Archive for January, 2010

Haiti: How missed chances for science and honest government have harmed the innocent

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

The disastrous earthquake in Haiti was predicted to the very level of actual intensity in 2008 by scientists–*

Haiti’s government did meet with the scientists, but did not have the resources to respond in time. Previous decades of kleptocratic government had seriously weakened Haiti. The Haitian infrastructure was further eroded by political misadventure and the looting of Haiti’s telecom sector, one of Haiti’s few sources of cash, by politically-connected US citizens and others tied to the former dictator Aristide–

leading to 2009 indictments in the US Justice system–

Haiti is now a tragedy many times over. The innocent have suffered massively and unnecessarily. The priority now must be on humanitarian aid.

But the establishment of justice and effective government for Haiti and the region must immediately follow.

The lack of a process to connect the scientists’ specific earthquake warning with public safety, planning, and travel advisories is a fundamental failure of regional cooperation among all neighboring governments involved. Haiti had the knowledge but did not have the resources to effectively prepare for the quake. We must establish an effective process to better incorporate such specific scientific warnings into intergovernmental practice and find a way to fund disaster preparation on an international basis. Poor countries should not stand alone against predictable natural disaster.

The shameful looting of Haiti’s economy by the politically-connected over the past decades has sapped the ability of Haiti’s government to function effectively to maintain public safety. Such insider political opportunism, so common in some states within the US, translates into political exploitation when practiced on an impoverished country such as Haiti. A weakened Haiti was not capable of effectively preparing for a known impending disaster. All those who economically weakened Haiti share in this crime. By this disaster, their iniquity has grown to infinity.

*The complete reference for the scientific article: Interseismic Plate coupling and strain partitioning in the Northeastern Caribbean, D. M. Manaker, E. Calais, A. M. Freed, S. T. Ali, P. Przybylski, G. Mattioli, P. Jansma, C. Prépetit, J. B. de Chabalier, Geophysical Journal International, Volume 174, Issue 3, Pages 889 – 903.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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