Tag: Earthquake

Haiti: US Kakistocracy In The Caribbean

Please donate to Haiti Relief through Doctors Without Borders

This essay was first printed in The Dream Antilles on March 23, 2008.  I’m republishing it here, because it might help in putting the horrific events in Haiti in perspective.

This morning’s NY Times has an extremely strange story about Haiti.  The premise is that things are now so bad in Haiti, that some Haitians wish they still had Papa Doc or Baby Doc Duvalier back as their military despot:

But Victor Planess, who works at the National Cemetery here, has a soft spot for Mr. Duvalier, the man known as Papa Doc. Standing graveside the other day, Mr. Planess reminisced about what he considered the good old days of Mr. Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, who together ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1986.

“I’d rather have Papa Doc here than all those guys,” Mr. Planess said, gesturing toward the presidential palace down the street. “I would have had a better life if they were still around.”

Mr. Planess, 53, who complains that hunger has become so much a part of his life that his stomach does not even growl anymore, is not alone in his nostalgia for Haiti’s dictatorial past. Other Haitians speak longingly of the security that existed then as well as the lack of garbage in the streets, the lower food prices and the scholarships for overseas study.

Haiti may have made significant strides since President René Préval, elected in 2006, became the latest leader to pass through the revolving door of Haitian politics. But the changes he has pushed have been incremental, not fast enough for many down-and-out Haitians.

The article is worth reading in its entirety, primarily because of its conceit that Haiti, seething on one end of the island of Hispaniola in the midst of the US sphere of influence in the Caribbean, has developed its present dystopia all by its lonesome self, without any assistance worth mentioning from its gigantic hemispheric neighbor, the United States.

4:53 Updated

UPDATE:  Change you can believe in from the Miami Herald:

The Obama administration is temporarily suspending deportations of undocumented Haitian nationals who are in the United States, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday at a news conference in Miami.

But there are no immediate indications from the Obama administration that it would grant Haitian nationals Temporary Protected Status in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake.

Better known by its acronym TPS, the immigration benefit is given to certain immigrants in the United States who cannot safely return to their countries because of armed conflicts, natural disasters or other emergencies. Those eligible for TPS are allowed to remain in the United States.

The approval of TPS has been long sought by Haitian activists and South Florida lawmakers.

On Wednesday, South Florida’s three Cuban-American Republican members of Congress — Reps. Lincoln and his brother Mario Diaz-Balart, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, sent a letter Wednesday to President Obama requesting immediate humanitarian aid for Haiti and TPS for Haitian nationals in the United States.

“How much does Haiti have to suffer before Haitians in the United States are granted TPS,” Lincoln Diaz-Balart told El Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview Wednesday. “The reason TPS exists… as an option for the President is precisely for moments such as this in Haiti.”

4:53 is the official time noted that the earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday. Right around the time that TheMomCat and I were casually commenting here. Weird.


It is still unclear how many have been killed in the earthquake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, but aid agencies fear thousands are dead.


My daughter and I said some special prayers last night as we snuggled in our warm bed. Empathy. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head of what it must be like for the people there. What a dreadful deep dark night they were facing. Even though there weren’t many photos out yet, I could only begin to imagine. Having been through Hurricane Ike here a couple of summers ago, I at least know the frustration and dismay that comes with no power, no communication, no relief. But we were fine. Can’t even begin to compare. We were able to camp out in (and outside) our old funky but sturdy home, get in our funky little  car and drive back and forth to The Pod for government issued emergency water and supplies, and listen to our Emergency Weather Radio. A walk in the park for us. I cannot comprehend this…

Bodies on the streets

Aftershocks rattled the city of 2 million people as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares singing hymns.

People pulled bodies from collapsed homes, covering them with sheets by the side of the road. Passersby lifted the sheets to see if a loved one was underneath. Outside a crumbled building the bodies of five children and three adults lay in a pile.


Haitian President René Préval told the Miami Herald that he had been stepping over dead bodies and hearing the cries of those trapped under the rubble of the national Parliament building, describing the scene as “unimaginable.”

“Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,” he said.

Préval issued an urgent appeal for aid.

Tens of thousands of people appear to have lost their homes and many perished in collapsed buildings that were flimsy and dangerous even under normal conditions.

“The hospitals cannot handle all these victims,” Dr. Louis-Gerard Gilles, a former senator, said as he helped survivors. “Haiti needs to pray. We all need to pray together.”

msnbc source with pics and vids


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