State of Affairs - North Korea and the US

By Dariy Esenov

“Another sight of unauthorized missile testing done by North Korea this week, with remnants of missiles being found across the the border in South Korea” blares CNN during dinner time in American households. Usually when we hear this, it strikes fear into our hearts. North Korea is well known for running an oppressive dictatorship and very rarely communicating to other countries outside of its realm. But times may be changing as North Korea has recently reached out to the United States and is ready to discuss denuclearization.

“The U.S. has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a Trump administration official told The Hill on Sunday.  But there may be more to the story than meets the eye, the summit, which will be held later this May, is scheduled to be in Pyongyang which is the capital of North Korea. Trump has deterred this invitation and has chosen to meet at a different location in South Korea. He has also referred to his previous list of requirements that he expects North Korea to meet before he’s able to attend the meeting. He established these requirements earlier in March, which North Korea seems to be making strides in fulfilling. This list of requirements was very brief, consisting of a more open line of communication from the head office in North Korea to that of the U.S. and a written promise to cease nuclear testing and general missile testing indefinitely.

The sanctions imposed by the U.N. on North Korea have been very forceful and limiting, but ultimately very successful in preventing North Korea from reaching their nuclear goals. What this could mean for the rest of the world is a potential end to an era of nuclear arms testing. This would be done through solidification of the requirements that North Korea has been forced to comply to over the past 5 years. Alternatively, North Korea may be struggling to fund their own military escapades and is now looking to temporarily soften the grip the United Nations has on the country in order to lift the import limitations. This could be a strategic move in order to put North Korea back in a position of power.

In conclusion, North Korea has completed nuclear testing sporadically over the past 12 years even after being sanctioned by the U.N., making this act of  “reaching out” with promise of denuclearization is very uncharacteristic. While it is important for Donald Trump to attend this summit and have a discussion with Kim Jong-un, both leaders may have a different outlook on how the consensus of said summit will impact their countries.  

The Battle Against Censorship

Dariy Esenov               


Facebook data leaks and Craigslists’ forced closing of classifieds sections is a few of the things that you may have heard about in the past two weeks. Some may argue that limiting the posts allowed online or collecting private information are violations of our constitutional rights, which is entirely true America isn’t the only place in the world battling with censorship.


Recently the JapanTimes has released an article on China’s ruling Communist regime and how it’s censoring the people of its country. The recent victim of said censorship was “Feminist Voices” an organization that situated itself on Weibo (a Twitter-like platform) and WeChat (an alternative to the common messenger app) and focused on promoting feminism and women’s equality in the country. This organization boasted a large following, peaking just over quarter million since establishing in 2010 but has recently disappeared from both of its social medias. After reaching out to both social media accounts they had come to the conclusion that both accounts had deleted them due to the posting of “violations of Chinese laws and regulations”. These posts had been english translations from an American journal discussing potential future “women’s strikes” in China. What sparked all of this was the request for a more militant approach from feminists in America to combat the “misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and racists policies laid out by Donald Trump”. It’s hard to tell just yet how long the ban on their account will last and if it is indefinite, this report shares that the  


On the opposite side of the planet, Mexico is currently battling in their own war, except they’re on the side of censorship against “Fake News”. In the upcoming presidential election Mexico is weary of Russian vote manipulation through various social media outlets (primarily Facebook) and has set up a system to combat it. This system is reliant on the National Electoral Institution (INE) teaming up with Twitter, Facebook, and Google in order to ensure that only legitimate articles are being posted on the platforms. But this strategy may have been compromised, due to recent information leaks from Facebook, INE has become alarmed and worried that the partnership may lead to the questioning of the presidential election in the country. The head of the electoral authority, Lorenzo Cordova assures the public that that is not the case. The program calls itself #Verificado2018, an alliance of over 60 different news organizations that constantly scour the web in search of false articles to disprove, and it has been effective. But there is a giant looming over them, fake websites such as and Facebook page MorenoNarcos cannot be combated. "This is the work of professionals. It's well-funded, with no trace of who's behind it," said Morena's social media coordinator, Jesus Ramirez. As a last precaution Mexico has banned the ability for donors to place campaign ads on social media profiles. This will be a new approach at censoring fake news but can prove to be extremely effective in the future. If Mexico is successful with their plan of action, this could set a precedent for all countries who choose to fairly elect their representatives.

