Skip to comments.Earthquakes and other Human Disasters
Posted on 01/19/2010 11:17:18 AM PST by Congressman Billybob
I have been to Haiti, once. It was in 1972. I remember it vividly. The sad thing is that Haiti has not changed materially since then. As a result of that continuing history of human failure, people are dying in the tens of thousands from easily avoidable consequences of the earthquake that centered on Port au Prince last week.
Haitis successful revolution to gain its freedom from being a colony of France, was only a few years after our own Revolution against England. But since then, Haiti has had a constant series of governments composed of thieves, torturers, murderers.
When I was in Port au Prince in 1972, I took a taxi to go to the Iron Market in the center of that city. As we drove into the market, I noticed that there was one, new brick building on the outskirts of the Market. In my college French, I asked the driver what that building was. He replied that it was an agricultural warehouse. But as we passed the building, the door opened and a man came out. On the wall behind him I saw a long rack filled with dozens of machine guns.
I knew right away that the brick building was the headquarters of the Ton-Ton Macoute. They were the murderous thugs who kept Papa Doc Duvalier in power, and later his son, Baby Doc. Whether the current thugs are as well organized, or bear the same name, I do not know. I do know that Haiti still does not have a competent government, and thugs are still loose in the streets.
People are dying, as you read this. They are dying because there were no bulldozers to clear the streets and get the aid that was stacking up at the airport moved just a few miles to people who are dying in the streets. People are dying of broken legs and other dealable injuries because theres no medicine for routine infections.
There is no Haitian government to authorize the bulldozers to clear the streets. The Obama Administration has kept the control in the hands of a UN authority, rather than the American military. Remember the tsunamis in Indonesia a few years ago? The American military had boots and equipment on the ground saving lives, while the UN authority was still conducting meetings.
Political correctness will be the cause of up to half of all the deaths in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010.
Can ordinary people in a small town in the US provide effective help to the people of Haiti? Yes. My church, the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in our tiny town of Highlands, NC, adopted the Church, and hospital, and school at Tierra Muscody, Haiti, years ago. That compound is about five hours from Port au Prince.
All the buildings at Tierra Moscody are still standing. The hospital is filled to overflowing with wounded people who have walked or been carried in. It is surrounded by thousands of people seeking treatment. The Church has become a hospital. The school has become a hospital. One of the doctors in our congregation has managed to get there to help to the doctors already there. One member of our congregation offered $5,000 to help and asked that it be matched. It was, in two days.
Our priest and several of our leading parishioners have been their repeatedly. And Haitians have repeatedly come to visit with us. We are certain that every penny of our assistance is going directly to men, women and children who most need it.
No one will die in Tierra Muscody, Haiti, because basic care and normal medicines are unavailable. Though in other parts of Haiti, tens of thousands will die, or have died, not because of the earthquake, but because of human failures after the earthquake.
And some of those failures are at the doorstep of the UN, the Obama Administration, and assorted diplomats from various nations who are more concerned with seeming to help, than simple actions that actually do help.
If those human failures cannot be prevented here and now, they will not be prevented next time. And in Haiti, or in other nations with failed governments and mired in poverty, there will be a next time, and a next time, and a time after that. The US always lead such efforts at disaster relief, anywhere and due to any cause. How many thousands of preventable deaths must occur until we learn how best to lead and control such efforts?
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About the Author: John Armor practiced law in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. His latest book, on Thomas Paine, will be published this year. www.TheseAreTheTimes.us Reach him here: John_Armor@aya.yale.edu
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John / Billybob
After the Cuban Missile crisis was resolved in 1962 my ship (USS Renville apa 227) put into Port Au Prince for a short R&R. After walking the streets avoiding open sewage I found myself at the Presidential Palace where Poppa Doc Duvalier resided. It looked like the only habitable bldg there. I took some pictures before a Haitian soldier leveled his rifle at me.
Those "revolutionaries" and the thieves, torturers, and murderers were one in the same. Much like our early presidents, first 10 rulers of Haiti were all direct participants in the revolution. The difference is that each and every one of them (including those who are celebrated as "founding fathers" and heroes of Haiti today) turned out to be a corrupt power-hungry despot.
