When I was last in Haiti, I learned how ignorant I was of some of the missing building blocks for national wealth creation in that poor island country.
As part of the deal for securing independence from the French, the Haitians were forced in 1825 to play 150 million French francs — valued at about $21 billion today — to France. To accomplish this, the island was denuded of trees. Valuable minerals in the soil and land eroded nearly immediately out to sea — and thus a once richly fertile island became one of the real hells in the Caribbean.
I realize, of course, that there are many other reasons why Haiti has been a political and economic tragedy, but the island nation that struck an early deal for independence from colonialism certainly had a rough start.
This New York Times piece captures both the surge of support currently underway for Haiti, as well as the trauma and chaos there.
Help, if you can — but Haiti has needed deep assistance far before this earthquake made a miserable situation a thousand times worse.
I will have some other thoughts posted soon on soft power collaborations to help Haiti after an oped I have done runs.
— Steve Clemons