New tremors in Haiti today whilst dead still litter the streets, wounded are treated in open-air installations and humanitarian relief is slowly distributed in a trickle, proves that last week’s earthquake tragedy is but the tip of the true disaster in such forsaken paradise in the Caribbean.
Haiti, the poorest nation in the American continents and one of the poorest in the world, has been plagued since its independence from France in 1804 by political instability that provoked the United States to occupy the territory from 1915 to 1934. Further U.S. military and financial support in 1954 to François Duvalier (Papa Doc) imposed upon the island a pretended dynasty with his son, Jean-Claude (Nené Doc), succeeding him in 1971. A national uprising overthrew him in 1981 but still Haiti continued to live in misery in one coup after another that brought corrupt leaders into power.
In a country where poverty is circumvented only with the funds from foreign aid and numerous NGOs operating humanitarian missions, it is understandable that the eradication of poverty has not been a priority for its successive governments. Lax government controls on the use of aid funds for development, health & educational projects have permitted the deviation of huge sums into private bank accounts of Haitian government officials.
The participation of the United Nations has not been limited to humanitarian support through its agencies but likewise had involved Blue Helmets stationed in the territory. However, it must be said that the U.N. role in Haiti has always gone along stream that of the United States and the U.N. Blue Helmet detachment was in lieu of American soldiers that were no more.
With last week’s earthquake, President Obama again compromised U.S. military forces for Haiti. The European Union headed by the Spanish Government which occupied this semester’s rotating presidency likewise acted resolutely with not too much ado and contributed towards a quick solution.
However, a new dilemma has arisen. Not taking seriously anti-American comments by Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, the postures of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva on U.S. troops on Haitian soil seemed out of place at a point and time when humanitarian action was the only true concern.
Which brings me to question the handling of this situation:- Have we reached a point where the United Nations has lost authority and effectiveness to handle world crisis or major disasters?
Is protagonist role all world leaders think of or want when such situations arise or should these think first of the human tragedy?
The silent but effective actions undertaken from Spain and Spanish coordination of the EU aids must be applauded. The quick reaction from the White House must be praised too.
It is not time for lead roles or being on front page headlines. It is time to seriously think why the developed countries have not resolved yet the poverty and misery that only ends in more misery in tragedies such as the Haitian earthquakes these days.
It is time to meditate whether the organization whose creation and charter were mean to face up to the challenges of a world in peace has failed in its objectives during this past six decades.
World leaders must decide whether the time has come to think more of justice and minimum quality of life for any human being with a new social & political order that the United Nations has been unable to provide.
Has the time arrived for a change in world governance?
Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid