Globe, Latin America, Politiks

Haiti… a Phoenix in the ashes

When the stranger stands and looks up everywhere in Port au Prince, capital of Haiti, it is a moment to keep forever.

Puerto Príncipe… Fénix dentro de sus cenizas1Diony Sanabia Abadia *


Many think of the Haitian capital as a place with few blessings, like the nation, but it is better to imagine its people wanting to move on, be reborn, get up and spread happiness to the visitor.

The misfortunes of this city can be named from the past to the present day: Spanish colonisation, French domination, plundering pirates, US interference, dictatorships of Francois and Jean Claude Duvalier, coups and peacekeepers.

Puerto Principe_A Haitian woman is pulled from earthquake       debris by members of LA County SARAlso, the words hunger, loneliness, poverty, hopelessness, earthquake and cholera, the latter two from 2010, can define the city, with its irregular geography, with plains and mountains that threaten the peace of the traveller in a motor vehicle.

Riding a bike, bus, or the picturesque tap tap, a mode of transport smaller than the last, is an opportunity to see adrenaline-crazed, irresponsible drivers who steer without considering the risk to their life.

Then, the choice of moving on your own feet in antidote may become a nervous disturbance and the way for greater contact with the people, that at first seems too much.

Puerto Principe_ Jan. 17, 2010,       are buildings in Jacmel, Haiti,       that were destroyed by the earthquake that hit the regionVarious sources claim that over a quarter of Haiti’s population of about 10 million people, live in Port au Prince, however, anyone may doubt the data in a quick glance around.

Corners, pavements and even the street itself constitute spaces where informal vendors proliferate common and unexpected objects for daily sustenance and a morsel of food which is often unattainable.

Although struck by the existence of many stalls to market foods, from soups to meats to large pieces of chicken roasted over improvised charcoal burners, most of the people are suffering from hunger.

DIGITAL IMAGEIn parallel, the contradictions take over the environment, and advertising corporations, exposed on billboards, walls and posters, go with the images of children cleaning windows of very recent model cars.

However, the city is determined to revive and leave behind the painful memory of the earthquake of January 12, 2010, responsible for the deaths of 300,000 people and destroying the homes of two million.

That earthquake, measuring 7.3 degrees on the Richter scale, also shattered much of the infrastructure in the capital and disrupted symbols such as the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral.

The ruins of both sites grieve, and also the existence of more than 350,000 Haitians still living displaced by the consequences of the quake.

Puerto Príncipe… Fénix dentro de sus cenizas 7Despite many coups, natural and political, Port au Prince has a desire to build, and it is normal to notice its citizens, shovel in hand, in the effort to give life to new works.

With the smell of cement and sand, the visitor walks through the city, and tries to decipher and learn a few words in Creole to respond at least to the greetings from the locals, accustomed to a sweltering heat that decreases in the highest part of the hills.

From up there, at a point in Petionville for example, there is also a peculiar look, but the neighbourhoods below both appear to be and are getting poorer and it fades the joy of the people.

No doubt, they say, the people of Port au Prince want to start again, resume the path of happiness, and in that endeavour women inspire any desire from high levels of personal sacrifice.

Puerto Príncipe… Fénix dentro de sus cenizas 9Meanwhile, men are not far behind, and each time have a huge desire to survive against the odds, like the cholera attack that for nearly three years has killed more than 7,600 Haitians.

Port au Prince, with its dusty streets and avenues, and the beautiful Champs de Mars square in the heart of the city, is far from the tragic city presented by the foreign press.

In contrast to this proposal, hope emerges of change and the ancestral spirit of human beings, who have always struggled to have a better place to live on earth.

* Correspondent in the Dominican Republic and sent to Haiti.


(Translated by David Coldwell:

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