RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
Joy tempered by reality in new Haiti

The family fear he was caught in the crossfire - one of the scores who died on Sunday when armed gangs supporting Mr Aristide were rapidly replaced by another group of armed gangs opposing him. Bystanders never stood a chance.

"I don't know what happened to him," Mrs Cheribe says. "He was not involved in politics but in these times anyone can be unlucky. I just want to know what happened."

At the makeshift hospital set up by a Cuban medical brigade next door to the main building, doctors attended to 18 people injured in the street fighting, all with bullet wounds. "We sent them to the Canape Vert hospital because there were no doctors in the general hospital," medical director Hector Torres said.

"One 12-year-old boy had a bullet wound in his back and the exit wound in his chest."

Such is the vacuum in Port-au-Prince the day after Mr Aristide's departure. After a day of looting and shooting those shops still standing are closed.

The blazing roadblocks which pro-Aristide gangs, the chimeres, once controlled now pose little more than charred slalom challenges for drivers. The runway at the airport, which was empty on Saturday, now serves as a concrete welcome mat for military forces from the US, Canada and France. The tap-taps (local buses) are back on the road, but with the petrol stations still closed small children sell them cans of fuel at the roadside.

At various hospitals the worried go in search of the missing. In various parts of the city those Aristide supporters who did not flee are in hiding. A tense calm reigns after the bloody, chaotic storm.

Into this vacuum drove the victorious cavalcade of Guy Philippe and Louis-Jodel Chamblain - the former chief of police accused of fomenting two coups and a death squad leader from a previous dictatorship.

The convoy of more than 70 rebels commanded by Mr Philippe left the western town of Gonaives - the first city to fall to rebels and precipitate the crisis - before dawn, driving past scenes of death and destruction.

In the town of St Marc, which the rebels had taken and then lost to pro-Aristide gangs, the convoy passed a roadblock where the charred bodies of three people lay in the middle of the road.

The rebel vehicles had mechanical trouble during the drive, delaying their arrival in the capital. Mr Philippe's bulletproof van broke down and he hopped into a truck.

When they arrived they performed a lap of honour around the presidential palace to the release of doves and ebullient crowds chanting: "Aristide had to go, whether he wanted to or not." From the side streets throngs of people came to join them, carrying huge Haitian flags. T-shirts announcing support for the opposition not worn out in the open for weeks were displayed proudly on their chests.

On the road to the airport, some Haitians held up two fingers in a victory sign. Others held up three fingers, a sign that Mr Aristide's presidency had ended after three years of a five-year term.

But if the demonstrations revealed joy at Mr Aristide's departure, they gave a hint of the challenges to come. As well as armed rebels wearing camouflage uniforms with US army insignia (bought in bulk at surplus stores), there were armed civilians and police.

Having shown that force works, the struggle to restore order and disarm the gangs on both sides might prove more elusive. For most Haitians the key issue is less who is in power than what they are going to do with it. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, has been ravaged by Aids and has an average life expectancy of 53. About 83% of the population live on less than £2 a day.

Lyonel Charleus, 41, trained as an electrician. He has never had a proper job but he puts his skills to work stealing power from lines in the streets so his family has electricity.

He laughs when asked whether he receives help from the government. "There's no way the government would help to feed you."

"Very hard, very hard life," he says. "If it was harder, it would be death."

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Another Day in the Death of America
book review
Younge’s masterwork. To be read through tears. Brilliantly reported, quietly indignant and utterly gripping. Naomi Klein
 follow on twitter
RT @chakrabortty: Labour remain voters prefer Corbyn to Blair. Tory Leavers prefer the Brexit party to Boris. https://t.co/Rp7NDvi83N
RT @MsJeanRhys: Could I be a recluse?? That is my great wish for the next few weeks - and why not for good?
RT @NesrineMalik: So happy to be in conversation with the mighty @garyyounge on book launch day in a few weeks. Come! https://t.co/RzF4z21Q…
RT @MaryRobinette: The sheaths came in small, medium, and large. It turns out, the men were all saying that they needed a Large sheath. Th…
RT @MaryRobinette: Fun fact: When Sally Ride was preparing to go into space, NASA engineers asked her if 100 tampons would be the right num…
RT @joannawoodange1: Struggling ... my ex husband of whom I’m very fond - divorced 25 years ago -very amicably has been diagnosed with vasc…
RT @RacismDog: BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK…
RT @alfonslopeztena: “I did try and fuck her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily. I moved on her like a bitch... I don't even…
RT @politicshome: 'Farewell, Theresa May. Your best was far from good enough' - @garyyounge heads up our Five At Five Must Reads https://…
RT @FrancesSSellers: ‘My otherness is on display every time I open my mouth, but people rarely consider me an immigrant.’ ⁦@garyyounge⁩ ht…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc