I know squat about Haiti. I know even less about Pat Robertson and his 700 Club. But when have I ever let that stop me?
CBS news has an article about Robertson’s comments on his show (see the video) regarding Haiti’s supposed pact with the devil that is somehow part of the reason a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting aftershocks flattened much of a country already in economic distress. The article mentions a political website called FiveThirtyEight and an article by Robert Taber regarding Haitian superstitious religious history and his experience while over there (breaks added):
I first heard the story of the pact in late 2003. Protests against President Bertrand Aristide were rocking the small town of Petit-Goâve where I was volunteering for an international non-profit.
My Haitian roommates explained that Aristide, as a poor Catholic priest, was involved in Voudou and had used the more violent lwa to build his political support. Once the first two hundred years of independence ended with the bicentennial on January 1, 2004, the devil’s hold on Haiti would loosen and Aristide’s support would vanish.
I heard similar stories from other residents of Petit-Goâve and later from Haitians in the United States. Voudou had been responsible for independence, and it was responsible for Haiti’s inability to find a place on the world stage, for the reigns of the Duvaliers, for the ineptitude of Arisitide, and for the natural disasters that plagued the country.
CNS quoted this gem from the same author:
The most generous reading of Rev. Robertson’s statement is one of searching for positive direction and building anew. Port-au-Prince last rose out of the rubble in 1770, twenty-one years before the people of Haiti began the West’s only successful slave revolt. We need to begin the discussion of how this rebuilding can match the glory of that remarkable achievement.
I don’t think people rebelling against a government created as much destruction as that earthquake did (although when you read about it…), but Renard Sexton, also from FiveThirtyEight, wonders more about America’s commitment to one of their biggest importers:
As discussed this summer, Obama stated in an April speech that, “while the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership.”
The key question will be if that partnership for Haiti entails simply a year or two of above-average food-aid and reconstruction assistance, then a drop off the radar screen until the next hurricane, coup or food shortage, or instead something that more fundamentally changes the equation.
For example, what is to be done about the American and European agricultural subsidies that make farming in Haiti (among most of the developing world) economically infeasible for so many? And as well, how will the devastated natural environment, including degraded land and polluted water and air, be revitalized to support a sustainable society, economy and government?
I don’t know what more I could add. Celebrities are doing their part to help raise money for a country in need. I hope a lot of ordinary people are doing the same.
Edit: Canadian donations will be matched federally:
The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today announced that Canada will match individual donations to registered Canadian charitable organizations to support humanitarian and early recovery assistance to people affected by the earthquake in Haiti on January 12th.
“Many Canadians are deeply concerned about the suffering and loss of life as a result of this catastrophe in Haiti,” said Minister Oda. “Canadian citizens have shown time and again their generosity with countries in urgent need, and our government is prepared to match their contributions dollar for dollar.”