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In February Haitians voted in René Garcia Préval as President. Since the violent overthrow of President Aristide two years ago the country has been in turmoil, held together loosely by an interim government and nearly 10,000 UN peacekeepers. This could herald a new era in Haiti.

However, the new President has a mountain to climb. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, according to the UN, 76% of the population struggles to get by on less than $2 a day.

Political unrest
President Préval was elected despite alleged vote rigging orchestrated by rival candidates some of whom see Préval as a puppet of the former president. There are concerns as to whether those who took part in the fraud will accept the result and allow political stability to ensue.

Haiti has experienced large amounts of gang-related and political violence since the departure of the former President.

The UN’s peacekeeping forces will remain in Haiti for another year. In November 2005, UN troops took control of a Port-au-Prince slum where four people were killed in clashes between UN peacekeepers and criminal gangs.

Troops have established a permanent presence and around-the-clock patrols in the slum of Cite Millitaire in an effort to quell violence.

Haiti's History


Christopher Columbus, searching for a route to India, landed on Hispaniola in 1492, with his three famed ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. He landed on the north coast of Haiti, in a town now called Mole Saint Nicholas, and claimed it for the Spanish crown. The indigenous people of this Caribbean island were Arawak Indians. French buccaneers began to prey on the floundering Spanish colony, and when the French defeated Spain in Europe at the close of the 17th century, the Treaty of Ryswick named the western third of the island a French colony. While diplomatically, the nation was named a colony of France, the country itself bore its Arawak name, Haiti, which means, Land of Mountains. It is fabled that when King Ferdinand asked Columbus upon his return what Haiti looked like, the sailor crumpled a piece of paper, put it in front of the King, pointed, and said, "Like that."

The island of Hispaniola was extremely rich, so much so that it became known as the "Pearl of the Antilles." Just as India was the Crown Jewel of English colonies, Haiti became the pride and primary source of wealth for France. France began to exploit Haiti's riches, mining its gold, harvesting its sugar cane for refinement and shipping its coffee to Europe and America. The Arawak Indians were enslaved and were treated so harshly that overwork, coupled with the disease brought by Europeans, completely destroyed the Indians. The plantation owners and merchants began shipping slaves from the Guinea Coast of West Africa to the island to work. So completely were the Indians destroyed that today, unlike most of its Latin American neighbors, Haiti contains no trace of its Arawak Indian heritage.

In 1801, Toussaint Louverture led the slaves in a revolt against the French colonists. After a bloody three-year war, Haiti became the first black republic in the world. The slaves declared their independence on January 1, 1804, sacrificed a pig, and dedicated the country to Satan. From its inception, the nation has been consecrated to worshipping evil and its maker. From the time of its freedom, Haiti has been in chains.

Most Haitians subscribe to a system of beliefs known as Voodoo, whose origin is in Africa. This cult of spirits teaches that spirits reside in various forms in nature. It teaches that these spirits can be consulted for important life-decisions, and that they can be used in one's favor to help, or against another to harm. No one would deny that Haiti has been crippled by the exploitation of colonists. Yet far more devastating have been the fingers of Voodoo, clutching Haiti by the neck over the past two hundred years. In place of the One True God, Haiti serves the god of despair, lies and pride. An island full of God's sun does not know God's Son.



When Haiti declared its independence on January 4, 1804, the slaves who revolted against their French colonists sacrificed a pig and dedicated the newborn nation to Satan. Haiti has been built on this foundation, one of spirit worship and Voodoo. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the fingers of Voodoo have tightly grasped this tiny island nation by the neck, crippling it in a way that even colonization could not. Voodoo is not a religion practiced and adhered to by a faithful few; rather, it has become a thread sewn throughout the culture of Haiti, one tautly intertwined with all facets of life. Haitian children are taught at a very young age about gambo, Voodoo services and rituals, about the bòkò, the witch doctor, and the power he has.

Voodoo practices and rituals have become so much a part of Haitian life that many carry them out, not even realizing it. The nation of Haiti is plagued by superstition and its people are held captive by fear and ignorance. Satan has real power and strong power and uses Voodoo as a tool to keep adherents from knowing God. Practitioners of Voodoo have the witch doctor cast spells of illness, malnutrition, misfortune or even death on others. Satan works through these witch doctors, making their curses successful in order to further the kingdom of darkness in the world, especially in Haiti.

Voodooists believe that pennies dropped on the ground should not be picked up, as they have an evil spirit in them. A person should never say a baby is fat, as this only draws attention to the baby's good health, and will make it a target for a curse of illness. One should never ask a pregnant woman when she is due to deliver, because then one would know when to curse the baby so that it dies at birth.

While many, even Christians, hear of these beliefs and laugh, thinking that such wild ideas of curses and spells could never be true, Haitians do not. Haitians are very aware, more so than many Christians, of how influential Satan is. Because of the influence of Voodoo, the people of Haiti are more in tune with the spirit world than many other nations, and very perceptive to the power of darkness in Haiti.

The Bible say's that we, the Christians are to be the light of the world. The power of the Gospel of Christ is given to the church to defeat the works of the devil. We must believe in the power of God's Word and unite as believers regardless of denomination so that we may overcome for the kingdom of God. 

Facts on Haiti

Location: Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic

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: 7,063,722 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years - 39.5%, 15-64 years - 56.3%, 65 years and over - 4.2% (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 93.35 deaths/1,000 births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth: total population - 49.55 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.3 children born/woman (2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%, none 1%, other 3% (1982) note: roughly half of the population also practices Voodoo

Languages: French (official), Creole (official)

Literacy: 45% (definition - 15 and over can read and write)


Government type: elected government

Capital: Port-au-Prince

Independence: 1 January 1804 (from France)

Chief of State: Prime Minister Gérard Latortue


Population below poverty line: 80% (1998 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 one US dollar = 40.10900 (12/09/2003)

Information provided by The World Fact Book 2002