Haiti: eye-witness to devastation

David L. Wilson of Weekly News Update on the Americas reports from Port-au-Prince, Jan. 12:

I'm writing from the southern part of Port-au-Prince; I have been in Haiti since last Thursday on a delegation in support of Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP), the Papay Peasant Movement. The earthquake hit less than 12 hours ago, and damage here is extensive. The Olaffson Hotel, where I was waiting to be picked up by Paul from Batay Ouvriye, hasn't had serious damage, but one of the walls in front fell. Street vendors were working there; at least one was injured and taken away. Another was killed. Her body is still lying under the blocks—there's no time to deal with the dead.

In the hour after the first shock, people passed by carrying the injured, one in a wheelbarrow, another on a stretcher improvised of planks.

People come here and report damage all through the city, although the stories are contradictory: the National Palace is totally destroyed, the National Palace is partly destroyed, the General Hospital is destroyed, no, it's a little hospital in Petionville.

To add to the trauma, there are aftershocks, mostly small, some substantial. Many people in the neighborhood are singing. I suspect they're praying, but I can't make out the words.

What is most obviously missing from this picture is any organized relief. Where is the 9,000-strong U.N. mission? One helicopter flew over the city about an hour after the first shock, but we've seen and heard nothing since then.

This is a country where the infrastructure was already collapsed, despite decades of "international aid"—or because of it. Will the U.S. and the other countries do anything, even now?

See our last post on Haiti.