According to press reports, on January 12, 2010,
a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake forcibly
hit southern Haiti and devastated nearly 3 million
In Your boundless Spiritual home,
dear God, we are all known.
Cars came to a screeching halt, while in the
streets buildings were crumbling, collapsing,
and flattening. Power lines were everywhere,
and pedestrians were left running for their
The 7.0 magnitude earthquake was
reported to be the equivalent to the
energy of several nuclear bombs.
Haitians were reported to have been
digging at chunks of concrete with bare
hands and sledgehammers, trying to
extricate those buried alive.
At least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or higher
had been recorded by the 24th of January. The
earthquake affected an estimated three million
people. Estimated death tolls range from
100,000 to roughly 250,000, with Haitian
government counts ranging from 220,000 to
316,000, but these latter figures are inconclusive.
The Haitian authorities projected that 250,000
homes and 30,000 commercial buildings had
collapsed or been severely damaged. The nation's
history of national debt, unfair, predatory, unethical
trade policies by other countries, and foreign
meddling in internal matters all contributed to the
existing poverty and bad housing conditions, which
worsened the disaster's death toll.
About 1.5 million individuals were
forced to live in makeshift displaced
The earthquake damaged communication systems,
air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and
power networks, hampered rescue and humanitarian
attempts; confusion over who was in control, air
traffic congestion, and difficulty prioritizing aircraft
further complicated early relief activities. The
morgues in Port-au-Prince were overrun with tens
of thousands of bodies. These were buried in mass
The victims of the earthquake were buried in mass
graves. Funeral customs were abandoned as mass
graves replaced traditional burials.
earthquake victims in a single day on a hillside
north of Haiti's capital, despite warnings that the
death toll would rise.
Funeral rites are extremely sacred in Haiti, but
with priests gone and many people unable to
identify and bury their family members,
earthquake survivors were concerned
about the spirits of the dead.
Haiti's government instructed residents to leave
dead bodies out in the open. Several times a day
trucks would come by to pick up the bodies and
deliver them to mass graves.
The earthquake not only took
their loved ones, but it also took
their ability to properly mourn
As the number of rescues decreased, supplies,
medical treatment, and cleanliness became top
issues. Delays in relief distribution prompted
heated appeals from aid workers and survivors, as
well as looting and intermittent violence. The United
Nations reported on 22 January that the emergency
phase of the relief mission was coming to an end
God hears the groaning of his people.
When we hurt and cry out to God,
He attends to us.
“For God has not ignored or belittled
the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned His back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help”
Haiti (pronounced /ˈheɪtiː/;
officially theRepublic of Haiti (République
d'Haïti ; Repiblik Ayiti) is a Creole- and French-
speaking French-speaking Caribbean country. Along with
the Dominican Republic, it occupies the island
Antillean archipelago. Ayiti (Land of high mountains) was
mountainous western side of the island. The country's
highest point is Pic la Selle, at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft).
The total area of Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres
Haiti's regional, historical, and ethnolinguistic position is
unique for several reasons. It was the first independent
nation in Latin America, the first post-colonial
independent black-led nation in the world, and the only
nation whose independence was gained as part of a
successful slave rebellion. Despite having common
cultural links with its Hispano-Caribbean neighbors, Haiti
is the only predominantly Francophone independent
nation in the Americas, and one of only two (along with
Canada) that designate French as an official language; the
other French-speaking areas are all overseas
départements, or collectivites, of France.
Haiti is located in the Carribean
on 1/3 of the island, it occupies the western part
of Hispanola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North
Atlantic Ocean, neighboring west of the Dominican
Total Area: 27,750 sq km
Area comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland.
Climate: tropical; semiarid where mountains in east
cut off trade winds.
Terrain: mostly rough and mountainous.
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate,
gold, marble, hydropower.
Population: 8,308,504 (July 2006 est.)
There are 14 airports in Haiti, however only one is an
international airport (in the capitol Port-au-Prince), and
only 3 additional airports have paved, but short runways
(the others are unpaved).
Haiti's age structure: 0-14 years - 42.4%,
15-64 years - 54.2%,
65 years and over - 3.4% (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 71.65 deaths/1,000 births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population - 53.23 years
Total fertility rate: 4.94 children born/woman (2006 est.)
Ethnic groups: Black 95%, Mulatto and White 5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%,
none 1%, other 3% (1982).
Languages: French (official), Creole (official)
(definition - 15 and over can read and write)
Government type: elected government
Independence: 1 January 1804 (from France)
Chief of State: President Rene Preval
Population below poverty line: 80% (2003 est.)
Labor force by occupation:
agriculture 66%, services 25%, industry 9%
Unemployment rate: widespread unemployment
and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor
force do not have formal jobs.
Industries: sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement,
light assembly industries based on imported parts.
