The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

January 16, 2010

Haitian Earthquake


Good thing I at least really do try to tell the truth.. it seems too many persons lie, especially politicians.. cops.. pastors.. the false spins and the false praise tends to bring little good results next.. Canada’s Prime Minister Harper delivered his praise at Rideau Hall Friday while handing out the prestigious outstanding achievement award to  senior bureaucrats for their work in security, health and justice –   and yeah not surprisingly contradicting  some of my own very favorite topics I write about here.. the too often rather Inadequate Civil and public servants,   Police, Inadequate Justice Ministers, inadequate health care now as well. It seems the Prime Minister and I live in two different worlds in the same country too..

The deeper historical problem facing Haiti with respect to governance, it is  fragile democracy, and it’s endemic corruptions – was the   “powerful parasitic local elite in Haiti that will need to be watched very closely.” and “Let’s not be naïve about that,” 

Canada and the United States pretentiously warned that all Haitian monetary, goods relief should be carefully tracked but no Project management, accounting firm was given any contract to do this, clearly implying that this was no a serious recommendation..

MONTREAL 25th January 2010, 6:06pm — Political leaders left an international conference making no firm financial commitment but a strong pledge for scrutiny of the expected billions that will go to building a new Haiti in the next decade. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said much progress was made in setting the stage for more talks, but called it “premature” to talk money.

Yes the Caribbean Islands also lie on an active fault system. Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are all facts of life in the islands, past and present.  Haiti’s population of over eight million people occupies a territory somewhat smaller than the state of Maryland in the United States. The devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti has been followed by a series of large aftershocks measuring more than 5.0 on the Richter scale. It was also preceded by  smaller quakes (2.9 to 3.4) in Puerto Rico, across the Mona Passage from the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. The present vast deaths in Haiti due to an earthquake are very tragic. What now has happened in Haiti has no precedent. Hundreds of  of thousands of people are thought to have died in this  7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti Tuesday. This map shows how strong the vibrations were in different areas of the island during the initial quake. Could the many deaths have been reduced beforehand?

Rarely do I write here about non Canadian issues? Is this really a non Canadian issue though? “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere…”  If you do not know anything about the Haiti culture and their way of life, you will be shocked by their poverty rates. Not only because the Haiti people are so much below poverty, it is estimated that four out of five people in Haiti population are suffering and living in below poverty conditions. They have no electricity, clean water, public services, or anything that is needed for civilized life. While  most are on the edge of dying because of poverty, others there in direct contrast are millionaires.  

 And for the most part  Haiti still has no national building codes. Some international construction companies, a very small minority  do voluntarily follow codes like the French or Canadian standards or the International Building Code.  Sad reality. “Even when developing countries have codes in place to make sure buildings can withstand strong winds or earthquakes, they’re rarely enforced, and construction companies end up cutting corners to save money. (The added cost of earthquake-proofing a building is usually around 4 percent.) After a quake hit Mexico City in 1985, for example, investigators discovered that some of the buildings that were destroyed had too much sand mixed in with the concrete, making them weaker.  Adobe huts, more common in earthquake-prone areas of under developed countries, are especially dangerous, since they not only crush the inhabitants but suffocate them as well.

The last time an earthquake of this present magnitude hit Haiti was about 200 years ago and The same 7.0 tremor hitting San Francisco wouldn’t kill nearly as many people as in Port-au-Prince. “In the more  wealthy country with good seismic building codes that are enforced, you would have some damage, but not very much.” And a poor country like Haiti doesn’t have the equipment, communications infrastructure or emergency service personnel to pull you out of the rubble in time and it will have a significant amount of related deaths And if your neighbors get you out, there’s no ambulance to take you to the hospital–or doctor to treat you once you get there… AND THERE IS EVEN NO HOSPITAL, BECAUSE THE EARTHQUAKES HAD FLATTENED THEM TOO. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll in Haiti is attributable to poverty.

After 1804, Haitians were discriminated against by not only the United States, but all the European powers. And why?   That discrimination meant no availability of resources to educate the Haitian population, no significant trade with any polity outside of Haiti. You still have a population that was 80-90% illiterate – a population that didn’t have any industrial skills, a population that wasn’t allowed to trade its products with the rest of the world in any significant way. Also, the break up of the plantations into individual land parcels meant there’s no longer a coherent cash crop activity going on within Haiti. Today even rough estimates show that Haiti has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS of any country in the region.    
  • Earthquakes common in Caribbean
  • Haiti Earthquake Disaster
  • The Unluckiest Country: A Catalog of Haiti’s Disasters
  • Port-au-Prince: The City Before the Quake
  • Digging through the destruction
  • Why US Military Should Take Charge of Haiti Relief

  • Watchdogs warn of Haiti relief scams  If you suspect you’re the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (, a partnership of the FBI, the US National White Collar Crime Center and the US Bureau of Justice Assistance designed to track and match related online criminal complaints.

    So the question is still relevant. How did  Haiti still become so poor and remain so poor when it was so close to rich north America?? Have we all been guilty of cold indifference to them before this?   and are the Haitian, Canadian government also now going to pretend they are doing enough to help Haiti and all Haitians now  still too? 
     MONTREAL – Canadians horrified by the images of the horrors in quake-ravaged Haiti that are blanketing their newspapers and TV screens are responding with generosity. Donations have been pouring into aid organizations at an astounding rate, aid agencies said Sunday. The Canadian Red Cross reported it has so far received $22.2 million from Canadians for the Haiti relief effort.

    ABOUT 80 YEARS TOO LATE TOO…. OTTAWA – Representatives of about a dozen countries are expected to attend a key meeting in Montreal next week on longer-term help for Haiti. The conference is expected to set the stage for a later meeting of donor nations which will look at a long-term development plan to put the troubled Caribbean nation back on its feet.

    OTTAWA – Canada’s swift response to the tragedy in Haiti hasn’t boosted the federal government’s popularity among voters, a new poll suggests. Voters apparently remain unhappy about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s unpopular decision to prorogue Parliament and aren’t swayed by the popular effort to help Haiti, said pollster Allan Gregg. The latest Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests the Conservatives and Liberals are in a statistical dead heat, with 32 per cent supporting the Tories and 31 per cent for the Liberals. The gap is well within the poll’s margin of error.

    Afghan whistleblower to have legal fees paid: Foreign Affairs The Canadian Press –  OTTAWA – The federal government has relented and will pay the legal fees of diplomat Richard Colvin, who blew the whistle on possible Afghan prisoner abuse.

    Federal government agrees to pay Richard Colvin’s legal fees Ottawa Citizen

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