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Los ricos también lloran

17 January 2010

Marc Lacey and Simon Romero, in yesterday’s New York Times, on the society news from Haiti:

Earthquakes do not respect social customs. They do not coddle the rich. They know nothing about the invisible lines that in Haiti keep the poor masses packed together in crowded slums and the well-to-do high up in the breezy hills of places like Pétionville.

And so it was with the devastating temblor that tore through Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, last week, toppling houses large and small, and trapping and traumatizing residents no matter where they stood on Haiti’s complicated social scale.

The quake’s casualties, yet to be fully reckoned, are likely to fall heaviest on the poor, who make up the majority of the population…

Uhhh… the poor, malnourished and those unlike

Harold Marzouka, a businessman, [who] chartered an 18-seat executive jet to fly members of his extended family to Miami. Standing around their luggage, they complained of nightmares and worried about aftershocks, the same worries voiced by the people wandering aimlessly through the streets with their few possessions bundled in their arms.

Mazouka is not heartless, just — like anyone else — likely to look after his and his family’s needs first:

One of his warehouses is full of food and he said he fully expected it to be looted as the situation in Haiti grew more dire in the days ahead.

“I understand it and I don’t mind,” he said. “I’m expecting it.”

I don’t mean to minimize Mr. Masouka’s losses, nor am I going to get into a “beat the press” mode.  Beat Simon Romero, maybe, but most of us who write about Latin America do that already.

Simon Romero is often a twit, and has a lackey’s sensibilities in his sympathies for the rich and sometimes twisted (like his notorious adulation of Bolivian slave-owners and now fugitives, Ronald Larsen and his Mr. Bolivia contestant son, Dustin).   Going to Haiti right now — as a journalist or an aid worker or a soldier — is dangerous, and Marc and Simon deserve credit for doing their job under extraordinary conditions.

It’s human nature that we’re more interested in the rich and powerful than the poor and powerless.  It’s always been this way, I guess:  one of the best selling biographies of all times quoted the not-rich, but noteworthy subject as saying, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”

Unless you’re rich or have a really good biographer, I guess your story  is going to be forgotten.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 January 2010 9:55 am

    I’m reminded of a song by the band Propagandhi, likening the plight between rich and poor into a movie script:

    “When the credits finally roll for this,
    the worst story ever told,
    don’t bother sifting through the names for yours or anyone you know.
    Unless they were by chance a shepherd king,
    a virgin birth,
    a resurrection,
    a messianic prince
    or some such childish thing.

    You can storm the edit suite
    or move to block its theatrical release,
    but I think we can safely guarantee
    that there will be no revisions to the script
    made on behalf
    of a supporting cast(e).”

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