Although the concept of strict censorship may not hit close to home just yet, Feminist Voices has shown to us how powerful some companies are just by holding our personal data and how much care we should put into every post we leave online. So next time you consider yourself safe behind the computer screen, just know that what you post may have consequences beyond your reach.

20+ Countries Expel Russian Diplomats Amid Nerve Agent Allegations

By Leah Cerilli

The United States and other Western allies are collectively expelling over 100 Russian diplomats in response to Russia’s alleged nerve agent attack on British soil.

On March 4, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury, England. Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence colonel believed to have passed the identities of Russian secret agents to the UK’s MI6. He was arrested in 2006 and part of a Russia-Britain spy swap in 2010. Since then, he had been living in refuge in the UK. Skripal’s family repeatedly denied he was a British spy.

 Investigators concluded that a military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok. Novichok agents were developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Russia has denied the allegations and insisted that development work on Soviet-era nerve agents stopped in 1992, and that existing stockpiles were destroyed in 2017.On March 19, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a UN body, collected samples of the agent used in the attack, with results expected in about a week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May stated it was “highly likely” Russia was behind the attempted assassination, and gave Russia a deadline of May 13 to explain how the Soviet-era agent ended up in Salisbury. The UK then expelled 23 Russian diplomats. May also withdrew an invitation to Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, to visit the UK. UK government ministers and members of the royal family will not attend the World Cup in Russia.

In a coordinated response on March 27, numerous nations and groups expelled Russian diplomats as a show of support and solidarity for the UK. The United States said it would expel 60 diplomats, giving the envoys and their families one week to leave the US. This cuts the presence of Russian diplomats in the US by 13%. The US has also stated it will close the Russian consulate in Seattle, due to its proximity to Naval Base Kitsap, an American naval base housing a fleet of nuclear powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarines. The White House also cited its proximity to defense contractor Boeing, and U.S. intelligence officials claimed Seattle was a hub of Russian cyber espionage. These sanctions come a week after U.S. President Donald Trump controversially congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on winning an election widely regarded as staged.

Canada, Ukraine, and 18 European Union nations joined the US in expelling their Russian diplomats. This strong reaction in support of the UK is notable from the EU, as the two have been involved in Brexit-related tensions.

The Russian government has assured a response to the mass expulsion, stating that Putin will make the final decision. Russia did take to Twitter to mock the diplomatic sanctions and claim that the West is acting hypocritically. The Russian Embassy in Washington tweeted a pole asking which U.S. consulate should close in response.

Lithuania: Preserving Individuality in the Face of Russia (Pt. 1)

By Sabine Tessono

    When most people think of a European nation, Lithuania isn’t the first one that comes to mind. Some think of it as another space on the map, while others who have studied European maps, or those who have dabbled in history recognize its placement as a former Soviet Union member and a Baltic nation, but have not considered the current individual identity of the nation. However, just because Lithuania is not a hegemonic world power or a state that is commonly discussed does not detract from its importance as a country. With its ties to the European Union, NATO, and the overarching shadow of Russia, Lithuania is unique in its approach to establishing itself as a Western state while still facing the ongoing threat of Russian interference. In this blog post, we will attempt to look at this dichotomy and attempt to comprehend its impact on Lithuanian identity as a whole.

