Still strong one year later
Port-au-Prince, Haiti— Year 2010 was arguably the longest of Haiti’s 206-year history, reflect some historians on the plurality of unprecedented events taken place in the country starting on January 12. Some recalled with upmost clarity and disbelief as global television screens bled horrific images of apocalyptic episodes seared into memory months after months. If the magnitude 7.0 earthquakes did not steal someone’s mom, dad, uncle, limbs, friends or neighbors— at the very least, it stole barrels of tears. As the first anniversary sneaks up on surviving Haitians, buckets more will flood the overwhelming emotions they will feel on that day.
While no stranger to chaos of catastrophic proportions, nothing could prepare Haitians for such a tumultuous year. Historically, Haitians have survived their colonial overlords, imperial invaders and occupiers, several violent revolutions, authoritarian dictators, political mediocrity and international dismissal; nevertheless, the succession of ill-fated events of 2010 was inconceivable even by wildest Hollywood accounts.
With an estimated population of 9.8 million people, 3 million of whom lived in the epicenter of the earthquake, the loss of life was colossal. Novices to earthquakes, Haitians—young or old-- had nowhere to run, no one to turn to, no emergency response system in place or any infrastructure to provide shelter as more than 230,000 lives succumbed to 20 million cubic meters of cement blocks.
Consequently, the immediacy with which the world responded to the devastation captured hearts and mind of Haitians everywhere. Global pledges did not lack empathy, monies, non-governmental organizations (NGO), UN peacekeepers, philanthropists, and regular humanitarians to help the victims, nor did they lack unscrupulous child traffickers and other type of criminals seeking to prey on the vulnerable. Worldwide media migrated to Haiti and, according to their coverage, were in culture shock seeing inhumane condition humans lived in.
News organizations told tales of a prehistoric people living on less than two dollars a day, led by a government deeply rooted in corruption. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, they emphasized, lacked fundamental necessities, infrastructure, and leadership and would be lost absent a strong international humanitarian presence. It was the story of a population, nearly 50 percent of which was illiterate, caught in the pre-industrial era, and then there were survivor stories, amazing rescue images.
For Haitians however, confusion, gargantuan losses and chaos highlighted their side of the story. It was about finding moms, teachers, husbands, sons and daughters muted by the debris or among burning corpses on the roadsides. Their story featured another routine foreign invasion with more than 12,000 uncontrollable NGOs carrying a $1-billion purse donated on behalf of the affected and 24,000 foreign troops sometimes bearing contemptuous residual sentiments from a lengthy history of crippling international policies. It was a race against time and the gripping suspense of unpredictability.
The Haitian saga evolved in sporadic leaps and bounces over the last 12 months with hundreds of aftershocks, ineffective governance, temporary shelters turned into permanent housing, rapes, floods and Tropical Storm Thomas. Furthermore, imported cholera snatched more than 3,500 additional lives, including 45 voodoo lynching prompted by ignorance and fear. Post-election violence soon stole the headlines prompting Edmund Mulet, UN’s top man in Haiti, to threaten to disown them unless government officials changed existing discourse.
Please read part 2 below:
via Rapadoo Observateur www.rapadoo.com
- Voodoo Killings Reportedly Rise in Haiti (time.com)
- W5: Haiti a year after the quake (ctv.ca)
- Cholera could hurt Haiti’s rice crop (cnn.com)
- Why desperate Haitians want to kick out UN troops | Isabeau Doucet (guardian.co.uk)
- Help For Haiti Slow, Frustrating (npr.org)
- MIT Launches Phone-Enabled Work Site for Haiti (readwriteweb.com)
- OAS Removes its Special Representative in Haiti for Telling It Like It Is About UN Peacekeeping Mission (hcvanalysis.wordpress.com)