Globe, Latin America

The challenges of Haiti and the Great Depression

The tumultuous political history of Haiti and its struggles after the earthquake of 2010, and the cinema during the Great Depression of the USA, are at the centre of April’s cultural agenda at the UCL-Institute of the Americas in London.


Los desafíos de (unicef)02The economic crisis which the Eurozone is currently facing, is for many experts, a reflection of the so-called economic Great Depression that hit the finances of the USA in the 1930s.

There are many people who try to explain what happened at that time, but it is in film that the answers lie. Cinema brought the stock market crash and its impact on modern American society to the big screen.

Film directors saw the perfect script in such a situation. Thus, the Seventh Art depicted the drama of many families who lived through the disappearance of the “American Dream”, the expansion of poverty, and the rates of employment reaching figures never before seen, of 25%.

Photo by Unicef

With the aim of retelling such events through video footage, the UCL-Institute of the Americas has organised a conference for the 22nd of April in the British Library.

Through the voice and studies of professor Iwan Morgan, those gathered will be able to find out more about how the crisis seriously affected American society. Among the works shown will be the feature film starring Charlie Chaplin, “Modern Times” and a film directed by John Wayne, “The Young Lincoln”.

Haiti, its political history

The academic institution’s cultural agenda programme also includes the presentation, on the 25th of April, of the book “Politics and Power in Haiti”, edited by the director of UCL-IA  Dr. Kate Quinn and Professor Paul Sutton.

Los desafíos de 06The document takes a journey through Haiti’s political history from it’s founding as a nation, to social inequalities, international intervention, and the legacy left by the death of the dictator François Duvalier.

Duvalier was a doctor who would come to constitutional power and who led the country from 1964 until his death in 1971. The president played a central role in various conflicts, including the tension with the neighbouring Dominican Republic, after a failed attack against its leader.

Among the issues raised by the work of the members of the UCL-Institute of the Americas, there is also a space for that related to economic evolution and the persistent underdevelopment, caused by the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010 and that caused the deaths of 300, 000 people.

The work aims to offer an analysis and a debate concerning the political future that Haiti faces in the coming years and where it will have to face a reality; that like the 2.5 million displaced people who live in the area, homeless and in many cases without access to basic services, ever since the tragedy that three years ago destroyed the landscape of the island.

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(Translated by Eleanor Gooch – Email:

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