Saturday, August 18, 2007

US to Earthquake Victims: You're worth $1.25 each

I was downhill skiing yesterday and a Canadian told me that she had heard on the radio that the US was only going to send $100,000 in disaster relief to Peru after last weeks' nearly 8.0 earthquake that left over 500 dead. Sadly, after seeing the miserly response of the US to the South East Asian Tsunami, not to mention the rage and dispair many felt after the government abandoned the Gulf Coast after Katrina, I
was not surprised (especially given that Peru is not a major source of US petroleum or a primary regional military ally and counterweight to sub-regional powers).

While the capitol Lima sustained fairly little damage, major indigenous and rural cities such as Pisco, a city of 60,000 a few hundred miles south of Lima, were literally leveled with over 85% of all structures down. One of the most tragic cases was the collapse of a cathedral with 300 people attending mass. Last night on the 9 o'clock Canal 13 news program, peruanos from Pisco were interviewed and they said that there is no room to bury the victims, many are still trapped in rubble, and there is no water nor functioning sanitation (it was actually kind of disgusting how the Chilean reporter was interviewing these people i.e. "Cómo estás?" to which one man replied "Es fatal, no tenemos agua ni espacio para enterrar los muertos" to which the reportero replied "Perfecto" and moved to the next person). According to initial reports some 80,000 people need direct assistence, but this number is most likely going to rise to lack of water, electricity, and places to bury bodies.

So, according to the USAID assessment of the situation, each person in need of 'direct assistance' deserves less than $1.25 from Uncle Sam, but he has a $30 billion 'investment in peace' for the peace loving Israeli army.