David A. Estevez

1980's In Haiti

This is the Haitian flag during the 1800's

Few could have foreseen the devastation that this elected dictator would bring to the masses of the Haitian population. Although Papa Doc was elected to the Presidential office for a non-renewable six year term, he extended his autocratic tenure for fourteen years. During the time period of 1957-1971, between 20,000 and 50,000 Haitians are said to have been murdered by Duvalier's government. An additional one-fifth of its population lives else-where in political or economic exile. An estimated 80% of Haitians employed in professional fields fled Haiti under this oppressive regime headed by a terrorist. The ramifications of this fleeing to technology and research, education and health care can not be over-estimated. Many of the problems faced by Haiti today can be traced back to the monstrous policies of Duvalierism.

Since the establishment of the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere, Haitians have been victims of negative stereotyping; no contemporary immigrant group has encountered more prejudice and discrimination. The story of Haitians in the United States is not one of unrelenting sadness, however. Many, if not most, struggle against prejudice and prevail. They have a strong sense of self-esteem and are proud of their heritage, as is evident in the innumerable community organizations that promote Haitian theater, music, stories, art, religion, cuisine, and the Creole language. Thus for many Haitian immigrants, life in the United States is a conflict between pride in their roots and prejudice against blacks in general and Haitians in particular.The population growth rate in Haiti's rural areas has been lower than the rate for urban areas, even though fertility rates are higher in rural areas. The main reason for this disparity is outmigration. People in rural areas have moved to cities, or they have emigrated to other countries, mostly the United States and the Dominican Republic. An estimated 1 million people left Haiti between 1957 and 1982.

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