The real story of dislocation caused by deforestation and its ecological-economic holocaust is even more desperate: the majority of refugees from the farmlands simply flee to the overcrowded, water-short city slums of Haiti, where unemployment is high, reaching seventy percent in 1993 (Maternowska n.p.). In the city, disease kills up to one-third of all children before the age of five (Maternowska n.p.), while water-borne epidemics of malaria, typhoid, chronic diarrhea and intestinal infections plague the surviving population in regular, debilitating waves.
Although the past half-century has seen the most deforestation - and new studies show that the rate of forest destruction worldwide has accelerated 80% since 1980 (Linden, "Endangered Earth" 54) - Haiti suffers from two centuries of econo-environmental myopia. The island's economy has always been based on peasant agriculture. Founded by the French in 1697, up through the last century it was the richest sugar-producing colony in the Caribbean (Matthews n.p.). This was accomplished by slash-and-burn deforestation to build huge plantations tilled by imported African slaves. In the first of many ecological disasters created by this type of agricultural production, African slaves had to be imported because the majority of the indigenous Amerindian