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A tiny tropical island sits in the Caribbean decorated with palm trees and colorful hibiscus flowers Its mountains stand majestically looking down upon sandy beaches and green valleys From a distance it appears as any other island you might encounter sailing the waters of the Caribbean Yet as you come closer you notice a difference There are no tourist resorts dotting the coasts no high rise hotels with sand volleyball courts and marimba bands This is Haiti this is different If the land could speak it would tell of tragedy and violence of abuse and bloodshed of power and greed Why does the country stand apart from its neighbors The answer lies in the turbulent history of this tiny nation Christopher Columbus landed on this tropical climate mostly rough and mountainous island he called La isla espanola in December 1492 The name was later shortened to Hispanola The island was inhabited by local Arawak Indians who referred to their home as Hayti or mountainous land In keeping with imperialistic ideology the Spaniards used and abused the native Arawaks to the point of near extinction Its location and lush soil made Haiti a treasure constantly sought after by Britain France and Spain Finally by the middle of the 17th century the island became a French colony Under French rule Haiti flourished Haitian products were in great demand in the European market and the tiny island became invaluable as a resource for cocoa cotton sugar cane and coffee Unfortunately the great demands for these products also created a demand for inexpensive labor The French as the Spanish before them looked to Africa as a solution to the labor problem They imported slaves from the west coast of Africa By
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