Global Journalist: Recovery from Haitian earthquake

Friday, January 22, 2010 | 11:17 a.m. CST; updated 10:15 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stuart Loory, Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism: The tragedy in Haiti moves forward. The time to think of rescuing more of the earthquake’s victims has passed and that is unfortunate. Now is not only the time to think of recovery and rebuilding but also to take advantage of the situation and to begin rebuilding Haiti so that it can enter modern international society. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but it has not always been that way. In the 18th century, as a colony of France, it was the so-called Pearl of the Antilles. It provided 40 percent of all the sugar used in Europe in those days and 60 percent of all the coffee. It rose up for independence at roughly the same time as the North American 13 colonies did against Great Britain. And in 1804 it became the world’s first Afro-American republic and the second republic of any kind in the Western Hemisphere after the United States. France, though, forced Haiti to pay reparations for its freedom that saddled the country from 1826 to 1947. That debt, as well as corruption, exploitation, and murderous totalitarian government plunged Haiti into cruel poverty from which in recent years it has only begun to emerge. So is there anything that can be done to set Haiti back on a road to real economic self-sufficiency and political freedom? I understand that there are signs that the worst might now be over and recovery might be beginning. Is that too optimistic a view?