In the past July, in addition to the continuing epidemic and the long-overdue Olympic Games, which made the public feel the sense of “cool and hot all over the world”, there was also a piece of international news that was lost in it: July local time. At around 1 am on the 7th, the 53-year-old Haitian President Jovenel Moiz was assassinated at his home.
The news of the president’s assassination always sounds like a thing of the last century, exuding a faint atmosphere of the old days, and it does not seem like a tragedy that occurred in 2021 at all. Haiti, on the other hand, is an extremely non-existent country.
What happened on this long neglected, barren and embarrassing land?
Used to be
In 1804, under the dual waves of American independence and the French Revolution, the black Haitians finally established the Republic of Haiti through constant resistance and designated Port-au-Prince as the capital. Haiti, free from French colonial rule, has become the second independent country in the Americas after the United States.
Prior to this, Haiti had grown a large number of cash crops such as sugarcane and coffee. Although it was living under “colonization”, its social environment was good and cash crops were harvested abundantly. It was once one of the richest colonies in the world. According to the general logic, with such a blessed “foundation”, after independence, what should be greeted is the bright future of turning over as a master and focusing on development.
Unfortunately, after independence, Haiti failed to move in the desired direction, and even the colonial order began to collapse. The former black slaves who had gained great power did not learn how to coexist with power. They first fell into the vicious circle of revenge against the whites—confiscation of whites’ property and farmland, and indiscriminate beating and looting. In the face of the blurred power distribution, contradictions within the supreme ruling group frequently emerged, and they were torn apart from each other. After the restoration of France, the Bourbon dynasty imposed another $12 million in debt on Haiti.
The capital, which had high hopes for soaring in the past, has also become a huge slum. The poverty problem in Haiti is extremely serious, and a large number of people can only come to the capital, which seems to have more opportunities. But the capital is also precarious. Under the weight of the population, public security, transportation, and health have become problems.
The domestic political situation is in chaos, and foreign countries have “made another knife” in Haiti’s agriculture-based economy. After independence, Haiti has been devastated by the impact of economic collapse and political chaos.
”Man-made disasters” are difficult to solve, and “natural disasters” are constantly punishing this land. Two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2018, and two hurricanes in 2016 and 2017 have caused a large number of casualties of Haitian people.
In Haiti, in the face of historical problems and sorrowful status quo, 60% of the population lives below the extreme poverty line, which is a level of poverty that cannot afford food at all. They can only eat dirt—not the self-deprecating we often talk about, but the helpless reality.
On October 21, 2016, Lakay, Haiti, was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew, causing serious water accumulation on the streets
On July 26, 2021, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a mass demonstration called for justice for the murdered President Moise
The yellow mud picked up from the river is simply filtered, and a small amount of “precious” butter, salt, sugar and other condiments are added, and dried in the sun to become a mud biscuit for hunger.
What should I do if I feed on soil and suffer from malnutrition? What should I do if the yellow mud in the river is seriously polluted and causes infectious diseases? The poor people in Haiti have no time to think about these issues. There is no harm in eating soil, as long as you can survive.
”Haiti” is not just the Republic of Haiti. If you open the map, you can see the “Haiti Island” where the Republic of Haiti is located. There are actually two countries: the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Being on the same island and both seemingly “unknown” small countries on the international stage, the destinies of the two countries are completely different. Comparing the GDP per capita in 2020, Haiti’s per capita GDP is US$1,176, and the Dominican Republic’s per capita GDP is US$7,268.
Haiti’s per capita GDP is US$1,176, and the Dominican Republic’s per capita GDP is US$7,268.
Why is there such a wide gap between the rich and the poor?
Variation in “talent” is a prerequisite. In Haiti, 75% of the land is mountainous, and the plains are narrowly distributed in some coastal areas, which is not conducive to the development of agriculture. But because of backwardness, more than 70% of Haiti’s population can only engage in agriculture, which has caused inefficiency and persistent poverty. The mountains in Dominica are much more friendly, with a large number of fertile valleys distributed in between, and coastline plains suitable for large amounts of sugar cane.
