Wednesday 22 November 2017

A country turned upside down struggles for hope

Haitians will turn to religion and survival of the fittest in this latest chapter of misery, writes Ian Thomson

A mother and two children sleep on a bunk after receiving treatment at a United Nations medical clinic after the quake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday
A mother and two children sleep on a bunk after receiving treatment at a United Nations medical clinic after the quake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Wednesday

Haitians are just as likely to show extraordinary resilience and selflessness as they rally together

By any standards, Haiti represents a very great concentration of misery and dashed hopes. In January 1804 the African slaves overthrew their French masters and declared the world's first black republic. Haiti became an emblem of slavery's longed-for abolition. And the slave leader, Toussaint L'Ouverture, was hailed by William Wordsworth, among other Romantics, as a "morning star" of the Americas.

Since independence, however, emperors, kings and presidents-for-life have misruled the Caribbean nation through violence and theft of public funds. The constitution is made of paper, they say, but the bayonet is made of steel.

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