Child slavery in Haiti no surprise


December 31, 2009 thestar_logo

Re:Poor Haitian kids forced into slavery, Dec. 23

The reality of child slavery in Haiti cannot be separated from the economic and political priorities favoured by local elites, global institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and powerful countries such as the United States, Canada and France.

There is a link between many of these enslaved children, who came from the countryside, and the crippling of Haitian agriculture through the importation of subsidized rice, beans, corn, pork and sugar. Up until the 1980s, Haiti was self-sufficient in food production. However, it has been forced to severely cut tariffs to subsidized imports. This globalization-induced policy has impoverished the rural people and enriched a small cluster of Haitian families who own most of the country’s wealth.

Haiti’s children are vulnerable to child slavery because access to education is a pipe dream for most. Only 67 per cent and 20 per cent of eligible-age children are enrolled in primary and secondary schools, respectively. School fees of $70-$80 (U.S.) per year in a country with a per capita GDP of $480 are a critical factor in the under 50 per cent enrolment rate. Only 10 per cent of primary and secondary schooling is delivered by the Haitian government to its citizens.

Should it come as a surprise that Haiti’s children are now the victims of child slavery, sex tourism and sexual improprieties by some NGO personnel and UN peacekeepers?

Ajamu Nangwaya, Toronto


A good article, written by someone who has an appreciation of the multifaceted situation in Haiti that defies the simplistic analysis so often offered by USAID, its associates and other well-meaning, some malevolent outsiders.

Haiti’s Traditional Society makes up the massive majority of the nation’s 9,000,000. Unfortunately, this majority has no real say in what happens.  The International Community negotiates their Fate with a small, English/French speaking upper layer in the society, like this layer of oil on the surface of a deep sea.

During the Duvalier years, Haiti was an exporter of rice.  It had jobs, tourists, investment, law-and-order and children attended schools.

There was Hope.

Even as he was flying into exile, the American government forced their Haitian friends into a situation that saw vast stores of  surplus American rice dumped into the Haitian economy. This effectively destroyed the rice infrastructure, so carefully built up over the years, with Taiwanese assistance. The nation now imports almost $1,000,000,000 of this commodity annually.  Attempt to revive the rice plantations of the Artibonite are derailed by governmental interference.

The peasant population has suffered. Its present situation has deteriorated at an ever-accelerating rate as Preval’s team shows an open and cynical indifference to the plight of the people. A flood of country folk have flowed into bidonvilles around populations centres. Children throughout the nation do not really have any opportunity to attend school, even as Preval’s team makes fraudulent claims as to what they do for the Haitian school system. More than 33% do not attend school – period!! Of the rest, some only attended a few days, at the start of the term, before lack of funds forced them to stay at home.

The balance, not attending the few high quality institutions, receive an education that is an insult to the nation.

Preval is so cynical, and indifferent to the education needs of Haiti’s children, that he intentionally destroyed the possibility of Haiti receiving over 1000 donated schoolrooms, with furniture and other things included.  They were donated to Haiti during his Coral Gables visit to Elizabeth Delatour’s million dollar house – purchased with funds stolen from Haiti’s treasury by her boyfriend – now husband – President Rene Preval.

A number of Haitians stepped in and arranged for the schoolrooms’ movement, from their Florida location to Haiti, and onto new sites there. All of this was to be done, free of charge. Then Preval stepped in and stopped that program. He replaced it with one headed by Leslie Voltaire and Elizabeth Delatour. The plan was to make $3000 per unit  – for Preval/Delatour/Voltaire – on transportation, when the original, volunteer project saw this accomplished at no charge.  Sealand refused to cooperate with the  criminal “kick-back” deal and the school project died, as did the possibility of  1,000 schools for Haiti’s poor kids.

Hope died, on this occasion even as the Preval/Delatour/Leslie Voltaire/Jacques Alexis  team continues to rape and plunder Haiti’s assets. Leslie Voltaire and Elizabeth’s late husband, Leslie Delatour (Voltaire’s cousin) had a history of raping the childrens’ Hope when, during Aristide’s presidency,  they stole  $84,000,000  that was intended for poor kid’s scholarships. One Deputy demanded an investigation and was shot for his troubles.

Many, many children are taken in by families – some good, some bad – in a situation that sees these small ones in better situations than persist at home. International reports simplify the problems within this complex, fragile society by trying to judge things in Haiti on the basis of American standards.

One must walk in another’s shoes before a valid judgment can be offered.

In Haiti, one must walk bare-footed in order to feel what the majority experiences.

As usual, in these types of actions, only the poor suffer.


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