Haiti's Tragic History Contributes to Its Calamity > UCG Commentary on This Week's News
Haiti's government-and lack of government
Why is Haiti such a poor country? It's primarily due to Haiti's dismal history of oppressive government that has fostered a corrupt culture. If you read about the turbulent history of Haiti, you'll understand much of why Haiti is Haiti today.
Haiti got an early start. It was the second nation in the western hemisphere to win its independence (in 1804), the United States being first. But Haiti is the poorest nation in the hemisphere.
Haiti lacks natural resources, but so do Japan and Switzerland. Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, and yet the Dominicans have six times the gross domestic product.
Other nations have at times exploited Haiti; but more than that, other nations have generously come to its rescue time and time again. Before this earthquake, Haiti had 10,000 nongovernmental organizations working there, the highest rate per capita in the world. The Wall Street Journal
noted Haiti had 10 times as much foreign aid as investment in 2007.
Haiti has been given many handouts of "fish," but the people need incentives to "catch fish." Yet Haiti's government has not been business-friendly-it has stifled free enterprise, neglected education and has not emphasized the work ethic.
High crime rates certainly intimidate would-be investors. The U.S. State Department's Web site posted this warning on Nov. 23, 2009: "There are no 'safe' areas in Haiti. Kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, home break-ins and car-jacking are common in Haiti."