Today marks the eleventh anniversary of that fateful January 12, when a devastating earthquake shook an entire nation, leaving hundreds of thousands dead in its wake. This Tuesday Haiti remembers one of the darkest stains in its history, one that seems indelible in the eyes of many.
“We will never forget that day, a day that cost the country a lot, we lost thousands of people and even today the injured are still alive. Today is a very sad day for us, each one lost something that day, but we were very strong”, Haitian President Jovenel Moise had said during one of the many acts of remembrance that they have carried out since then.
It is estimated that the passage of this earthquake, of magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale, left around 300,000 dead and even more injured.
Barely 35 seconds were enough to destroy part of the infrastructure of a country, exposing a weak point in Haiti, a tragedy that after a decade has not been totally overcome.
“A lost decade”
More than 1.5 million Haitians are reportedly homeless, leaving local authorities and the international humanitarian community to face a colossal challenge in a country that lacks a land registry or building rules.
“It has been a lost decade, totally lost,” said Haitian economist Kesner Pharel in a 2020 interview. “The capital has not been rebuilt, but our bad governance is not the sole responsibility of local authorities; internationally we have not seen a mechanism to administer the aid that allows the country to benefit. “
He also indicated that the millions of dollars that were donated to the cause of reconstruction in Haiti were not received in their entirety, something that was reflected in the situation of many survivors who by that date were exposed to the same dangers that existed before the earthquake. .
Not so temporary settlements
One of the most common relief measures in the days after the earthquake was temporary settlements for the millions of displaced people.
However, still in 2020, thousands of Haitian nationals continue to live in these spaces that were designed temporarily, according to a report by the Efe news agency.
According to this writing, one of the most populous temporary settlements of the 22 that were still standing is Corail, the name of a community made up of hundreds of houses built 25 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince.
“We live in misery here, misery surrounds us. If we had money we could do something, but we don’t have it,” Helene Laura, a mother who shares a small house with her six children, told EFE.
Some 34,000 people, according to estimates by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), continued to live in 2020 in a similar situation since the time of the earthquake.
The houses in Corail were built by a non-governmental organization (NGO) to serve as a refuge for a maximum of two or three years, although most of the people have already been relocated.
“In fractions of seconds that column of dust began to rise, from the part that we had been climbing and I thought: Well if all that dust were houses that collapsed, there are many problems, there will be many deaths,” said Jorge Cruz, a photographer from Listín Diario, who was present during the earthquake.
Cruz and his partner Javier Valdivia were in the neighboring nation for an assignment from this medium, and he felt the movements of the earthquake as they moved to Petionville, in the Haitian capital.
“I remember that the bus began to move in an unusual way for me because I have never been in a place where an earthquake occurs … Valdivia does realize it and told me immediately: Jorgito take care that it is an earthquake,” he explained.
Cruz admitted that after this experience, which he defined as one of the worst days he has ever lived, it took him a long time to sleep, ensuring that for three months any unexpected movement or brushing against his bed he was already awake and expecting the worst.