[Homestead] Haiti, total environmental collapse.

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Sep 28 17:25:12 EDT 2004

No good President since tree-planting Estime (they too were all slashed 
to the ground by charcoal producers---jeither they or their customers 
could wait for trees to grow)  And further victimized by the Bush 
contempt for honest elections---he blocked international aid to the 
Aristide government and forcibly drove him out of office.

chicagotribune.com <http://www.chicagotribune.com/> 	

  Does the UN see Haiti?


September 28, 2004

Buffeted by the hand of man and the hand of nature, Haiti may be on the 
verge of becoming ungovernable and ecologically ruined. If there ever 
was a case for forceful action by the United Nations, Haiti is it.

Gonaives, Haiti's third largest city, was devastated a week ago by 
flooding caused by a fierce tropical storm that later became Hurricane 
Jeanne and struck Florida. Before-and-after satellite pictures of 
Gonaives show neat rows of rooftops, once separated by bustling streets, 
now swamped by a sea of mud and pestilence.

The latest estimates put the death toll at about 1,500 people, with just 
as many missing. Disease is bound to spread and kill many more people 
because of dirty water and lack of food.

Man-made chaos has made Haiti's natural disaster infinitely worse. 
Troops working under the UN flag and led by Brazil are desperate to hold 
back looting mobs so clean water and food can be distributed.

The police station in Gonaives was overrun by gangs in February and 
seven officers were killed, so there's little presence of local law 
enforcement. The national police force is not in much better shape.

The caretaker government of Gerard Latortue, installed after former 
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was pressed to flee the nation earlier 
this year, has been nearly useless in keeping the peace or distributing 
humanitarian aid.

The backdrop to much of the flood damage in Gonaives is the almost 
complete destruction of Haiti's environment. The differences along the 
border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti are shocking. Dominicans 
have lush forests, while the Haitians have clear-cut their timber and 
denuded the landscape to use the wood for fuel. With little or no 
vegetation to hold the topsoil, much of the arable land has washed to sea.

For the U.S., Haiti's problems are more than a tragedy, they're a 
security concern. The U.S. already has long and bitter experience with 
Haitian chaos leading to refugees fleeing to U.S. shores, while 
narcotraffickers find safe haven on the island.

Earlier this year the UN Security Council authorized deployment of 6,700 
peacekeeping soldiers in Haiti, but only half have arrived, with Brazil 
contributing one of the largest contingents. Their charge was to make 
Haiti safe enough for elections next year. But that seems like a 
far-fetched goal, with gangs and former soldiers still running amok in 
most cities.

The UN has to make a fast and firm commitment to Haiti, and that may 
require the creation of a trusteeship arrangement to restore order. It 
will take money to rebuild the infrastructure, such as a network of 
paved roads and rudimentary health-care facilities. There has to be an 
international police force large enough to keep the peace and train a 
new cadre of Haitian officers. It is essential to have professionals in 
place to ensure that relief money is not squandered.

Soon the flood waters in Gonaives will recede, along with much of the 
world's attention. But Haiti will remain a desperate, miserable and 
dangerous place. And unless it acts, the UN will, once again, be as good 
as its empty words.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune <http://www.chicagotribune.com/>

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