First lady Michelle Obama made a surprise visit to Haiti Tuesday, on her way to Mexico. Mrs. Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, landed in Port-au-Prince shortly before 11 a.m. and were met by Haitian President René Préval and his wife. The two women took a helicopter tour of the devastated capital city of the nation that lost an estimated 300,000 souls in the powerful Jan. 12 earthquake. "It's powerful. The devastation is definitely powerful," said Mrs. Obama, when asked for her first impressions.
Mrs. Obama's visit, her first solo diplomatic effort, could help blunt criticism of the president for failing to visit the first black republic, which declared its independence from France in 1804. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several Latin American leaders have visited Haiti since the earthquake.
The United States has led the massive effort to rescue Haitians, pledging more than $1 billion for the rebuilding of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
You can get more information about Haiti on our Haiti Central page.
Mrs. Obama goes on to Mexico for a two-day visit. We recently ran a package of stories about Mexico's little-known African heritage. Those articles can be found here and here. You can also check out our photo gallery of "black" Mexicans.
Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.