Saving Science in Haiti

May 12, 2014 by

Haiti and the island of Hispaniola have been studied by botanists and naturalists for centuries, not all of them looking for zombie powder. One of the best known naturalists to visit Haiti was Erik Ekman, a Swede who was in the country in 1917, and then later spent four more years there, from 1924 to 1928, and another four in the Dominican Republic (where he died), discovering — or at least naming – some 2,000 species previously unknown to Western science, including the exceptional bird above, which in camouflage resembles a lizard. Ekman was yet another among the eccentric self-exiled lovers of Haiti, a white king, a mobile sovereign, able to live any which way in this place that forced no rules upon him.

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Jalousie Redux

May 7, 2014 by

Just so everyone can see the hypocrisy of the Jalousie paint job I wrote about earlier, here’s a picture my brother, a cardiologist who has been working in Haiti, took from the rue Panamericaine a little more than a month ago. To the left, the nicely painted, festive, cheerful, postcard-ready slum of Jalousie. To the right, the continuation of the hillside, Jalousie adjacent slums, as they truly are, without the rouge and mascara. The perky houses on the left, painted by the municipality of Petionville, a town just up the hill from Port-au-Prince, can be seen from the new Royal Oasis hotel, built with post-earthquake loans from the World Bank and the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. The honest, unpainted, nonbotoxed true shantytown cannot.

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The Long Whodunit

Feb 5, 2014 by

I counted Jean Dominique among my friends. I listened to his show on Radio Haiti Inter every morning when I lived in Haiti in the mid-1980s, and we were on friendly terms up until the day he was assassinated at his radio station on Delmas in Port-au-Prince on April 3, 2000, along with the station’s security guard, Jean-Claude Louissaint. Now that a Haitian court has handed down a nine person indictment, how much closer are we to the truth about these killings? If he were alive, Jean Dominique would be the first to point the finger at his killers and say their names out loud into a live microphone.

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Four Years After

Jan 14, 2014 by

Four years after the earthquake, Haiti has rebounded, according to Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

How did Lamothe frame the recovery he claimed for Haiti? First, in terms of government ministries that are being physically rebuilt. And then: housing. On that subject , the prime minister talked to the Herald in government-speak that was hard to unravel (“Out of 3,000 social housing, we have 1,500 that were inaugurated,” he told the Herald’s no doubt confused Jacquie Charles. He mentioned roads, and clinics, and a center for children. Most of his figures seemed incredibly inadequate, given Haiti’s needs.

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Mon camarade, mon frère

Oct 31, 2013 by

A few months after the Haitian earthquake of January, 2010, I drove around Port-au-Prince with my old friend and beloved mentor Dr. Rénald Clérismé,a former Catholic priest and former foreign minister, a Yale PhD who never lost the common touch. He was instrumental in organizing peasant protests in Haiti’s Northwest in the mid 1980s, and he tried later to keep Pres. René Préval’s government grounded in the popular and peasant movements. Rénald died on Oct. 29 in Port-au-Prince. Here’s what I wrote about him after he and I spent the day three years ago visiting old sites from his long years in the capital [photo: Julie Brown/Yale]:

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Drones Over Haiti

Oct 22, 2013 by

There are drones flying over Haiti these days, I was surprised to learn.

What are they doing there, you might want to know — and so did I, since I had heard nothing about this, and found out about it somewhat fortuitously.

I was looking recently at images on Google generated by a search for the University at Limonade (I’m interested in the University, the industrial plant nearby, and the international precious-metals mining projects in the region), when I stumbled upon this picture (below) of a quartier populaire somewhere in Haiti:

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