Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Once again, aside from constant political turmoils that have been negatively impacted the country since the end of the Duvalier's dictatorial regime over 30 years ago, Haïti is reliving another one of her recurring nightmares that is natural disasters. On January 12, 2010 a major earthquake has devastated the county's capital and according to official reports, more than 300, 000 lives were lost. About 11 years later, on August 14, 2021 the earth has shaken once more and the 7.2 magnitude quake has taken thousands of lives in the southern part of the island. The devastation is unbearable for the already suffering people. This tragedy seems insurmountable for a country that is under an unprecedented gang violence and insecurity that is taking lives of its citizens every single day. Not too long ago, on July 7, 2021 the Haitian president, Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his private home and his surviving wife, Martine Moise was hit by several projectiles. The country was still being recovered from such a shocking event while the partisans of the slain president were still mourning his death when this deadly earthquake struck.
On behalf of the Haitian American Leadership Initiative, I send my condolences to the brave people of Haiti. My heart and prayers go to the victims of this recent earthquake.
Broken by both man-made and natural disasters, yet, the Haitian people resist. The “souffrance” of Haïti is a testimony of a people that want to live like human beings, but have denied this “ luxury” from birth. Nonetheless, against all odds, they resist.
Today, the Haitian people is facing a heartbreaking reality that was announced by scientists. Thus, a better preparation could have reduced the lost of lives. Sadly, the majority of our population doesn’t seem to learn from the past while the Haitian governments have not been up to task when it comes to protecting their people.
While we are mourning our deaths, we want to take this opportunity to demand the authorities to do their job by establishing and reinforcing building codes throughout the country. It is hard to believe that such a public policy has never been created let alone implemented in a country that is prone to natural disasters. After the January 10, 2010 earthquake, we were under the impression the Haitian people, through the leadership of their established government, would rebuild better by taking preventive measures to save lives.
Scientists forecasted the possibility of a major earthquake that could destroy Cap Haitian, the second city of the country. Sadly, no serious preparation has been noticed in the event of such a major catastrophe. Isn't it time for mayors around the country to be trained on disasters preparedness and urbanization? The Haitian government should be held responsible should nothing is done to reduce lost of lives in the event of another earthquake or other natural disasters.
This unfortunate event has prompted several other pertinent questions such as: Would the population be ready to follow the laws that prevent them from building in high risk areas? Would the media help by broadcasting messages pertaining to “savage constructions,” environmental risks, and disaster readiness? Would the Haitian government coordinate humanitarian relief aides better this time? Would nongovernmental organizations do not pocket the money they raise on behalf of the poor victims and deliver on their promises? Would the international community and the so called “friends of Haiti” actually help in strengthening the public institutions rather than providing hand outs this time? Would the Haitian diaspora finally organize itself and act in unity instead of small groups that are acting in a vacuum? So many questions that the light of tomorrow will inevitably bear the answers.
In the meantime, we must continue to take our responsibilities to help and contribute the best we can, as concerned citizens and leaders.
Georges Bossous, Jr.
Haitian American Leadership Initiative