LES CAYES, HAITI—Early in the morning on Aug. 14, the small island nation of Haiti was hit by yet another calamity: a 7.2 earthquake. The quake rattled the westernmost portion of the country, destroying and damaging hundreds of buildings while killing up to 2,000 people and wounding more than 9,000.
The impoverished nation, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and whose president was assassinated in a shocking attack this summer, has neither the resources nor the institutions or governance to deal with this new tragedy. Almost no help has come from the central government in Port-au-Prince during the latest round of suffering.
Two days after the earthquake, only a few trucks could be seen rushing down the main road to Les Cayes in a desperate attempt to provide relief. In Les Cayes itself, a few fireman and disaster workers could be seen working on the removal of debris of a major hotel where four people died, including its owner. Onlookers gathered in the dozens on top of the debris, collecting metals from the collapsed concrete. Desperate locals are scavenging what they can find.
The destruction suffered in the coastal areas was also felt in the nearby mountains where ten of thousands of Haitians live in small villages dotting the only viable road to the capital Port-au-Prince.
Corpses have been left inside the debris for days; no one could remove them out of the collapsed buildings. In fact, the situation is so bad that locals took it upon themselves to block the main road to Les Cayes in a desperate attempt to get attention but to also intercept trucks carrying supplies.
Haiti’s woes go far deeper than its pummeling by Mother Nature. The successive governments that have tried to rule the island nation have failed to improve the lives of its citizens. Instead, the Haitian political elite has been more busy filling their own pockets rather than fixing the social and security issues at hand.
As foreign help slowly arrives on location to alleviate the people’s suffering, the fear remains that when the next earthquake or hurricane comes, once again, the people of Haiti will be left to pay the butcher’s bill as they have so many times before.