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Poor Haiti, again

By Pascal Fletcher

HAITI/ SPECIAL REPORTIf any country deserves the description “blighted”, or a “blot on the conscience of the world”, it is surely Haiti, that pocket of poverty lying in the blue Caribbean just two hours flying time from the richest country on the planet.

Less than 10 months since a huge earthquake jolted the small but densely populated nation of 10 million people, toppling brick homes like cards in the hilly capital Port-au-Prince and killing more than half a million souls, a deadly cholera epidemic is now killing more Haitians by the dozen as an aghast world looks on in another paroxysm of sympathy.

What is it about Haiti that has made it one of the most unfortunate nations on the globe, a case study in misery and underdevelopment, regularly battered by lethal hurricanes, floods and mudslides and encumbered with a bloody history of uprisings, foreign interventions, dictatorships, and government corruption and mismanagement that can rival almost any other state in the world?

In seeking answers, some reach back to the roots of the violent slave revolt that led, after a decade of turmoil, to Haiti’s independence from France in 1804, divining the seeds of future dislocation and chaos in the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade that saw chained Africans dragged half way across the world from their homeland by white traders and planters.