Rene Preval and the 2010 Earthquake

When the largest earthquake ever recorded in this part of the Caribbean, a 7.0 magnitude behemoth that created more devastation than any other quake in the past 200 years of Haiti's history, struck, President René Préval was, like most Haitians on the January 2010 evening, hoping for a prosperous end to their day. Just before 5pm the earthquake struck and hours later, the death toll was astronomical, the devastation of local aid facilities almost total and the need for leadership paramount.

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Criticized for the lack of representation some feel they experienced after the earthquake, Rene Preval made few statement to the press directly following the catastrophe. One such comment, to the Miami Herald, was filled with generalized reports of the devastation with him stating, 'There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them', and his estimation that thousands had perished.

It was a week later that a press conference was held at a police station near the airport. Heavily guarded and behind cinder-block walls, the venue served as his new headquarters. But still, few detailed answers were given. He was still unable to verify the current death toll and couldn't comment on when services and road accessibility would be restored. As aid poured in from other countries like Germany, China, Spain, and from the United Nations in general, Rene Preval called for the people to organize themselves and to maintain order.

Like so many other buildings, schools, hospitals and government offices, the National Palace had collapsed, nearly around Rene Preval himself and his wife. Also, with the devastating effect of the earthquake as a massive fissure in his second presidency, it is, perhaps, not unlikely that many in his position might forget how to be a leader.

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