and there are not enough qualify teacher in order to teach everyone.
The children that suffer the most of the lack of a good school are the one from the countryside of Haiti. They often have to walk miles on dangerous and mediocrity roads.
Many upper class families who are concerned about their child education place their children in one of the top private school and other sends their children in school out of the country such as Cuba or America.
Due to lack of governmental school, most of the schools that were created were Private institution, which most Haitian family could not afford. So how could a nation whose children do not have the same access to a proper education due to lack of affordable and good educational system can be able to make great decision for their future when their basic need for success in life were not filled. How could a child grown to be healthy and safe in a dangerous environment surrounded by constant fear and an empty stomach? Haitian are now turning their hope into international organization
The Social class system is Haiti is only unique. You can observe many distinction around the skin colors of individual. In fact, many Haitian believe that the lighter is the skin colors of a women the more beautiful she is. This is why many Haitian women try to lighten their skin in order to appear less dark, which I was able to see in my last trip to Haiti in March 2008.
Color distinction also become a racial issue. Dark skin color are considered to be the worker class who work outside in the sun. Many Haitian use the help of cosmetics product to protect their skin from the sun in the hope of staying as light as they can. Color distinction around the black color is not only considered as a mark of beauty. A lot of racial conflict appear between darker and lighter skin and they do not wish to be mixed to one another.
The social class system in Haiti is also unique and not evenly distributed as the European system, the achievement toward an upper class it is much harder, and the bottom of the pyramid of class has also his own social class disctinction.
The health system in Haiti is also corrupted, the upper class rather fly to Cuba to be treated than seen an Haitian doctor because hospitals are kept in poor condition and lack of good descent care and maintenance.. Middle class usually cannot afford the cost of many of the operation propose by the very few hospitals in town.
The poorest in the country and some of the middle class rather consult a Voodoo priest whenever they are sick. Voodoo is a common practice and could be use for good or mad intention toward the population. It is also refers as a dark magic and many citizen are afraid of it even so they assume they do not believe on it. Voodoo is classify as a religion, but many consider voodoo the work of a dark witches in the country. People are rejecting medical care and consult their voodoo priest in any of life conflicts they might face. Voodoo practices are also expensive, but the population in Haiti believes more on their Voodoo than on their Doctor. Is it due to the number of people that die under the table of a doctor, it is because of the number of malpractices?
I lost my aunt during the summer of 2008 while she was receiving an operation. The doctor told us she died because they did not have her blood type in reserve prior the operation. It might seem to be common sense for us to have a minimum of preparation prior a surgery but it is not in Haiti. Those basic preparations are expensive and not all of the hospital could afford it, can we blame these population for using Voodoo?
Haiti faces a lot of political instabilities over the past years, which increase Haiti feeling of insecurity and repression. As a descendant of Jean Dumarsais Estimé, the 30th president of Haiti, I took a vivid interest in how the reign of the presidents affect the population and increase social disparity along the social classes.
Jean Claude Duvalier is the 33rd President of Haiti, he was born in July 3 in 1951, and he succeeds to his father François Duvalier, who is the one who put him into power.
In order to become President for life, Jean Claude Duvalier, as similar as his father, uses the precious help of the “Tonton Macoutes” (special secret Haitian police force) to protect his political power, set a regime of terror and maintain the population in order through beating and killing.
The Tontons Macoutes were usually poor adults citizens with very few or no education. With the Tonton Macoutes, the freedom of speech was totally denied. Tonton Macoutes is the generally name give for the”Militia of National Security Volunteers.” It was a Haitian militia secret police force created in 1959, who served Francois Duvalier led by Luckner Cambronne, the second in command of Francois Duvalier.
“Tonton Macoutes” originated from Haitian mythology and is similar to the “Bogeyman” who walk down the streets; when the sun is out, in order to kidnapped children who stayed out too late and stowing them away in his gunnysack, and those children are know to never be seen again. For the population who decide not to talk in favor of their president, they would disappear in the same mysterious way. Moreover, any person who dear spoke about the MSVN also risked their own abduction.
Jean Bertrand Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest was born on July 15 in 1953, in Port Salut in Haiti. He was the 5th leader of the democratic party. He was the 39th and 41th president of Haiti in 1991 and from 1994 to 1996 and finally from 2001 to 2004. Beside his tentative of taking the power by force he then he was elected by the citizen, who were hopeful for a better future.
Jean Bertrand Aristide is also known to be a philosopher and traveler. In fact, he studies philosophy at the “Grand Seminaire Notre Dame” and psychology at the “State University of Haiti.” He also studies in Italy and Israel before returning to Haiti to become a priest.
Unlike the Duvalier Family, Jean Bertrand Atistide was not in favor of the Tonton Macoutes. Howether he did give gun to poor people and children to own respect and protect his political power and were called “Lavalas”. He also use the help of “Change” who kill one behalf on the name of their president. “Change” were the population in Haiti that work as a shoes cleaner in order to make money to support their family.
Both Presidents were known as one of the worst presidents in Haiti and to have a similar terrifying political system that neglect the population need on many issues such as agricultural, economical, social, and health. Because the United States help Jean Bertrand Aristide regained his presidential power, Jean Bertrand Aristide was having much closer relationship to the United of America. Meaningless, they both use voodoo to keep their political power for life into the palace. In fact, Voodoo was not tolerated during Jean Claude Duvalier terms, but he becomes a legalized religion under Jean Bertrand Aristide. They also left the national money in the bank empty before leaving their presidential terms.
Global trade, it is also an agricultural issue in Haiti. The number of agricultural exportation keeps decreasing significantly, when the number of importation is actually increasing, which decrease the agricultural trade balance. For example in Canada, in 2005 the total agricultural food exportation was eight thousands five hundred eight-five, to become five thousands six hundred and five in 2006, and finally from January to November of 2007 to be three thousands nine hundred thirty-four.
Actually, the United State is the top provider in Rice and non-durum wheat for Haiti, when Columbia is the top supplies in sugar, Malaysia in Palm oil, and Peru for the milk and cream as of 2006.
This reality revolts the population who leave trough market sales in order to feed their family for the day. When the population is hungry and foreign basic food supply such as rice are cheaper than the Haitian is.
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