Who has the solution?
Port-au-Prince – Almost four months have passed since the earthquake, but the Haitian people can’t get the rubble out of sight. This keeps the disaster present every day in their lives, from their streets to the deepest part of their hearts; and the effects are getting worse. People feel like they are slowly losing the opportunity to rebuild their country like they hoped it would be, right after the disaster.
Here’s an example of an everyday downtown street filled with trash and rubble in Port-au-Prince – I wish cameras could capture odour so you could truly feel what it’s like to be near this in the heat:
The mouting tension came to a head on Monday with a serious demonstration ran by the “Fanmi Lavalas” members and their partisans. Their goal was to clearly demonstrate that they don’t want his Excellency, René Garcia Préval, as President any more. In addition, they seized the occasion to demand the return of the founder of their political party to Haiti: his Excellency Jean Bertrand Aristide.
It all started quietly around 9 o’clock in the morning at Bas Delmas, where a lot of people seemed to be waiting for an order to start the demonstration. Around a 9:45am, some rara bands showed up, followed by a pickup truck with a DJ, MC and political members, and the demonstration started. From Bas Delmas to Bel Air, the energy of the demonstrators grew so big that they began to run down the street.
Regardless of the brand or the colour of the car you were driving, if you got close to that demonstration, “aba Preval” would be sprayed on your car.
But there are no easy good and bad guys here: even inside each good and bad side of an issue in Haiti, you’ll find another good and bad side. While this demonstration was against the government, the reason is that Preval has been accused of trying to stay longer than the constitutional term allows, which would normally be against the law. These are soldiers keeping the demonstrators away from the destroyed Presidential Palace of Mr. Preval:
But will the demonstration contribute to change?
In the Bel air neighborhood several shots rang out in the afternoon. At the Champ-de-Mars, looting sessions caused more fights, which led to more shooting.
Many young people were accused of looting, and were beaten by other civilians before being taken to the police officers nearby, or caught by the officers themselves.
But many young people, including me, believe that this should be a time of reflection, not violence, in Haiti. Being against or for governments has never brought any global satisfaction to the population of this country. That’s one of the reasons why several grass roots organizations are now being formed, to see how this country’s youth can come up with solutions for the upcoming generation to help the country as a whole, not just a particular group with its own petty interests.
Here are some of the questions those youth are asking: can a government elected for five years make a change that will last for a lifetime? Can one man, the President, ever find solutions to satisfy more than 10 million people?
And if the answers to these questions are no, where do we go next?
Port-au-Prince student, fixer and researcher Emmanuel Midi blogs weekly for Inside Disaster from Haiti. You can learn more about him in these blog posts, connect with him on Facebook or through his business, Haiti Fixers.