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Helping Haiti


It’s only natural for U.S. officials to help the people devastated by the earthquake in Haiti. Sadly, it’s just as natural for a loud chorus of jeers to erupt from anti-American leaders around the Caribbean.

Regardless, this tragic occurrence in the most impoverished nation of the Americas should trigger a bold, integrated, and compassionate response by the White House. President Obama needs to put the U.S. at the forefront of assistance and relief operations. Fortunately, he can turn to the United States Southern Command (Southcom) in Miami, which has been preparing for this type of contingency.

Our neighbors in the Americas will scrutinize the U.S. response. Cuban medical personnel and Venezuelan cash and assistance teams will arrive in Haiti. There will be tension and jockeying for credit and media attention. In this human tragedy, one hopes a sense of common humanity will prevail. But the Castros and Chávezes of this world don’t play that way. The propagandists in Havana and Caracas will attempt to exploit the situation and cast aspersions on the U.S. response.

Yet, in the rubble of Port-au-Prince, with so many lives lost and shattered, the Obama administration has a chance to lead by deeds and action — and demonstrate a certain audacity of hope.

– Ray Walser is senior policy analyst for Latin America at the Heritage Foundation’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.