A Region Responds to a Nation in Need

By Dialogo
April 01, 2010

Latin America and the Caribbean reacted immediately to the crisis in Haiti
with an outpouring of aid to Haitian and foreign victims of the quake, many of whom
were from the Americas. The region is sadly too familiar with the devastating
effects of earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. These natural disasters, which span
national boundaries to affect neighboring countries, destroy the lives and the
livelihoods of thousands of people each year and hamper the future development of an
entire region.
The shared commitment to save lives and provide disaster relief to the
poorest country in the Americas brought together the nations of the Caribbean,
Central America, South America and the United States. Sending aid to the earthquake
victims in Haiti became a common cause, a mission of unity that spanned continents
in a large-scale humanitarian assistance operation of unprecedented proportions.
In addition to the current disaster relief efforts to assist Haiti, several
countries in the Western Hemisphere have made longstanding commitments to the
beleaguered Caribbean nation. The United States had been an active partner with
Haiti long before the tragic quake, responding to the country’s needs through the
U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. military supported disaster
relief missions in 2008 after a series of storms hit Haiti, and U.S. forces are once
again providing humanitarian assistance to Haiti through Operation Unified Response.
Several Latin American countries are also involved in the development and
security of Haiti, working alongside the Haitian government and the United Nations
mission in the country, MINUSTAH, established in 2004 and with staff from 47
nations. MINUSTAH includes forces from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia,
Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
Brazil leads the military command of the mission with a contingent of more
than 1,900 troops. Venezuela and Cuba have also made contributions to the Haitian
earthquake relief effort.
The following is a summary of relief contributions to Haiti from the
Caribbean, Central America, South America and the United States, with personal
accounts of losses suffered, aid provided and efforts undertaken to restore hope for
the Haitian people.