Petit Pierre’s Ascent

When Graham Greene went to Haiti, one of the many fascinating characters he met there was Aubelin Jolicoeur, above, a gossip columnist for Le Nouvelliste. It was an unusually rough time in a country accustomed to rough times. The brutal François (Papa Doc) Duvalier was in power, and his secret police, the Tontons Macoute, combed the cities, towns, and villages, hunting down enemies of the regime.

Here’s how Greene describes Jolicoeur, to whom he gives a fictional name, in Chapter Two of The Comedians, upon the narrator’s return to Haiti, by ship:

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Little Sugar Train

A few photos of a model-train diorama made by a doctor named Tom who often works in Haiti. These dioramas are based on historical and on-the-ground research on the Haitian American Sugar Company in Léogâne (HASCO) and its railroad. I don’t know the doctor’s full name but if I did I would gladly credit him here: he’s an artist.

I found these online back in 2009 when I was researching an essay on Haitian foods. If you have never chawed and sucked on a woody, juicy piece of sugar cane, you have missed one of the few ecstatic experiences available to humankind (you name the others). Best part: when you’ve finished with a bite of cane, you get to spit the white pulp out onto the ground like a man.

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Urban Botox in Haiti

Both of the photos above are of the Jalousie shantytown, arguably the most photographed shantytown in Port-au-Prince. They are before and after photos of the recent government paint-over of Jalousie (after and before, actually, in order of appearance).

Why is Jalousie so photographed, one might wonder. Jalousie is not the biggest, or even necessarily the poorest, of Haiti’s sprawling slums. But the tumbledown, terraced shantytown looks dramatic and also happens to face one of the two major roads that connects downtown Port-au-Prince with the wealthier suburbs of Petionville, Bourdon, Montagne Noire, and others even higher up the hill.

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Guess Who Is A White Supremacist?

Amy Wilentz, “Racist Suspect,” learned something new on the radio yesterday. Actually, a few new things.

One:

Don’t trust people who say they want “the truth,” especially when they are posing as journalists! Real reporters are never so arrogant. Also never trust a radio show that airs for two hours consecutively.

Two:

There are people who believe I am a white supremacist, a spy, and a sexual imperialist.

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Fixing One Thing

After the 2010 Haitian earthquake, I visited the Physicians Without Borders emergency clinic in Léogâne. Patients with varying degrees of injuries were waiting for attention on the long driveway there. The doctor I talked to that day was full of posturing and foolishness, unlike most of the doctors I’d met who work with this group. In the long line of patients was one boy who’d lost both arms when his house fell on him, and of course both his hands, as well. He was three years old.

He was waiting and waiting — for hours.

Eventually, late that afternoon, I brought him and his mother to Port-au-Prince to get more pain medicine and to make sure his wounds had been properly dressed and fixed.

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