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The Perfect Storm: Learning our Lesson

Peripheral Vision

Hard moments called for hard decisions. We are definitely living in one of the hardest moments in history. Global
warming is ready to destroy our planet. Energy costs are rising exponentially. Food crops are being converted into biofuels, while millions are dying of hunger. Natural disasters are more common today and more ravaging than ever before. We come to the point where we must sharpen our peripheral vision.
The world is no longer about nationalist ideas. We do not live in a linear World, but instead in a circular one. We live in the global era; therefore we need ideas that deal with a global agenda. There are many reasons to be against globalization, especially if you are one of the least advance countries in the world. At the same time, if those developing countries could find great leaders, they might be able to make themselves relevant in this global age.
The good thing about globalization is that instability in a remote place like Mongolia can have a profound effect in a major economy such as India or the United States. As a result, it is in no one’s interest to have instability anywhere in the world. Whether we want to or not, Haiti cannot progress unless it participates in the global market. To do that we must be smart in how we interact with the world.
For globalization to truly work, the “give-and-take” conditions must be fair and equitable. The big economies can’t expect to only give, and the small economies to simply receive. Both parties must find the right balance. In our case, we must seek out to the world in matters where we are very weak or lacking, such as electricity, energy, materials for construction, among other things. Simultaneously, we must be able to supply the world market with things that we are capable of producing, such as agricultural goods, and so on.
It is not that I am pro globalization, but there are certain facts in life that can not be fought against, and globalization happens to be one of them. It is here, and we must deal with it. Imagine if we, Haitians, decided to not be part of the globalization movement, we would be cut off from the rest of the world. No one will trade with us, when in fact we know that we can’t possibly produce everything that we need to make our society move.
Haiti has been basically cut off from the rest of the World since its independence. At first, it was through not recognizing our existence as a free nation by the powerful nations at the time, but today it is more because of our own ignorance.
We expect the world to come to our rescue for everything. And yet, we have nothing to offer the world. We refuse to unite for a common good, and yet we take pleasure in destroying the hard labor of our own brothers. In a global era, a clear peripheral vision is required.
We must be able to observe what is going on around us without taking our eyes off the more pressing issues at home. To compete in this globalization, we must create a society of innovators. We must be able to nourish the mind of our children with positive ideas. As difficult and far-fetched that it might seem to get these things accomplish, I am here to remind you that it is all possible if we put our mind, intelligence, and strength into it.
As the “quadricanes” (Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike) were causing havoc in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica were able to manage the crisis very well. Why were they able to do so, and what could our leaders learn from them in order to prepare for next time? This is the kind of peripheral vision that I am talking about. Those countries are not considered developed countries, but yet, they have managed to minimize the impact of the quadricanes on their infrastructure and population as well as a developed country would. Their leaders are making great use of their peripheral vision to serve and protect their people.
We can’t afford to keep on electing people who have no foresight on how to solve issues. We can’t afford to walk the sidewalks as chomeko, when there is so much work that needs to be done. We have to demand accountability from everyone. From the school teachers to the big exporters, everyone needs to be held accountable. From the housekeepers of the national palace to the President, we the people need to ask for that peripheral vision.
The world is moving at the speed of light. The technology that is new today could be as mundane as tomorrow. As a nation, we must ask our government to keep pace with its surroundings. It is wishful thinking to believe that things will get better all by themselves. We must act together. We must sign a pact between ourselves to get the country moving in the direction of clarity. We must all get involved. We need to sharpen our peripheral vision.
— Contact Ilio Durandis at [email protected]

By Ilio Durandis

In Haiti, we have a tendency to react rather than act. It is the norm to be on the defensive rather than on the offensive. The Hurricane season has thumped the country really hard. Our leaders are baffled and perplexed as far as responding to all the destructions caused by the four successive hurricanes: Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike.

The Haitian communities outside of Haiti have mobilized to provide whatever aid that they can to the families mostly affected by the calamities. Haiti, being one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere simply was not ready to deal with such a blow. The country once again finds itself at the mercy of the international community to provide urgent care for those affected. Already, there are reports that the United States is ready to provide $20 million in an aid package to the Haitian government. Wyclef Jean and many other well-known artists are doing their part.

In the wake of this mass mobilization, I can only wonder why it had to take the rage of the hurricanes to make us, Haitians, realize that we need to be a coherent unit to help our country. I am also asking myself how long will the urge to help last? And lastly, I want to analyze what should be done with all the aids coming to Haiti, in order to be better prepared next time the hurricanes come.

It is a civic duty to help those less fortunate. Upon looking at some of the images of the victims of the hurricanes, the only thought that comes to my mind is that it could have been me or a member of my immediate family. I saw the dead children piled on top of one another, and I think to myself that it could have been my own child. The difference between those children and mine is simply a matter of luck. It is with that kind of thinking that I find it a civic responsibility to get involved in the relief effort.

It is great that so many people want to help in this trying time. It reinforces my belief that the majority of us, Haitians, are good people, who simply want to see a better Haiti. In order for this dream to become a reality, we must not only get involved when disasters strike. As we are helping the victims, we must all be aware that the recovery efforts will take more than just a few months. So I’m urging all those involved to be patient, and to find the strength to stay engaged for the long haul.

With all the aid being generated for the relief effort, one of the most important questions that should be raised is what we should do with the monetary aid and how to best use it for the common good of all those affected. I am envisioning a long-term relief effort. I would like to propose that we make an example out of these tragic events. Isn’t it time that we start being proactive? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to turn Gonaives into a truly modern city? It is clear that the current layout of the city of Gonaives is not suitable to sustain the force of a tropical storm. The city has experienced major destructions of infrastructures and lives in the past four years.

When it is all said and done, there is no doubt that a lot of money will be at the disposal of our government to help the victims. The easiest thing to do is to provide help to each family affected. The best thing to do is to draw a plan to build a better Gonaives. I am fully aware that Gonaives was not the only city inflected by the hurricanes. As we are helping people all over the country getting back to their normal lives, we must find a way to solve once and for all the irrigation problem facing many of our major cities. Starting a major urban construction project with Gonaives would not be such a bad idea.

I am not a civil engineer, so I do not know if it is even possible to entertain such idea in Gonaives. But one thing that is clear is that the damage caused by the hurricanes provides us an opportunity to build a new city. Gonaives is the cradle of our independence and I say a better Gonaives means a better Haiti. Imagine how many people would find work in the construction of a major city. Houses, roads, water sewage, electrical system all must be built from the ground up. We would also put our agronomists to work in order to find the best usage for the land. I know this proposal requires a huge capital investment, but I have no doubt if our leaders were to do their job the task would be achievable.

The pessimists would say that they have no trust in anyone in Haiti. They would say that thinking of those directly affected should be our sole focus. Unfortunately, for too long we have been letting the pessimists view guide our conscience. As unfortunate as those events were, they presented us with a golden opportunity to not simply see the short term solution, but instead to seek a long term alternative to our past failures. And I am convinced that if we start a major urbanization project with Gonaives, sooner rather than later building a new Haiti will come to be a reality.

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
May. 05, 2012

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