Jul 19, 2010
In Haiti, six months after the January 12 earthquake which caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and left 1.5 million people homeless, Haitian President René Préval organized a memorial ceremony. The invited star was former U.S. President Bill Clinton
The opulent party for some 200 handpicked people that followed in the gardens of the presidential palace – well protected by overwhelming military force – was all the more indecent, since only a few dozen yards away, thousands of earthquake victims continue to live on a public square in the hell of temporary shelter, exposed to rain, the lack of drinkable water and the absence of toilets and sewers.
For the population, little has changed since the January 12 tragedy. People continue to live in the midst of rubble. The country has no means to remove the rubble, since the thousands of earth moving machines and trucks the government promised have yet to arrive.
International aid organizations have built some infrastructure and carried out some actions, but the gap between what they can do and the vital needs of the disaster victims remains huge. For the vast majority of the homeless, nothing has changed. Some have been moved to camps set up far from the capital, but they remain isolated from areas where jobs might enable them to find work to survive.
Impoverished by decades of colonial and then imperialist exploitation, Haiti lacks the funds to start the reconstruction of homes and infrastructure, like schools, roads and necessary sanitation. After the emotion of the first weeks and the beautiful speeches about solidarity with the Haitian people, the pseudo-generosity of the rich countries disappeared. Despite promises of up to 10 billion dollars over three years, only 150 million dollars have been made available – by Brazil and Venezuela. The U.S., France and Canada, competing for spheres of influence in Haiti, are waiting to release funds until they get guarantees that their corporations will control the market for reconstruction.
None of the wealthy countries – which waste hundreds of billions of dollars in wars each year – provide even a part of the aid they are able to give.
Garden parties for the wealthy go on while the poor die.