Haiti: The First "Third World" State?
Is Haiti the prototype of the Third World state? Does applying this concept, which has been in vogue for the past 30 years, help to understand Haiti's relations with the rest of the world? Is Haiti a model of political failure because of external forces as well as the internal forces we have already described? Beginning with independence in 1804, was Haiti the first of "The Weak in the World of the Strong?" 1
Central to the idea of a Third World is weakness in dealings with industrialized countries, partly because of economic, political, and cultural penetration by foreign elites and governments. Some analysts say that Third World states are "underdeveloped" and "dependent," which means that during the course of colonial rule their economic and educational systems in particular were oriented in such a way that their resources now serve the interests of groups outside their frontiers; despite political sovereignty they are unable or unwilling to make decisions independently of former colonial powers or others who exert influence from outside. Local elites, more attuned to foreign interests than to national interests, are partly to blame, according to this view. In short, the countries and masses are exploited, becoming poorer and increasingly alienated from their land, cultures, and past.
Contemporary Haitian scholars like Alex Dupuy and Michel-Rolph Trouillot, joined by American scholar Josh DeWind, emphasize the external influences on Haitian political and economic systems. Dupuy has written: "Haiti's underdevelopment stems from its incorporation into the capitalist world-system since the end of the seventeenth century as a peripheral economy specializing in the production of primarily agricultural crops for export and later some manufactured goods." 2 According to Josh DeWind, a new development strategy was "imnosed" on Haiti in the 1970s emphasizing exports from assembly industries and