Haiti, jewel of the Caribbean
Haiti, dear sister of my heart
You did not need another calamity
Your history has been far too hard already
My heart goes out to you
In this latest of tragedies
Why has the world abandoned you
For so long
Because you dared to declare your freedom ?
Two centuries ago ?
And since then you have wallowed
In the mire of chaos, anarchy, greed
But poverty for most, dire poverty
And the world looks away
While day in and day out
Your people starve
Just a short flight
From the richest country on Earth
You lie abandoned
A nightmare in paradise
And now another chapter of horror
Has opened in your ongoing saga
Haiti I cry for you
And I know not
What to do
Other than write
These hopeless words
Like a raging bull the earthquake tore down whole streets. Haiti holds a soft spot in my heart after a visit there in February, 1997, at Carnaval time. This photo of bull masks was shot in Jacmel, on the south coast of Haiti. The Carnaval parades are full of colorful, and sometimes terrifying figures . . .
Haiti is a country with many demons, past and present. Some of them come out for Carnaval. . .
I read in the news tonight that although the presidential palace was damaged, President René Preval was unhurt. The gentleman at the center of this photo in the white hat is none other than President René Preval. When he saw me taking a picture of him, he very kindly reached into his personal cooler of beer, and handed down a cold can of Heineken to me. Now that was hospitality to appreciate. Mr. Preval, I wish you all possible courage in dealing with this latest catastrophe. You hold one of the hardest jobs in the world today. At least as hard as President Obama's job.
Across the street from the president's platform, one of his guards was visible with a sub-machine gun . . . Haiti remains a dangerously violent place. One cannot be too careful there. So many sad stories can be found if one digs a little. Perhaps better not to dig.
Yet Haiti is a country of beautifully proud people, like these three women photographed in a remote river valley where I walked three hours to go see the family of a man working for the people we stayed with there . . .
Haiti is densely populated, perhaps a bit like India, with people everywhere one goes . . . This shot is of Kenscoff Market, in the hills above Petionville. Not far from Port au Prince. I hope these good people were not too hard hit.
Haiti is a desperately poor nation. This corrugated metal shack was not by any stretch of the imagination an unusual sight. In a hand-bound book of photos I put together after the trip to Haiti I gave this one the caption : Brokedown Palace . . . in reference to the Grateful Dead song by that name. "Gonna leave this brokedown palace, on my hands and my knees . . ."