The earthquake has unleashed a desperation I recognize from my long education in Haiti as the desperation of extreme poverty. A few blocks away, I heard an elderly Haitian arguing with an officer of the 82nd over a piece of rope or bungee cord the man needed to tie up a bundle of stuff. The man had no teeth and gray sprouts of hair and he held the cord in his hand and was trying to get back to his bundle. But the officer stopped him. The man spoke no English, the officer no Creole—but the officer knew that all scavenging had to stop now (as he said repeatedly), because the bulldozers were coming in and the Army did not want to bulldoze any scavengers. Finally though, the officer—rolling his eyes and shaking his head slightly, and looking up to the heavens in a combined gesture of impatience and resignation not uncommon among people new to Haiti—let the old man leave with his piece of rope.
Written by: Amy Wilentz
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: 04/13/2010
Available in: Ebook Paperback
A classic reissued, with a stirring post-earthquake introduction by the author. In retrospect, this masterly work on Haiti and the underpinnings of its ongoing crisis offers brilliant insights into the Aristide phenomenon, the democratic game of the late 1900s and early 2000s, and the aid/development conundrum. With memorable portraits of the Tontons Macoute, the mainstream media that covers Haiti, the expat class, US development officials, a number of Haitian politicians, and Aristide himself, as well as everyday Haitians: grassroots leaders, street boys, villagers, market women, shantytown dwellers.