Thomas Tighe in Politico Playbook
Thomas Tighe (Thailand 1986-88; PC/HQ 1995-2000) is now CEO of Direct Relief International, biggest medical supplier to Haiti (directrelief.org): As quoted in Politico Playbook this morning: “One year ago tomorrow [Jan. 12] in Haiti — a country the size of Maryland — more people died in a matter of minutes from the earthquake than have been killed by all the natural disasters in the history of the United States. The scale of human tragedy caused by Haiti’s earthquake defies comprehension: 230,000 people killed, 1.3 million people displaced, and 194,000 injured. Those who survive now carry the hope and challenge of rebuilding a country. Of course help is still needed to get through and get better. The health challenges alone are steep and threatening, from the systemic level all the way down to very basic access to things like a health professional, medicines, IV solutions, and even soap. Long after the headlines have faded, the recovery work is being fueled by the generosity of so many.”
And Thomas Tighe might also asked, “And where in the hell are the Crisis Corps Volunteers?” (a.k.a. Peace Corps Response Corps)
As of today, January 11, 2011, according to the Peace Corps Response Office, “no plans to send PCVs.”
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I lived in Haiti when my wife was assigned to our embassy there. Friendly, pleasant people with whom I felt completely at ease in spite of not speaking Creole or French. I used to wander at will in downtown Port au Prince without any problem. No one bothered me unless I asked for assistance. I poked around stalls and shops which never saw foreigners. I even went through the back street curbside auto repair sites which were filled with tough looking, but still pleasant, men.
I tell people that they can get an instant view of the country’s history by visiting the Pantheon of Heros, if it still stands, located in the park in front of the President’s Palace now a pile of rubble. There are photos, statues, and scripts about Haiti’s leaders since the revolution that freed it from French rule. The striking thing is that they were all, in the currently used term, “authoritarian” rulers, read dictators. I believe this tight, central control in one man is what has hobbled the country’s progress these last 200 years. As I was given to putting it, the only difference between the president at that time, Aristide, and the former “Papa Doc” was that the former was much thinner and darker.
There is no functioning government in Haiti; how can the U.S. (and as such the Peace Corps) make an agreement to set a program in motion there?