Jacmel is a serene port town with an estimated population of 40,000 and growing. The city has not changed much since the late 19th century when the town was inhabited by wealthy coffee merchants, who lived in gracious mansions that adorned the town; the architecture of the city boasted cast iron pillars and balconies purchased in France. Today, many of these homes are now artisan shops that sell vibrant handicrafts, papier-mâché masks and carved-wood animal figures. In recent years, efforts have been made to revitalize the once flourishing cigar and coffee industries. The town is a popular tourist destination in Haiti due to its relative tranquility and distance from the political turmoil that plagues much of the country.
Haitian politics have been contentious, violent and corrupt.. France and the United States have repeatedly intervened in Haitian politics since the country’s founding, sometimes at the request of one party or another. People’s awareness of the threat of such intervention also permeates national life. It remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Much of the land has been deforested and fierce hurricanes regularly devastate what little there is of human resources.
Needless to say, the country is quite homophobic and AIDS is a serious health problem.Read the story about Gay Haiti.