Figure 1: Source: Haiti: the Politics of Squalor
As can be seen in Figure 1, the production of
sugar drastically fell in
Figure 2: Source: Haiti: the Politics of Squalor
However, by 1802 the production of sugar had dropped by between two-thirds and three-quarters and by 1842, (Rotberg 50) it was estimated that no more sugar was produced for exports. (Rotberg 71). This will be further discussed later on.
Sugar plantations need 3 elements to be prosperous: land, manpower and capital.
The revolution had destroyed most of the sugar cane plantations since these were located on plains, easily accessible by the revolutionaries, unlike the coffee plantations which were mostly found in the mountains. In addition, of the remaining land on the island, most had lost its fertility through many years of intensive use. (Rotberg 38)
After several upheavals of the late 18th
century, there only remained between a third and a half of the initial
500,000 African captives, 20,000 of the 30,000 free mixed-bloods and free Africans
and 5,000 to 10,000 of the 40,000 whites. Furthermore, another source of labor had been cut off: the forced labor
provided by new African prisoners. Between 1784 and 1791, the annual average
number of kidnapped Africans who actually made it alive to
With the revolution, most of Haiti’s trading partners did not want to trade with the country any longer, fearing the spread of the revolution within their own colonies. Furthermore, most of the investors living in the country had either been killed or had fled for safety. Due to this, the country was lacking the necessary investment to keep the economy going. By the mid-18th century, the price of sugar had fallen, pushing even more investment away from this export commodity (Rotberg 38)
As a consequence of these three factors, by independence in 1804, cotton, indigo and sugar had disappeared as Haiti’s main exports. Coffee production, though still important, fell by 25% (Rotberg 56).
Post-independence, Jean-Jacques Dessalines ruled for a short period (1804-1806). Later on, the country was divided in two parts: the North and the South. The South was ruled by Pétion and the North by Christophes. The two rulers were quite distinct. Christophes imposed coercive labor and used British foreign capital to promote sugar, indigo and coffee production (Rotberg 62). Through these measures, he was able to bring prosperity back in his half of the country. In the North, Pétion employed laissez-faire methods of administration. He dismantled the plantation structure and started distributing state-purchased arable land to peasants, army men, etc. A general resentment towards intensive agriculture arose and the peasants did not want to produce sugar, coffee, nor indigo. After more then a decade of instability, the Haitians wanted to cultivate their land for personal consumption, leaving a small share for trade. This pushed the economy towards recession and decay (Rotberg 61). At the end of his reign, Petion tried to implement forced labor measures like his neighbor in the North, but these were unwelcome and led to fleeing of Haitians to the mountains. (Rotberg 62)
Reality of migration
A person will migrate if the comparative utility of staying is inferior to comparative utility of leaving. They would move from low earnings to high earnings, poor living conditions to better living conditions (Perusek 5). However, these judgments are only based on expectations. The person thinks that the conditions abroad are better, but does not know for sure. The accuracy of the rational calculations is thus not guaranteed.
Lee’s factors of migration are the following (Perusek 5):
1. Factors associated with the place of origin
- Conditions of living, earnings, political condition, economic prosperity,…
2. Factors associated with the place of destination
- Conditions of living, possible earnings, political condition, demand for labor
3. Intervening obstacles
4. Personal factors
- Fear of the unknown, adventurousness
Migrants are therefore rational calculators, and factors in both their home country and the prospect country affect their decision to move. There is a battle between a push from the home country and a pull from the receiving country (Perusek 5)
In Haiti, there is no push versus pull factor. We only see a push from the home country (Perusek 6). No matter what the conditions of the receiving country are, Haitians will move whether there is demand for labor or not. In that case, why do they keep migrating? This is possibly because living conditions in Haiti are far worse than in most receiving countries.
In 1914 constant prices, exports per capita were estimated at $6 until the 1890s and the price of coffee and logwood, the two main exports, dropped (Perusek 7). This led to a decrease in the absolute quantity of exports. Between 1910 and 1914, the value of exports per capita dropped by more than 25% (Perusek 7). With an economy based on exports, the peasants’ income fell at the same rate.
In the late 19th century, the border
§ living in shacks
§ left to find their own food
§ travel at their own expense. (Perusek 12)
The Haitian government tried to stop the flow of
migrants but it did not work. In 1928, it was made illegal. The Dominican
Republic closed its border in 1930, but this had no effect. Only the
Why did migration continue? Economic expansion in
the Dominican Republic. The growth of the sugar industry greatly influenced
migration toward the Dominican Republic, but the migration continued even
after decline of the industry. A better solution might have been found by
looking at the opportunities for labor at home. In
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