    In order to understand this divide, it is necessary to have some background information on Lithuania’s history and relationship with other nations. Originally, Lithuania was a fragmented land made up of diverse Baltic tribes, which were eventually united under the rule of several monarchs and noblemen that spanned for hundreds of years. With various political upsets (varying from assassinations of kings to squabbling among nobles), to an unstable alliance between Poland, and attempts to centralize power in the face of increasing land (Lithuania in the 14th century included Belarus, Ukraine,  Poland, and even parts of Russia), the nation struggled to maintain both domestic and international order, especially in the face of its culture being heavily (and at times forcefully) influenced by Poland and the Russian empire. This tension was even more exemplified during World War II, when Russian troops put increasing pressure on the Lithuania government to sign agreement treaties and be occupied by the Soviet Army, which led to a decades long period of a repressive regime that stifled both the political and cultural freedom that the Lithuanian government, and its citizens, strived for.

    While the nation was able to eventually escape the rule of the Soviet Union and other rival states, the influence of these countries, and the still-overarching threat of a potential Russian invasion still loom in the distance. With the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russian officials justified the invasion by utilizing “a narrative that incorporated a revival of the Tsarist-era term ‘New Russia’ to describe parts of eastern Ukraine.”, despite dissent from a large population of Ukrainians. This move by Russia has caused an unsettling fear from Lithuania, due to its previous history with the state, and the fear of the same pattern of suppression of their national identity. Yet, these fears are not unjustifiable, due to evidence of Russian propaganda being used on both TV and social media sites to question the authenticity of a Lithuanian state, and even politicians using selective information and twisting historical facts to suit their agenda.

    Despite these threatening factors, Lithuania, like its Baltic neighbors, are utilizing their own tactics to provide some sort of defense and protection of their livelihood. In order to prevent repeated violations of territory, an 80-mile long border fence with surveillance cameras was built following an increase in military in Kaliningrad, a Russian city that rests on both Poland and Lithuania’s borders, to dissuade Russian expansion and retain a vital connection to both the European Union and NATO. While these strategies are helpful in showing that Lithuania is serious about retaining its statehood, it also toes a dangerous line in provoking Russia and potentially being overwhelmed by sheer force and resources.

    In essence, Lithuania is a fascinating state due to its history with the countries surrounding it, and with its continual vigilance and fear of being swallowed up again by its overbearing neighbor, Russia. However, in order to comprehend why and how Lithuania benefits by being independent, examination of its development following World War II and its relations with the Western world to piece together its narrative in the modern world.      


2018 Brazilian Elections

By Cecilia Godoy

In October of this year, Brazilians will once again head to the election booths to choose their next President. Currently Brazil’s political atmosphere suggests there is no shoe-in candidate, and the volatility of public opinion could swing in favor of either a far-leftist or an extreme rightist. The past couple of months have been filled with inquiry and exploration of who the candidates will be, come the deadline of late March. The election is being called one of the most consequential since Lula da Silva’s election in 2002, primarily because it could potentially mark a turning point in the country’s long term economic outlook. In his last few months as president, Temer has initiated an ambitious effort to invest and strengthen neo-liberalist policies that would pull back the state’s role in the economy. The election of a pro-reform candidate would support the new policies that have been aiding an economic recovery from a three-year recession by incentivizing private investment. In contrast, the election of an anti-reform candidate could scare off investors and revert the progress underway. Additionally, “the election of an anti-reform candidate could undermine Brazilian demand for goods for its regional trading partners.”

            Socially, the election is likely to demonstrate the country’s broad disillusionment with the political establishment. Brazil has been shaken by an unprecedented series of corruption investigations that began in early 2014. “Over 100 powerful businessmen and politicians have been convicted" and many other congressmen and political figures are still being investigated. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, one of Brazil’s past presidents, had announced his interest to run in the new election campaign and has one of the “lowest rejection rates among likely contenders in the survey conducted by a pollster MDA.” However, the former president is currently under investigation for corruption scandals and is very likely to be constitutionally barred from running in this election cycle. Centrists have struggled for months to prop up a viable moderate candidate, with several establishment figures having been tarnished by corruption scandals. If Lula is barred, “the poll found that Bolsonaro would face environmentalist and former senator Marina Silva in a second-round runoff” which takes place in Brazil if no single candidate wins the majority of votes. None of the candidates have yet to offer detailed solutions for the most vexing

