Mar 17, 2008
In Haiti, some people are forced to eat mud in order to survive. The extreme poverty of the majority of the population permits a handful of individuals to live lavishly. These wealthy scum amass profits by exploiting workers – paying less than $3 for a day’s work. They enlarge their bank accounts by speculating on the relation between the local money, the gourde, and the dollar. And they speculate on the price of staple foods. The daily wage even for a worker in the industrial parks isn’t enough to meet the needs of a family.
It’s this situation the U.S. troops reinforced when they went into Haiti in 2004.
The Haitian Organization of Revolutionary Workers (OTR) published an account of this situation in Voix des Travailleurs (Workers Voice) Issue 172, December 2007, from which we have translated the following excerpts:
Under the rule of Duvalier, Fort-Dimanche was a barracks. That’s where they locked up political prisoners, tortured and sometimes executed them. Then, after Aristide’s return from exile in 1994, the police of Fort-Dimanche were driven out. Many people who didn’t have shelter occupied the old barracks. Those who didn’t find a room and also those who were already settled in cleared the ground, which was filled with wild plants, the remains of the dead, rats, grass snakes and garbage of all sorts that gave off a nauseating odor. They called us “koko-rats” because we looked for something to eat in the trash thrown out by U.S. soldiers in Haiti at that time.
We resisted the politicians who wished to kick us out and finally we won the battle. We chose to give Fort Dimanche another name. After reflection, we chose Village-Démocratie. Because, at that time the leaders spoke of the return of former president Aristide who was in exile. They said they had sown democracy and it was necessary to harvest it. So, we considered the occupation of Fort Dimanche as a democratic action because we had a right to shelter as human beings.
The conditions of life of Village-Démocratie are parallel to those of other slums of the country, notably Cité Soleil (in the capital Port–au-Prince).
Every time it rains, the zone floods because there is a gully which goes next to the village, and currently a good number of small homes are sinking into the mud. To compensate for this situation, we are obliged to raise the walls and put sheet metal back on.
Besides that, the high cost of living gets more difficult every day. There are people who only have pieces of clay soil to eat. They prepare it like a cracker: they put salt on it and then dry it in the sun. For some people this is the ‘food’ which keeps them going during the day. It’s really serious for the health of people. Therefore, I think that the leaders know very well what misery the poor population is enduring. At election campaign time, they and their representatives are present in all the poor neighborhoods to ask us to vote for them. But they choose to worry only about their own business and not give a damn about us.