The recent devastating earthquake in Haiti has generated talk about Haiti being a “failed state’ and whether it can survive as a nation. In order to understand how Haiti got to where it is as a nation before the earthquake , and why it was unable to respond to this recent tragedy, one must have some understanding of the country’s history.
As one sees, in 1804, Haiti became the first black republic in the world to declare its independence. A nation born of a slave revolt set a dangerous precedent in the minds of most other nations and very few acknowledged Haiti’s sovereignty. This, coupled with much infighting, never allowed Haiti’s economy to find a firm footing and the country has lagged in development ever since.
The United States has almost continuously involved itself in Haiti’s affairs. Its policy has rotated from trade embargoes to threats of invasion to outright occupation to tolerating some of the most brutal dictatorships in history to counter its paranoia over the growth of socialism in Cuba.
Haiti seems to attract natural disasters and because of its non-functioning government the people suffer far more than necessary. Since the 1990’s, when tens of thousands of so-called boat people fled to southern Florida in makeshift craft,the situation has improved somewhat thanks to an infusion of international aid and some semblance of security provided by U.N. peacekeepers.