Haiti, Six Months After the Earthquake

by Amy Goodman
First Published: Jul. 14, 2010 – TruthDig

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – July 12 marked the six-month anniversary of the devastating earthquake here in Haiti that killed as many as 300,000 people and left much of the country in ruins. Up to 1.8 million people are living in squalid tent cities, with inadequate sanitation, if any, no electricity and little security, or any respite from the intense heat and the worsening rains. Rape, hunger and despair are constant threats to the people stranded in the camps. Six months ago, the world seemed united with commitments to help Haiti recover. Now, half a year later, the rubble remains in place, and misery blankets the camps, layered with heat, drenched by rain.

After landing in Haiti, we traveled to one of the more than 1,350 refugee camps, Camp Corail. It is right near Titanyen, which was used as a dumping ground for bodies during the first coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and which, after the earthquake, was used for makeshift mass graves.

Corail is on a flat expanse of white gravel, with orderly rows of tents. During the day, the camp becomes searingly hot, with no trees for protection.

Corail resident Romain Arius told me: “In the situation we’re living here in the tents, we can’t continue like that anymore. We would ask them as soon as possible to give us the real houses that they said they were going to give us so that our situation could improve.”

Soon after we left, we heard that a storm collapsed at least 94 tents and sent hundreds of residents fleeing to find shelter.

Haitians are angry, questioning where the billions of dollars donated in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake have gone. The Disaster Accountability Project found that of the 197 organizations that solicited money following the earthquake, only six had publicly available reports detailing their activities.

From the “international donor community,” the wealthier nations, more than $9 billion was pledged, but to date, only Brazil, Norway and Australia have paid in full. Most of the U.S. pledge of $1.15 billion is now being held up in Congress.

Patrick Elie, a longtime Haitian democracy activist and Haiti’s former secretary of state for public security, spoke with me, about land ownership and the earthquake’s enormous toll:

“Land tenure in Haiti is in total chaos. This is also the result of the behavior of the Haitian elites over centuries. They appropriated land, especially after independence and the end of slavery, which would have been common property. And now, there is a lot of discussion about who owns what piece of land.”

Elie said that in this time of emergency that gives the government the power of eminent domain, the key question is whose land will be seized-communal land that peasants have used for centuries, or the vast tracts of land owned by the elites.

I also spoke with Sean Penn. The two-time Oscar-winning actor came to Haiti after the earthquake. Having just been through a medical crisis with his own teenage son, who underwent major surgery, he was horrified at the stories he was hearing about the amputations being performed in Haiti without anesthesia. Penn founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (jphro.org) and has been in Haiti for five of the past six months, managing a refugee camp at the Petionville Club golf course with 55,000 Haitians displaced by the earthquake. Sitting in a large tent, Penn was frustrated. Comparing the U.S. resources being spent in Afghanistan (which he called “a ludicrous exercise”) with the U.S. spending in Haiti, he said, “You have a war here, you’ve got a surge coming with storms, but no face to hate, no country to rail at, no natural resources, and the faces here are black.”

Penn says J/P HRO will be in Haiti for the long haul: “We plan to adapt, to adjust. I think our next major new push for us will be rubble removal and working with partners to get people returned into neighborhoods and to again work with partners. Take camp management into community management and advocacy.”

Patrick Elie advocates for popular Haitian leadership in the reconstruction: “We are a people who can fend for ourselves. We have a vision of where we want to go. So we do need friends, but we don’t need people to think for us, or to pity us.”

According to The Washington Post, only 2 percent of promised reconstruction aid has been delivered. The hurricane season is upon Haiti, and millions there are counting on all of us making good on our pledges.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2010 Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 800 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Source: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/14

 

Related:

The Fateful Geological Prize Called Haiti

Profiting From Haiti’s Crisis

Oil in Haiti – Economic Reasons for the UN/US Occupation

Bush, Clinton and the crimes of US imperialism in Haiti

US Mercenaries Set Sights on Haiti

War Criminals Peddle “Humanitarian” Aid for Haiti

US Policy: More War, Less Relief

As US prepares long-term occupation, Haiti’s quake victims still without aid

The kidnapping of Haiti

U.S. Takeover of Haiti


5 Comments on “Haiti, Six Months After the Earthquake”

  1. Dwight Baker says:

    AMY,

    Some folks were born to get —-others seems were born to run off and others and me alike were born to serve.

    I have spent my entire life severing. Yes, I had fun raised three sons, had a few boats, motorcycles, go-carts and the rest but always my motivation was to serve.

    A very bright man once said Success is doing all you can with where you are, with what you have.

    Now, housing to me means safety from the elements. A place to cook, clean, store clothes, and get out of the many things in life that rage.

    Thus, when I first saw the devastation in Haiti and where the poor people that migrated out of the mountains to live near the water I suppose for work. I saw in my mind Large over the seas shipping containers being the near term fix for those in Haiti.

    Yet, when my suggestions for doing just that got sent all over my universe NOT ONE GOOD THING HAPPENED ALONG THE WAY, even the suppliers of used
    Containers would not return my request for price. SO GO FIGURE.

    Now, I still contend that is the very best way to get the folks out of the bottom and work them up toward the top. The large lake in the mountains has plenty of water and power too. Yet in the TV NEWS COVERAGE that was seldom mentioned as if those folks only cure was a slow death.

    Now, I never quit I keep trying to do all I can. That is the key to severing. And in doing I know for sure I am but one speck of sand on the Beach of Gods time that cares, and dares to right all the wrongs that is seen and felt daily.

  2. Annie Ladysmith says:

    Amy (and Dwight) cry me a frickin’ river!

    #1) America is broke! Do you not get this???????
    America has NO wealth not even for it’s own poor (and plenty of those).

    #2) There is a much bigger humanitarian disaster unfolding in the gulf states which will usher in Martial Law to that area and the start of the gulags. Many of those faces are also black, if you want to get racists about it, and you have. Are you a racist???

    #3) Sean Frickin’ Penn, are you serious??? You are nuts. I suggest you go help that asshole Penn in his tent village if you really want to do something. Go help him moan and groan about what fuckin’ losers Americans are and have a smoke with him, I’m sure that will make you feel like you’re doing something worthy. As far as I’m concerned Penn can take some of his Follywood trash money and spend it on the suffering in Haiti, and then shut his big fat trap. The rest of the wealth he has got for doing absolutely nothing he can shove up his ass.

    #4) Democracy is what we have in America right now and it is indistinguishable from social/totalitarianism. This kind of stupidity is rampant and it will bring what’s left of the US to dust.

    #5) Potus little god Obama (whom I’m sure you still support) SUCKS! He is a huge part of the problem and I’ll let you in on a secret, he doesn’t give a crap about the people in Haiti or in the Gulf. So go tell him about it!

  3. Dwight Baker says:

    Lady,

    Please write as your names implies.

    No need to take your fury out on us.

    Dwight

  4. […] Haiti, Six Months After the Earthquake […]

  5. […] Haiti, Six Months After the Earthquake […]


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