When Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama quickly absorbed the depth of the tragedy and necessity of a robust U.S. response. Unless the U.S. adopts a proactive role, Haiti’s fragmented political landscape threatens to deteriorate into a political vacuum that will compound the current crisis.
After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, the aftershock reached China in ways that few anticipated.The earthquake forced Chinese leaders to navigate the tricky politics of disaster relief.
Haiti is not only the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it is also the least educated. Roughly half the population is illiterate. Only two-thirds of children who begin primary school complete it.
The earthquake in Haiti has exacerbated an existing distress during the international recession and increased uncertainty of what to do and how to help.
Even before a massive earthquake transformed much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince into rubble, Haitians were already bound together by the shared trauma of collective memory.
Since achieving independence in 1804 to become the world’s first free black state, Haiti has been beset by turbulent, often violent, politics and a gradual but seemingly unstoppable slide from austerity to poverty to misery.
Haiti represents one of the most complex and deeply rooted challenges facing U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere: a failing state on the doorstep of the world’s most powerful nation.