A message to the struggling and disenfranchised Haitian,“You are not forgotten”.
Nearly two years has past since the world via the phenomenon of satellite imagery and cell phone video, watched in horror as the earth without warning, violently convulsed and (like the dry lips of a desert survivor) cracked open in Haiti.
Registered in strength / magnitude at 7.2, the monster earthquake that ruined Haiti on January 12, 2010, has been determined by both seismologist and soothsayer as being the strongest and the most deadliest earthquake to hit the Western Hemisphere in the past 200 years.
Officially killing slightly over 200,000 people (mostly Haitian), injuring over 300,000 and displacing over 1.6 million, the devastation that rocked Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince at 5:00 pm, has been compared by many followers of Christianity – in terms of annihilation of a people and the ruin of their land – as a disaster on the scale of “biblical proportion”.
Located just 10 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter, Port-au-Prince, a city already decimated by centuries of unimaginable poverty, bore the full wrath of mother natures’ shift in tectonic plates that separate the Caribbean Sea from North America.
Haitians, although generally poor in wealth, are nevertheless known and respected globally as being a vibrant people, a people who at the root of their existence, are descendants of resilient Nubians.
However as the clock struck 21:30:10 UTC, (Coordinated Universal Time) 4:30 pm EST, and the tectonic plates shifted, even the Nubian “spirits” of the Haitian people trembled nervously.
A Flashback in time to Port au Prince, Haiti January 12, 2010, 9:00 pm EST
The situation in Haiti is desperate and heartbreaking. Countless scores of survivors are wandering about in a daze while simultaneously crying; there is a constant calling out for the names of loved ones who have not been found; some are praying and calling out for help.
The threat of death from disease has become the newest enemy. People’s unattended injuries are rapidly becoming infected as they sit by the roadside, waiting for doctors who may or may not come to assist their hopelessness.
Search-and-rescue helicopters buzz over the bodies of partially clothed victims who lay face-down in mounds of rubble and twisted steel.
Throughout Port-au-Prince, there is panic and there is trauma. Non scripted choruses of pain and suffering emitted from the dieing and the traumatized momentarily turn the discombobulated into insane wanders.
There isn’t a reliable body count to proclaim a tally of the dead; however, officials fear that thousands, maybe tens of thousands, have died in the earthquake. Some Haitian leaders suggest that the figure could be higher than 200,000. The parking lot of Port-au-Prince’s Hotel Villa Creole is transformed into a triage center.
Under tents fashioned from bloody sheets, dozens lay moaning from the pain of cuts that are inflicted all over their body, their head bleeding, their bones broken and their ribs crushed, it is a scene straight from Hell.
”I can’t take it anymore. My back hurts too much,” said Alex Georges, 28, who had lain on the parking lot’s sloping blacktop for more than a day waiting for help. Just a few feet away lay the dead body of another man who appeared to be about his age.
When the quake struck just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Georges was in a meeting with about 30 other students at a school in the neighborhood of Morne Hercule. Sadly, he tells anyone that will listen that the roof of the school collapsed, instantly killing 11 of his classmates and critically injuring him and others.
Security and directing the masses of uprooted people is an immediate issue. Several thousand Haitian police and international peacekeepers poured into the streets Wednesday to clear debris, direct traffic and maintain security. However in reality, there was only so much they could do: desperate people now transformed into looters, prowled through shops, taking what they believed they needed to survive. Camouflaged by an aura of utter and total desperateness, they blend into crowds of desperate refugees lugging salvaged possessions.
To make matters worse, the main prison in the capital fell, and there were reports of escaped inmates, U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.
Haitians who can still walk are streaming out of the capital by the thousands, many of them balancing suitcases and other belongings on their heads as they head down one of the capital’s main streets. Police visibly shaken by continuous and violent aftershocks, shout orders to keep traffic moving at congested intersections as ambulances and United Nations trucks race toward downtown Port-au-Prince.
In Petionville, people are using construction equipment and their bare hands to excavate a collapsed commercial center, scampering across the rubble as they toss aside mattresses and office supplies. More than a dozen cars and a U.N. truck are buried underneath.
Up the hill, about 200 victims, including many small children, are huddled together in a theater parking lot using rigged tarps made from bed sheets to protect themselves from the scorching sun.
”The immediate need is to rescue people trapped in the rubble, then to get people food and water,” Sophie Perez, Haiti director of the U.S.-based humanitarian organization CARE, told her colleagues in an e-mail. ”Everything is urgent.”
One thing is certain; if the injured do not receive the emergency medical care that they are so desperately in need of, the death toll in Haiti will certainly rise. And rise it did. Unofficially 300,000 people died.
November 2011 in Port au Prince, Haitialmost 2 years later….
The elevated panoramic view of Port-au-Prince, Haiti is one of major contrasts. In the midst of a city that was built in the style of colonial French architecture, there lies around the corner of elitism and opulence, the ugly and ageless scares of utter poverty and hopelessness.
Even with the promises of new governmental changes, Port-au-Prince is still plagued by regular outbreaks of crime and demonstrations. The police force is almost non existent and the city is controlled by gangs. Although a U.N. advisory force has provided training and logistical assistance to Haitian police since 2004, their presence is not respected by criminals and lawlessness is rampant. Residents and visitors to Port-au-Prince are always under threat of murders, armed robberies, kidnapping and death threats.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid from around the world has poured into the country since the earthquake and the current Haitian president, Michel Martelly, who took office on May 14, 2011, like all of his presidential predecessors, seem unable to show any real progress in controlling his country’s crime or its poverty.
Where has all the money gone that was given in good faith by millions of people around the world in the name of humanity? And why are there still tens of thousands of hungry Haitians living in tent cities?
Incredibly, there are countless numbers of desperate people who are forced because of poverty and hunger pangs to buy and consume “dirt cookies”.
Mud Cookie economics in Haiti
In retrospect, should it really be such a shock that a human being that is forced because of relief-less poverty to consume biscuits made of clay, oil and salt for sustenance, ultimately evolve into becoming a hardened criminal? The “cat is already out of the bag”, successful criminals eat much better than those who choose not to violate criminal statutes.
And what about the future of Haiti? Are Black Haitians whose ancestors successfully rebelled against slavery / tyranny and whose acts of bravery defeated Napoleon’s forces in January 1804, thus, becoming the first post-colonial independent Black-led nation in the world, and the only nation whose independence was obtained by means of a successful slave rebellion,… to be infinitely trampled upon by current and future corrupt Haitian governments that treat the average poor Haitian with the same inhumanity and indifference of preceding Mulatto rulers?
In closing, the billion dollar questions that must be asked to the reader and to students / historians of Europe’s “New-World Colonialism” are as follows:
(1) “Are the governments of Europe and the United States because of the creation of a immoral caste system that favored mulatto offspring, still partially responsible for the corruption that currently exists in Haiti’s government?
And (2) from the first day of its proclaimed independence from France until arguably the last 20 years, is Western Europe and the United States guilty of turning a blind eye to developing / fostering meaningful trade, helping build modern infrastructure and promoting a modern / technical education for the average Haitian? Inquiring minds want to know. Sound off.
Until next time Louisianans, Good Day, God Bless and Good Fishing.