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Once the sugar bowl of Europe, Haiti once produced untold wealth based on the sweat and blood of African slaves. With the heroic if devastating war that led to independence 200 years ago, a black orphan nation came into being, feared and hated by its colonial slave-owning neighbors.

Today sugar is imported. Coffee is no longer a major export. Tourism is dead. For Haiti the list is full of superlative negatives: The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the highest child mortality rate. It also has a high birth rate that makes its 10,700 square miles the most heavily populated piece of land outside of Monaco. And much of that land is mountainous and eroded, no longer fit for agriculture. Farmers penetrated so high on steep mountains they often fell out of their gardens. For me Haiti proved an exhilarating experience. Even today I miss the wheezing of my old flatbed Kelly press, the clanging of the linotype and the strong odor of newsprint meeting ink.

This is my story of operating a newspaper in Haiti from 1950 until 1963. It is also a story of man's inhumanity to man-and of a nation's decline from creativity and promise into the void of bloody dictatorship.

The Haiti Sun
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© 2004 - 2008 Bernard Diederich