Search and rescue operations in response to the Petionville school collapse have concluded and there are no more survivors. In the Miami Herald article below, Jacqueline Charles notes that 89 individuals were killed and 150 survived, although many were badly injured. Thank you to Martinique, France, the United States and other countries that contributed equipment, search and rescue teams, or financial support. For the families, the mourning process begins. For the Haitian government, the pressure is on as they try to develop a strategy for preventing a similar tragedy from happening again. Nationwide school inspections would be a good start.
An interesting Miami Herald article circulated last week concerning Lake Azuei, the largest in the country and a source of livelihoods for many. The lake’s waters have been rising for two years as a result of clogged drainage canals and deforested mountains that are no longer capable of absorbing rainfall. If Haitian authorities do not demonstrate leadership in addressing the country’s environmental challenges, of which this is one, the end result will be yet more disrupted lives, livelihoods, and communities. From Gonaives to Lake Azuei to the slums of Port au Prince full of Haitians from the countryside who have given up on agriculture, the need for better environmental management is clear.
Below is a Miami Herald article on the relationship between environmental degradation in Haiti and natural disasters. Click here to see an audio slideshow of the consequences of deforestation. The article also contains a link to an interview with Jane Wynne, who is intimately familiar with Haiti's environmental issues. As she puts it, "There is hope but only if we have the will to change." There is also a link to an interview with Prime Minister Pierre-Louis. Though it will take all of Haitian society to reverse the deforestation, her role is to prepare and coordinate a governmental response. It is long overdue.
Like the United States, Haiti has a military tradition. Both countries won freedom through warcraft. Sadly, the Haitian military went on to kill far more Haitians than all attacking forces combined. The Haitian military degraded into an engine for corruption, human rights abuses, and coup after coup. Jean Bertrand Aristide disbanded the military in 1995 but they remain a threat as Jonathan Katz reminds us in the Miami Herald.