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.