PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Flags at half-mast flapped in the wind Wednesday as Haiti honored the estimated 316,000 people who died in a devastating earthquake that hit 12 years ago.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry and other government officials clad in black suits visited the monument topped by a large rock that commemorates the victims of the 7.0 magnitude quake that struck on Jan. 12, 2010.
“We still have plenty to rebuild,” Henry said. “January 12th did not destroy one house only. It destroyed the economy of the whole country. It’s going to take a long time to go back to the way we were before the quake.”
The quake destroyed more than 100,000 buildings and damaged another 200,000. Henry said that billions of dollars were spent in the name of Haiti but that no one has proof of where part of that money went.
Henry, who is seeking to build a coalition government after the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in a country struggling with a spike in gang violence, said Haitians don’t have the power to stop natural disasters but can put an end to violence.
He said that without peace, Haiti can’t rebuild its economy or democratic institutions, open schools or hold the general elections scheduled for later this year.
“January 12th is a good time to ask ourselves where we want to go with the country,” Henry said. “It’s not the time to continue fighting.”