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28911: Morse (comment) Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince (fwd)


Port-au-Prince has been virtually empty from sometime Saturday afternoon through Tuesday. Tuesday was August 15 which is the day of Notre Dame. I'm guessing many people have gone to the provinces or, those who could, have gone to Miami. It's always a pleasure driving around Port-au-Prince when there's absolutely no traffic.

Tuesday afternoon I drove towards the north of Haiti and the drive took me by the main airport. Everything was normal, minus the traffic, until I got to within 1 mile of the airport. There I saw 3 UN tanks and 1 UN jeep armed to the teeth driving up and down the airport road. The arm patches I saw indicated "Brazil". I also saw two Haitian police SUV/Van type vehicles parked a few blocks apart along this stretch of road. The ambiance was a bit creepy.

President Preval's recent remarks, roughly translated as "give us peace or rest in peace" have received a warm reception across political lines. People are basically tired of the political strategies which create instability. Normally, his remarks may have seemed a bit controversial but people are just fed up.

I saw a picture in the Nouvelliste of the new American Ambassador, Janet Sanderson, signing a bill with Prime Minister Alexis for 20 manual labor projects in Cite Soleil. It's tough to have a "carrot and stick" policy with no "carrots". Sometimes American policy gets too bogged down in elections and judicial process when what people really need is a little work and income. I see these projects as a positive sign.

[ I think this is the first woman American Ambassador we've had in Haiti.... About 13 years ago we had Vicki Huddleston (sp?) but I think she was Deputy Chief of Mission and "acting" ambassador. Ms Huddleston, along with Mr Kamborian, was here when the FRAPH folks went out on the docks and turned back the Harlan County ship during the Cedras regime.... The next day, after the Harlan County ship left, if my memory serves me right, Guy Malary was assasinated in a car chase near the Church of Sacre Coeur....]

Once I got past the airport, street life returned to normal. On my way home Tuesday night, traffic seemed to be returning to the Delmas section of Port-au-Prince. I'm glad I'm not a commuter....

Richard Morse
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