Club Soda and Salt

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Haiti I’m sorry

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on February 17, 2007

I never know what to think about stuff like this. Basically, there’s a highly protected cove on Haiti’s north shore that is being used for cruise ships. On the one hand, any help that Haiti’s economy can get is welcome, and I’m sure that the people who get jobs on the resort are thrilled. On the other hand, there are sentiments like this:

Although passengers who sign a waiver and present a passport can leave the Labadie compound, most seem perfectly content to remain on their isolated cove.

“I don’t want to see poverty,” acknowledged Helen Murphy, 66, of St. Paul, who was shopping in the tourist market one morning. “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to think that these people don’t have enough to eat.”

Don’t get me wrong — no-one wants to think about poverty while on vacation. Still, this just struck me as callous. I mean, not thinking about the starving children over the fence at your resort doesn’t make them not exist.

Of course, this is a balance that must be struck all over the world, but the local-tourist disparity must be higher here than in most places. It puts the unpleasant side of the tourist industry in much starker relief than I’ve seen it before, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

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2 Responses to “Haiti I’m sorry”

  1. Well said. I visited India in December and one of the more common (and irritating) queries I’ve had from my fellow Trinidadians is “How did you deal with the poverty?”

    It’s irritating both because it’s a cliché also for the reason you state: “not thinking about the starving children over the fence at your resort doesn’t make them not exist.” It’s also irritating because it implies that this country is poverty-free.

    But like you, I’m not sure how to feel about it either.

  2. […] is put off by a an American tourist’s reaction to poverty in Haiti: “Don’t get me wrong — no-one wants to think about poverty while on vacation. Still, this just str…“ Georgia […]

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