The Haiti earthquake disaster is undoubtedly very sad - these poor people have suffered enough without having this cruel twist of nature's fate laying waste to the sprawling city of Port au Prince.
What I find very curious about the unfolding disaster, is how everyone has decided that Haitians who find goods and walk off with them are 'looters'. How do you loot a pile of crumbled concrete and twisted steel foundation rods?
I would dispute whether, in this instance, it counts as 'looting' when people find stuff and take it as their own. Think about it. Nothing really exists anymore. The country, society, whatever you want to call it, has been utterly razed to the ground. There is no infrastructure, no functioning government, no industry, no insurance companies to come to the rescue, no concept of land and property ownership...because most buildings in that city have either been seriously damaged or totally wrecked.
I won't call it a case of 'finder's keepers'. But I would call the 'looting' a form of salvage. Most people are starving, or homeless, or starving and homeless. They are the lucky ones. Others are dead, suffering under a pile of busted concrete and breeze block, or are mourning deceased relatives.
So I think it fair game that people tuck in and help themselves in the circumstances. Any owners of whatever used to exist can't possibly 'sell' the wares they have.
Some of the pictures I've seen in the press have shown shopkeepers with guns, loosing off into the crowd, with a caption underneath along the lines of: "a shopkeeper protects his shop in the face of rampaging looters".
And he'll be stood on a large mound of broken steel, aluminum and wood, in the same way as an Anteater stands on his ant hill with his big old schnozzle poking out defiantly.
No, mate, this is really sad and I'm sorry to have to point this out but...it used to be your fucking shop. It's no longer a shop, is it? It's a sorry mound of shite. Martha isn't going to drop by at 3 o'clock later this afternoon with a crisp dollar bill in order to pick up a couple of tins of chick peas and some collared greens. Martha is dead. The dollar bill is worth one sheet of bog roll, which you don't sell anymore because it turned to putty in the rain.
Adios, for now.
This is a link to Unicef's Haiti Earthquake Fund for Children, should you happen to be reading this site today in a generous mood.