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Post-Quake Haiti: One Year Later

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Post-Quake Haiti: One Year Later - by Stephen Lendman

On January 12, 2010 at 21:53 GMT, 4:53PM in Haiti, the earth massively shook. For affected Haitians, it never stopped. The combination of initial shock, devastating destruction, vast loss of life, injuries, suffering, and human misery disrupted millions of Haitians already overwhelmed by crushing hardships. 

A year ago, people wandered the streets dazed, searching for loved ones. Lost power cut communications except by satellite phone. Haiti's quake vulnerability was well known but little reported, and no advance precautions were taken. 

The inevitable finally happened, harming the majority poor population most. Earlier storms wiped out public housing and erased communities, letting developers build upscale condos and other high-profit projects on choice Port-au-Prince land. After the quake, the Red Cross estimated at least three million Haitians needed emergency aid - everything, including food, clean water, makeshift shelters, blankets, other provisions, medical care, sanitation, and funds for relief, rubble clearance, and rebuilding as soon as possible.

A year later, 95% of the rubble remains. Up to 1.5 million Haitians remain homeless. Most promised aid never came. Haitians were left stranded in squalid tent camps on their own. Twelve months later, the crisis festers, a monstrous crime of indifference, neglect, exploitation, and persecution by imperial Washington and world capitalism, valuing Haiti and its people solely as commodities.

Observers like former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson expressed dismay, saying:

"The mountains of rubble still exist. The plight of the victims without any sign of acceptable temporary shelter is worsening the conditions for the spread of cholera, and the threat of new epidemics becomes more frightening with each passing day. In short, there has been no abatement of the trauma and misery which the Haitian populace has suffered."

According to Oxfam's Roland Van Hauwermeiren:

2010 was "year of indecision (that) put Haiti's recovery on hold. Nearly one million people are still living in tents or under tarpaulins and hundreds of thousands of others who are living in the city's ruins still do not know when they will be able to return home." They have none.

Bodies are still being recovered, yet President Preval declared search and rescue operations over 11 days after the quake, and did virtually nothing to find them or provide aid from the time disaster struck. Nor was he visible to show concern.

Washington deployed 22,000 soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen to obstruct, not deliver, incoming aid, control the airport, other strategic facilities, coastal areas to turn back fleeing Haitians, and secure the country for capital. Desperate Haitians were largely ignored. A year later, they still are.

World support yielded billions of dollars mainly from private donations. According to a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey, an estimated 38% reached Haitians, but the true figure is likely far less, most of it stolen by predatory NGOs or allocated for commercial development. A March 2010 donors conference secured over $5.3 billion pledged by governments. Pathetically little was delivered, least of all from Washington. 

The Obama administration promised $1.15 billion. It delivered nothing, its response as contemptuous as shown needy Americans, left mostly on their own during a devastating economic crisis with austerity, not aid, planned going forward.

Compounding unmet needs, Nepalese Blue Helmets introduced cholera in Haiti's main rice-growing area. Now raging, it caused thousands of deaths, hospitalizing many more, and leaving up to a million or more vulnerable to infection. Yet the disease is easily treated if done properly on time. Despite heroic efforts by hundreds of Cuban and other volunteer doctors and medical professionals, including Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), cholera remains out of control, the death toll rising daily.

Last October in frustration, a homeless mother lamented that "If it gets any worse, we're not going to survive." It did as cholera rages. Reconstruction is absent. Rubble is uncollected. Aid is absent, and Haiti's November 28 elections were engineered for more of the same, a sham awaiting an unscheduled runoff with two candidates most Haitians reject.

As a result, the combination of devastation, exposure, overwhelming need, disease, neglect, electoral theft, repression, exploitation, and rapists ravaging thousands of woman and young girls left millions of Haitians slowing expiring out of sight and mind to world audiences. It's especially true in America where television news lost interest shortly after the quake and never reported it accurately. Nor have print stories that occasionally continue.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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