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Haiti, In Between The Crises

Mark Leon Goldberg has a wonderful Daily Beast piece about the Haiti that the U.S. rarely sees: the functioning society that arduously got built in the 1990s and 2000s, only to be ravaged by manmade and now natural disaster.

This is Haiti’s tragedy: Just as the trend lines shift in the right direction, calamity strikes. But even with our limited and early information, the January 12, 2010 quake seems beyond comparison. Hospitals have crumbled and city blocks are flattened. Even the presidential palace, which presumably would be among the sturdiest of buildings, has caved in on itself. This is clearly a scary time for Haiti. Still, Haitians can take some comfort in its unique relationship with the United States. For one, the country has a champion in the husband of the current secretary of state. In May 2009, former President Bill Clinton was appointed a UN Special Envoy to Haiti, meaning that even as the public’s focus turns away from Haiti in the coming weeks, he will remain a high profile advocate for reconstruction. Also, a large and politically active Haitian Diaspora community in the United States ensures that Congress will keep an eye on Haiti’s progress.

I grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Haitian population, so I got a flavor of Haitian culture at a young age. It’s distressing that American cameras are only interested in a Caribbean neighbor with such close and historical ties to the U.S. when disaster strikes.

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