The Haitian social fabric is fraying

You may recall that the immediate aftermath of the earthquake brought relatively high levels of order and even a decline in crime.  Yet norms are evolving to meet the new and desperate environment which most Haitians face.

The Haitians are now figuring out how to rob and murder visiting Americans; the body count is suddenly at four.  The level of rape is escalating.

The Haitian Presidential election is now set for November 28, and that is likely to bring a good amount of violence.  And since so many voting records have been destroyed, it will be difficult to limit fraud, accusations of fraud, and the winner may not be seen as legitimate.

One simple hypothesis is that people behave fairly calmly, and even passively, during shocking experiences and in their immediate aftermath.  The medium-term response can be quite different.

Most people are ignoring the Haitian situation, as they have mistakenly concluded it has stabilized.  It has not.  You still have a milion and a half people, in a basically untenable situation, more or less homeless, with the heart of the country destroyed and not much ongoing reconstruction or reform.

Comments

That's because the state is turning nanny on them.
Previously it was use your smarts or starve, now people are not given a chance to improve their situation themselves, they have to sit and wait till it gets improved.
May be it will, but everyone should remember that nanny-states does only one thing well - it expands, more and more, and nothing much else.

Nanny state my ass. When a country has one ICU for hundreds of thousands of people (in the interior); water was barely safe to drink PRIOR to the earthquake; and you have a million+ people in tents, the solution is not "oh, they're getting all dependent on the great stuff we're giving them." The problem is intentional, behavioral, systemic, cultural -- a complete clusterfuck, in other words. The work is in helping the Haitians develop SOMETHING that will bring them into an economic cycle, stop their environmental genocide (check out any satellite shot of Haiti vs. the Dominican Republic), and fumble through the reconstruction (as painlessly as possible). All things considered, it's kind of surprising there hasn't been MORE serious crime.

. . . not much ongoing reconstruction or reform.

Sounds like stability to me.

"Why would any rational person do anything except ignore Haiti?"

It's a great way to send satus signals, as has been the case here for quite some time.

@Noah A:

Most of the solutions you gave (other than donating money) are the sort that makes a layman feel a lot better but in reality I doubt the real impact on the crisis. Yes, you feel less negative. But this positivity didn't do much to improve the Haitians.

Regarding the upcoming Haitian elections:

In cases like this when voting records are destroyed etc. secret-ballot may not be the best idea. Any outcome will be subject to insinuations of malpractice and a lack of legitimacy. Maybe a better procedure for these extreme cases is to do some kind of a vote by show of hands. Maybe not in the literal sense. But perhaps a 1000 public meetings are held at different spots. And then in each a show of hands is used to elect a winner. Unless the voting is really close a show of hands would probably indicate the winner.

"That's because the state is turning nanny on them."

So, don't call the police the day that your daughter gets raped (I do hope that you live to see that day). Don't allow the state turning nanny on you.

HC

Each country could take a small number of Haitians. Leaving Haiti seems to be the only option. Haiti has been the poorest country in the western hemisphere for my entire lifetime and probably much longer. Think about how rotten Haiti is, Mexico would be a step up.

Good attitude, HC.
So that's how it warks: all thiss time you had hoped that there will be some disaster at Haiti so that they will ask for help and then you could barge in and start molding them at your wish?

I don't understand this argument: "And since so many voting records have been destroyed, it will be difficult to limit fraud, accusations of fraud, and the winner may not be seen as legitimate."

First, it is unlikely people will go to Haiti to vote, so it is only residents who vote.

Second, if the irregularity risk is voting twice, what happened to the inked thumb?

Not one mention yet of what is clearly Haiti's most pressing need: birth control. Haiti, the poorest nation in our hemisphere, has 9.2 million people on 27.7m sq km. Compare this to comparably sized and terrained Switzerland, one of the wealthiest nations, has 7.6m people on 41.3m sq. km. Switzerland's birth rate is 9.5 per 1000. Haiti's is 28.7 per 1000. Yet all anyone can think to do to help are volunteering and sending money.

@Bill:

It's not the risk of people coming in to Haiti or voting twice. That's peanuts. The way vote-fraud is done (at least back in India) is that you bribe / threaten polling-agents and then stuff a whole voting-box with bogus votes (assuming Haiti is still on the paper-votes).

A poorly conceived and misleading post from someone certainly not in Port-au-Prince or even Haiti. Claiming that the Haitian social fabric is fraying and that somehow the country is ready to erupt is both unfair and irresponsible. Based on what do you deduce this? That over three months four Americans have been killed? If that's your logic I suppose we should say the same for most American cities.

Do you really feel it's accurate or responsible to say Haitians are "figuring out how to rob and murder visiting Americans," based solely on the figure you cite? Please, a little more nuance and perspective in your writing.

@LL: now there are NO ICUs in Haiti. I just returned from a trip in which the group I was with was asked to return management of the Port Au PrinceHUEH Emergency Department to the hospital and then shut down the ICU the organization had established.

I'm exhausted and won't get into it, but the system in Haiti was broken before the earthquake.

A lot of Haitians have emigrated to Quebec and are doing well there.

I just got back from a two week vacation (yes vacation) in Haiti. I spent some time up in the mountains and time on the beach. Because I am an architect, I also spent considerable amount of time in Port-Au-Prince surveying the destruction. (I practice in Los Angeles so seismic failure is of particular interest to me.) Not once during the two weeks did I feel particularly threatened. I used the same common sense that I would if I were in Jamaica or Rome.

"The Haitians are now figuring out how to rob and murder visiting Americans."

Sorry Tyler but this comment cracked me up. I've been to Haiti a few times over the last 22 years. They've always known how to rob and murder Americans. It like saying your not going to come to LA because the gangs are learning how to rob and murder.

So my advice? Just go there. The mountains are spectacular with the highest peak topping out at 8,000 feet. Haiti is a Caribbean island complete with white sand beaches, azure seas and coconut trees. There are beautiful gingerbread beach hotels that are a bargain. The local fishermen will paddle by in their dugouts and sell you the lobster they just caught for $6 and cook it up for you right there on the beach. The people are consistently friendly, helpful and proud.

How do you like that? I just infused some U.S. Dollars into the economy and instead of a brochure telling me that 12 cents of every dollar goes directly to the people, I got a fresh-caught lobster lunch. And I got to dispel a few myths in the process.

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