Here’s a feature story that ran in yesterday’s Free Speech Radio News newscast:
Saturday marked the third anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake. UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton flew in for a brief, somber ceremony held with Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, at a mass grave outside the capital city…
I spoke to some Haitians in displacement camps – living there since about the time of January 12, 2010 earthquake – about President Michel Martelly’s first 100 days in office. They voice their perspectives in this story for Free Speech Radio News broadcast on Friday:
Download the MP3. You can also hear an archived interview with me about Haiti and WikiLeaks from KOOP Radio’s People United program here – my part starts at the 37 minute mark.
A quick update: I left Haiti last week for Seattle. I’m in Washington DC now speaking to a few policymakers/staff about the dysfunction of the relief effort. I’ll be in NYC later this week, then Austin, then back to Port-Au-Prince in May.
I spoke at a few venues in Seattle, but I want to pass on this live radio chat from yesterday morning on 90.3FM KUOW’s Weekday program. Host Steve Scher interviewed me, NPR sometime-Haiti correspondent Martin Kaste, and longtime Haiti relief worker Jack Andrew. There was some back and forth at times, and knowledgeable talk about how Haiti got to where it was before the quake. I learned some things! Listen below, or at KUOW’s page. Skip ahead to around the 12 minute mark past the pledge drive.
MP3 here. Let me know in the comments if there are messages you want me to pass on to folks here in DC…
Update: I also spoke (a little more openly about the political problems in Haiti) to 91.3FM KBCS’s One World Report last week, scroll down and find the clip here.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 30, 2010 (IPS) – On an empty road in Cite Militaire, an industrial zone across from the slums of Cite Soleil, a group of women are gathered around a single white sack of U.S. rice. The rice was handed out Monday morning at a food distribution by the Christian relief group World Vision.
According to witnesses, during the distribution U.N. peacekeeping troops sprayed tear gas on the crowd. (Jan. UN photo above)
“Haitians know that’s the way they act with us. They treat us like animals,” said Lourette Elris, as she divided the rice amongst the women. “They gave us the food, we were on our way home, then the troops threw tear gas at us. We finished receiving the food, we weren’t disorderly. ”
Some 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers, known by the acronym MINUSTAH, have occupied Haiti since 2004, including 7,000 soldiers of which the majority are Brazilian. The mission has been dogged by accusations of human rights violations.
“It’s time to begin thinking about changing the nature of MINUSTAH’s mission,” Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobim told the Brazilian newspaper O Estado after the January earthquake struck Haiti.
“MINUSTAH’s mandate is to maintain the peace, that is, security, but the U.N. needs to realise that its mission is no longer solely to strengthen security but also to build the infrastructure,” he said.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 9, 2010 (IPS) – Perched near the top of a steep hill, the fractured pink walls of Villa Manrese overlook the rest of the capital city. Both ends of the three-story compound have collapsed, spilling into mounds of rubble. The first floor was pulverised into a layer of dust. There are still bodies inside.
But in the adjacent garden behind the Catholic retreat, also known as Centre Saint-Viateur, life sprang anew after the Jan. 12 earthquake struck Haiti.
Some 250 families, comprising 1,500 people from the surrounding area of Haut-Turgeau, crowded together in the small field. Father Paul André Garraud, a Haitian priest based in the villa, helped procure tents, food, and medicine from relief agencies.
“We were doing well because they organised us. We weren’t hungry,” said Lubin Pierre-Louis, 52, leaning on a cane in the middle of the empty field. Three boys play soccer with a dirty plastic bottle on the wet ground behind him.
The camp vanished overnight on Mar. 2.
“It’s wrong. They told us to leave in the middle of the night,” Pierre-Louis said. “Just staying here now is a resistance. If they ask me to leave, I’ll be forced out.”
Residents who formed the informal committee running the tent camp swept through at 11 p.m., according to witnesses, telling everyone they had to leave immediately.
Families were told that bulldozers would come onto the field early in the morning to demolish Villa Manrese. No demolition crew arrived and the villa is still standing.
“They told us the bulldozer was coming to intimidate us,” said Johnny Cherezard, a 23-year-old student. “The government said nobody has a right to push people out unless they have a place to go. We had people who were sick and injured.”
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Feb 23, 2010 (IPS) – A cacophony of murmurs and cries echoed through the neighbourhoods of Haiti’s capital city Monday night as a violent aftershock shook people awake. Ten minutes later, another tremor rocked the ground, this time more smoothly back and forth.
The 4.7 magnitude tremors were a momentary distraction from pressing concerns over Haiti’s oncoming season of heavy rains, said to begin in March and last three months.
Shelter is now the top priority for relief groups, ahead of food and water distribution. They are rushing to supply thick plastic tarps, rather than tents, to over 500,000 internally displaced people in Port-Au-Prince – many still living under bedsheets tied over sticks in crowded settlements.
At a shelter distribution by CARE International at a camp in a Petionville public square, the tarps were received with a mixture of confusion and disappointment.
GRAND GOAVE, Jan 28, 2010 (IPS) – Two gray 23-million-dollar hovercrafts sitting in the middle of a sandy tropical beach look like they are from another world. A pair of 15-foot-wide propeller fans sticks out from the back of each behemoth.
Along the narrow dirt road to this seaside town’s centre, families live under blankets stretched over sticks.
A tent city occupies the town’s main square, surrounded by crumbling buildings. Joseph Jean-Pierre Salam, the mayor of Grand Goave, about 15 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince, estimated that some 70 percent of the city’s important structures fell during the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.
“They have made many promises, but we don’t see the action yet,” Salam said, referring to the international community. “We have a lot of people suffering. There is an expectation that help will come.”
The radio hooked up outside my moto driver’s house
Here’s my story for yesterday’s Free Speech Radio News newscast, about Haitian radio broadcasters doing their best to stay on the air in the quake’s aftermath without any outside support. MP3. Video later.
Kudos to the BBC for making its broadcasts available in Creole for free. Didn’t get a chance to check out Signal FM, but the Committee to Protect Journalists has an interesting account of how they stayed on the air during the quake. MediaShift reports that only 10 out of 50 Port-Au-Prince radio stations are currently broadcasting.
Here’s my story for yesterday’s Free Speech Radio News newscast. Some horrific sights at both Cannape-Vert Hospital and the Doctors Without Borders Clinic in Cite Soleil.
MP3. Video probably coming later. It’s really an inefficient medium, from what I see here. Journalists go out, shoot footage, then come back mid-day to begin an hours-long editing process, when they could be out reporting. By tradition they go to the trouble of hiding cuts in interviews with b-roll, instead of doing simple, honest jump-cuts to which the YouTube generation is totally accustomed. There’s no innovation…