Today is Halloween, a day when zombies abound. Zombies have their roots in Haiti, specifically in the pain and suffering of slavery. Amy Wilentz reminds us zombies exist throughout the year. As she puts it, “The zombie is devoid of consciousness and unable to critique the system that has entrapped him. He’s labor without grievance. He works free and never goes on strike. You don’t have to feed him much. He’s a Foxconn worker in China; a maquiladora seamstress in Guatemala; a citizen of North Korea…” In zombies, one hears echoes of oppression, in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Her full article follows.
Each year, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor is mandated to release country specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As this report pertains strictly to 2009, it does not address human rights issues in post earthquake Haiti. Still, it is highly relevant as long term recovery and reconstruction will depend in part upon creating a culture that respects human rights and a government that can enforce them.
It’d be hard these days to find patrimonial or natural riches in countries with vibrant histories that haven’t been exploited to the brink of destruction by over tourism, reviewed on Trip Advisor, or listed in Lonely Planet. At most tourism sights, capturing the past to a point so vivid you feel like you’re actually there in history uninterrupted by expensive entrance fees, trinket vendors, t-shirt shops, fat foreigners, and a cacophony of cameras shuttering, is difficult. So if ever there was a positive side to the chronic economic, insecurity and political turmoil of Haiti, then this may be it.
"Timoun se moun" (children are people too). In Haiti, far too many children are treated as less than people. CNN's Sanjay Gupta recently travelled to Haiti to learn more about the restavek practice. His blog is below. All social problems have solutions, and while the attention of foreigners to this issue is welcome, lasting change must come from within. One person fighting to bring about this change is Jean Robert Cadet, who was himself a restavek fourty years ago. He has gone on to found the Jean Robert Cadet Foundation and has devoted his life to ensuring no one else experiences what he did. Far from a victim, he is a hero and a change agent.