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[Washington Babylon]

More on Haiti’s History

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Jack Shafer at Slate writes to say that I was unfair to Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution in an item yesterday on Haiti. I had referred to a post which offered a list of reasons for Haiti’s poverty that gave, in my view, short shrift to the historic role of the U.S. and France. “I thought that Marginal Revolution was thinking out loud,” Shafer writes.

He noted that Cowen subsequently linked to this good essay that offers a broader look at the reasons for Haiti’s poverty, offering the two “root causes” as being international forces and the Haitian elite:

The poverty and misery in Haiti are human created. The root causes are the political and economic systems which have dominated Haiti for the whole of her 182 years. These oppressive factors have come from the international community, especially France and the United States. However, the Haitian elite, comprising only 3% of the Haitian people has also been a major factor in creating and continuing these oppressive conditions.

So I stand corrected about Marginal Revolution, but the broader point about the media’s general failure to provide historical context to the situation in Haiti certainly stands.

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