Our Neighbor’s Keeper?: Restoring individual economic self-sufficiency should be the goal of reconstruction efforts in Haiti

by: Vinay Gupta

In Haiti, we are torn between the natural instinct to help our fellow humans, and the knowledge that conventional aid seldom delivers long-term solutions. Once people are pulled from the rubble and fed, the immediate question becomes whither now for Haiti?

Haiti has a mixed history. Their own revolution and establishment of a republic followed close behind the American revolution, but their nation was beset by the colonial powers from its beginning until the modern day. The French demanded war reparations at gunpoint in 1825, which Haiti continued to pay until the end of the second world war. More recently, Aristide was elected and deposed twice by factions in his own military, with the standard allegations of American involvement behind the scenes. Government in Haiti has often fallen to almost unimaginable lows – the Tonton Macoute of the Duvalier era are a candidate for the world’s nastiest death squad. In short, government both foreign and domestic has done the people of Haiti no favors at all, and now nature and lousy building have leveled their capitol, killing some 2% of the population.

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