Haiti stands at a crossroads: The prospect of gold mining glitters on the horizon, while the reality of an uncertain political future, weak institutions, and widespread impoverishment glares in the foreground. Celebrated as the only nation in the world born of a successful slave revolution, but known today as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is a fragile, if resilient, place. Rights are precarious, and basic resources are scarce. As of 2014, only 62 percent of all households in Haiti had access to safe drinking water, while less than 50 percent enjoyed such access in rural areas.1 The cholera epidemic that erupted in 2010, which has taken more than 9,000 lives to date,2 has revealed the vulnerability of the Haitian population amid inadequate water, sanitation, and health infrastructure. But it has also highlighted the power of popular protest. Haiti has a longstanding tradition of peasant movements, in which ordinary Haitians have mobilized to challenge and overcome injustice. It is in this context—against the backdrop of the country’s complex history with foreign intervention and investment—that efforts to develop a mining industry in Haiti must be understood.
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