Hurricane Matthew hit the western peninsula of Haiti one week ago, killing almost 900 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. Haiti one of the poorest countries in the world we hear over and over again through various news channels. Haiti still recovering from the devastating earthquake in 2010, killing 200 000 people then, is facing disaster again.
Baracoa in Cuba was also hit by Matthew with winds up to 140mph (similar to Haiti) but unlike in Haiti, no deaths have been reported in Baracoa. Cuba has a system in place for disaster like these storms, residents are warned (just as in the US), schools are closed and used as shelters, state owned buses are dispatched to evacuate residents, making sure elderly and sick are not left behind. The infrastructure and government is not functioning similarly in Haiti, the media is chaotic, high crime rates lead to people not wanting to leave their homes unattended. The risk of famine and cholera spreading is now growing threats to Haiti, not to mention the growing frustration and distress among the residents. When the UN secretary general visited the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti on Saturday they were received by frustrated rock throwing residents, demonstrating the human desperation of severe hunger and malnutrition.
So what are the reasons behind Haiti’s poverty? There are many theories regarding this, however by going back to history many things become clearer. These are some factors at play;
- French colonial contribution.
- The international boycott of the new nation of 1804.
- The French debt of 1838.
- The United States Occupation, 1915-1934.
- Post World War II United States domination.
- Political instability, corruption, exploitation and violence.