Spotlight on Solidarity
By Dialogo April 01, 2010
Days after the earthquake, Vice President Álvaro García traveled to Haiti to deliver supplies donated by his government. “Bolivia brought part of what we have to share; we don’t share what we have left over, just what we have,” García said. Bolivia sent more than 50 tons of food and also contributed money. Bolivians lined up at blood banks throughout the country, eventually donating 500 liters. Bolivia’s contribution of more than 200 peacekeepers to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, helped provide security at food distribution points.
It seemed everyone in Colombia wanted to do their part to help the people of Haiti. Pop singers Shakira and Juanes both contributed through concerts and fundraising initiatives. Shakira announced through her Barefoot Foundation the construction of a new school. “We want to give these children affected by the disaster the opportunity to learn and prosper,” she said.
Juanes performed a benefit concert from the Dominican Republic along with artists Alejandro Sanz, Miguel Bosé and Juan Luis Guerra to help raise money to build a children’s hospital. For his retirement match in Medellín, famed goalkeeper René Higuita collected more than 20 tons of rice from fans who came out to see their beloved superstar.
The Catholic Church of Colombia contributed $1 million donated by parishioners throughout the country. President Álvaro Uribe ordered the naval hospital ship Cartagena to Haiti along with tons of relief supplies, while the Air Force flew in hundreds of rescue and medical workers, several canine units and search and rescue equipment. “[Colombian] citizens have been very generous,” Uribe said. “Colombia is ready to assume a specific responsibility to help accelerate the aiding and rebuilding.”
President Rafael Correa spent a few days in Haiti, including one night in the MINUSTAH camp with his forces. After assessing the damage, Correa, currently the interim president of the Union of South American Nations, said countries of the region are small but can provide aid for Haiti. “They are not alone in this tragedy… they have the support of all countries, particularly Latin American countries.” On his trip to Haiti, the president brought relief supplies including medicine, medical equipment, search and rescue teams, and several tons of food.
The 60 Ecuadorian soldiers serving with MINUSTAH, traveled in conjunction with the Chilean contingent to perform many search and rescue missions near the Haitian capital.
Crumpled houses and toppled churches, tents set up to house the thousands who have lost their homes, children attending school in makeshift classrooms: It’s been 2 1/2 years since a magnitude 8.0 earthquake rocked Pisco, killing almost 600 people, and the city is still trying to rebuild.
President Alan García, stressing the importance of international assistance when a country suffers from a natural disaster, said his country would donate $10 million for the reconstruction of schools and potable water systems in Haiti. Other aid included food, two field hospitals, medical teams, medicine and an extra 150 personnel to bolster the 200 troops already in Haiti in support of MINUSTAH.
“Haiti has no debt with Venezuela. It is Venezuela that has a historic debt with Haiti,” President Hugo Chávez said, referring to Haiti’s support of Venezuela when the Andean country was liberated from Spain. Chávez wrote off almost $300 million in debt owed to Venezuela by Haiti, nearly one-third of the impoverished country’s international debt. Venezuela also responded with more than 600 tons of food and 127 tons of equipment, including water purification systems, electrical generators and heavy equipment for moving rubble, along with medical and search and rescue teams. With oil being the valuable commodity that it is, Venezuela also sent 2.1 million gallons of crude oil to Haiti.