This election is not only important for the future economic policies that the new administration will support, but also to serve as a barometer for public opinion and attitude towards the political establishment and democratic institutions. This election’s importance can be compared to the high stakes of the 1989 election: Brazil’s first direct vote for president after more than two decades of military dictatorship. The key difference between the elections is that in 1989, people felt a sense of renewal and newfound certainty in a political system that would be held accountable by public demand and stipulation. 13 percent of Brazilians were satisfied with democracy, and 97 percent felt their government catered to a small, powerful elite. This once very promising political enterprise is now in crisis, and the public desire is to restructure the institutions they feel have abandoned them. The political whiplash of the past few years has made Brazilians more discontented with democracy than any other Latin American population, according to a poll conducted by Latinobarómetro. This survey found that only.



Why “Shithole” Countries Like Haiti Have Such a Poor Economy: Part 3

By Sabine Tessono

The final piece of understanding Haiti’s various crises is one that the average American has heard about, but has neglected to keep track of when considering the nation’s poor fiscal standing: natural disasters. Haiti, like many other countries, has had a fair share of environmental catastrophes that lead to disruptions in their economy and in their public order. Though other nations have been able to rebuild, or even surpass their previous industrial growth, the number of horrific calamities, combined with social disorder and government dysfunction, has crushed Haiti’s already teetering system, and forced it to plunge further into uncertainty and chaos.

On January 12, 2010, one of the most terrible events occurred on the island’s doorstep. A magnitude 7 earthquake, almost unheard of in the Caribbean, sent shock waves through Leogane, Port-au- Prince, the capital, and other cities across the region with 52 aftershocks of 4.5 or greater being measured. The death count was also high, ranging from 100,000 to 160,000, with the government estimating that about 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings were destroyed or severely damaged during the natural disaster. Although there were widespread humanitarian efforts and a push to restart Haitian economy by means of rebuilding roads, broadening access to water, and funneling money into the economy by means of debt relief and loans, Haiti is no better than it was six years ago.

The question then remains: Why isn’t Haiti’s fiscal state progressing despite all the aid it receives? And how did the nation’s image shift from one that other countries see as one that needs support and attention to a forgotten, almost hopeless state? A large part of the answer lies in plain sight: foreign aid. While Haiti has managed to remain independent from other Western powers since its independence in 1804, its economy, both pre and post-quake, has relied heavily on international power. While relying solely on organizations has caused extreme stagnation in employing citizens and reestablishing Haiti as a contributor to the Western market, “NGOs with weak tunnel vision and international aid agencies with top-down agendas hobble the weak government and cite Haiti’s culture of corruption as an excuse to deny distributing aid through local channels”. With disorganized help not reaching the citizens who are suffering, and with self-interested officials in both Haitian and foreign governments misusing large funds, it’s reasonable to assume that any country after an environmental crisis, regardless of economic contribution, would have an increasingly difficult time in trying to maintain Stability both financial and ethical.

Adding on to this lack of focused help, Haiti’s political struggles have lasted for so many centuries that it has seeped into the very fabric of the nation, affecting everything from foreign states taking advantage of weak governments to exploit natural resources, to NGOs contributing to outbreaks of cholera and other illnesses, to even worsening the effects of natural disasters due to deforestation and shoddily-built foundations in an effort to play industrial catch-up. Despite volunteers working to set a platform for the island to rebuild itself, and perhaps shift in a more positive direction, the cycle of crisis response in the midst of environmental disasters continually prevents the underlying problems from being revealed, thus raising feelings of frustration and hopelessness for Haitian citizens and neglect in the wake of other international issues for global superpowers.

