Death toll from Haiti's weekend earthquake rises to 1,941

Earthquake-displaced children huddle under a piece of plastic the morning after Tropical Storm Grace swept over Les Cayes, Haiti, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, three days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

Dear God: Why do you keep picking on Haiti? It is, by far, the poorest country in the Americas. It has the fewest resources to recover from a disaster. It has no industries, no exports, no assets, and no hope.

Perhaps that’s overstating the situation, but only slightly. Of all the countries that could be afflicted by an earthquake, Haiti is probably the country least capable of surviving.

But you hit it with a 7.0 earthquake in 2010, which resulted in at least 20,000 deaths and left millions homeless. It’s not possible to discuss property damage, because most of the property that fell down was already falling down anyway.

Now, while it’s still recovering from the 2010 earthquake — if it ever will — you whack it with a bigger 7.2 earthquake on Saturday, Aug. 14. Bringing down a whole lot more buildings. Slabs of concrete tilted against earth other. Rebar twisted like pretzels. Crushed cars. Entire buildings tilted farther than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

And if that’s not enough, over 100 more earthquakes during the next two days.

What did Haiti do to deserve this treatment?

Obviously, I’m assuming that you deliberately cause earthquakes and storms and tsunamis. I’m not challenging your right to intervene. If you’re almighty, that’s your prerogative. You don’t need to explain your reasons to mere mortals.

But I do question your timing.

Don’t you think that hitting Haiti with an earthquake right after its president was assassinated by foreign mercenaries was a bit much? And then to follow it a week later with Tropical Storm Grace?

If you didn’t cause any of this, just hit the delete button.

Otherwise, I’d have expected you to take Haiti’s side. Jesus always took the side of the underdog. There’s not one reference in the gospels to him favouring the powerful Roman legions occupying his homeland.

If any nation qualifies as “underdog,” it would be Haiti.

Haiti was once the jewel in the French crown, the richest of France’s colonies. They called it “The Pearl of the Antilles.” But it was wealthy — for France — because of millions of slaves imported from Africa.

France was not a benign authority. Its slaves were so brutally treated that they rebelled, under the leadership of a man named Toussaint Louverture.

The French were, at the time, consolidating their hold on the Louisiana Territory, which they had just acquired from Spain in a secret deal. In those days, Louisiana extended all the way from the Mississippi to the Rockies.

When the Haitian slaves revolted, Napoleon Bonaparte sent his brother-in-law to quell them. Charles LeClerc took an armada and an army. And instructions to “destroy all of the black people in the mountains — men and women — and spare only children under twelve years of age. We must not… leave a single person of colour in the colony…”

That time, you would seem to be on the slaves’ side, God. Because they won. With his forces in disarray, Napoleon couldn’t protect Louisiana. So he sold it to the expanding United States of America, for a bargain-basement price of $26 million.

If it hadn’t been for Haiti, the western half of the continent would be French-speaking today.

Should I assume you prefer to speak English, God?

Haiti declared its independence in 1804. Its new constitution abolished slavery, with no exceptions. Most histories consider Haiti the first nation anywhere to abolish slavery: 30 years before William Wilberforce in Britain, 61 years before Abe Lincoln and the 13th Amendment freed slaves in the Divided States.

That should have earned Haiti some brownie points, shouldn’t it?

Jesus never defended slavery. His travelling sales rep, Paul, clearly rejected it: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” he wrote.

So how come you allowed France to demand reparations for losing its most lucrative colony that impoverished Haiti for 120 years.

Haiti didn’t pay off its debt to French (and American) banks until 1947. Is that what ticked you off, God? Are you a fiscal conservative?

No doubt Pat Robertson, or someone like him, will blame Haiti’s misfortunes on mixing African Vodou with Roman Catholicism.

Robertson blamed the 2010 earthquake on Haiti’s “pact with the devil.” According to legend, Haiti’s liberators launched their revolution with a Vodou ceremony called Bwa Kayiman, which begged “Satan” — in Christian terminology — to help overthrow their French masters.

God, do you let guys like Pat Robertson set your agenda?

Jim Taylor is an Okanagan Centre author and freelance journalist.