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Hardcover Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization Book

ISBN: 1567511872

ISBN13: 9781567511871

Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization

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In this startling and passionate book, Aristide demonstrates why those on the bottom will never lie down. A graphic revelation of what happens when free trade overruns local markets, eradicates local economies, and creates dependence on foreign charity.

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Thinking Outside the Box

By all accounts, life for Haiti's desperately poor majority is difficult. By most accounts, that life is hopeless- newspaper reports see only squalor, development strategies see only economic enslavement as the lesser of evils, even supporters of Haiti cannot see the country escaping the rut of its history. President Aristide, as he has always done, finds hope. He finds hope in his people's almost unfathomable strength in opposing repression over three centuries. He finds hope in economic activities discarded by the "builders". He finds hope, despite the horror inflicted on Haiti from the outside from slavery to the present, in us, the citizenry of the world's powerful countries.This hope, and practical strategies based on it, has always been Aristide's gift to Haiti. That is why he, and candidates perceived to be loyal to him, have received overwhelming support in just about every electoral contest since 1990. That is why Aristide should receive the support of the international community, and anyone who cares about social and economic justice. That is why you should read this book.


I never gave Aristide much credit, but after reading this book I'm beginning to think that there might be hope for Haiti after all. This is a compelling and well written book that goes at the core of Haiti's problem. In the era of globalization, a nation with a past such as Haiti should think twice before jumping the bandwagon of the free market economy and look for a third way. While the capitalist system generates wealth, it also broadens the economic and social gaps among class constellations. Yet, at the same time, we have Cuba as a model of social justice and equity, if judged by the criteria of universal acces to education and health care. I think that Haiti should aim at striking a balance between those opposing ideologies and Aristide made it clear in Eyes of the Heart that there is a third way. Rather he follows through with this idea during his second term as president it is yet to be seen. Overall it is an insightfull book.

A Third Model for Human Development in Poor Countries

Throughout the 20th century, communism and democratic capitalism provided the primary models for economic development. Between the two, dictatorships often flourished, plundering countries for the benefit of the few. At the end of the 20th century, the gap between the wealthiest and poorest countries seems to have grown.Aristide is the former elected president of Haiti, who was ousted by a coup d'etat in 1991. He and the Haitian democracy were restored with UN help in 1994. Now a private citizen, he shares his views in this book as to how to improve the circumstances for the people of Haiti in a democratic context.I do not know enough about Haiti to know about the accuracy of his statements about the history of this country. His basic point is that free markets have tended to impoverish the agricultural sector, the historical strength of Haiti. This occurred through reducing tariffs on rice, so that subsidized U.S. rice drove out local Haitian farmers. Prices rose again after the farmers had lost their farms. Then a disease among local swine led to these animals being slaughtered. The replacement swine from Iowa were ill-suited to Haiti, and this source of food and income was lost as well.Aristide points out that the Haitians are very good about sharing and caring for each other, even when they have very little. The country has an 85 percent illiteracy rate, 80 percent of the people drink substandard water, there is not enough water for farm irrigation, and 70 percent are unemployed. Crowding in poor areas is so extreme that people sleep in shifts. Aristide believes in democracy, but feels that it must also have literacy, clean water, and food to sustain it. He also points out that you have to break down the barriers of class and prejudice to unite people in helping one another. Since leaving office he has supported private initiatives for tutoring adult illiterates, establishing free universities, lending to poor people in groups of five (along the lines of the Gameen bank model), and improving access to clean water. He also works on symbolic changes like having young children speak on their own radio shows, inviting people of all classes to swim in his swimming pool (in a country where most have never seen a pool), and greeting one and all with respect and caring. Basically, his model follows the immigrant society approach that worked so well in the United States in the late 19th century. Similar methods worked well in India during the Gandhi regime after independence. As encouraging and heart-warming as the model is, it does need further development. Haiti needs to develop a world-class advantage in some area of economic activities. Based on his description of the country, the obvious possibilities are not too many. Essentially, light manufacturing, software development, doing back office tasks for U.S. companies on an overnight basis, specialty agriculture or horticulture, and spec

They're tired of being poor

In 1789, the year the US Constitution was developed, the littleFrench colony of Haiti in the Caribbean produced more wealth than all13 states that made up the newly independent United States of America. Haiti was France's most valuable colony, accounting for one-third of all French commerce. Even though it only had one-eighth of the population of the United States -- 90 percent of whom were slaves -- Haiti produced 60 percent of the world's coffee, vast quantities of sugar and other tropical produce. (Jamaica was just as valuable for Britain, which helps explain why neither country cared much about whether the 13 colonies became independent or not.) These were the "cash cows" of the 1700's. In 1791, the Haitians launched the only successful slave revolt in history. Napoleon, when he added up the cost of defeat in Haiti, quickly sold Louisiana to the US. He knew better than to ever again involve France in a war in the Americas. Today, the average Haitian earns about $250 a year. About 70 percent of Haitians are unemployed, about 85 percent are illiterate, and one million live in the United States and other rich countries where the earnings they send home keep their families from outright starvation. What happened? Quite simply, greed. Generals, politicians and businessmen plundered Haiti, in some cases reimposing virtual slavery. President Teddy Roosevelt got the United States involved, and after a century of American cash plus the US Marines, Haiti is still the poorest country in Latin America. In this brief book (at only 80 pages, it's what used to be called a pamphlet), Jean-Bertrand Aristide outlines a solution. It's the same sentiment expressed by William Shakespeare in the play Julius Caesar, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." Aristide applies the same wisdom to Haiti, principally through his efforts to generate self-sufficiency. The key is not what others can do for the poor of Haiti, but what poor Haitians can do for themselves. Teach people to read, help them start farms and businesses, provide a shield against the ruthless cruelty of international finance, and Haitians will create their own wealth. Prosperity is not a gift of foreign aid or advisers, it is what people do for themselves. Some help is needed, which is why Aristide founded `The Aristide Foundation for Democracy'...However, the principle element of this book centers on the Haitian effort to help themselves. "The neo-liberal strategy is to weaken the state in order to have the private sector replace the state. Through cooperatives we can perhaps preserve some margin of public services," Aristide writes. It is one way, very effective so far, to offset the tremendous power of the 1 percent of Haiti's people who control 45 percent of the country's wealth. True, he offers a grim picture of existing poverty. But, he also shows Haitians reviving their own pride, respect and a better life. Freedom does not rest

An illuminating and inspiring book

Aristide is the Gandhi of Haiti. He led his people in a nonviolent spirit, to overthrow one of the cruelest dictatorships of our century. He was Haiti's first elected President, then overthrown in a violent coup, then restored. This passionate, searching, loving book shows the suffering of Haiti's poor, the causes of the suffering, and the incredible brave, sharing spirit of the people of Haiti. Every responsible citizen should read this book - it tells what our imposed neoliberal policies do to the poor, and what can be done about it. An added goody - profits go to the Aristide Foundation for Democracy.
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