In the WSJ a leftist historian surveys the economic consequences of and responses to disasters from the Lisbon earthquake to Haiti. (Great artwork and photos.) I would add one reason for the suffering: The absence of Wal-Mart. (They've donated $600K to Haiti.) See David Brooks' column earlier this week for the importance of civil society institutions: "This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story." And "we don't know how to use aid to reduce poverty."
Since the New Deal, liberals have exploited Puerto Rico as an experimental subject for their Third-World poverty policies (e.g., artificial contraception). The telling instance is FDR's appointment of New Deal theoretician Rexford Guy Tugwell as the Commonwealth's governor. The Clintons can scarcely come up with something worse for Haiti.