1. Toussaint L'ouverture - the "father of Haitian independence" - became Governor of Haiti in 1797 after conquering the colony as leader of the slave revolt (the French essentially capitulated to him and named him governor after he aligned with the Jacobins). One of his first acts after consolidating power was to pass a new Constitution that gave himself autocratic powers and named him "Governor for Life."
2. Jean-Jacques Dessalines - first president of Haiti after independence in 1804 and L'ouverture's main general in the revolution. Regarded as a hero of Haiti. Declared himself "Governor-General for Life" after independence. Upgraded that to "Emperor for Life" a few months later. Ruled as an autocratic despot until he was assassinated in a coup in 1806.
3. Henri Christophe - second president of Haiti (northern provinces), another of L'ouverture's generals, and Haitian revolutionary "hero." Declared himself "President and Generalissimo of the armies of land and sea of the State of Haiti" upon taking control of the northern provinces in a struggle following the assassination of Dessalines. Upgraded that title to "Henry, by the grace of God and constitutional law of the state, King of Haiti, Sovereign of Tortuga, Gonâve, and other adjacent islands, Destroyer of tyranny, Regenerator and Benefactor of the Haitian nation, Creator of her moral, political, and martial institutions, First crowned monarch of the New World, Defender of the faith, Founder of the Royal Military Order of Saint Henry" in 1811. Ruled as an autocratic despot until 1820 when he committed suicide to avoid being killed by the mob during a coup.
4. Alexandre Pétion - second president of Haiti (southern provinces) - another of L'Ouverture's generals and Haitian "hero." Seized control of the southern provinces in 1808 during a power struggle with Christophe after the assassination of Dessalines. Initially established a democratic government, but became increasingly autocratic. Declared himself "President for Life" in 1816 and ruled as a dictator till his death in 1818 from yellow fever.
5. Jean Pierre Boyer - third president of Haiti (united again) - Former lieutenant of L'ouverture, general under Dessalines, and designated heir of Petion. Reunited the northern and southern portions of Haiti in 1821. Ruled as an autocrat for the next two decades. He invaded the Spanish half of Hispanolia. His repressive rule there sparked the rebellion that formed the Dominican Republic in 1844. He was overthrown in a coup in 1843 with the war still raging.
6. Charles Rivière-Hérard - fourth president of Haiti and former officer under Petion during the revolution and subsequent power struggles. Leader of the coup against Boyer. The Dominican Republic won its independence under him in 1844. He invaded and tried to reconquer it, but was soundly defeated and retreated back to Port Au Prince. Unpopular because of the military losses, he suspended parliament and dissolved the constitution. Ousted in a coup less than a year into his term.
7. Philippe Guerrier - fifth president of Haiti, former officer under L'ouverature, and former "Duke" under Henri-Christophe. Elderly and placeholder president following the coup against Herard. Died in office a few months later.
8. Jean-Louis Pierrot - sixth president of Haiti, former former officer under L'ouverature, and former "Prince" under Henri-Christophe. Attempted constitutional reforms but was overthrown in a coup after less than a year in power.
9. Jean-Baptiste Riché - seventh president of Haiti, former soldier under L'ouverature and general under Henri Christophe and Boyer. Attempted to restore the original 1816 Haitian constitution, but met political resistance and died in office a few months into his term.
10. Faustin-Élie Soulouque - eighth president of Haiti, fought as a private in the Haitian revolution and military officer under Petion. Elected president in 1847 after Riche's death. Consolidated power over the parliament and had himself declared Emperor Faustin I of Haiti in 1849. Ruled as an autocrat and installed his cronies with hundreds of titles of nobility. Forced to abdicate during a rebellion in 1859.
So there you have it:
- 10 out of the first 10 Haitian rulers had direct connections to the revolution
10 out of 10 were military officials of some sort
6 out of 10 made themselves some sort of "ruler for life"
7 out of 10 ruled as dictatorial autocrats who suspended their constitutions
3 out of 10 declared themselves a king or emperor of some sort and issued titles of nobility.
7 out of 10 were ousted in a coup or revolution.