To the Editor:
I write in response to the commentary published in your February (2009) edition entitled “Change Haiti Can Believe In”. I am relieved knowing that there are people who are still deeply concerned about Haiti’s past and current conditions.
Haiti is a nation which has been punished for years by debilitating economic sanctions instituted in retaliation after its revolutionary fight against slavery which ended in the country gaining independence in 1804. Only in the Haitian community was the declaration of independence upheld at all costs.
I am not a supporter of any specific political party in Haiti but I am an individual who loves her native country and wants to see Haiti and its people prosper as other nations within the Caribbean. We need to focus on environmental justice and find ways to improve equality and social justice of all the residents of Haiti.
I recently took a trip to my home town in Haiti to attend my aunt’s funeral. I was amazed at how the people were pleased with the choice the American people made by electing Barack Obama as the first African-American president. To the people of Haiti this was the ultimate display of freedom in a democratic nation.
The joy was not simply associated with President Obama’s race. This historical moment demonstrated hope, change and collaboration after several years of perceived mistreatment by the Bush administration. The prior administration only increased the burden on the already disenfranchised. As you mentioned, we did not like or support the elected official’s economical policies. The people of Haiti finally feel for once in their lifetime that there might be an American president that would view and understand what Haiti means to its people and will want to collaborate with the Haitian government and the people of Haiti to eliminate inequality and support social justice.
Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the Caribbean. Haiti’s low status on the socio-economic totem pole creates a greater need for social and economical assistance from other countries like the United States. What the people of Haiti are asking for is relatively miniscule compared to what has been spent to economically develop other nations. The people of Haiti are asking for basic survival needs including clean water, basic healthcare and food to prevent starvation. HIV/AIDS have become a major problem in Haiti and many HIV/AIDS patients are asking for our help.
When all the smoke caused by governmental conflict clears it is the people of Haiti that really suffer. The Haitian government cannot afford to provide these basic needs to its people. These are basic needs that we, who live in the United States, view as simple human rights. Haiti, located in the West Indies, occupies the Western third of the island of Hispaniola, in which it shares with the Dominican Republic and just 1.5 hr away by flight from Miami, Florida. The residents of Haiti are our neighbors.
What the Haitian people need is honesty not false hope. False hope is deceptive to the people. From the time of slavery, Haiti has been hoodwinked by commissions that have pilfered resources and taken advantage of the people. Should the people of Haiti keep their hope alive or continue to view the word hope as a four letter word…..a curse.
The writer is a graduate student at the School of Nursing at Regis College.