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8069: Re: 8060: Question about violence SECOND TRY (fwd)
From: Pierre Jean <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Your "fear" of the unknown is understandable,
especially if the accounts of the tragedies you talk
about come mostly from the media or from some
freaked-out staffers at the US embassy. [An article in
a Canadian newspaper quoted an American embassy worker
as stating that she would rather return to Bosnia than
If we set aside all the propaganda that such articles
represent, we are faced with the following reality:
1. Port-au-Prince is Haiti's biggest urban center by
far and is overcrowded, in fact way overcrowded. Max
Blanchet, I believe, wrote a nice post about
demographics and the future of Haiti way back. I don't
think people quite understand the consequences of our
urban demographic growth and the lack of preparedness
of the Haitian government to deal with it, except for
Blanchet and a few others.
2. A good percentage of the population is young and
3. Since 1996, the US has been deporting to Haiti (but
also to Jamaica, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic,
etc.) nationals of these countries that committed
crimes in the US. This is thanks to the 1996
Immigration Reform Act, or something like that. These
criminals grew up in the US and have little or no ties
to the country to which they are being deported. They
promptly form gangs and re-create part of the social
structure they knew in the US, and these gangs are
involved in many, but not all, of the high-profile
crimes you may have heard about.
4. Firearms are extremely easy to find, if you know
where to go.
When you mix these 4 items together, you get a
situation where petty, and not so petty, crimes have
increased and have led to the tragedies you mentioned.
This could have happened in New York, Boston, Miami,
Chicago, or in any large urban center. I seriously
doubt that these crimes were due to hatred of
Americans or foreigners.
Although I do not have that much hard data to back it
up, my sense is that Port-au-Prince is still a lot
safer than most major US cities ... and it is
certainly A LOT safer than Kingston or Santo Domingo.
As a foreigner, you will actually get better treatment
than Haitians in many places. Unfortunate but true.
Use common sense and avoid "hot areas". The same way
I as a black person would never venture into South
Boston in Boston, Cicero in Illinois, or Canarsie in
Brooklyn, I am certain you will get a briefing from
the embassy about areas to avoid in Port-au-Prince.
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