Economic Focus – Social Unrest in Haiti

Haiti, one of the poorest nation in the Americas is once again in turmoil. Food prices which have risen 40 percent on average globally since mid-2007 is taking the flesh and bone from the hardcore poor citizens of Haiti.

On Tuesday, U.N. peacekeepers battled a mob that tried to storm the presidential palace. The capital, Port-Au-Prince is currently being overrun by protesters.

According to CNN, ‘bands of young men carrying sticks and rocks set up roadblocks of burning tires. Mobs looted stores, warehouses and government offices, and gunfire rang through slums and upscale neighborhoods alike.’

Haiti is but one of the countries in turmoil due to the food crisis. Unknown to many, Haiti has serious social problems. There is a huge wealth gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority, 1% of whom own nearly half the country’s wealth.

As food prices continue to head north, further unrest is expected.

Facts – BBC

  • Full name: Republic of Haiti
  • Population: 9.6 million (UN, 2007)
  • Capital: Port-au-Prince
  • Area: 27,750 sq km (10,714 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Creole, French
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 59 years (men), 63 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 gourde = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Light manufactures, coffee, oils, mangoes
  • GNI per capita: US $450 (World Bank, 2006)
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