The Haitian sky at night is breathtaking, a sea of jet ink in which
flow shimmering stars more numerous than can be imagined. Or is this an illusion,
meant to hide the reality of starving children and the impoverished villages
they inhabit, which are so starkly revealed by the light of day?
Haiti derived its name from the Arawak word for "mountain." The French
conquered, enslaved, and corrupted Haiti, only to lose it to a slave rebellion
almost 200 years ago. Haiti thereby became an independent black republic,
but a succession of despots, allowed to rule by the mostly French barons living
in luxury in the mountains above Port-au-Prince, has condemned the peasants
to live in huts amidst animal and human excrement. And in the process, the
island was stripped of its resources—mahogany, indigo, coffee, cotton—leaving
behind the skeleton of a once robust economy for its current inhabitants.
It has been cruelly said that no people on Earth are more expendable than
Haitian peasants. Certainly no people on Earth have less reason to be born
and no people leave less behind when they die than Haitian peasants.
Greco RS. The Cardboard Box. JAMA. 2000;284(5):534. doi:10.1001/jama.284.5.534
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