Food riots this month have left at least a dozen dead, including one UN
peacekeeper. The cause is rising food prices (doubling in the past year).
the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. While it has been independent
for two hundred years, it has been unable to create an effective government. Today,
half the population is illiterate. A third of the national income consists of
foreign aid. Most of the food is imported. It's cheaper to line up for foreign
aid food, than to farm the exhausted soil. About 80 percent of the population is,
by international standards, poor (living on less than two dollars a day). Unemployment is over 60 percent. Bad
government is the main reason, but population growth is another. When it became
independent two centuries ago, Haiti had a population of half a million. That
grew to 740,000 by 1900, 3.4 million by 1950, 4.6 million by 1975 and 8.7
million today. Food aid, improved public health and gradual impoverishment of
the population has allowed this to happen.
considers Haiti a challenge. If Haiti can be revived, than no nation on the
planet is beyond salvation and resurrection. But the corruption and political
violence has made it difficult to enact necessary government reforms and
efficiencies to build infrastructure and effectively absorb foreign aid.
Attempts to build schools and roads end up with most of the money stolen by
politicians, or criminal gangs. The 9,000 UN peacekeepers can barely keep the
peace, much less suppress the corruption and widespread lawlessness. At the
moment, no one has a solution, and everyone is waiting around in the hope that
one will show up.