During the past month, protests in Chile and Ecuador have dominated headlines in the region, however, another in country, citizens had already been occupying the streets six months beforehand when the first mobilisation took off in Quito a few weeks ago: Haiti.
Since February of this year, protests against currently president Jovenal Moïse and current prime minister Jean-Henry Céant, reignited after almost a year of intermittent strikes, and since then, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Haiti’s city to demand they resign.
Protesters are tired of austerity measures that have often gone accompanied by increases in the prices of basic commodities. They also demand to know what happened with thousands of millions of dollars received from Venezuela that disappeared without a trace.
“The exploitative neoliberal model that has been imposed on Haiti has failed many times before” according to journalist Antony Loewenstein, and as a result, many Haitians live in poverty and despair. This, combined with the poor governance of a series of corrupt administrations who have diverted public and humanitarian funds, and historical colonialism, has created the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
According to the World Bank, in 2018 the GDP per capita in Haiti was only $870 USD, and in a country of only 10 million inhabitants, 6 million live below the extreme poverty line. In other words, that’s 60% of the population.
However, just like Chile and Ecuador, Haiti awakened, and now there is little that will contain the popular uprising that seeks to hold Moïse to account for his actions during his presidency. That’s why we tell you everything you need to know about the current situation in Haiti, and why this is all a consequence of centuries of colonialism and corruption.
A colonial past and present
It’s no coincidence that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and this poverty has everything to do with its colonial past and present.
The island of Hispaniola, colonized in 1492 by the Spanish, and later divided by the Spanish and French, is now home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti, upon colonisation by the French, received the second largest quantity of African slaves of the Americas, only beaten by Brazil, and in the 19th century, 90% of its population was made up for Afrodescendents.
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