Haiti used to be not quite as dire. It once attracted tourists.
For example, Bill and Hillary Clinton are often said to have honeymooned in Haiti in 1975. (But I see now that they first went to Acapulco on their honeymoon, and then dropped by Haiti as guests of a friend.) Graham Greene’s 1966 novel about ex-pats hanging out by a resort hotel swimming pool in Haiti, The Comedians, was immediately turned into a big budget movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. And of course, gay sex tourists likely brought AIDS to America from Haiti.
Haiti attracted a fair amount of attention in the 1960s for much the same reason it’s now a media black hole when not suffering a horrific natural disaster: the rise of black power under the Papa Doc Duvalier regime. Duvalier took power from Haiti’s mulatto elite.
I wrote in VDARE in 2010:
If we’re looking for something to do for Haiti that will help it in the long term, it’s just not at all clear how. (I do make a very modest proposal at the end of this article). The 1915-1934 U.S. occupation built some infrastructure, but isn’t exactly remembered as ranking up there with Iwo Jima as the Corps’ finest moment. The long run effect of U.S. rule through mulatto surrogates seems mostly to have paved the way for Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s disastrous 1957-1971 black power government.
… Thus Duvalier, a brilliant black doctor and sociologist turned maniacal dictator, used his study of voodoo and his resemblance to the popular depiction of Baron Samedi to convince the black masses that he was a powerful sorcerer and take power from Haiti’s mulatto elite.
Unfortunately, Duvalier began to believe his own propaganda about the power of voodoo. For instance, as Time Magazine reported in 1963, when Duvalier had a falling out with Clement Barbot, the head of his notorious goon squad, the Tonton Macoutes:
“But in voodoo-entranced Haiti the whisper went around that no one could kill Barbot. He had the strange power, they said, to change himself into a black dog and escape at will. In Port-au-Prince, Duvalier’s policemen went around shooting black dogs on sight.” [Haiti: The Living Dead, July 26, 1963]
Much of the educated classes emigrated, leaving Haiti brain-drained.
One character in Tom Wolfe’s 2012 Miami novel Back to Blood is an emigre mulatto college professor from Haiti:
Now he looked directly at Ghislaine [the professor's daughter]. He smiled … to cover up the fact that he was trying … objectively … to assess her face. Her skin was whiter than most white people’s. As soon as Ghislaine was old enough to understand words at all, Louisette had started telling her about sunny days. Direct sun wasn’t good for your skin. The worst thing of all was to take a sunbath. Even walking in the sun was too much of a risk. She should wear big-brimmed straw hats. Better still, an umbrella. Little girls couldn’t very well go around with parasols, however. But if they had to walk in the sun, they should at least have straw hats. She must always remember that she had very beautiful but very fair skin that would burn easily, and she should do anything to avoid sunburns. But Ghislaine figured it out very quickly. It had nothing to do with sunburns … it had to do with sunbrowning. In the sun, skin like hers, her beautiful whiter-than-white skin, would darken just like that! In no time she could turn Neg … just like that.