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Chile’s Quake Recovery Quicker than Haiti’s: Why?

Published by on April 14, 2010

Chile’s Quake Recovery Quicker than Haiti’s: Why? thumbnail

Even though the earthquake in Chile was considerably larger, Chile fared far better both during and after the disaster.

AS ALISON ARIEFF recently reported, ‘One has only to look at the fatalities in Chile as compared to Haiti: though the Chilean earthquake registered 8.8 on the Richter scale, the country experienced 279 fatalities, compared to Haiti’s 230,000 from their less powerful 7.0 earthquake. (Another reason for the difference, of course, had to do with where and how the two earthquakes struck.)

‘Though daunting, Chile’s struggles will likely resolve themselves more quickly: just a week after the earthquake struck, drinking water, electricity, communications, banking and basic commerce had already been restored to over 90 percent of the affected areas. This is in dramatic contrast to Haiti, where, explains Sebastian Gray, professor of architecture at Universidad Católica de Chile, “because of the characteristics of the earthquake and the quality of construction, the destruction and loss of life was enormous.” In Chile, he says, the country’s strict building codes “accounted for the overall good performance of modern structures after the earthquake.”’

Chile, with a population even more European in origin than that of the United States, is a First World country with everything that implies — from a relative lack of corruption to a high standard of engineering to competence in its emergency services. Haiti is a Third World country with everything that that implies, including corruption and rampant incompetence. Haiti’s national IQ is among the lowest worldwide, while Chile’s is comparable to many First World nations’. Is there a genetic basis for the differences that no amount of aid can change?

An observer from Long Island, M. E. Hansen, stated “I don’t think the developed world has yet to appreciate how throwing masses of money at a problem brings out the worst in people. As miserable as things are now for Haitians, they will become infinitely worse when rival gangs of corrupt officials begin fighting over the money, and using it to buy arms rather than construction materials. How will the United Nations and former President Clinton, et al, prevent officials from using the money to hire private armies rather than construction workers?

“If one needs precedent, look to sub-Saharan Africa, sixty years on from ‘foreign aid.’ What we see are war lords, private armies, weapons in the hands of evil people and those they have coerced into complicity. We see murder and violence as endemic conditions. What we do not see is real, sustained improvement in the lives of ordinary people. Women and children are constant victims: ill-fed, and often living in refugee camps.”

African-American spokesmen dispute the purely genetic explanation for Third World — and particularly African — problems, like the ones that plague Haiti. Without Western interference (often in the form of well-meaning aid and imposition of Western political forms), they say Africans worldwide would find a natural, sustainable balance with the environment — and a political path uniquely their own.

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