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Why Haiti?

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dennie Quill, Contributor

Last week's earthquake which unleashed destruction on Haiti, leaving the country in tatters, reminds us of the enormity of nature's fury. With several reported tremors all around us, including the Cayman Islands, it is feared that another major earthquake is looming. When and where this will happen, we cannot predict.

Many people have become heart-broken just seeing bodies being unearthed and carted off in the most undignified manner. Add to that miserable picture scores of displaced people seemingly with nowhere to turn, desperate food ... riots and the anguish is palpable.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, scores of battered people in Haiti and onlookers around the world are searching for answers. Even people of faith are struggling to explain why a disaster of this magnitude was unleashed on this impoverished country.

Why so much devastation?

Since 1998, Haiti has experienced six major hurricanes, four of them in 2008, which claimed nearly 1,000 lives and washed away significant agricultural crops. Some may say Haiti's suffering has been ongoing for more than two centuries through periods of occupation, strife, natural disaster and political instability. Why is Mother Nature continuing to hold this nation hostage in its devastating grasp?

Many people are offering suggestions, albeit in hushed tones and measured language. Some say for too long Haitians have been mired in the Voodoo culture and this is responsible for their suffering. American Evangelist Pat Robertson has gone further, citing retribution, for he says Haiti made a pact with the devil at the time of the revolution against France and now they are reaping the whirlwind. For some Jamaicans, Haiti is being punished for its role in the guns-for-drugs trade which has caused murder and mayhem in many Jamaican towns over the last few years.

No one has the answer and now is not the time to sit by and speculate, for the misery is enormous. We are aware that even before last week's earthquake, Haiti was beset by a myriad of social and political problems which, from time to time, have caused its nationals to seek refuge in other countries and devise devious means of survival.

Help to rebuild the country

Haiti needs help and beyond the rescue efforts there is an imperative to help rebuild the country. Because of our shared humanity, we cannot sit by and not help our neighbour.

Although Jamaicans and her CARICOM sisters have been responding well with donations of relief supplies and monetary contributions, one wonders at the capacity of the CARICOM community to help its neediest neighbour in its darkest hour.

Clearly, there are insufficient medical resources and rescue facilities and logistics experts in the region to deal with a disaster of this magnitude and it has fallen to the Americans to step in and take charge in Haiti. The earthquake has focused the world's attention on Haiti and perhaps the massive humanitarian response being formulated could lead to breaking Haiti's curse.

So, once again, Haiti has become the centre of the world's attention, demanding its compassion and humanitarian aid, and we welcome the commitment to help the country recover from this horrific tragedy.

Dennie Quill is a veteran journalist. Send feedback to