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Opinion

Haiti should be declared a regional heritage site

Dear Editor,

It is full time that the members of Caricom accept that the problem of Haiti is the problem of the entire Caribbean region. Haiti is a fundamental part of our common history. It pioneered the emancipation of slavery in the Americas. It introduced the concept of human rights. It engendered pride in all non-white peoples (and many white ones too.) And it created the first genuinely revolutionary society in modern history. For all this, Haiti deserves to be declared a Caribbean regional heritage site, similar to the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Yet, for a very long time, there has not been any good news out of Haiti. Indeed, the last good news probably dates back to before the civil war in the United States in the middle of the 19th century. The 20th century was overshadowed by the US occupation and the awful dictatorship of FranÁois Duvalier and his son. Just when things began to look up politically in the 21st century, a devastating earthquake on January 10, 2010 killed more than 200,000, wounded more than 300,000 and left more than 1.5 million homeless. The world rushed to Haitiís aid, pledging more than US$13 billion, of which far less than a billion actually reached the suffering people.
The problems of Haiti afflict the entire society politically, economically, and socially. The political system is broken. The economic reality is a complete disaster. And the general poverty is accompanied by the highest illiteracy rate in the hemisphere.
Recently, the United Nations World Food Programme stated that more than 10 per cent of Haitiís population of slightly more than 10 million people faces severe malnutrition. As a result of El NiŮo the country is experiencing the worst food harvests in more than 15 years. In some places children are indeed starving to death.
Haiti desperately and urgently needs help from its neighbours. Caribbean states should never abandon Haiti now in its time of need. Haiti is too important a part of Caribbean history to be neglected.

Franklin W Knight
Maryland, USA

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