"Two hundred years ago, our precursors in Haiti struck a blow for freedom, which was heard around the world, and across centuries." – Baldwin Spencer
The Legacy of Colonization
It is true that the effects of colonization, or the establishment, maintenance, and domination over a nation and its people, thus creating a political and economic domination and dependency between the colonizer and the colony, are in fact still felt centuries later in present day Haiti. This is the legacy of colonization. Haiti, a country well known for its political, economic, and social instability, began to face insurmountable odds not with the onset of an earthquake in 2010 or flooding in the years before that, or even political circumstances of the last couple hundred years, but in 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed there and named the island “Hispaniola.”
A Brief Review of Haiti’s Timeline
A few years later after Columbus’ landing, the Spanish established its first settlement on the island, now the Dominican Republic. And in 1697, the Spanish ceded western Hispaniola to France, creating what is now known as Haiti. During this period, Haiti became one of the richest French colonies, and to maximize profits, African slaves were brought to Haiti. They were used to extract from the land and people valuable resources—sugar and coffee—for trade (Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, 2010).
Independence, sadly, is not synonymous with freedom. Although Haiti gained its official independence in January, 1804, the effects of centuries of colonization could not and did not suddenly cease to exist. Instead, workers of the sugar industry continued to be exploited, though to a much lesser degree than prior to independence, by the western world, and having very little compensation kicked back to them. The same goes for coffee, which is still exported from Haiti today (Haggerty, 1989).
The Gross Domestic Product in present day
References: Baldwin S. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/baldwinspe168134.html Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State. (Dec. 2010). Background note: Haiti. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1982.htm Guidi, R. (Oct., 2008) Why is foreign aid failing Haiti? International Reporting Project. Retrieved from: http://www.internationalreportingproject.org/stories/detail/1088/ Haggerty, R.A. (1989). Haiti: A country study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress. Retrieved from: http://countrystudies.us/haiti/ U.S. Census Bureau, International Database. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/country.php