Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The earthquake in Haiti

The earthquake in Haiti is thought to have killed thousands with thousands more left homeless. This in a country which is the least developed in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. An already destitute people are today even more miserable and the 'Guardian' reports: "Dead and injured lay in the streets even as strong aftershocks rippled through the impoverished country. Women covered in dust crawled from the rubble wailing as others wandered through the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares late into the night singing hymns. There are almost no emergency services to speak of and many gravely injured people were still sitting in the streets early this morning, pleading for doctors."

"The least developed " and  "one of the poorest" countries in the world and superlatives continue to pertain when we condemn a country that, according to a report by the BBC in 2006, topped the "world corruption table", a position that it, more or less continued to hold in 2009 when the freelance journalist Nancy Roc anlaysed this phenomenon and revealed a "lack of willingness by the Haitian political and economic elites to eradicate this scourge";  a scourge that effects all of Haitian society and has led to a complete lack of confidence in the law being properly applied. And why is that relevant to the earthquake?

Well, with the majority of  Port-au-Prince's three million inhabitants living in slums that are perched above the city and are made of tin, timber and cheap concrete,we might suspect that there are parallels with the earthquake in China in 2008 when some 9,000 of the 90,000 victims were school children who might not have died had their schools been built properly. Of course, the "might" is advisable here, academic caution is the order of the day, and we just don't know at the moment. Nevertheless, we can rest assured that it is those people, the poorest of the poor in one of the world's least developed and most corrupt countries, who will be suffering most and when the dust has settled and the dead buried the IMF can move in to sell off what is left of the country to to foreign investors at rock bottom prices.

No comments: