Haiti: US embassy knew of earthquake vulnerability

June 18, 2011

US officials in Haiti warned that the Haitian government would be unable to handle a catastrophic earthquake five years before a devastating tremor ended up destroying large swathes of the Haitian capital and surrounding towns, killing tens of thousands and destroying hundreds of buildings.

The information was revealed in a secret US cable obtained by the media organisation WikiLeaks.

“The last thing Haiti needs now is an earthquake,” said a May 25, 2005 cable, written two weeks after a 4.3 magnitude tremor shook the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on May 11. There were no reported injuries and only very minor damage.

The earthquake warning was in a trove of 1918 cables that WikiLeaks made available to Haiti Liberte.

“A more severe earthquake would be catastrophic, as the government of Haiti is unprepared to handle a natural disaster of any magnitude,” added the cable, warning that any large tremor would compound problems of political instability, poverty and environmental degradation.

“On [sic] OFDA [Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance] team will come to Port-au-Prince in June [2005] to help the embassy coordinate its disaster preparations, and to try to jump-start [Government of Haiti] and donor coordination and planning,” concluded the cable.

Still, the January 12, 2010, earthquake appeared to catch unprepared the Haitian government, international NGOs, and the 9000-strong UN military force that had been occupying Haiti since the 2004 overthrow of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Relief and reconstruction efforts were — and continue to be — slow and chaotic, marred by a lack of coordination and open competition among various governments and international agencies.

“I just don’t understand it,” exclaimed ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer six days after the earthquake, questioning the sluggishness of U.S. relief efforts. “I do not understand it: six days and they are only 90 minutes away from Miami.”
“With every day that passes in the mud and rubble of Haiti, the failures of the relief effort are heartbreaking,” added the New York Times in an editorial two months later.
Today, 16 months after the quake, only about 37% of US$4.6 billion in support pledges have actually been disbursed — a crucial issue given the dominant role that the international community plays in Haiti.

Some 65% of the Haitian government budget, and all of the Haitian government’s capital spending, comes from international sources.
A USAID-commissioned report dated May 13 and entitled “Building Assessments and Rubble Removal in Quake-Affected Neighborhoods in Haiti” estimates that between 141,000 and 375,000 people remain without homes.

The study, conducted and written principally by statistician and US-aid critic Timothy Schwartz, calculates that somewhere between 46,000 to 85,000 people died in the quake.

The previously accepted death toll put forth by the Haitian government was 312,000.
Haiti lies between two major fault lines that traverse the country, one under the capital and one under the second largest city, Cap Haitien, in the north. Seismologists consider both faults “quite dangerous,” the cable notes.
“The northern fault, in particular, has not released significant energy in over 800 years,” the cable warns. “According to experts, approximately 4 to 8 meters of left lateral slippage has already accumulated and should it be released, could register 8.0 or higher on the Richter scale, with no forewarning.”
“The soil conditions in Haiti are such that an earthquake anywhere in the country could cause severe liquefaction, whereby soil is turned to a quicksand type liquid, which is a considerable threat to infrastructure such as buildings, dams, bridges and highways,” the cable added.
[Reprinted from www.haiti-liberte.com . Please consider making a contribution to Haiti Liberte, which is in financial straits due, in part, to expenses incurred in obtaining the WikiLeaks cables. You can donate at the website.]


Aristide government received a report in October 7, 2002 http://www.bme.gouv.ht/alea%20sismique/Alea_sismique%20HAITI.pdf stating that the country should take measures to prepare for a possible earthquake. The Haitian government under Aristide 2002-04 instead of addressing that issue was busy repressing and abusing the people of Haiti. When Preval took over in 2006 he and his cronies from the INITE oarty were busy stealing the Petrocaribe funds. As a result of that the country was not ready on January 12, 2010. Haiti had no emergency disaster management plan, no personnel to deal with the issue in contrary to Chile. The Haitian government should prosecute both Aristide and Preval for the 300.000 that died on January 12, 2010.
Crap Absolute Crap Dr Aristide remains committed to the poor in Haiti, just as he was a local parish priest, and later as a president. Dr Aristide has only just returned from a USA, Canada and French coup and forced exile. Aristide, with Cuban, support, did much for health and education for the people of Haiti. Unlike the rulers of Haiti both before and after him. He tried to increase the minimum wage - that is why he was overthrown. It was the Spanish, French and US imperialism has cause the problem. Dr Aristide, and his party, were prevented from standing for president by the Triumvirate. Once again, Dr. Aristide is again working among the poor of Haiti. However, once again, the US has their own quisiling in charge. If anyone should be prosecuted it is the triumvirate ( USA, Cananda and France) who prevented Aristide and Preval from prevailing.
Aristide personally should be prosecuted, he had no good intensions for the poor, as a matter of fact, he betrayed the poor. ex; let's take the so call corparative that he introduced to the people which he led to believed would received high returns on their money, much more than what the banks were offering and these people sold whatever they could to find money to support that scam he was running. What Aristide did he returned, his organization took off with everyone's money. Later on, the people realized that organization was a way for him to wash the drug money he was getting. In the begining, I believed in the man, and he was the first Haitian president that was capable of taking Haiti to where it needs to be plus he had the people on his side. There is no doubt that Aristide is a smart man, some how he managed to remain a saint but he reality, he is the biggest terrorist that ever lived in the Haitian government and to prove that fact, he was well aware of the warning of a potential earthquake and he chose to ignore that, as a result, thousands of people lost their lives and that is not to mentioned the all the criminal acts that he did on the side which he tries to cover. There has been lots of talks about the Duvalier regime of being corruted, but nonetheless, Haiti was in a much better situation and a much better place to live and since he was kicked out of office, Haiti has gone down hill and not for one second any of the crooked administrations think of Haiti, it's always their interest and their interest only. I believe this time, Haiti has better with the Martelly's administration, he is someone who loves Haiti and want to see Haiti prosper again. So Yes, Aristide should be prosecuted and sooner or later that will happen. 100% Haitian
For details on Duvalier, Aristide and Preval, click here: http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2011/01/duvalier-returns-to-haiti-merely-pawn.html

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