Zahira Kharsany
Zahira Kharsany

Yet another empty promise

On Thursday, BBC News published an article titled “Bush marks two years from Katrina” where US President George Bush promises an audience at a New Orleans school flooded in 2005 that “better days are ahead”.

Isn’t that the exact same message — now without the strong rhetoric produced by his republican spin machine — many will still remember from his speech after Hurricane Katrina churned through New Orleans and displaced millions of people?

Seventeen days after the hurricane, Bush arrived at Jackson Square in New Orleans armed with portable generators that would light the square while he addressed the American nation, promising in strong language that when it came to rebuilding New Orleans, no one would be left behind.

Right after his speech, which I thought of as one of his (few) more credible political speeches, the generators he had brought were unplugged and Jackson Square went dark again.

And since then, two years after “New Orleans will rise again”
and “We will do what it takes”, I am still searching for some positive news on how Bush and his administration dealt with the worst engineering disaster in US history.

Just some headlines. “Drug problems escalate after Hurricane Katrina”, “Two years after Hurricane Katrina, life’s hard in the Big Easy”
“Bitterness lingers two years after Katrina”, “Pain, progress mingle in Katrina evacuees’ lives”. And so on, and so on.

From these articles we learn that tens of thousands of people are still living in cramped government caravans waiting to return to their houses, or in exile in Texas. Many schools are still closed, and churches and charities — working out of caravans — are providing the basic medical and social services.

To make thing worse, crime in New Orleans has risen to alarming rates over the past two years. According to an article published by the Mail & Guardian Online crime has been up 33% on last year, with a murder on average every 1,8 days, putting the city on course to become the murder capital of America by the end of the year.

The fact that the world’s wealthiest nation isn’t capable of taking care for its own people two years after Katrina not only reveals the squalor and desperate poverty in the US for the world to see, but also deprives it of any right to preach its dubious values and standards anywhere else in the world.