An Eyewitness Account From the Streets of Haiti

If you had called me yesterday I couldn’t have answered. I was so traumatized. A young friend of my daughter’s called to tell me to pack a bag and he’d pick me up in half an hour and take me elsewhere because they were making their way to our neighborhood. As BBQ had announced last week they were coming to get the bourgeois living in the hills.

I’m at a friend’s now in another neighborhood, but I don t know for how long and don t know if my home will still be habitable after they go through it.

One of my neighbors was home with the kids and her husband had gone to work when they came. She hid with her children and locked the bathroom door, but the attackers fortunately did not get upstairs because the man next door whose yard they had entered shot 2 of them and the others ran. We worry that they’ll come back because along with the gangs come the hoodlums of the nearby slums, armed individuals who follow after the gangs and take advantage of their cracking the homes open to rush in for whatever is left over like vultures or jackals after the lions have fed.

My friend offered me a room in her home in a different neighborhood and I had to bring my maid since I couldn’t leave her alone at their mercy. She’s been living with me for more than two years now since the gang warfare got so bad in her area she had to leave her house.

A friend of mine who lives down the road in the neighborhood they attacked before mine was home with her husband and kids when the guys came to their gate. It was iron and heavy so they were not successful in their attempts to break it.

They called him to the gate and told him it would not be good for him if he didn’t open it cause they knew his wife and kids were in there. He refused and they told him they saw that there were two cars out front and he should put their keys in a bag with his wife’s jewelry and all the money in the house and throw that over the gate and they would leave it at that.  He did what they said and they left. They were some good bandits. That’s why we think the real paramilitary army might be behind in successive waves but we hope and pray.

I don’t really think the Americans told their gangs to go and massacre the bourgeois in the hills, I think the attacks have as a goal to force the Montana Accord alliance and the internationals to accept gang leaders sitting with them at the negotiation table. Give them amnesty and let them take part in the political process to determine the next president.

Since the gangs have been the ones who pay the crowd to take to the streets for the purpose of those who profit from the disorder and in turn pay their gang leader to foment it, they’ll be able to sway whatever elections we’ll have especially since guy Philippe is in alliance with them. That’s my opinion since the Americans have already said they want to see the gang leaders be part of the negotiations. Can you believe it?

In 1995 Aristide asked the US to put an arms embargo on Haiti that is still in place today and that is why the police cannot have new weapons, that is why ordinary people now can’t defend themselves.

Everybody is saying that the Presidential Council nominated by CARICOM, with the stipulation that Haiti accept a foreign intervention, will cause a massive bloodbath because the federated gangs will not accept CARICOM’s choice as they insist on being part of it. The US and its international and Haitian allies have created a monster and now they’re acting as if they didn’t want to meddle.

All Haitian billionaires with foreign passports have flown from the coup on Dominican helicopters to the tune of $10,000 USD a pop.  I’m an American citizen and targeted as the elite but I have nowhere to go in America, all I have is here. Do you think I could pay for such a trip? I have had my business burned down 3 times in the last 15 years during these political upheavals, It got to the point where I can no longer rebuild. I once was part of the upper middle class, now I’m just middle class and trying to hang on.

Those who can afford to pay,  who have friends in high places in the US, those families who have always made and broken presidents, who can bring in weapons to distribute to gangs, who have been doing so since 1995, those who own ports and never pay customs taxes are the impenetrable elite who have not had any of their properties looted or touched, none of their children kidnapped, who are not running for their lives but just leaving the killing field. It’s us who get our kids kidnapped and lose all our savings on the ransom, us who never meddled in politics, who pay our taxes, who pay customs we are the only elite in the world, it has been said, who take showers with one bottle of water.

My kids are gone after losing their retail business which could not function in this atmosphere. My family split apart. And yet I hope and pray.

The gangs who now say they are representing the people first destroyed the peoples’ neighborhoods, their small shops, their street booths. Then they destroyed the lower middle-class neighborhoods, the artists, artisans teachers, nurses and now it’s the bourgeois’ turn.

Look at that hypocrisy. They say they want a man of the people to rule but ever since Papa Doc men of the people have ruled as the puppets of the same international powers who want the minimum wage to remain below 4 dollars, the same families who are paying for their guns today who are giving them money for putting the people out in the streets to demonstrate and get shot by police. The poor are their first victims, they have suffered most at their hands.

Have you noticed in the foreign news recently when the announcer spoke of the US airlifting embassy personnel out of Haiti they slipped in that private planes were coming in to get some American citizens and some Haitian orphans?  Why does no one find this strange?  Every time there is a catastrophe natural or political the missionaries take orphans out of Haiti.

Their fate remains unknown. They haunt us. There is never a follow-up story to tell us what happened to these orphans five or ten years later. The news announcer did not say who those private individuals were but we know who the usual suspects are. It’s  always the same. And now the missionaries Haitian converts have a seat in the CARICOM’s presidential council. No separation of church and state here.

Why doesn’t the foreign press ever ask the right questions, ever?

To the gang leaders they never ask: where did you go to school, where did you learn urban warfare, what is the network through which you get weapons, or the information you use to kidnap people?

Yet foreign journalists are always giving the gangs airtime, always telling us of orphans carried off with no paperwork to better lives. Haitian journalists are starting to ask the right questions and the answers are out there.

Meanwhile, I’m at a friend’s house where no talk of politics is allowed, no news, no comments, no complaints. I’m outside now, under a beautiful sky and it’s quiet. We hope and pray.