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Unnecessary Comparisons: Haiti and Chile

Upon hearing that an 8.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter roughly 70 miles from Chile's second largest city of Concepcion, I began to automatically draw comparisons. We could talk about how the "Chilean quake would likely claim far fewer lives than the one that struck Haiti in early January." We could talk about how much better prepared Chile was for the earthquake, how safety codes required that buildings were constructed to sway with the seismic tremors or we can talk about the resulting consequences in the lives of Chileans.

We could talk of the socio-economic differences as this writer expresses in a piece in Time:

...Chile is more developed because it's doing things right. The same goes for Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica and a handful of other Latin American and Caribbean nations that have decided in the 21st century to stop running their societies like medieval fiefdoms. They've conceded that niceties like rule of law, accountability, education, entrepreneurial opportunity and administrative efficiency actually have merit. And they've stopped making worn-out excuses, like the threats of communism or U.S. imperialism, for not modernizing their political and economic systems.

The earthquake that struck Chile was 500 times stronger than that which hit Haiti, with a magnitude of 7.0. 220,000 lives were lost in Haiti, a number that is exponentially larger than the 723 and counting lost in Chile. I am not going to compare the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere to that with the highest GDP in Latin America.

The vast differences in the physiognomy of the nations allow for a relatively straightforward mapping of the differences of the earthquakes which struck Haiti and Chile. Alternatively, we can focus on how Haitian and Chilean societies have been irrevocably ruptured on the days the earth shook. We can also instead talk about the fact that no disaster preparedness equips one to handle the loss of a loved one, home or even business. Here's what really matters -- people lost their lives, families are grieving; physical, emotional and mental rebuilding need to occur. Let us not quibble over the numbers of lives lost, buildings ruined or the amount of time it will take to reconstruct but stand in solidarity with those who mourn.