Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Earthquake highlights Haitian inequality

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 28 (UPI) — The Haitian earthquake has refocused attention on the extreme gap between the poor and wealthy usually ignored by the world, residents say.

“The rich people sometimes need to step over us to get inside,” said Judith Pierre, 28, a maid living with two daughters for two weeks in a tent front of Magdoos, a tony Lebanese restaurant where patrons unwind in a garden and draw flavored tobacco from hookahs. Patrons’ chauffeurs wait in their sport utility vehicles next to Pierre’s tent on the sidewalk near the entrance, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Haiti has a history of inequality: small pockets of wealth amidst supreme poverty — especially so in the Petionville district of Port-au-Prince, a hillside stronghold of Haiti’s prosperous.

But with the influx of non-governmental organizations, new attention is being focused on the disparity between poor families living near the gated mansions and villas of the rich, the Times said.

“There’s nothing logical about what’s going on right now,” said Tatiana Wah, a Haitian planning expert at Columbia University working as an adviser to Haiti’s government living in Petionville.

The non-governmental organizations “are flooding the local economy with their spending,” she said, “but it’s not clear if much of it is trickling down.”

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