The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster
Jonathan M. Katz
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Published to glowing reviews and awards, The Big Truck That Went By is a crucial, timely look at a signal failure of international aid.
Jonathan M. Katz was the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti on January 12, 2010, when the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck the island nation. In this visceral first-hand account, Katz takes readers inside the terror of that day, the devastation visited on ordinary Haitians, and through the monumental--yet misbegotten--rescue effort that followed.
Most had fled the floods and gutted farms of Haiti’s desiccated countryside to seek better lives in Port-au-Prince. They came to this ravine below Pétionville, a suburb of wealthy Haitians and foreigners in the mountains south of the capital, so they could clean mansions, guard gates, or wait tables. Others serviced the servicers, selling them rice and beans, hawking clothing from blankets along the road, or ferrying them on motorcycles and covered pickup trucks to save walks under the brutal sun.
The secretary-general motioned woodenly toward the 45,000 people in the gully below. “We have to move these—displaced persons—to a safer place. ” Once again, it was important to understand both the threat and its limits: On a normal day in Port-au-Prince, rain is dangerous. There’s little drainage on the streets, causing roads to back up like bathtubs. And storms hit hard—there will be one drop, and then a thousand drops, and then suddenly a river falling from the sky. (It’s an old joke in Haiti that street merchants will sit patiently through gunfire but run over one another if two drops hit their heads.
3 million for failing to properly file its Teleco contract, and Courter resigned from McCain’s campaign. IDT had also been a top donor to the campaigns of at least two members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 33 The case was often cited as an example of Haiti’s systemic rot. It was generally not used to demonstrate that the U. S. telecom industry, Congress, or the whole of the United States was corrupt. The donors at the conference did not have to make the case that Préval’s government would be corrupt.
But there was a fourth task, more pressing to my editors and parents. It was why I had come to the redbrick monstrosity. The sign was behind a precision-painted door, down the steps into a beige-carpeted basement: “Therapist. ” Journalism has come a long way since the days when dealing with psychological fallout meant having a drink and getting back to work. New research into the long-term effects of workplace stress, greater social acceptance of analysis, and a lot of advocacy have led to a new treatment plan: seeing a therapist and getting back to work.
Aid to Haiti is far more likely to make the half-mile walk from Treasury to the headquarters of Chemonics International—a for-profit development agency founded by a U. S. rice exporter to Haiti (censured in 2003 by the Securities and Exchange Commission for bribing Haitian officials), then bought by a former USAID official. 3 Chemonics might use the funds for overhead; transportation; housing; the hiring of cars, drivers, guards, and possibly a cook; and, finally, the project. Its report would go to USAID, Haitian opinions taken into account briefly, if at all.