Haiti is even poorer than its neighbor the Dominican Republic. In the book Catastrophe, Jared Diamond fairly convincingly attributed this difference to the fact that Haiti had nearly completely deforested itself while the Dominican Republic had preserved its forests. This difference in forestry policy was almost exclusively due to the fact that the Dominican Republic had one particular dictator who considered preservation of forests important while the various Haitian dictators, following the clear-cutting example of nations like America, over exploited their forests. The results, on top of the usual difficulties poor Third World nations have, was severe soil erosion, flood/drought cycles due to lack of trees, degradation of fisheries due to excessive runoff from the land, etc. All contributing to Haiti's extreme poverty.
America, of course, contributes to this poverty by propping up every two-bit dictator who promises a pro-corporate policy. We have sponsored several coups in Haiti, the last one happened right in front of us during Bush's term in the White House. While most America television showed that coup as an uprising by the people, Democracy Now and my friends with family in Haiti showed it as what it really was: right wing thugs with ties to US business and the CIA toppling a popularly elected president. And, of course, these US-backed coups never help the poverty stricken Haitians, but only those right wing thugs with ties to US businesses.
And, of course, Haiti then gets its share of natural disasters to add to its problems. From hurricanes to this week's earthquake, Haiti gets it all.
Relief will pour in from all over the world. Almost certainly, as with the relief given after almost every major disaster including the massive tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean, the relief that pours in will be inadequate and short term. Still very much needed, but particularly in tough economic times, it is hard to help distant people and even when times are good, relief efforts often forget about rebuilding.
The Global Fund for Women has set up "a crisis fund to enable long-term relief and rebuilding efforts led by Haitian women’s rights activists, whose work will be even more critically needed in the aftermath of this natural calamity." The Global Fund for Women has always been one of my favorite charities and they do excellent work all over the world. I like the fact that they are looking to the long-term recovery of Haiti. Here is the description of the Crisis Fund:
The Crisis Fund is the Global Fund for Women’s response to natural and man-made disasters, and enables our supporters to target their giving during and after a crisis. Contributions will be directed to women's peace-building efforts and the re-building of their organizations and communities after a war or disaster to ensure long-term sustainability.
Please give to the Global Fund for Women's Crisis Fund to help rebuilding of Haiti.
And here are some more opportunities to help:
This one was sent to me from Air America Radio:
The death and destruction in Haiti is almost too horrible to describe. That’s what our partners on the ground have been telling us since the massive earthquake struck.
Please make a donation to help us deliver emergency aid to survivors in Haiti.
Within the first 24 hours, we began preparing our first airlift of over $3 million worth of medicine, hospital supplies, and other humanitarian aid to Haiti, and we’re preparing more shipments as our partners tell us what’s most needed. Would you please make a donation to enable us to fill more containers with antibiotics, pain relievers, bandages and medical supplies to save lives in Haiti?
You may not know AmeriCares, but last year we provided more than $1 billion in medicine and other humanitarian aid to poor people in 80 countries as well as in the United States. 99% of your donation dollar gets to the field because so much of the aid we provide is donated by the manufacturers. In fact, for every dollar you donate, AmeriCares can provide $35 worth of medicine and other humanitarian aid.
AmeriCares knows Haiti, because we’ve provided more than $145 million worth of medical and humanitarian aid since 1984. Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with more than three-quarters of its residents living on less than $2 a day.
The earthquake has devastated Haiti’s already limited ability to provide care for its people. Please help us deliver lifesaving aid by making a gift to our Haiti Emergency Relief Fund today.
This comes from MoveOn.org:
The news coming out of Haiti is almost too terrible to imagine.
Three million people have been affected by Tuesday's earthquake, and the Red Cross estimates as many as 50,000 may be dead. Survivors are digging through the rubble with their hands in a desperate attempt to rescue those who are trapped.
With water and medical supplies in short supply, and the Haitian government paralyzed, international aid efforts in the next few days will be critical to prevent more human suffering.
These three charities, and many others, are providing care. If you can contribute to help fund their emergency efforts, please do.
* Doctors Without Borders
* Oxfam America
* Yéle Haiti
Thanks for all you do.
And this comes from Democracy for America:
There isn't much I can say about the tragedy and devastation in Haiti caused by this horrible disaster that hasn't already been said.
When I think about the recent disasters that have struck Americans like Hurricane Katrina or the 9/11 attacks, I remember not just the tragedy but the amazing response from people around the world. The world's involvement in our recovery was vital and real. It lifted us up both in funding and delivering the resources we needed, but also spiritually and emotionally when so many Americans felt like all was lost or they had no future.
This is our time to stand up and help the people of Haiti.
Doctors Without Borders operates one of the few free trauma centers in Port-au-Prince as well as an emergency hospital in the capital for pregnant women, new mothers, and newborn children. All three of its primary medical centers collapsed during the quake, but working quickly, Doctors Without Borders has already set up temporary shelters and is offering emergency care on the ground.
Working together with several progressive partners in an emergency effort we're calling "Progressives for Haiti," I'm asking you to join me in contributing what you can to help Doctors Without Borders provide relief, resources, and recovery for the people of Haiti.
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE NOW
All over America -- from the largest online groups, from progressive blogs, from individual activists -- all of us together are working to put our financial support behind the doctors already on the ground easing suffering and providing real help effectively and quickly for those in need.
100% of the money donated goes directly to Doctors Without Borders. The organization has a fantastic track record in situations like these, and they already have the largest working emergency clinic in Port au Prince.
PLEASE CONTRIBUTE WHAT YOU CAN TODAY
It's times like these that we are reminded that our movement is about more then just moving America forward, it's about creating and supporting a united world.
Thank you for everything you do to bring our world together.
Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America
Do what you can.