The stories and photos coming out of Haiti this week remind us of our powerlessness against the forces of nature and beckon us to reach out and help.
But the devastation that resulted from the earthquake in Haiti was not solely the result of a natural disaster. This devastation was magnified by Haiti’s poverty. Long known to be the poorest country in this hemisphere, the people of Haiti continue to struggle with economic forces that are beyond their control.
So, while we are powerless in controlling or even predicting earthquakes, we certainly have it within our power to become knowledgeable of domestic and foreign economic policies, implemented by the United States that negatively impact other countries, in particular Haiti, our poorest neighbor.
For many years, Congressional Representative Maxine Waters has been a champion for the fair treatment of Haiti as it relates to our trade policies. You can find our more about Congresswoman Waters’ long history here. Many others in the progressive community have tried to get some attention focused on Haiti especially around immigration and trade. In the YouTube video directly below, progressive author and activist Naomi Klein discusses the opportunities that open up for some as a result of crisis.
And, of course there is Pat Robertson who claims that Haitians made a pact with the devil and, as a result, has been cursed by God. If Haiti is cursed, who or what is driving the policies that effectively keep Haiti oppressed?
There are ways to contribute to the people of Haiti. Many disaster relief organizations have already started to deliver care packages and other goods and services, among them is the American Red Cross, OPUSA, and others. But beyond making contributions to aid those who have lost homes and loved ones in the earthquake, we must continue to push for more progressive representation in congress in the United States. This is one of the long term strategies we, as progressives, can implement that will, in the future, help to reduce the devastation these inevitable natural disasters can cause.
Below is a clip from a documentary about labor conditions for Haitian workers that work for an American company who has factories in Haiti. This was made before the earthquake but it gives some insight into who benefits by keeping Haiti so poor.