The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Conditions of life for Haitians

Mar 1, 2004

The news media show photos or television clips of Haitians trying to open containers of food, with reporters adding derogatory comments about the population. In fact, the people were right to do this. There is no food available, and water and electricity are shut off for most Haitians. With armed gangs raging, roads are blocked, nothing functions, and workplaces have shut down. Yes, hungry people seeing food containers coming into the country want to tear them open.

As fighting continues throughout the country, hospitals are not functioning, medicine is impossible to get, buses do not run, kerosene for lamps is rarely available. And still the gangs terrorize, beat up and burn down the homes of their victims, leaving uncounted dead.

But before this all began, even for those with jobs – and that was a minority of the population – life was very precarious. Little racketeers kept the prices of necessities soaring. Most workers make no more than about 76 gourds a day (currently worth $1.79) – when they have any wages at all – while they must pay 20 gourds for just two tomatoes, three onions or three bananas.

This is life in a poor country under siege.