Haiti’s devastating earthquake of 2008 brought havoc upon many, buildings were obliterated, and the lifestyle of Haitians collapsed. The earthquake which dawned on Port-au-Prince (Capital of Haiti) at 4:52pm locally, and 9:52pm GMT on Tuesday 12th January, 2010 was so indescribably deadly due to these main points: The money/economy/leadership, Haiti’s geography, and lifestyles.
Over the years, Haiti suffered many financial discomforts. Enslaved by debt. No other country other than Haiti could describe this statement further. Haiti gained independence in 1804, being the first black republic.150 million francs were owed to France as the price of freedom, this debt dwelling for 120 years. Due to the overwhelming low income, Haiti struggled mightily throughout World War 1, not being able to fund weapons or defences. In the 1950’s and onwards, a series of military dictatorships occurred in Haiti. This caused civil war to break out, leading to poorer defences to outside attacks. Not only this, but businesses would begin to crumble, income would weaken and force more debts. In 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide attempted to serve as Haiti’s first elected prime minister, but was pushed out of power by the military performing a coup.
Funding to assist the coup from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was reported. Although the American government funded to remove Aristide from power, in 1994, they supported him. A sudden realisation came apparent to America that the military were simply being more hassle to Haiti rather than the help that was hoped. This was a huge disadvantage to America, mainly due to the knowledge that they would have to fund for Haiti. A deal was forced upon Aristide to change the economic situations, and borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The IMF allowed Haiti to borrow money, but on the strict agreement that Haiti would allow international countries to sell their products cheaply. No problem at all, right? Wrong. Farmers in Haiti began to lose profits because of the higher prices of their goods, compared to the cheaper prices of international sellers. This caused the IMF to lower the tariffs in Haiti, making imports cheaper and easier, eventually putting farmers out of business. Later on in 2008, food riots from farmers were carried out. Aristide was again taken out of power, for making the deal with America. For his supporters, many are in slumps. Gangs began to form, and the United Nation (UN) was forced to gain control.
In more recent years, Haiti’s new 1.2 billion dollar debt was cancelled after 4 hurricanes caused 1 billion dollars worth of damage. Bill Clinton was appointed by the UN to envoy Haiti. The poor economy and poor leadership of Haiti over the years lead to a high death toll after the earthquake of 2010 b
The republic of Haiti is located in the Caribbean basin, which is in the western hemisphere. It is a multiple hazard zone, meaning it faces many earthquakes and hurricanes yearly. Due to Haiti being a multiple hazard zone, the infustructure is extremely poor, making hospital trips via roads a nightmare. This added to the death toll after the earthquake as medical care could not be provided easily. Haiti’s internet usage is 11.5 per 1000 people, were as the UK’s internet usage is 66.1 per 1000 people. This suggests that Haiti is not fully developed, and has poor Wi-Fi/ connection. This also added to the death toll height, as no connectivity could be made. The demolished buildings buried families alive in the Port-au-Prince earthquake, and due to the poor infustructure, medical care could not be reached, and many died due to it, along with the courageous Haitians attempting to pull them out. Floods broke out due to banks of rivers and canals collapsing.
Many preconceptions of Haiti’s lifestyles before the earthquake resemble paradise, relaxed lifestyles, and mixed buildings, according to the richer or poorer. This is true, as well as Haiti’s main income being the tourist industry. The population density of the UK is 249 persons per km2. In Haiti, the population density is 322 persons per km2. This staggering population for such a small island added to the death toll as many Haitians are living in one home, possibly with diseases. Along with this, food suppliers required a form to be filled out by each Haitian to receive it. This caused food riots and trampling as many are illiterate.
Being a catholic country, and not believing in contraception, diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (H.I.V) would be easily spread and kill many. After the earthquake, the still suffering from diseases similar would have no hope in living. The aftermath of the earthquake caused unstable buildings to weakly stand, families living in them whilst they still could. For others, buildings had already crushed them. Many were restricted to the streets, adding to the death toll as diseases would have even more of an advantage to spread. With river banks and canals caving in and flooding, and with no-where for survivors to be safe, the flowing captured Haitians and brought them to their deaths.
In conclusion, Haiti’s death toll was so overwhelmingly high because of the money/economy/leadership, not being able to fund any sort of repairs for Port-au-Prince, leaving many to die. The geography of Haiti contributed to the death toll as Haiti is a multiple hazard zone, simply was in too much damage and wreck already, had no outside connections and suffered from exceedingly bad infrastructure. Finally, the lifestyle of Haitians added to the death toll due to the disease ridden streets many were forced to inhabit, the poor medical care, and the money loss, linking in with tourist industries being destroyed.
Courtney from Study Moose