Agriculture products: coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice,
corn, sorghum, wood.
Export commodities: manufactures, coffee, oil, cocoa.
Import commodities: food, manufactured goods,
machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials.
Currency: gourde (HTG)
Exchange rate: gourde per US dollar -
38.4 (September 2006)
THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION
The Slave Rebellion of 1791
The Haitian Revolution (1791–1803) is
the period of violent conflict
leading to the elimination of slavery and the establishment
people of African ancestry.
Although hundreds of rebellions occurred
in the New World during the centuries of slavery,
only the revolt on Saint-Domingue, which began in 1791,
was successful in achieving permanent freedom.
The Haitian Revolution is regarded as
a defining moment
in the history of Africans
in the new world.
Although an independent government was created in Haiti,
its society continued to be deeply affected by the patterns
established under French colonial rule.
The French established a system of minority rule
over the illiterate poor by using violence and threats.
The racial prejudice created by colonialism and slavery
outlived them both.
The post-rebellion racial elite (referred to as mulattoes)
were descended from both Africans and white planters.
Some had received an education, served in the French
military, and even acquired land and wealth.
Violent conflicts between white colonists and black slaves
were common in Saint-Domingue.
Bands of runaway slaves, known as maroons (marrons),
entrenched themselves in bastions in the colony's
mountains and forests, from which they harried
white-owned plantations both to secure provisions
and weaponry and to avenge themselves
against the inhabitants.
As their numbers grew, these bands,
sometimes consisting of thousands of people,
began to carry out hit-and-run attacks
throughout the colony.
This guerrilla warfare, however,
left an estimated 6,000 dead.
Many Haitians point to the maroons' attacks
as the first manifestation of a revolt against
French rule and the slaveholding system.
The attacks certainly presaged the 1791 slave rebellion,
which evolved into the Haitian Revolution.
They also marked the beginning
of a martial tradition for blacks,
just as service in the colonial militia had done
for the gens de couleur.
The arrangement that enabled the whites
and the landed gens de couleur to preserve the stability
of the slaveholding system was unstable.
In an economic sense, the system worked for both groups.
The gens de couleur, however, had aspirations beyond the
accumulation of goods.
They desired equality with white colonists,
and many of them desired power.
The events set in motion in 1789 by the French Revolution
shook up, and eventually shattered, the arrangement.
The National Assembly in Paris
required the white Colonial Assembly to grant suffrage
to the landed and tax-paying gens de couleur.
(The white colonists had had a history
of ignoring French efforts to improve the lot of the black
and the mulatto populations.)
A slave rebellion of 1791 finally toppled the colony.
Launched in August of that year, the revolt represented
the culmination of a protracted conspiracy among black
leaders. Accounts of the rebellion describe widespread
torching of property, fields, factories, and anything else
that belonged to, or served, slaveholders. The inferno is
said to have burned almost continuously for months.
Reprisals against nonwhites were swift and every bit as
brutal as the atrocities committed by the slaves. Although
outnumbered, the inhabitants of Le Cap (the local
diminutive for Cap Français) were well-armed and
prepared to defend themselves against the tens of
thousands of blacks who descended upon the port
city. The rebellion left an estimated 10,000 blacks and
2,000 whites dead and more than 1,000 plantations sacked
Even though it failed, the slave rebellion at Cap Français
set in motion events that culminated in the Haitian
Revolution. Sentiment in the National Assembly
vacillated, but it finally favored the enfranchisement of
gens de couleur and the enforcement of equal rights.
Whites, who had had little respect for royal governance in
the past, now rallied behind the Bourbons and rejected the
radical egalitarian notions of the French revolutionaries.
Commissioners from the French Republic, dispatched in
1792 to Saint-Domingue, pledged their limited support to
the gens de couleur in the midst of an increasingly
anarchic situation. In various regions of the colony, black
slaves rebelled against white colonists, mulattoes battled
white levies, and black royalists opposed both whites and
mulattoes. Foreign interventionists found these unstable
conditions irresistible; Spanish and British involvement in
the unrest in Saint-Domingue opened yet another chapter
in the revolution.
On January 1, 1804, Haiti proclaimed its independence.
Through this action, it became the second independent
state in the Western Hemisphere and the first free black
republic in the world. Haiti's uniqueness attracted much
attention and symbolized the aspirations of enslaved and
exploited peoples around the globe. Nonetheless, Haitians
made no overt effort to inspire, to support, or to aid slave
rebellions similar to their own because they feared that the
great powers would take renewed action against them. For
the sake of national survival, nonintervention became a
Haiti, is the poorest country in the
Western Hemisphere with 80% of the
people below the UN poverty line
(for singles: less than $1/day income).
May we never lose sight of
our shared humanity.