On Tuesday January 12th, 2010, at 4:53 PM local time, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck just 15 kilometres southwest outside of Port Au Prince, the Capital. This was the first major earthquake in over 200 years. There were many aftershocks, some almost as severe. The damage was immense, with 40,000 buried by Friday the 15th and an expected 100,000 more dead. Even more were injured. As the buildings were old, the country the poorest in the western hemisphere and as a result, the infrastructure was almost completely destroyed. What followed was truly amazing considering the fact that Haiti as a country was almost totally ignored as almost all the population is black and French speaking. The population as a whole has 85 % of the population living in desperate poverty. Before the quake, the poorest of the poor were living on a mix of dirt and vegetable oil in modified mud-pies. Disease is endemic. The whole of the country has been denuded of trees vegetation as wood is sought to make charcoal for export, leaving the countryside more like a desert than a lush jungle such as found on the border with the Dominican Republic to the east. Only Port Au Prince has any substantial vegetation left. Off to the west is Cuba and Jamaica.
Until now, Haiti as a country did not get much in the way of support. It lacks natural resources like oil, rare metals, precious stones and is not strategically placed like Cuba. In fact, for such an earthquake, the rest of the world didn't get much news until the day after. As hours turned into days, the extent of the devastation became more apparent. It is expected to get far worse than the figures given for Friday the 15th.
Quick on the heals of the disaster came a flood of charities requesting donations from people taxed out with doubler digit unemployment, inflation, a newly declared world war, high taxation and a tsunami of other world problems. The US was quick to send in troops. Many rich nations started to make pledges ans some donations started to trickle in. However, due to a destroyed infrastructure, the supplies remained trapped at the only small airstrip still intact enough to land planes. Suggestions to air drop the supplies met with the response that it would cause food riots. No one mentioned that helicopters like the Russian Sikorsky helicopter could be used to airlift tons of water and food to every section of Haiti immediately. Furthermore as a VTOL aircraft, it can land and take off virtually anywhere, delivering fresh water and food and picking up the wounded to take them to hospital ships off the coast. So, why is this not being done? What will be the consequences?
If we take an honest look at New Orleans after Katrina in 2005 and the Malaysian tsunami of Dec. 26Th 2004, we find a common denominator. That similarity is the reconstruction of the regions as a rich peoples' playground while the poor are pushed out during the reconstruction of the infrastructure. Both New Orleans and Malaysia have now been rebuilt as playgrounds for tourists and the rich. The former poor inhabitants of New Orleans have not been allowed to return. The people who used to fish along the sea shores of the formerly devastated coast of Malaysia, have been displaced by five star hotels and resorts. The now homeless poor fishers have been forced to move on and stay away. So what has this to do with Haiti, now in ruins?
For disaster capitalists, this is a golden opportunity to rebuild a tropical paradise to replace the one lost during the Cuban revolution. The old destroyed infrastructure and buildings can be ploughed aside and new resorts and five star hotels can be built complete with casinos. But in order to do this, a weakened population has to be “softened up” and removed. Nature will take its coarse with diseases like cholera, dysentery and the like. These diseases emerge shortly after some great disaster like the Malaysian tsunami event. First the disaster destroys the infrastructure, fresh water and food. Then starvation and dehydration lead to disease that emerge from the accumulating filth of massive amounts of dead bodies and sewage that is not drained away. This will “clear the land” so that new entrepreneurs can take over and redevelop Haiti.
Meanwhile, at home, the forces that are engineering this new opportunity are wringing their hands in a very public forum to look compassionate and caring while very necessary supplies like water, food and medicine sit wasting away on the airport tarmac. All of a sudden, the efficiencies we come to expect of modern disaster relief get all fouled up in logistical tangles. Nothing gets accomplished though an apparently valiant struggle is put up for the media.
When the dust finally settle on this years from now, we will learn that some 500,000 to a million people died from the earthquake and its aftermath. This need not occur. What needs to be done is to take away disaster management from the hands of profiteers and turn it over to the people. This can only occur if the people rise up in revolution and throw the exploiters of human misery off their collective backs all around the world. Forward to Haiti in another western hemisphere revolution and workers revolution around the world!