In order for Haiti’s problems to truly be addressed, countries cannot remain satisfied with just throwing money at the island and hoping that the issues just disappear. Like countless other nations, Haiti is filled with a rich history, beautiful scenery, and people who still trudge on every day despite the adversity they face. However, systemic corruption, mixed with ceaseless natural disasters, has made its instability and its placement on the international scale a real challenge. Instead of dismissing Haiti as just another “shithole country”, perhaps the nations of the world and their political leaders and citizens can consider the complexities of Haiti’s situation and be reminded that despite its economic weaknesses, Haiti still is a valid and treasured contribution to our world.

Jacob Zuma Runs Out of Political Lives

By Cecilia Godoy

Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, has resigned after days of defying orders from the ruling African National Congress to leave office and on the eve of a no-confidence vote in parliament. In a televised address to the nation, Zuma proclaimed himself a loyal member of the ANC to which he had dedicated his life. The resignation was the conclusion to one of South Africa’s most eventful political days following the raid on a business family at the center of the recent corruption allegations. The President’s resignation took no one by surprise, viewing as there are countless corruption charges mounted against him. Zuma had been negotiating the terms of his departure with Cyril Ramphosa, the current ANC leader.

Zuma grew up during the period of South Africa’s apartheid, where both society and the economy were being warped by the racist policies of a white-minority government who sought to separate, suppress and control the black majority. Being raised by a single mother, he never acquired formal education and joined the military wing if the ANC once he reached his teenage years. Charming and confident, Zuma was always considered incredibly bright and visionary by his counterparts.

Nelson Mandela was a hard act to follow. He and his comrades achieved something that was seemingly impossible, the turning of an institutionally racist state into a non-racial democracy without the outbreak of law. Mandela won the country’s first democratic election in 1994 after several decades of imprisonment.  Like few heads of state before him, he served for one term only and graciously retired without compromise the integrity of the democracy he helped build. Zuma ran on a platform of change - one that would allow for greater distribution of wealth and land. Now that South Africa has rid of apartheid, it was time to bridge the huge income gaps between the different racial class and work on the social cohesiveness of the country.

However, Zuma’s legacy will be one ridden with economic stagnation and democratic corruption. Inequality today is worse than it was at the end of apartheid; economic growth has failed to keep pace with population growth; unemployment and crime are sky-high. While the rainbow nation was set up for success, it appears that Zuma’s populist platform led to nothing but utter disappointment, delivery a devastating blow to the credibility of the ANC when it comes to delivery greater equality and rights.

Mandela’s first choice as a successor will now get his turn at the presidency now that Zuma has stepped down. Cyril Ramaphosa, an activist lawyers who remained in South Africa during the apartheid years, has founded and led the first national miners union and then served as a lead negotiator with the outgoing white government in the talks that ended apartheid. There was cheering and singing broke out in the assembly after it was announced that Mr. Ramaphosa was the only nominee for the role. As president, he said his role was to be a “servant of the people of South Africa”, and he would serve with “humility, faithfulness and with dignity as well”.He addressed the issue of corruption in the country, saying “South Africa must come first in everything that we do”.    

South Africa must first settle its political crisis in order to gain economic momentum and growth. The president’s resignation also comes at a critical time, viewing as Cape Town will most likely be one of the first major urban centers to run out of water. It is important that Zuma is quickly replaced and sidelined so that the country can move on from this incident as quickly and swiftly as possible.