Street in front of the slums of Port-au-Prince
Another helpless fact is that the seeds of the gap between the rich and the poor may have been planted as early as the colonial period. Due to the terrain, Haiti is mountainous and famous for coffee cultivation. For a long time, Haiti has been based on planting and export of raw materials, and has hardly involved more valuable processing industries. It is a full victim of the “scissors gap” and has no industrial foundation.
This is not the case in the Dominican Republic. During the colonial period, the city and industry were prospered here. After independence, the white people on the island inherited this development idea and used industry to promote the “smart” progress of the planting industry. Whether it is light industries such as textiles and sugar, or heavy industries such as petroleum and shipbuilding, Dominica has a comprehensive development, and the people’s living standards have naturally risen.
In addition, the most important thing is still the difference in the social environment of the two countries.
In Haiti, where coup d’état is frequent, regime changes frequently and society is in serious chaos. With the proliferation of guns and drugs, hunger has been accompanied for a long time, and the medical environment is backward, the average life expectancy of Haitians is much lower than the world average. The level of education is even more worrying. There is only one public university in Haiti, and more children may not have the opportunity to go to elementary school.
On the other hand, Dominica can be regarded as “the years are quiet and good.” The domestic political situation is stable, social security is orderly, the population has a high level of education, and the quality of the people feeds back the economic development. Dominicans know how to develop industry, coexist with the environment, how to manage politics, and make the country peaceful. Haiti has devastated its ecological environment and its political environment has gone from bad to worse.
The two countries are adjacent to each other and have very different destinies, which are not only the result of “destiny”, but they also “eat their own fruits.”
Where is the future?
Haiti, where a president can be assassinated, is a soil that has long been saturated with violence and crime. According to a US investigation report last year, there were 787 homicides in Haiti in 2019, of which 81% occurred in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
365 days a year, 2 homicides occur every day in the capital-looking at it this way, the assassination of the heavily guarded president is not so surprising.
Haiti seems to be in crisis forever.
Dominican city street
In November 2018, a slum in Port-au-Prince was attacked by gunmen due to gang fighting. After the bullets rained, the perpetrators were still not satisfied, and supplemented with machetes, attacked indiscriminately, and brutally killed local residents, which was the “2018 Port-au-Prince Massacre”.
In 2020, a 22-year-old Haitian female student was kidnapped by a local gangster and ransomed for $15,000. The poor family naturally couldn’t take it out. The bandits imprisoned her, gang-raped her, and brutally murdered her. In the end, the fresh life was only an unrecognizable corpse. And she is just a trivial one of the cold data of “70% of women in Haiti will be sexually assaulted at some stage in their lives” and “50% of women living in the slums of Port-au-Prince in Haiti have been raped”.
In March 2021, an ordinary Haitian motorcycle driver was killed by a mob while looking for a job. He was burned to ashes by the mob along with the motorcycle on which he lived-that day, it was his birthday. Without flowers, cakes or gifts, he took to the streets under the scorching sun, but he wanted to earn a living.
”70% of women in Haiti will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.”
In April 2021, the bandits kidnapped 10 religious personnel, including two French priests, in Port-au-Prince, demanded a ransom of 1 million US dollars, and even started a live broadcast on social media. Later, the hostages were released, and the amount of ransom paid was not known to outsiders-what we know is that ordinary people will not be so lucky to escape from danger.
Not all people living in Haiti are so miserable.
The wealth of the entire country of Haiti is actually in the hands of elites who make up about 2% of the population. They are engaged in government, real estate, technology and other fields, and they also have their own industries outside of Haiti. It is also this extreme unevenness, mixed with gangs, that makes Haiti go farther and farther on the chaotic road.
In the 217 years after Haiti’s independence, until Jovenel Moiz was assassinated, he had a total of 74 presidents-each with an average of 2.9 years in power.
In less than three years, they were either assassinated, deposed, or expelled into exile; in less than three years, there was no time to implement a certain decree, nor to let the devastated Haiti take a breath.
The fate of the president is a condensed ironclad evidence. Prosperity, people suffer; death, people suffer.
Which gang will be the next president? Will he be lucky to start and end well? Can he make Haiti look like neighboring Dominica? Can he surpass the curse that the average ruling time is less than 3 years, heal the pain in this land, and lead the people to a life where they at least no longer eat soil?