Haiti 101

Thursday, January 21, 2010

With Haiti in the news and on our minds, it's time for a refresher course. Tatiana Wah, assistant professor of urban studies at the New School, discusses the political, economic and social history of the country.


Tatiana Wah

Comments [36]

hjs from 11211

unlocked the door?
so it's OK to steal from someone who leaves the door unlocked. that's a new low!
over and over the bully knocks the door down (with free tax payer dollars )
we know why there is a mess? WE make is so every generation.

Jan. 21 2010 01:13 PM
JT from NYC

People always talk about the US coming into a country but guess what? Somebody had to unlock the door so who's to blame?

Jan. 21 2010 11:51 AM
Pope Jon from Vatican’s basement in Hackensack

Can anyone explain why Pat Robertson feels Haiti deserves all this devastating death and destruction? What's up his righteous a$$ now?

Jan. 21 2010 11:51 AM

Here's a far better source of Haiti's background:

Jan. 21 2010 11:50 AM
janice from brooklyn

How about the 20th century? How about U.S. takeover in 1915 through 30-something? What about the Duvaliers, and our support of that regime?
I can believe with sorrow the ignorance and racism of the above comments, but what is truly sad and disappointing, Brian, is the shallow party-line of your US propaganda that panders to that racism and and connives with that ignarance. Shame on you.

Jan. 21 2010 11:44 AM
Aquene from Manhattan

The US role in Haiti's political strife and resulting misery is consistently unmentioned - the U.S. occupied Haiti under Woodrow Wilson and used forced labor to enable its operations there - effectively re-enslaving some Haitians for a time. The terror of the occupation left a lasting mark on the country. Western powers supported the bloody Duvalier dictatorships and the military and paramilitary leaders who followed them.
It was only when tens of thousands of political refugees began to arrive in the US, that the US government decided to stop the oppressive bloodbath that the Haitian military was carrying out and force elections. Haitians - fleeing the regular grisly murders of everyday citizens for the most tame political comments - were denied political asylum in the US and were sent back to Haiti to face further oppression under President George Bush (I).
The US resisted Aristide’s popular efforts to raise the abysmal minimum wage - which would have hurt Haitian elites and US sweatshop operators. The US trained, funded and armed the people who organized the second coup against the extremely popular and respected President Aristide and flew him to the Central African Republic. Those who were the face of the coup have gone unprosecuted. Haiti has centuries of oppression to undo - decades of its best leaders and young people have been assassinated. For someone to say that Haiti cannot handle democracy, after this long, proud and unarmed struggle for freedom in the face of murderous armed military groups, is unconscionable.

Jan. 21 2010 11:39 AM
john from the office

JT your right

Jan. 21 2010 11:34 AM
Phil Henshaw from NY

The subject of how "developmental change" can work either for or against the success of development efforts is good to have come up. It is a subject of natural systems and management systems research. Basically, too fast and you get things like the effect we've seen on Haiti and in Mexico of disrupting integrated communities and driving populations to cities in disorganized ways.

The key to doing it right is to have the impetus for change come from enabling the local systems. Not shoving them around thoughtlessly, which has often occurred. Our main problem seems to be a general lack of awareness of how to identify local systems at all.

I have various parts of that on my site, and in a review article on the broad spectrum of scientific theories, writen for a general readership, on the Encyclopedia of the Earth -

Jan. 21 2010 11:32 AM
JT from NYC

DR is a majortiy mulatto country with blacks and whites. Haiti is majority black with some mulattos and whites.

And people like this guest are so condescending. They speak as if those they "advocate" for are bumbling mindless children with no control over their actions or thought processes. It's always something that's been put upon them and they're only reacting. They actually take power away from people when they "advocate" in this way. It's actually a different kind of racism if you ask me.

Jan. 21 2010 11:29 AM
Phillipe from Brooklyn

Brian and associates/producers,
Thanks for a well needed show! It's too bad however, that here in NYC, with a large Haitian population, it took WNYC so long to address the largest "pink elephant" in our very western and rich hemisphere. One other pink elephant is the race of the Haitian people. It's easy to ignore anything that has to do with "Black" people, unless some tragedy occurs which may spread to the larger white community. Unlike the Cubans, who are seen as closer to white and lived under communism, the Haitians are seen as pariahs with all the possible stereotypes attached to them. It is so easy to attack and vilify people when they are perceived as weak and "uncool". I always joked and said, "If the Haitian people and government had declared themselves communist, then more Haitians would have been welcomed with open arms on the shores of Miami."

As for my attack on WNYC, ask yourselves, " When was the last time we talk about Haiti before this disaster, or even played some Haitian music on Soundcheck?"

Jan. 21 2010 11:28 AM
Lance from Miami

*Rafael Trujillo

Jan. 21 2010 11:28 AM
Lance from Miami

The DR's President Leonidas Trujillo was hardly a "benign" dictator. Read Julia Alvarez's excellent novels, or Mario Vargas Llosa's The Feast of the Goat.

Aside from running an autocratic un-democratic government for decades, marked by torture of his own people and pillaging of the state, he also carried out a genocide against Haitians during the late 1930s. (And he was propped up by our government.)

Jan. 21 2010 11:28 AM
john from the office

The difference is an african vs european culture world view. It is sad.

