“The International Community Must Let President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Return to Haiti”
Voices from Port-au-Prince
By Ansel Herz
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
January 17, 2010
PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI, JANUARY 17, 2010: Millions of dollars in aid are pouring into Haiti. Another head of state visits each day. The misery in Port-Au-Prince dominates the news nearly a week after the 7.0 earthquake struck the heart of this island country.
What has changed on the streets of Haiti’s capitol city since the tremors? The Haitian people have mobilized, while foreign aid efforts continue to stall.
More tents have been erected in the roads where Haitians gathered, away from crumbling structures. In the public squares across from the collapsed national palace yesterday, a young couple told me that the yellow tent overhead was given to them by a wealthy Haitian.
That area, called Chanmas, strikes me as an ideal place to distribute aid to the thousands of people sitting and sharing food and shelter in orderly fashion. But people said no aid groups had stopped by to give them anything the whole day.
Two US Navy helicopters flew overhead in opposite directions while we talked. Earlier in the day, I saw hundreds of American soldiers walking back and forth inside the airport.
Dozens of Haitian men organized a digging and rescue operation on a pile of rubble in the suburb Santo. An huge orange Caterpillar bulldozer sat nearby, stationary. Heavy equipment from the Haitian construction company CNE is all over the city.
As I rode a motorcycle taxi out of Cite Soleil, my driver and I yelled at at man driving a bulldozer that his engine was catching fire.
At the collapsed parliament building in downtown Port-Au-Prince, another bulldozer retrieved the bodies of politicians laying in the street. Supporters of Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, dragged the stiff and dripping body of a high-profile party organizer named Bob Moliere into a wheelbarrow. The bulldozer drove 200 yards to a grassy area on the sea and dumped his body in a four-foot-deep grave dug minutes earlier.
Marianne Moliere, now a widow, looked out at the dipping sun with tears streaming down her face. “There is no life for me because Bob was everything to me. I lost everything. Everything is destroyed,” she said.
“I’m sleeping in the street now because I’m homeless. But when I get some water, I share with others. Or if some one gives some spaghetti, I share with my family and others.”
She clutched a manilla folder with photos of her dead husband. One of them showed him shaking hands with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The men had no idea that Aristide, pushed out by a coup in 2004, had issued a statement from exile in South Africa asking that he be allowed to return to Haiti immediately.
As I told them the news, they started smiling and talking excitedly with one another. “They international community must let him return!” one man said.
Moliere won his freedom from the post-coup regime in Haiti only three years ago after a full year in detention. The grave behind us remained open for the moment, a small mound of loose brown soil waiting to cover up Moliere’s stiff right arm pointing at the sky.
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