On The Anniversary Of The Haiti Earthquake: Has The Diaspora 'Checked Out?'

Jan 11, 2013

Jacqueline Charles
Credit Twitter

It's been three years since an earthquake leveled Port au Prince and shook all of us indirectly in South Florida, home to the nation's largest population of Haitian-Americans.

Miami Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles remembers January 12, 2010, well.

That day, Charles was in the process of writing a story about Haiti's latest mess, a controversy over the government taking a loan from Venezuela to help the country rebuild an airport.

She was also still reporting on Haiti's ongoing recovery after four deadly storms in 2008. The tropical systems left nearly 800 dead, tens of thousands more either injured, homeless or both, and also destroyed 70 percent of the nation's cash crops.  

But at 4:53 p. m., the capital city and its surrounds shook for 30 to 40 seconds, and those problems would be seem minor. 

An earthquake -- which registered a magnitude of 7.0 -- leveled the most populated part of the country, leaving an estimated 316,000 dead, 300,000 more injured and at least a million people homeless.

Charles says the country is still struggling to dig out today. Hundreds of thousands remain homeless living in tent cities. Billions of dollars in international aid were pledged to help recovery efforts, but only about half of that has been delivered. Of the money that has arrived, only a small portion has actually been spent. 

Three years later, according to Charles, many promises have been broken and South Florida's large Haitian Diaspora has "checked out," acting only as "bystanders and observers" as their nation's problems worsen.

Click the link to listen to our full chat above. For the latest news on Haiti and the entire Caribbean, follow Jacquie Charles on Twitter.