Unless you’ve been abstaining from Internet, TV and newspapers or living in the remote wilds, you’ll have realized that Haiti’s terrible earthquake tragedy has become the biggest news everywhere. The quake devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, with the final toll and extent of destruction still to be really understood ( figures from 100,000 up to a mindboggling 500,000 have been given for the potential death toll). The U.S. is rushing over 5,000 troops (Marines are soldiers too) into the nation to help, a sign of how serious the need for relief.
What makes this so urgent for foreign nations to help is that Haiti, which has the dubious distinction of being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and with its ongoing political problems, will not be able to handle its relief and recovery efforts. It’s heartening to see the response from world leaders like Barack Obama and even Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou. Interestingly enough, Haiti is actually a diplomatic ally of the Republic of China, which I never realized as I never read any news mentioning this fact until Wednesday.
But if Haiti is to really be helped and recover, the “international community” needs to provide more than just disaster aid, but to help the nation overcome its political and poverty issues, which the same international community has had more than just a small role in causing, as this Guardian commentary explains nicely. Not to take anything away from Haiti’s immediate needs, but this quake is just part of an ongoing and largely unnoticed history of tragedies that need to be realized by much of the public.