Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hope for Haiti

After we went to Haiti, back in the Baby Doc days (early 80's) I read the history of that little country. The first successful slave rebellion in the western hemisphere, they have been "self-governed" for a long time. But it has been a government of might makes right, a series of greedy despots. No history of democracy at all. The Africans who took over from the French seem to have used their former oppressors as a pattern.

The best government in the world would be hard-put to make Haiti a pleasant home for all its citizens. The challenges are huge: inadequate infrastructure; weak, unorganized economic system; lack of natural resources; chaotic social organization; crushing poverty.

I would believe that Haiti is completely without hope, if it weren't for their national character, the energy of the people who live there. I was very impressed by Haitians we encountered in their native land, and my admiration extends to immigrants I know in Florida. These are people who, if a framework can be established, will work to build a viable community. They have already done a lot with very little. I think they need more help from the international community, but I believe that eventually Haiti will come into its own.

The Miami Herald reports that the Supreme Court in Haiti has ruled that a Haitian-born U.S. citizen is eligible to run for president there. I think this is the wave of the future, as Haitians who have spent time in the U.S., made money and learned about democratic institutions here, will return to their homeland and work for improvements there. Our friend James came here from Haiti ten or fifteen years ago. His children are U.S. citizens. James is a hotel maintenance worker and is always looking for extra work. His wife works, too, and they have saved their money and invested in Florida real estate. James is building houses on land he bought, and he will no doubt end up a wealthy man. He wants to return to Haiti, and I think he would be an asset to his homeland, as he is an asset to our country while he is here.

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