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In the Newsroom

February 20, 2009
Raucous rallies contrast coastal wastelands in Haiti

In Haiti, Worldfocus correspondent Benno Schmidt reported the signature stories Dirt poor Haitians eat cookies made of mud and Haitians destroy environment in struggle to survive. Benno saw many sides of the island nation, including raucous street celebrations and desolate coastal wastelands. The two videos below capture the contrasting sights & sounds of the nation.

In Haiti, freedom of expression is alive and well despite nearly constant turnover in the government, from the president and prime minister all the way down to obscure ministers often forced out over corruption charges.

But one of Haiti’s signature political expressions is this: A huge rally for a senate candidate shutting down an already traffic-clogged part of Port-au-Prince, the island nation’s capital. These types of demonstrations are part political rally, part Mardi Gras, and a big excuse to party. There is nothing subtle about these impromptu celebrations, which start small and then drag in people and onlookers with very little political interest into the fracas.

For people living in terrible poverty, the political rallies are an excuse to cut loose and dance in the streets. Haiti’s police help direct traffic and onlookers as the rallies grow and grow.

Haiti’s sanitation, sewage and plumbing are nonexistent for large pockets of people living in crowded conditions in Port-au-Prince. It means that nearly forty tons of trash and sewage and debris literally wash into the Caribbean each year after the storm season. The result is that the large slums in Port-au-Prince like Cité Soleil bleed into the sea. People fashion houses and living quarters out of the mounds of trash and sewage that accumulate.

It creates havoc for fishermen who say the fish are getting smaller, are harder to find and are sometimes poisoned by all the trash and nasty stuff seeping into the water. Also, the storm season each year contributes to the trash problem as rains form mudslides that wash everything into the ocean.

– Benno Schmidt

For more Worldfocus coverage of Haiti, visit our extended coverage page: Haiti’s Poor.

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Comments

4 comments

#4

I have visited the Dominican Republic where I have family. It is hard to believe that Haiti is the other half of the island. I am philosophical about the depressing conditions. It is these extreme examples of human failure and human exploitation that point us in the direction of unity and universal justice. I feel that the solution lies not only with a universal outlook toward humans, but we must accept the whole planet as a patient in need of our care and concern. Maybe in my lifetime I will see some from of civilizatin worthy of the name.

#3

i watched this with sad eyes.i belive that these solar energy companys and wind energy companys can see if our visionary new president can rally a group to investigate if its possible to install solar power to Haiti to get economy and jobs going there? prehaps with some governemt supplimenting it as a training tool for jobs here?
i know avory lovins with rocky mountian Instuitute and they have a cracker jack think tank team?also have approached the people with nanaste solar co. and suggested that the ones that can do this., form a co-aliton to over see this plan? tell us what you think? after all we are all humans on this planet and what helps one can help the world? Ann smith
this can crate jobs in solar even though its in another country?

#2

Are you selling any dcumentary on haiti?

#1

One of the many things that the people in Haiti need to resurrect is a sense of pride and nationalism in themselves and their country again. Though the situation is sad and dire, as long as the people are there, it is never too late to turn things around. Haiti can come back if the people regains hope and trust in themselves.

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