In the aftermath of the devastating 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, there was an outpouring of support and aid from countries around the world. Yet, two years after the quake, seemingly little has changed as the country continues to suffer from widespread poverty, crippled infrastructure, and a cholera epidemic. Acommon Haitian street slang refers to the big truck, the half-hearted efforts by the blancs who arrive to help but wind up bypassing the victims. In The Big Truck That Went By, award-winning author Jonathan Katz ties together the two crises that continue to cripple Haiti: the aftermath of the earthquake and the endemic government corruption. In the course of bearing witness to the most devastating of tragedies in one of the world's most dysfunctional countries, Katz questions why with so much money being poured into the devastated nation it doesn't improve conditions for the people. He takes a hard look at the efforts of aid organizations, Haitian politics and mismanagement, and at the systemic problems of a country that has reliable infrastructure. From Bill Clinton, Sean Penn,and formerPresident Francois Duval, to ordinary Haitians who are trying to survive amid the rubble, we get an on the ground portrait of what lifeis like in the formerpearl of the Caribbean. And we learn how the United Nations, in an effort to help, actually caused the first cholera epidemic in the country in over a century that killed over 7,500 people. Asking the hard questions about Western aid, this is a vividly told narrative of how the affluent nations can help the less fortunate in a smarter way.
Jonathan M. Katz was the 2010 recipient of the Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism and the 2012 winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award for The Big Truck That Went By . He wrote and edited for the Associated Press for seven years, three and a half of which he spent as correspondent in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Katz has also reported from the Dominican Republic, China, Israel, the West Bank, Washington, New York, Mexico, and around the Caribbean. He lives in Durham, NC.