Watching the news coverage of the current situation in Haiti is overwhelming. I feel very helpless, as I'm sure many do, and yet I take the seemingly insufficient step of donating online. When I consider the historical and current oppression of this region, I shut off emotionally because I know I am implicated in the tragedy...The only place to begin is with the seemingly insufficient steps of further educating myself and speaking out in the spirit of solidarity. So, I begin...
In his article Haiti, "Classquakes," and American Empire, Paul Stree writes that geographer Kenneth Hewitt coined the phrase "classquake" to describe 20th century earthquakes' differentiated pattern of destruction which fell mainly on slums and poor rural villages.
I have selected some excerpts on the article, but encourage you to read it in its entirety.
The earthquake catastrophe in Haiti is being portrayed on the national and local evening news as a natural disaster that has elicited a virtuous humanitarian response from the inherently noble and benevolent United States.
It’s about bad geologic (and cosmic, as in “acts of God”) forces versus good Uncle Sam, that fine democratic friend of the poor and downtrodden around the world.
“This is an opportunity,” the editors of The New York Times arrogantly proclaim today, “for President Obama to demonstrate how the United States shoulders its responsibilities and mobilizes other countries to do their part” (NYT, January 14, 2010, A28).
But Haiti’s agony and the role of the U.S. is much more complicated than the childish morality play being broadcast on the Telescreens.
Earthquakes are natural developments, but vulnerability to them is richly anthropogenic (“man made”) and is not spread evenly across the fractured and intersecting global landscapes of race, class, and empire. As Mike Davis pointed out in his 2006 book Planet of Slums, a chilling expose of the atrocious living (and dying) conditions that US.-led neoliberal capitalism has imposed on the ever more mega-urbanized poor of the global South: ”Even more than landslides and floods, earthquakes make precise audits of the urban housing crisis…seismic destruction usually maps with uncanny accuracy to poor-quality brick, mud, or concrete residential housing...Seismic hazard is the fine print in the devil’s bargain of informal housing…”
The “relaxation” of regulations on housing planning and construction combines with the concentration of much of the South’s urban population “on or near active tectonic plate margins” to put millions in peril.
“Seismic risk is so unevenly distributed in most cities,” Davis learned, that one leading “hazard geographer” (Kenneth Hewitt) coined the phrase “classquake” to describe 20th century earthquakes’ “biased pattern of destruction,” which fell mainly on “slums, tenement districts, [and] poor rural villages.”
Davis’ (and Hewitt’s) analysis clearly applies to the current Haitian tragedy, vastly magnified by the desperately impoverished and informal, unregulated housing conditions of masses of marginalized people in and around the sprawling slums of Port au Prince. In that city’s most notorious slum, Cite-Soliel, David noted, population densities are “comparable to cattle feedlots” crowding more residents per acre into low-rise housing than there were in famous congested tenement districts such as the Lower East Side in the 1900s or in contemporary highrise cores such as central Tokyo and Manhattan.” 
The hyper-concentration of poor Haitians in seismically hyper-vulnerable subs-standard housing in and around Port au-Prince, it is worth noting, is a direct outcome of U.S. trade policies that undermined Haitian small farmers, sending rural residents into and around the capital city.
A reformist priest named Jan Baptiste Aristide threatened Washington’s vicious neoliberal regime when he won Haiti’s first free election in 1990. Aristide came to office with strong support from the poor majority. His hostility to U.S.-imposed misery led Washington to move to undermine his regime from the outset. Aristide was removed in a U.S.-supported coup in 1991 but returned amidst popular upheaval in 1994. The Clinton White House initially backed the coup regime even more strongly than did George Bush I. Thanks to its rhetoric about “democracy” at home and abroad, the militantly corporate-neoliberal NAFTA-promoting Clinton administration felt compelled to pretend that they backed Aristide’s return to power in 1994. The Clinton Pentagon and State Department delayed that return for two years and made it clear that Aristide’s restoration to nominal power depended upon him promising not to help the poor by offering any further challenges to Washington’s “free market” economics. “By 1994,” Chomsky explained last year, “Clinton decided that the population was sufficiently intimidated, and he sent US forces to restore the elected president – that’s now called a humanitarian intervention – but on very strict conditions, namely that the president had to accept a very harsh neoliberal regime, in particular, no protection for the economy.” 
In February 2004, the U.S. and France – Haiti’s traditional sadistic masters – joined hands (along with Canada) across their supposed great cultural divide to support another military coup. This U.S.-directed putsch exported Aristide to Central Africa.
Under the Woodrow Wilson-fan Barack Obama, as under George Bush II, Washington has banned Aristide from revisiting region. Obama sided with the corrupt Haitian elite by refusing to act against the shutting out of Aristide’s popular party (Family Lavalas) from Haitian elections in the spring of 2009. 
Washington has responded to the heavily racial-ized imperial “classquake” with Pentagon military “assessments” while China, Venezuela, and Cuba have acted promptly with direct humanitarian assistance and human solidarity. Look for the imperial masters to seek “disaster capitalist” (Naomi Klein) opportunities in the terrible tragedy in Haiti, which has been suffering the shocks and aftershocks of world capitalist empire since the end of the 15th century.
Recommended organizations for 'on the ground' donations from Canada Haiti Action Network
Haiti, "Classquakes," and American Empire by Paul Street, via ZNet
Our Role in Haiti's Plight by Peter Hallward, The Guardian
Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert by Naomi Klein, via ZNet