Haitian poverty crisis and the state of their economy now and then

Along with the poverty has come all of the problems associated with the disadvantage of being relegated near the bottom of the world’s socio-economic class. Rampant crime, health problems, high infant mortality, and limited life span all further burden a society already faced with the struggle of trying to provide the basics of life. The political system has been wracked by upheaval and instability for two centuries as dictators and the military have vied for power with no thought of elevating the standard of living for the people. The failure of leadership in Haiti, and racist policies in Washington DC, have allowed two hundred years of exploitation and kept Haiti locked in a cycle of poverty.
By almost every measure, Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. The situation is getting even worse as the last 50 years have seen a stagnation in the Haitian economy and a real decline in the gross national product (Sletten and Egset 5). The gap between the wealthy and the poor is extreme in Haiti and average incomes or median incomes do not tell the whole story. The top 10 percent consume almost 50 percent of the country’s resources (CIA). No meaningful official unemployment data exists, but two-thirds of the population have no formal jobs and 80 percent of the people live below the poverty line (CIA). Almost 60 percent of the people are classed as extremely poor and live on less than $1 per day (Sletten and Egset 9). This is almost double the rate of El Salvador and four times the rate of Guatemala and Bolivia. According to Sletten and Egset, "Haiti is not only the poorest country in Latin America, but also the most unequal in a region that is already the most unequal in the world" (9). These are the statistics that form the backdrop of Haiti’s poverty.
While the statistics on Haiti’s poverty are bleak, the location of the poverty imparts an even more disparate picture. Most Haitians live in rural areas and almost 4 out of 5 extremely poor people live in a rural area (Sletten and Egset 10). When poverty is measured in terms of access to public services, this segment of the population suffers further. Access to services such as electricity, education, roads, clean water, and health care is dependent on where a person lives in Haiti (Sletten and Egset 15). In addition, the policy of privatization has placed almost all public services in the hands of the ruling class. According to Gros, "Nearly two-hundred years of informal privatization of the state have left Haiti lacking the capacity to deliver even the most basic of public services. security and justice" (223). The better neighborhoods are better served by these services and the denial in the rural areas of access to basic services further impoverishes this portion of the population. The extremely poor in the rural areas are left with a subsistence wage and no access to the public services, such as education, that might hold some hope for breaking out of the cycle of poverty.
The reasons that Haiti continues to be locked in poverty in today’s world of globalization can be better understood by examining their history. Haiti claimed independence in 1804 when there was a slave rebellion. This freed the slaves and gave them independence from France. However, through the lens of the US and European powers, "independent Haiti would be viewed continually as a threat to hemispheric and

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