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6784: Re: 6781: Re: 6760: Subj: 6747 Haitian Army, Dorce to JAAllen , (fwd)

From: C&C Henrius <carolineislands@hotmail.com>

>That includes elites and those in the middle class who aspire to be
>elite.  If a person sees himself as apart and superior from the peasant
>class,..... <Kathy>

It's interesting to note how entrenched this stratification of classes is in 
Haitian society.  Before I had spent much time, or actually lived in Haiti, 
I assumed that seeing oneself as "superior" to the lower classes was 
particular to upper class Haitians; as though there were only two classes, a 
filthy rich, arrogant and oppressive upper class, and a united mass of poor, 
hard-working Haitians.  Not so.  Although I have seen evidence of this in 
many different situations, I'll give one example for brevity's sake.

When I have business in Port-au-Prince, I often stay with some very good 
friends of ours -- a family of previously poor Haitians who are now afforded 
a roomy (by Haitian standards) home and $50 US a month from a son in the 
United States.  They are not "rich" but are higher in the pecking order than 
they used to be, and now have 3 domestic employees; a lady who washes 
clothes, a cook, and a yard man.  They pay them each about $100 H a month 
and, although they are nice to them in some ways, it is quite obvious that 
they consider themselves above these workers.  They will yell at them for 
the most minute error, make them do over work that could easily have been 
fixed or overlooked, call across the yard for a busy worker to drop what 
they're doing and come bring them something that is just a few feet from the 
chair where they are relaxing, and in general remind these workers (and 
themselves) of their status several times a day.  And, although I have not 
visited these particular worker's homes, I would guess from my own 
experience in the homes of people very much like them, that they in turn 
will act the same way towards anyone in the social class beneath them.

Although this phenomenon is not particular to Haitian culture, it is a part 
of Haitian life that saddens me because I believe it is a huge roadblock to 
solidarity and unity among the working classes. And, until it is overcome, I 
don't see how the people are ever going to put their heads together to 
empower themselves to make a real change in Haiti.  I do see that rich upper 
class in general as more separate and a heck of a lot more powerful (and 
oppressive), but the working class has a huge advantage in numbers.  Problem 
is, they don't see it, and I believe one of the main reasons is because they 
are so busy struggling between themselves.

C. Henrius
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