Pro-Syrian Forces Enter Afrin to Aid Kurds Against Turkey

By Leah Cerilli

Pro-Syrian government forces have entered Syria’s Afrin region to assist Kurdish fighters battling against Turkey’s military on February 20, despite Turkey warning Syria not to interfere on February 19. Turkey warned the Syrian government on February 19 not to assist Kurds fighting against Turkish forces in northern Syria, claiming it would be a “disaster” if Syrian troops intervened. This warning was prompted by a media report claiming that Syrian government forces were ready to assist the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in resisting Turkey’s air and ground offensive in Afrin. The report was issued by the Syrian state-run news agency SANA, but was denied by the YPG.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkish artillery fire pushed a convoy of pro-Syrian government forces out of Afrin. He repeated his warning to Syrians fighting back against the Turkish offensive, stated that Turkey will not allow “such a wrongful step” in the future. Erdogan added that the convoy consisted of a dozen vehicles and turned back 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Afrin following the artillery strikes. Rezan Hedo, a spokesperson for YPG, denied Erdogan’s claim that the convoy turned back due to Turkish artillery fire, but offered no further details. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British nonprofit documenting alleged human rights violations in Syria, reported that one convoy entered Afrin and one convoy turned back from Afrin.

Turkey regards the YPG as terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The PKK is made up of Kurdish militants fighting against the Turkish government with the goal of seceding from Turkey to create an independent Kurdish state.

The YPG gained a sizable amount of territory in northern Syria due to its battle against ISIS. The Kurds now control a large strip of the Turkey-Syria border, including the enclaves of Manbij and Afrin that they took from ISIS. This is concerning for Turkey, as they do not want the YPG to expand, particularly so close to the Turkish border.

American troops are present in Manbij, supporting the YPG’s battle against ISIS. The offensive in Manbij is a global concern, as it is causing tension between NATO allies Turkey and the United States. It also pits Turkey against the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran. When reflecting on the possibility of Turkish intervention, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated he would see any Turkish offensive as a violation of Syrian sovereignty.

Iran, Turkey, and Russia are involved in negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan. Turkey has opposed Kurdish factions from attending these talks. Russia, which currently controls airspace over Afrin, has periodically cooperated with YPG. Russia, Iran, and Turkey also held peace talks in Sochi, Russia, from January 29-30. The talks received acknowledgement, but not support, from the UN and Syrian opposition groups. A proposal to form a constitutional committee was agreed on in Sochi. President Erdogan of Turkey, President Rouhani of Iran, and President Putin recently agreed on February 8 to meet in Istanbul to discuss the Syrian peace process, with an official date to be announced in the next few weeks.


Uncovering the Brazilian Government funded by Slavery

By Dariy Esenov

American citizens often find themselves recognizing the fact that the most prestigious universities and historical landmarks were built on the back of slavery. But since its abolishment we seek to make sure that basic human rights are constantly upheld by corporations and firms within our country's border and are something every citizen innately owns. But just across the equator Brazilian politicians are still accepting large donations from corporations running on slavery.

Although the idea of paying off debts through labor may not be a strange concept, statistics show currently 1 in every 10 high-position holding politician in Brazil, especially those under the jurisdiction of ex-President Temer are linked to modern-day slavery. As politicians within the US receive their support through Super PACs and corporate donations, so do the campaigns of politicians in Brazil. Except the corporations that donate, such as OAS, a brazilian construction company, has been found housing over one hundred workers who had been forced to work under slave-like conditions. Reports of large donations summing roughly over 600,000 USD have been made by 21 of the 52 currently investigated corporations. Although it’s not deemed illegal for such donations to be made, due to the fact that they are coming in from upper management rather than a forced donation by the workers, it puts into question the responsibility of other countries must take into consideration, such as intervention into the government of Brazil or a potential instigation of a human rights movement.

For those who are confused on what qualifies as slavery in Brazil it is distinguished from regular labor by 4 characteristics. The first of which is being forced to work, the way this is achieved is by putting the workers under strict supervision by management and allowing minimal breaks in between shifts, sometimes resulting into injuries in the workplace. The second is forcing workers to pay off debts through additional work, similar to workers in India who choose this “bonded repayment” strategy Brazilian workers are not allowed to leave the country until the debts are repaid. The third quality of this form of slavery is inhumane conditions

A private statement from President Temer’s office was released when prompted about the workplace slavery and the response was “the money was passed down to other candidates” and was concluded with a denial of any further accusations. The issue with this statement is that by not acknowledging corporate funding through slavery and allowing the congress to keep creating bills that allow the same corporations to not only continue their slavery but earn more profits from doing so.

