January 12th 2010, Haiti's Earthquake

On Tuesday, 12th of January 2010, at 16:53 local time, a catastrophic earthquake with a  magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Haiti, the epicenter was near the town of Leogane, approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country. The earthquake only lasted 10 to 11 seconds, but the damages it caused were unprecedented.

It is t
he worst earthquake that the world has witnessed in over 200 years, and remains the single most devastating event in terms of human life loss and infrastructures' destruction in the Western Hemisphere's history. More than 320.000 people horrifically lost their lives and equal number of  injured and over 1 million made homeless. Structures of all kind, from shantytowns homes to national landmarks were completely destroyed or severely damaged. The January 12th, 2010 Haiti's earthquake is the most destructive natural disaster in modern times. The price tag of the catastrophe reached U$13.2 billion. Prominent studies show that it will take 10 years for Haiti to recover from this affliction.

International Response

The very next day following the earthquake, the international community; from national governments, charitable and for profit organizations, mobilized to assess disaster relief efforts. The devastating earthquake became a shared experience from people all over the world.  Many celebrities f came together in their respective countries, to organize national fund raising events to provide monetary support for the non-profit groups working directly in Haiti. Many countries sent huge contingents of disaster relief,  medical staff, security personnel and; technical staff to manage the City's air and sea ports which were inoperable after suffering extensively significant damages. The governments of the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Israel, all sent well over 1.000 disaster relief personnel each. They also contributed filed hospitals, hospital ships, naval vessels, aircraft carriers, transport aircraft and emergencies facilities.

Aside from Haiti's close neighbors in the Americas, countries as far away and as poor as Haiti sent  either personnel or monetary help, and in some cases, both. American citizens alone have donated over U$1.4 billion to the swamp of NGOs' working in Haiti. 

Status of the recovery as of 2015

After the disaster, the international response was very impressive but, five years on from the earthquake, many good intentions imploded at the expense of the people they were meant to help. It is evident that the relief efforts and reconstruction has TOTALLY FAILED. Greedy and incompetent outsiders have worked over the years to contribute to the current almost hopeless situation. Many are asking what went wrong, well almost EVERYTHING went wrong.

The billions of dollars that poured into Haiti following the earthquake, have all been wasted, mismanaged and stolen, and there is no accountability whatsoever. Only a portion went to earthquake relief efforts and reconstruction. Donations made to international charities to help Haiti, got spent on the charities' normal expenses. Unscrupulous businesses, cut behind the scene deals to make sure pledged money was used to buy supplies and services from their own companies at considerable profits. Some countries even re-paid themselves debt that Haiti owed them, from the money that they have just donated. The people of Haiti are left wondering if their own government was stealing all the alleged money that was promised, even though the local government had been stripped of all control of said funds. In fact, less than 1% have went trhough the Haitian government. 

In the midst of sufferings and despite all that has been promised and the billions that have indeed been donated, almost nothing has been built back. As of January 2014, there is still an emergency going on in Haiti's capital; 100.000 people are still living under tents in the streets of Port-au-Prince. 

I don't think that I would ever be able to list the numerous cases of corruption and mismanagement by those "Working" in Haiti, but here are some of the most notorious ones. These examples are just a tiny representation of the immensity of the under-estimated catastrophic failure.

-The American Red Cross launched a wildly successful appeal immediately after the Earthquake, raising close to $500 million in 2010 alone. As of 2013 only U$ 200 million of the funds raised has been spent in reconstructions and relief efforts. Last year, the spokesperson for the American Red Cross Julie Sell,  admitted in a press conference: " The remaining millions are being kept in short-term, conservative government-backed investments. Any interest generated will be spent on Haiti"  Yes, you have heard right. 350.000 people are still living in tents in Haiti 3 years after the earthquake, while American Red Cross has nearly U$300 million left from the money received for Haiti through donations, sitting in a bank's coffer, generating interest!!! Last  year, Red Cross came under fire after a report came out about their intentions to spend $3 million in the construction of a luxurious hotel in Port-au-Prince, for their workers! An extensive investigative report was conducted published by NPR in collaboration with Probublica, showing how the Red Cross raised U$500 million following the earthquake and only built six homes in Haiti.

- World Vision raised U$194 million in the name of Haiti's earthquake. In an interview given to The Nation, a prominent US newspaper, World Vision's spokesperson Amy Parody, admitted that only $107 have been spent in Haiti. The rest are being kept in " Low-risk investments accounts"

-Instead of hiring Haitian firms which Haiti is not short of for the reconstruction of schools, and other important structures, agencies responsible for said projects hired companies from their respective countries without the consideration of capable locals. All the money went to pay the salaries of foreigners and to rent expensive apartments and cars for the foreigners while the situation of the country continues to degrade. Out of 1.500 contracts given out last year, only 20 were to Haitian companies.

-Doctors Without Borders spent 58% of the hundreds of millions it collected, on staff and transportation costs.

-Chemonics International was awarded U$150 million to rebuild the Haitian parliament, it built a U$ 1.9 million temporary home as the new parliament, presented it to Haiti as a gift and, well, the rest of the money is history.

-The Clinton-Bush fund was supposed to help small business owners by providing them loan with low interest, U$ 2 million of that money got invested on a brand new 5 star luxury hotel in the hills of Petion-Ville, Haiti's wealthiest suburbs.

-Wyclef Jean, Haiti's own son, raised  U$16 million in the name of the suffering Haitian people; U$9 million was used in relief assistance. The rest? Well, he is currently being investigated by US authorities for fraud.

-The United States of America forced the Haitian government to pay U$655 million to the US Department of Defense for the services it provided to Haiti days after the earthquake; $200 million reimbursed to the Department of Health and Human Services for the health related relief efforts it provided to the Haitian population after the earthquake.

- A couple months following the earthquake, the United Nations introduced cholera in Haiti, killing over 8.000 people and sickened 531.000. From the very beginning the United Nations have rejected the claims about their introduction of the deadly disease to the country, despite numerous credible studies conducted by prominent international agencies, pointing the source of the  Cholera outbreak to the UN Nepalese soldiers working in Haiti.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Harvard Medical School, Microbial Genesis and Chairman of the US National Science Advisory Board for Bio-security Dr Paul S. Kleim, Epidemiologist and professor of Parasitology at the University of the Mediterranee in France all concluded that the Cholera epidemic was introduced to Haiti by the Nepalese soldiers. Keep in mind that Cholera is unknown to the country for over 100 years. Despite the overwhelmed evidence, the United Nations maintains that evidence to implicating its troops to be "inconclusive" and has categorically refuse to admit any wrongdoing and take responsibility;  earlier this year, the United Nations said that it is immune to the many lawsuits seeking compensations for victims.

 The list of fraud, mismanagement, corruption, deception and abuses can go on and on and on, but who's keeping track, right?

What else is suppose to happen to Haiti, for Haitians to come together to work for the betterment of their country?  It will take a collective re-consciousness of the Haitian people all over the world to pull Haiti out of its over 2 centuries of miseries. 

May the 320.000 ultimate victims rest in peace; may they never be forgotten in Haitians' memories, and may God have a Divine mercy for Haiti.

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