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Ear to the Ground

Some of Haiti’s Upper Class Spared Earthquake’s Worst

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Posted on Jan 18, 2010

Natural disasters may not discriminate, but some members of Haiti’s upper class managed to avoid the worst of last week’s earthquake simply by virtue of geography, as many of them live outside Port-au-Prince in the suburban enclave of nearby Petionville, which The Washington Post describes as “Beverly Hills, but with razor wire.”  —KA

The Washington Post:

Although Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed many buildings in Port-au-Prince, it mostly spared homes and businesses up the mountain in the cool, green suburb of Petionville, home to former presidents and senators.

A palace built atop a mountain by the man who runs one of Haiti’s biggest lottery games is still standing. New-car dealers, the big importers, the families that control the port—they all drove through town with their drivers and security men this past weekend. Only a few homes here were destroyed.

“All the nation is feeling this earthquake—the poor, the middle class and the richest ones,” said Erwin Berthold, owner of the Big Star Market in Petionville. “But we did okay here. We have everything cleaned up inside. We are ready to open. We just need some security. So send in the Marines, okay?”

As Berthold stood outside his two-story market, stocked with fine wines and imported food from Miami and Paris, his customers cruised by and asked when he would reopen. “Maybe Monday!” he shouted, then held up his hand to his ear, for customers to call his cellphone.

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, January 19, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Figures the WaPo would go find the rich people and check on how they were doing.  Seems to be the only people the WaPo ever cares about.

Don’t worry rich guy in the story.  The Us is sending in the Marines to make certain that your little store is protected and to make sure that the poor people continue to starve.

Its what we do.

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By ersatzthinktank, January 19, 2010 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let ‘em eat cake.

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By christian96, January 19, 2010 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

The owner of the Big Star Market for security sake
said, “Send in the marines.”  Seems to be the purpose
of the military in every nation.  To protect the
businesses of the wealthy.  Forget the marines. Let
the poor people have access to them if they can get
through the razor wire. Someday the poor people
serving in the marines will wake up and realize who
they are really protecting.

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DieDaily's avatar

By DieDaily, January 19, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Man what is with this Waspington Post crap? Couldn’t we
get something from a real newspaper? I notice from the
comments that WP articles are almost uniformly
recognized by the comments a being of lowest quality,
highest spin, and least objectivity possible. Quality
control? Hello? Can we get some news here?

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, January 19, 2010 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

It’s also true that some of Haiti’s lower class were spared the worst.

What a pointless article. And what a parody of a headline. A classic variation on, “Asteroid Heads for Earth- Women, Children and the Poor Expected to Bear Brunt”

Everybody automatically assumes the poor got disproportionally screwed by the earthquake. I’m sure the ratio of rich to poor is far lower in the countryside than PaP, so the poor as a proportion of the national population probably lost less. This is certainly true materially.

And if the rich in fact own everything- the buildings, the infrastructure, etc- I think it is the rich who by far got the worst of it. You folks should be dancing in the streets with joy at the devastation the rich have to endure down there.

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By Marshall, January 19, 2010 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

Is there any point whatsoever to this article or Truthdig’s reference to it?  So Port-
au-Prince is a destitute town and the surrounding mountains are better off.  Is
this news?  Opinion?  A call to action?  Should they prevent ex-presidents from
living out of town?  Should the townspeople run for the hills?  Is there a conspiracy
here that needs uncovering?  Or does TD just need to fill some screen realestate
of their own?  I think I’m on to something here.

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By Dayahka, January 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

That’s it? Logically, of course, some means more than one, but you could have at least gone a bit further. It’ miles and miles up winding roads to Petionville from Port-au-Prince, and miles and miles beyond that to Fermate and on to Kenskoff, so one has to wonder how many more between the one or two of some and the thousands that would be all survived OK. These are the people who own the country and hold at least 90% of the money and for whom the US has invaded several times, kicked out Aristide, and done so much destruction.

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