OPINION | Barry Richard: Face it – Haiti Is No Island Paradise
After a weekend of self-righteous indignation over President Trump allegedly referring to Haiti as a shi*thole, I was able to find no appreciable increase in vacation bookings for the island nation. In fact, not one person I know is planning a trip to Haiti.
Could it be that Haiti is, in fact, a sh*thole? Everyone I know that has been to Haiti says it is. Even those who have visited Haiti as part of a cruise talk about the surrealness of the abstract poverty just feet beyond the façade that separates a resort from the stark reality of everyday life in Haiti.
Venturing beyond that fortified resort compound is strongly discouraged. There are 219 homicides for every 100,000 people annually. The respected travel advisor WORLD NOMADS warns Haiti:
“The level of crime in Haiti should be regarded as beyond horrific. There are no ‘safe’ areas.”
“There is a very real danger of violent crime everywhere in Haiti, and this includes but is not limited to assault, armed robbery, murder, kidnapping, rape and any combination of the above,”
Even the Obama Administration warned folks to avoid Haiti or face the "possibility of being kidnapped." Until recently, United Nation's Peacekeepers provided security in Haiti and were limited mainly to the major cities such as Port au Prince. Why? Because it is paradise?
Oh, ever hear about criminal justice in Haiti? Neither have the criminals.
Many Haitians I know are angry that Trump may have referred to their homeland as a sh*thole. But, those are the ones that have fled to the U.S. for a better life. Those that I know that remain in Haiti struggle daily to survive the crime, the corruption, and the economic conditions. The GDP per capita is $739.60. Those who remain will tell you that Haiti is a sh*thole.
Cholera remains a serious threat to Haitians as does HIV/AIDS.
Why it is that a nation that gained its independence more than 200 years ago still cannot feed its people or provide basic services like medicine, trash collection, security, clean water and education to its people?
Could it be that Haiti really is a sh*thole?
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.