The catastrophic earthquake that shook Haiti and destroyed its capital and surroundings triggered an understandably profound emotional reaction that motivated a worldwide immediate assistance, primarily in divers areas of human needs. Experienced rescue volunteers from several countries are still sifting through the wreckage, pulling out dead bodies, and, surprisingly, survivors of all ages— giving those rescuers involved new reason to pursue their search. In general the late survivors are in better physical condition than the thousands of victims crowding the improvised healthcare accommodations and better-equipped hospitals.
To help Haiti recover, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ministers from more than a dozen countries, eight international bodies and six major non-governmental organizations met in Montreal Jan. 25 for the first conference on “how to channel aid into a country that has lost much of its already poor infrastructure.”
Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told members of the conference that “his government needed to rely strongly on its partners.” But, he added, “The destruction of key government buildings has hampered the work of [a] government facing serious legitimacy issues as people question whether it exists at all.” Bellerive added: “The government continues to work in precarious conditions, and is in position to assume the leadership expected of it by its people in order to relaunch the country on the path to reconstruction.”
U.S. Secreary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that international donors and organizations had been mapping out a plan for Haiti’s development months before the quake. She indicated it could be the basis for a revised plan. “I don’t want to start from scratch, but we have to recognize the changed challenges that we are now confronting,” she said.
Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid to Haiti, according to an Associated Press estimate. Monday’s meeting came as a global army of aid workers was delivering more food into people’s hands in Haiti, but the efforts were still falling short. Paul Conneally, spokesman for the International Red Cross, said there was a growing need to bring in heavy equipment to take down damaged buildings, some of which could collapse at the slightest aftershock.
This is the first wise observation among the emotional turmoil. In addition of the visible rubble, several buildings still standing, in whole or in part, may be damaged with dangerous cracks. Moreover, considering the past and recent warnings of the specialists on the fragile geological conditions Port-au-Prince’s locaiton, it is more prudent and reasonable to planning for a new, modernized city Capital. Perhaps it should be built on an area like the Central Plateau, which seems like it’s more secure ground.
In March 1982, professor Florentin Maurasse published a “Survey of the Geology of Haiti Guide to the Field Excursions in Haiti.” During a telephone conversation early this week, Dr. Maurasse told us that last year, he had offered President Rene Preval the free services of a team of geologists to do an up-to-date survey of the ground in the west of the Republic and extended areas. He did not receive an answer. Although he surmises the Central Plateau might be safer, his scientific discipline recommends a preliminary ground survey.
Let’s remember that the word Capital means “the most important city or town of a country”, but also “wealth of a person, an organization, or a country.” Let’s not waste $1 billion in rushed “reconstruction” and miss the opportunity to provide the Republic of Haiti with an expertly planned Modern Capital.