The Tragedy of Haiti: A Reason for Major Cultural Change

By Brown, Geraldine | ABNF Journal, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

The Tragedy of Haiti: A Reason for Major Cultural Change


Brown, Geraldine, ABNF Journal


Abstract; With the recent earthquake in Haiti, it is most befitting to discuss my travel to this poor country more than a decade ago. The travel was a mission that examined the health status and the education of residents in the capital city of Portau-Prince. After close observation, it seems that the health and educational status then, today and since the tragedy, is basically the same with less, if any, possible improvement. This article examines the present state of health and education of the Haitian people, in the wake of its recent tragedy. Although, the people were very poor in economics, they were rich in culture and exhibited polite mannerisms that made me feel overly welcomed in their homes and to the few resources they had to offer. It appears that in past years, this country was and still is noted as the poorest country in the Americas, however, it is not the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. On many occasions, it has been publicly and widely reported that Haiti experienced political violence throughout its history. The government of Haiti is known for corruption. It also appears that an earthquake the magnitude of 7.0 would not have easily destroyed so many of its infrastructure and people, if, in the past, the surrounding countries, including the United States, would have assisted in providing this country with safer and stronger foundations for buildings and especially shelter for the residents and the many visitors who were the true victims. Despite the repressive regime, Haiti 's location, history and culture were very attractive to tourists in the 1960s and 1970s. Visitors returned home with memorable artifacts that included cave paintings, wood statues (figurines) and hand made jewelry.

Key Words: Haiti, Earthquake, Economy, Education, Healthcare, Cultural Change

History

Haiti is noted as the Republic of Haiti, and is located in the Caribbean Country, situated on the western part of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Great Antilles. It is also the third largest country in the Caribbean behind Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Haiti occupies a total area of 27,750 square kilometers with Port-au-Prince, the capital and largest city. The terrain consists mainly of mountains with rocky, hilly and jagged surfaces scattered with small coastal plains and many river valleys. The official languages are Haitian Creole and French. Along with Canada, Haiti claims French as its official language. The Government is Parliamentary Republic. In the first stage, this country has been around for many years. According to recorded history, Haiti was hidden in the western third of Hispaniola, and formed as Saint Domingue (not the current Santa Domingo) on October 30, 1697. It declared its independence on January 1, 1804, but only became recognized on April 17, 1825. The estimated population as of 2009 was approximately 9,035,536. The ethnic groups are 95% Black, and 5% are multiracial and White (Immigration History of Canada, 2010).

The Spaniards (Europeans) exploited the island that was inhabited with Taino Indians who spoke an Arawaka language. Those Spaniards took much of its gold and brought chronic infectious diseases that were new to the Caribbean and its population that lacked immunity to such infections. These new diseases were the chief causes of death of many of the Taino Indians (Koplow, 2010). Inadequate nursing and medical treatment, malnutrition and a societal disruption contributed to an excessive decrease in the number of births. The first recorded smallpox epidemic in the Americas occurred on Hispaniola in 1507 (Texas Department of State Health, 2010). Haiti is unique with its historical and ethnolinguistic (language and culture) positions. In the year of 1804, after achieving success in the slave rebellion, independence was proclaimed from Saint Domingue, declaring that the new nation be called Haiti, honoring one of the Taino/Indians. Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America and the first Black-led Republic in the world. …

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