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#1371: Haiti: poorest land.... several responses

From: P D Bellegarde-Smith <pbs@csd.uwm.edu>

There is a not so odd and interesting symmetry, in the subconscious of
many, between "the first black republic in the world," and "the poorest
country in the hemisphere [the world]." 


From: Nadine <anacaona@dsuper.net>

This phrase really grates my nervrs, and the parallel attitude I've heard
so many times in the Haitian Diaspora [It's horrible! It's chaos! It's
disgusting!]. Because what it means is that it's come to define Haiti: this
is what it is (poor), this is how it's meant to be and this is how it *will
always be*, until the end of time.

So, don't bother working towards change, don't bother committing your
resources and energy to positive goals.

Cuz Haiti's poor, caught in a political quagmire, and we might as well just
forget about it...

From: ange perrault <ange.perrault@mail.tju.edu>

THE PHRASE as Dreyfuss calls it is an issue I have raised with countless
reporters and its use in context of reports which have nothing to do about
the economic situation of the country.

As many times THE PHRASE is used, my response is always the same, in writing,
in presentation and conference:

"Correction! the proper phrase is not that 'Haiti is the poorest nation of the western Hemisphere' but the 'first black republic of the western hemisphere'.
The former will not be forever true, but the latter will never change, NEVER".

So as many time you hear it, make the person correct their statement.

Ange R. Perrault, Ph.D.


From: Stefanie Conrad <comhti@planinternational-ht.org>

Hi there,

What I want to add to this might sound funny to you - but in fact I had to
find it again and again being confirmed in my work with (European)
journalists: The attribute "Haiti is the poorest country in the Western
Hemisphere" is an aid to identify what country  the article/story/feature is
about. Especially in Europe, Haiti is definetely not a country of major
interest (except for certain circles which have the tendency to forget that
it is not the focal point of interest for the rest of the world) and very
often gets mixed up with (hold your breath) Tahiti.
Even though it might not be a pleasant attribute, it might still help a
number of people who might have never heard of this country to at least get
a glimpse of the situation here.

Alas, unfortunately, many articles themselve don't  go beyond certatin
stereotypes and seem more to satisfy common public preoccupations (for those
ones not totally ignorant of Haiti's existence) and prejudices than anything