But not all hope is lost, organizations within the Brazilian community are beginning to acknowledge this mistreatment and are beginning to take action. Reporter Brasil a Brazilian news outlet has created a tool called “Ruralomitor” which analyzes the impact of the decisions made by deputies on the environment and the rural workers as well as the indigenous people.

If this tool paired with cross-referencing donations to federal organizations from companies that are fueled by slavery does not change the precedent set by these companies then a further intervention by the U.S. or local forces will be more than necessary.

Why “Shithole” Countries Like Haiti Have Such a Poor Economy: Part 2

By Sabine Tessono

    One of the most economically and socially disastrous systems in Haiti was the Duvalier governmental system. In 1957, François Duvalier, or “Papa Doc” as Haitian citizens know him, ascended into presidency under a black nationalist and populist campaign. While the population thought his rise to power would signify a new shift from previously self-interested leaders to an administration that would actually fix inequality among the common people and establish fairness for the poor black majority, it proved to be worse than they could have imagine. Under Duvalier’s totalitarian rule, his secret police force (called the Tontons Macoutes, or bogeymen in Creole,) murdered over 30,000 people, with countless others being imprisoned or tortured at prisons, the most notorious being Fort Dimanche. With political opponents, and even his aides, he would send them into exile, or call for mass executions to solidify his reign of terror and make an example of those who tried to oppose him.

While Duvalier’s violent actions were seen as socially repugnant throughout the population, his economic decisions caused a great deal of instability and strife that still has an effect on Haiti’s fiscal state in the modern age. One of the most prominent examples of this budgetary decline would emerge with the developing relationship of Haiti and America. Through his firm anti-Communist beliefs, Duvalier was able to grab the attention of the US, who at that time was in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Overtime the two countries managed to foster a relationship with the US providing aid grants to the Haitian government. Instead of using the grants to address issues of hunger and disease or to stimulate growth within the island’s infrastructure or job market, Duvalier “squandered much of the funds on grandiose prestige projects like the model city of Duvalierville, now a collection of decaying buildings overgrown by jungle”. This repetitive pattern of pouring funds into useless, vanity-inducing projects ultimately led to tensions with the US, becoming heated enough that America stopped the majority of its aid to the island. Haiti collapsed underneath the weight of its debt that lead to its per capita income to be less than $75.

Sadly, the level of political corruption and ignoring of the country’s growth only increased after Papa Doc’s tyranny. After his death in 1971, Francois Duvalier’s son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc” rose to a dictatorial position at the age of 19. Under his rule, Baby Doc and his associates grew exceptionally wealthy by “brazen thefts of state funds, millions spent on lavish living, and millions more stashed in bank accounts”. His forced development of an industrialized Haiti also compelled poor, starving farmers to chop down trees to burn for charcoal and make way for public projects, while simultaneously making Haitian soil less fertile and thus created a loss of natural resources that further spun the country out of economic control. Baby Doc’s blatant disregard for these issues also increased the already large number of citizens living in poverty with “expensive slums spread around Port-au-Prince, put immense pressure on the weak infrastructure” and created fiscal stagnation that the island still cannot manage to overcome.

In essence, Haiti’s history is one filled with governments that are dysfunctional at best and arrogant and violent at worst. Dynastic regimes such as the Duvaliers carry so much social and economic devastation that even countries as affluent as the United States would find difficult to move on from. However, the complete explanation for Haiti’s poverty and strife is not completely explained by governmental corruption. To comprehend Haiti’s status within the modern world, and to begin to answer the question of how it got to this point, one has to also analyze the island’s present struggles and piece the entire narrative together.

-To be continued-