Jan. 21 2010 11:27 AM
Angel from California

The externalities that are responsible for some of the poverty of the Haitian nation can be evident. However, in 2006 the BBC reported on a ranking developed by the Transparency International, that Haiti topped all world nations as the most corrupt. This corruption is an internal problem, and introspection and finding one's own faults is a more difficult pill to swallow. A true prosperity must start from "within." The same way that Haiti led in being the first black led republic.

Jan. 21 2010 11:25 AM

Is there a reason Trujillo actually established a border as opposed to trying to drive them from the island?

Jan. 21 2010 11:24 AM
John Lobell from NYC

Wow -- the guest's contempt of a cultural approach to understanding poverty is shocking. Not only does it show how out of touch academia is, but condems countries like Haiti to continued poverty.

Jan. 21 2010 11:23 AM

I think David Brooks is more on the mark than this person, why not get him on too.

Jan. 21 2010 11:23 AM
Lance from Miami

Can the professor discuss relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic? How will the DR respond to Haitians attempting to immigrate in the wake of the earthquake?

Jan. 21 2010 11:23 AM
Oneil from New York

On the "benign" dictatorship point.. South Korea is another example of a strong state developing quickly through this pattern.. ah she just said it. :)

Jan. 21 2010 11:22 AM

This professor is misguided and highly biased. It's a failed state and she's trying to make it out like it's not. The best show I heard on this was on KPCC yesterday, airtalk, the guests explained the history better than this apologist hack.

Jan. 21 2010 11:21 AM
Sam from NYC

Brian, please please give a plug for Jonathan Demme's documentary "The Agronomist" about Jean Dominique. It gives a great overview of modern Haitian history.

Jan. 21 2010 11:21 AM
Diane from Caldwell NJ

I read that most of the aid to Haiti comes from the US. But I am wondering how much France gives to Haiti since they are the cause of the massive debt the country has.

Jan. 21 2010 11:20 AM
Pope Jon from Vatican’s basement in Hackensack

john from the office

How do you explain all the looting in New Orleans in our own country? Remember, plenty of white folk were steeling TV’s that they had no place to plug in or use.

Jan. 21 2010 11:20 AM
john from the office

Brian your so afraid to touch the issue of race here.

David Brooks was right on the money with that article.

Jan. 21 2010 11:17 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Most Dominicans are actually black even though they don't like to admit it.

There is a large "racial" schism between the two countries including a history of genocide.

The CIA's fear of the western hemisphere's first black republic having any sort of strong govt encouraging any other revolts by blacks in the States or other British Colonies led to them propping up bad Haitian governments.

Jan. 21 2010 11:17 AM
Caroline Holley from Brooklyn

What do you think of the current leadership in Haiti? The little I saw of it's current president on the news this past week was very unimpressive. I know he lost most of his tools for serving his country but still there are things he could have been doing, using his political influence to get access to and distribute resources - water, food, shelter, fuel from those who have it. Is he has ineffective as he appeared on the news?

Jan. 21 2010 11:15 AM
john from the office

People have to Care about each other, in a social contract. That is what is called a country.

Jan. 21 2010 11:14 AM
Sandy from Union Square

Can she talk about the Clinton economic policy towards Haiti? Why did it start having to import rice instead of growing its own?

Jan. 21 2010 11:14 AM
kay from nyc

haiti is how it is because of massive debt to france for its freedom, debt to other countries (including united states) and repeated intervention and occupation, particularly by the US. we are responsible. 7.0 earthquakes don't kill 200k people - shoddy construction stemming from years of poverty stemming from years of imperialism and racism do.

Jan. 21 2010 11:14 AM
Xavier Anpar from NY, NY

What aid is France now providing? It would seem that they owe much and give very little.

Jan. 21 2010 11:14 AM
Anne from Houston, TX

Does Pat Robertson comment about Haiti making a pact with the devil come from any where?

Jan. 21 2010 11:12 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

Can you talk about the deal they made with the French to buy their freedom and how that influenced their economic state for years to come?

Where did all the money from their resources go?

Jan. 21 2010 11:11 AM
john from the office

Brian thank you for having a knowledgable person on, not a rapper.

But, Haiti is Africa in miniature. The problem is social, people have to care about thenselves, that is missing in haiti. Note the looting going on, among the looters, who are looting from each other.

Additionally, unlike the British who educated their slaves after freedom, there was no education policy under the French.

Jan. 21 2010 11:11 AM
Pope Jon from Vatican’s basement in Hackensack

Please, please, please ask why in god’s name does Pat Robertson feel Haiti deserves all this devastating death and destruction?

Jan. 21 2010 11:11 AM
Nancy from Westchester

What is the story behind the deforestation?

Is there a plan to try to rehabilitate the environment?

Jan. 21 2010 11:10 AM
Pastor Ezequiel Herrera from Yonkers, NY

Dear Mr. Brian:

I heard you posting the question: why Haiti is poorer than the Dominican Rep.? The answer is not a simple one.
After the end of Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship came to an end in May 1961. The country (although it endured many political, economic and social setbacks in the process), was able to start rebuilding and reinventing itself. The gap between the "have and have not" is not as wide as it is in Haiti. DR has enjoyed more stability politically speaking, and also has been blessed with foreign investments and better leadership.
My prayer is that this time, our brothers and sisters in Haiti will be given the long term support and help they need in order to bring their nightmare to an end.

Jan. 21 2010 11:03 AM

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