It has been almost two months since Haiti was devastated by a huge earthquake that left over two hundred thousand people dead and resulted in the virtual collapse of the machinery of the Haitian state. The presidential palace was among the destroyed buildings.
We have shed our tears and contributed our donations. Haiti is already fading from the radar screen of the news correspondents who rushed to bring us the gory details of mangled lives and collapsed buildings.
Two things struck this writer as odd in the Western media reportage about the Haitian earthquake -- that is apart from "Reverend" Pat Robertson's racist vitriol. First, when the 9/11 catastrophe occurred in the U.S. and about three thousand people were said to have been killed, not once did all the media in the West show a mangled white body. The deaths in 9/11 were treated with all the dignity that most cultures afford the dead. But when it came to Haiti, we were shown all the horrific details with unnecessary flourish. Was it because Haitians are poor or was it because they are black?
The second thing that struck me as odd was the inability of any Western reporter to mention Haiti without the suffix: "poorest country in the Western hemisphere." Of course, we know Haiti is materially poor but what these not-so-clever Western reporters failed signally to tell us is how it happened that Haiti came to its sad state.
What these lazy Western reporters continue to promote is part of the grand racist propaganda that the black man is incapable of governing himself without the benevolence of his white superiors. Of course, we are poor, we are under-developed, but give us four hundred years to export your best and brightest to slavery in our plantations, and just another hundred years to directly colonize you and sunder your lands and let's see how you will fare. That's just by the way.
History attested that Haiti was once the richest country in the Western hemisphere. So rich was the colony that it was called various names, among which were the "Pearl of the Antilles" and "The Sugar Island." Former Santo Domingo was the richest colonial possession and it made France stupendously rich. It was France and the United States of America that reduced Haiti and Haitians to penury.
Haiti (Land of High Mountains) is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere because France and the U.S. made it so. This is a story that needs to be told in greater details than this essay can permit.