My girlfriend pointed out this newspaper article to me about the horrendous living conditions of modern Haitians, who are preparing to celebrate the 200th anniversary of independence as the world’s first black republic. On the same page of that November 23rd, 2003, Seattle Times was this article about child slavery in Haiti.
The first article, entitled “Haitians too poor to celebrate 200 years of freedom” (Letta Tayler, Newsday) describes the abject poverty suffered by the 8 million residents of that island nation. I can’t help noticing how much Haiti seems to be a land stuck in time. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is seen by some as just as corrupt as every other Haitian dictator. Blacks are still overwhelmingly oppressed (mostly by the “mulatto elite”) and the government’s ability to impose order on its subjects is spotty at best. A little money might help put Haiti on the path of economic recovery, yet a large aid package is on hold because of the tenuous political situation there. Haiti seems to have been at the mercy of other nations both economically and politically since its inception.
The second article, “To survive, young forced into servitude” by Carol J. Williams of the Los Angeles Times, describes child slavery in Haiti. Young children there are sold into slavery by the most desperately poor parents, often to people only slightly better off than the parents in the first place. While I suppose that at least slavery can confer some survival advantages to the slave (and better the position of the slave owner, thereby at least theoretically making life better still for the slave), I can only think that Toussaint Louverture is crying a river of tears that the country he loved and fought to liberate could still be suffering so 200 years after his death.