NEW YORK–As grim accounts of the earthquake in Haiti came in, the accounts in U.S.-controlled state media all carried the same descriptive sentence: “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere…”
Gee, I wonder how that happened?
You’d think Haiti would be loaded. After all, it made a lot of people rich.
How did Haiti get so poor? Despite a century of American colonialism, occupation, and propping up corrupt dictators? Even though the CIA staged coups d’état against every democratically elected president they ever had?
It’s an important question. An earthquake isn’t just an earthquake. The same 7.0 tremor hitting San Francisco wouldn’t kill nearly as many people as in Port-au-Prince.
“Looking at the pictures, essentially it looks as if (the buildings are of) breezeblock or cinderblock construction, and what you need in an earthquake zone is metal bars that connect the blocks so that they stay together when they get shaken,” notes Sandy Steacey, director of the Environmental Science Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. “In a wealthy country with good seismic building codes that are enforced, you would have some damage, but not very much.”
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