About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quakes Shake More than Plates in Lat Am History

Looting is being reported in the press as Haiti grinds on into another day of paralysis. Campus Progress has a nice article on how the "looting" is being played up in Haiti and makes a great comparison to New Orleans after Katrina.

Still, should the folks in Haiti start getting a little grumpy about the paralysis of the central government in the face of a disaster, it wouldn't be the first time. Citizens are willing to put up with a lot if basic security is provided (security in Foucaltian sense of being the neutral response to incidents that harm the population). When that basic security is absent, things can get sticky. A reminder of the three biggees for Latin America: The San Juan quake of 1944 catapulted Juan Domingo Peron in to the spotlight in Argentina; the 1972 quake in Nicaragua highlighted for the world the limits and depravity of the Somoza regime; the 1985 quake in D.F. not only showcased the corruption, limitations, and callusness of the PRI but it also created a plethora of neighborhood organizations that helped propel the capital into the hands of the PRD in later years.

Is Haiti in for a lot more pain beyond the immediate effects of the quake? Possible. On the other hand, what would any sort of shake up yield but to put different people in charge of total poverty?

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