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Up until today, the media has depicted Haiti as a country that has always been faced with problems whether it be political or economical. People will never know the truth about the history of Haiti unless it is researched by foreigners, or taught to us by former citizens of the country who can really tell us how beautiful the country once was. Once upon a time, Haiti was a beautiful island of the Caribbean where people could go and visit and learn about its' culture. Today, Haiti is being faced with serious political issues that are causing innocent people to loose their lives, children not being able to attend school, and hospitals to function the way they are supposed to. After reading this paper, you will clearly understand how this island has turned into a war zone where people can no longer live and how families are faced with disabilities.

Haiti is a country situated on the west of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. It is shared with the Dominican Republic. The capital of Haiti is Port-au Prince and this is where

The first people of Haiti were the Tainos who were part of the Arawak people ( When Christopher Columbus had landed on the island in 1492, Europeans thought he had landed in India. Once they realized where he really was, they immediately got rid of the Tainos. Since they colonizers did not have the necessary laborers to gather the resources, they retrieved African slaves from the west coast. These slaves came from different tribes, and together formed the population of Haiti. Once developed, Haiti was considered one of the richest countries in the Caribbean.

By the 1700's, the French had full control over Haiti, while Spain had control over the Dominican Republic (CIRRIE). During the time France ruled, there were many more slaves than colonists. A group of people called mulattos had a severe impact on the relationship between the French and the African slaves. These mulattos were mostly slave owners, who would treat their slaves terribly. In 1791, the slaves rebelled against their masters and destroyed plantations (World Book Encyclopedia). A former slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture took control of the government and put some order in the country. In 1799, an arm was sent to restore rule in Haiti and L'Ouverture was captured and sent to prison. The army that was sent to Haiti to restore rule became ill and many of the soldiers died (World Book Encyclopedia). The rebels, lead by Jean Jacques Dessalines, defeated the French, and Haiti declared its' independence on January 1, 1804.

Dessalines became the first president. After his death in 1806, two other generals struggled for power. Alexandre Petion took control of southern Haiti and Henri Christophe took control of northern Haiti ( In 1818, Petion was replaced by Jean Pierre Boyer and Haiti was reunited in 1820 after the death of Christophe. For the next 70 years, Haiti had been ruled by 32 different men ( ------ ). American troops came in and occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 because of fear for foreigners lives.

In 1957, Francois Duvalier, also known as Papa Doc, took control of Haiti. The Duvalier regimes were manifested by violence, primarily due to political reasons and it was lead by the Tonton Macoutes who were from the Duvalier militia (CIRRIE). In 1971, Papa Doc handed down his control over to his son Jean Claude Duvalier, also know as Baby Doc. During the Duvalier regime, many people left Haiti to escape the violence and economic restrictions. After his exile in 1986, there were many attempts at restoring democracy in Haiti. In 1990, a former priest named Jean Betrand Aristide was elected President of Haiti. His election caused a group of oppositions to demand another election. Haiti suffered a coup and Aristide left the country. In 1994, with the help of President Clinton, Aristide returned to power and won another election in 2001.

Since then, Haiti has suffered a great amount. The opposition group feels that Aristide should step down as elected president as his election is believed to have been rigged. As many Haitians prepared for Haiti's 200th anniversary, corruption boiled over on February 5, 2004 as a group of rebels took control of the Gona ves police station. These rebels were joined by the opposition group who were in exile in Dominican Republic ( After three weeks of chaos, Aristide stepped down as president of Haiti. His departure was done very quietly, in fear that his supporters would take the streets and demonstrate. Once his departure was made public, the people of Haiti took over the streets of Haiti. Turmoil was now between supporters of Aristide and those who were in favor of his departure. As the United States attempted to intervene and send US troops to Haiti to-----, many people were losing

their lives. An interim President was announced as per Haiti's constitution.

The family structure in Haiti has changed since the 19th century. Until the early part of the 20th century, the loakou, an extended family, usually defined along male lines, was the principal family form. The term lakou referred not only to the family members, but also to the cluster of houses in which they lived. Members of a lakou provided each other with financial and other support. Land ownership was not cooperative, and successive generations of heirs inherited individual plots. By the mid 20th century, the nuclear family had become the norm among peasants. The lakou survived as a typical place of residence, but the cooperative labor and the social security provided by these extended families disappeared.

The family life among the elite was different from that of the lower class. Mulatto families marriages were interrelated and the same occurred for lower class families. Divorce is now excepted, when once it was rare.

Disabilities exist all over the globe. Some are more severe than others, but in all, it is very difficult for a family to function "normally" with a child who has a disability. Mental retardation is a disability where an individual's intellectual functioning level is below 70-75, the condition if present from childhood, and significant limitations exist in two or more adaptive skill areas (AAMR).

Mental retardation is caused by any condition which impairs development of the brain before birth, during birth or in the childhood years. There has been several discoveries of the cause of mental retardation, but approximately 1/3 of those affected with the disability has remained unknown (Batshaw). There are three causes of mental retardation, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and fragile X.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition.



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