by Yoav Elinevsky
2010 Earthquake and Aid
On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It caused the death of 200,00 people, wounded 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless. A massive relief and recovery effort was launched, and billions of dollars were collected for that purpose. Yet few Haitians benefited from the recovery process, which included US/foreign military interventions and brutal repressions of popular organizations in Haiti. In the aftermath of the recovery process, Haiti became the most privatized country in the world, wages were lowered, and sweatshops for big multinational corporations were set up in a new Free Trade Zone on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. A handful of privileged families became wealthier, while the majority of the Haitian people became poorer.
One of the most striking features of the relief effort was the policy of the international agencies to work through their own institutions, rather than through Haitian grassroots popular organizations. The recovery process was directed and managed by foreigners, excluded local community organizations and leaders, and was infested with corruption.
The US population responded to the tragic events in Haiti with great generosity, contributing $1.3 billion to relief-oriented charities, but most of that money did not reach the Haitian people. In May 2010, it was revealed that five months after the quake, five of the largest charities that collected donations for Haiti (CARE, American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, Clinton Bush Fund, Clinton Foundation) had spent less than 15% of the $52 million they had collected.
2021 Earthquake and Aid
Therefore, we recommend that people who wish to help Haiti now should donate to organizations with direct links to Haitian grassroots popular organizations.
Two such organizations:
1.The Haiti Action Committee, a Bay Area-based network of activists who have supported the Haitian struggle for democracy since 1991. Donations can be made online at https://haitisolidarity.net/
2.The Association of Haitian Women in Boston, a community-based grassroots organization dedicated to empowering low-income Haitian women and their children (http://afab-kafanm.org/wp/)
Donations can be made by sending a check to “Haitian American United” at P.O. Box 260440, Mattapan, MA 02126 (memo: “Haiti August 2021 Earthquake”); or by making a deposit at East Boston Savings Bank: Account # 07-774-15001; or by contributing online at paypal.me/donatetohauinc.
Yesterday, CODEPINK’s weekly YouTube show “Women For Peace’s WTF is Going on in Latin America” focused on how Haiti is responding to the recent 7.2 earthquake; presenters included Pierre LaBossiere and Robert Roth of the Haiti Action Committee. https://youtu.be/VGUetnZd2fU
— Yoav Elinevsky is co-chair of Massachusetts Peace Action’s Latin America/ Caribbean Working Group and chair of its Haiti Solidarity Subgroup