I’m in Costa Rica right now, enjoying the school’s winter break with some of my classmates, one of who is a lovely lady I’ve been seeing since the very end of the Spring semester in Bologna. We will affectionately refer to her as Ray Ray. I’ve not mentioned her until now largely because as soon as school wrapped in Italy, I was off to Kenya and she to Sri Lanka. Next thing you know we arrived in DC and school ramped up immediately. So there you have it. She’s an amazing woman, incredibly smart, creative, funny with hazel eyes...... where was I?
Oh yeah, Costa Rica. Our group is not entirely going the adventure traveler route this time. We’re allowing ourselves a nice stay in a well-established town called Playa Tamarindo. Or Tamagringo, as it is sometimes called. We aren’t roughing it by any stretch.
The big news of the week, and the reason I wanted to jot down some thoughts, is the devastating earthquake in Haiti. If the news I’m reading is accurate, this is a wound that will take decades to heal. It would be one thing if the country had even moderately stable infrastructure. But they have next-to-nothing and it was all wiped out this week. It won’t be long before food and water shortages, not to mention disease, start making a bad situation markedly worse.
Effectively getting aid into – and dispersed throughout – the country is going to be a herculean task. I believe the UN is up for it but much will be determined by how quickly anyone can organize a system for bringing in supplies smoothly in these first weeks of what will undoubtedly be years of recovery.
But this also poses an incredible opportunity to completely revamp Haiti. No doubt billions will be collected for the effort, but the ruling powers that be will be loathe to give up their respective fiefdoms and control of the country. If things are going to get better for everyday Haitians, it is going to mean a decline for the relatively few who control it. With our own recovery at home and the toll the recession is taking, I doubt the US will be so active in this one. We don’t have the greatest of track records regarding Haiti. But from a realpolitik point of view, we should be concerned about Haitian refugees. A humanitarian crisis can quickly become a security issue. From a moral perspective, I’d argue we have an obligation to get involved quickly, on a big scale, and be in it for the long haul.
Just my initial two cents for now.