Port au Prince Day 6, January 2011

Just as I was beginning to write a final blog for this visit, a friend called who I hadn’t seen since the earthquake, and asked me to meet. So I hastily prepared to go out. As he was pulling in the drive way the news broke that “Baby Doc” had just returned to Haiti. This was no rumor—my friends and I got it directly from the Haitian National Police—and within moments, the city seemed to urge with energy, excitement, fear, uncertainty, speculation and “surreality”.

I don’t now what this means. No-one does, right now. His press conference was supposedly taking place as we taxied down the runway. I’m sure I’ll hear something later.

My gut? Preval, who openly rejected the OAS and international Community decision that the elections were fraudulent and that he must step down and abide by the Constitution, is giving the finger to the International Community. The response in Haiti was mixed—some people were actually elated, believing that if “Baby Doc” is there to stay, order might return. It’s probably true—but at what cost? The question has to be asked.

There are also rumors (and, I think,not rumors—probably fact) that Aristide has also had his passport renewed and will return soon. Surely the Lavalas will be in the streets demanding this, soon.

One good friend asked me what this means for the country, and for the people. Again—I don’t know—but I don’t think its good.

I don’t think its good because the level of complete surprise my friends and colleagues expressed (and many of them are well connected and networked) created a level of shock that was only beginning to be realized this morning. How much shock can any community withstand?

Not good, because it seems to be another example of how absolute power can corrupt, absolutely. Not good, because Haitians disagree so deeply on what this means, whether its right or wrong, that I –as we were driving through some of the worst traffic I have ever seen to get to the airport this morning—listening to a local news station talk about how Haiti could only “avanse” (advance) if all Haitians sat down, together—realized that this coming together, at least now, is frankly impossible.

It won’t happen.

It won’t happen because too many Haitians are too uneducated and impoverished to make their needs and wants known to those educated, wealthy, or even just middle class Haitians (not to mention those governing the country)in a way that they’ll hear–and those who have the luxury of education and money and some things that are really basic human needs and rights—-can afford not to listen. When people are at risk, our natural response is to protect ourselves, to find safety —its human nature. So the rift between poor and rich, educated and uneducated, powerful and powerless, increases when the risk is greater for everyone.

There is no judgment, on my part, in what I am writing. When I realized this, this morning, it was a moment of absolute crystal clarity. Not good or bad, right or wrong—just clear. Its simply impossible now for Haitians to come together, be together, and create their unified national future.

This does make me sad. I was one of those who perhaps naively believed that the potential silver lining of the earthquake was a new Haiti. When things all fall down, it can sometimes be easier to rebuild, wholly anew.

Instead, the layers of deception, corruption,“surreality”, confusion, chaos, and frankly filthy, tragic reality deepen and complexify. No-one should live like the majority of the Haitians are living. Its inexcusable. I am tired of hearing that the money cannot be released due to the political situation—people are hungry, thirsty, sick, dying. There has to be a way to at least provide the most basic human needs, and create some semblance of a structure that supports humanity, while the machinations of the powerful play themselves out (or, play themselves in).

Haiti is tired. Her resiliency is being stretched beyond reasonable capacity.I love Haiti, deeply, and I was really relieved to depart today. Usually, I am sad; I want to stay. I am too tired after 2010 to go through too much more heartbreak and horror and chaotic uncertainty in Haiti. And I was only scratched at surface level, compared to those who actually survived the earthquake (and the years of violence, flooding, storms etc.) and continue to try and live amidst massive piles of rubble, still filled with death;cholera; lack of the most basic things; unbearable traffic jams due to an excess of people, still congested roads that haven’t been fixed, overflowing port-a-potties at most camps, and misery. Haiti is a place that is filled with misery.

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One Response to Port au Prince Day 6, January 2011

  1. WingedMercury says:

    >Thank you Amber. How strong the forces against hope are in the world right now! I want to re-read Cornel West's book on Democracy and be reminded of what resilience can mean in the long run and offer mantras for what comes next for Haitians.

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