The terrible earthquake that shattered Haiti’s Port-au-Prince has left tens of thousands dead, and many thousands more in desperate need of food, water, and shelter. Unlike political disasters — i.e., Rwanda or Darfur — where world actors seem paralyzed, sclerotic, and otherwise slow to respond, the global response to Haiti has been inspiring.
Various Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Uruguay, already had peacekeeping commitments in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Those countries are now fully engaged in the rescue and relief effort. In fact, the quickest reactions to the crisis did not come from the OECD countries. According to the International Red Cross, the “lion’s share” of the initial response came from Latin American countries.
The rallying didn’t stop there. Cuba and the United States, bitter enemies for over 50 years, put aside their differences — albeit briefly — to focus on the rescue efforts. In a rare diplomatic breakthrough, Cuba is allowing the U.S. Medical Evacuation flights to use its airspace, cutting 90 minutes off its one-way flight time to and from Haiti.
Even in the midst of all this carnage, it’s inspiring to see leaders focus on what’s actually important for a change — even if it takes a natural disaster to get them to do it.
To donate to Haiti relief please visit UNICEF’s website, or text “HAITI” to 90999.