Haiti: Occasional Musings – 3
Tuesday - Sitting waiting for someone in Cafe Rebo on Place Boye. Enjoying my coffee when an armed guard passes me – we stare at each other. Why is he here I ask myself, what does cafe Rebo fear at 11am in the morning. Robbers? The cafe is a small crowded space and the gun toting guard takes up too much of that small space with his weapon like a third leg dangling by his side. I am not comfortable and become impatient waiting on my friend. The guard with the silent bored face lounges oppostie me by the door staring at nothing. Occasionally I look up as I feel he is watching me. Everyone else seems oblivious. Thony my interpreter sits at the table absorbed in my iPad -taking photos of himself and loading them onto Facebook. I start having crazy thoughts, forgetting I lived in a Nigeria under military rule and guns of all shapes and sizes everywhere including in your face. Still my crazy thoughts continued. What if he lost it and just started shooting? What would he do if a poor Haitian walked in off the streets. I opened the door to go outside. Two suave white women sat outside smoking and speaking in French. I felt I was in a Vietnam war movie. I came back inside. Thony briefly looked up from his iPad which was almost touching his face. Then I realised everyone in the cafe was either white or light skinned black person except for the staff including the guard and Thony. They all spoke French except me and Thony who spoke English. Now my imagination turned to wondering if they were Red Cross staff or Christian Aid, or USAID. I got up and went outside, the smoking couple and returned to their coffee roasts, stared at the steerts, still waiting for my friend who eventually turned up with sincere apologies. No problem, but we left very soon after.
The camp on Place Boye is now closed. Apparently everyone was given $500 to leave. It’s cordoned off with a 10ft red zinc fence. There used to be a small community tent – a barber shop, pub and restaurant where you could buy goat head soup. There were also huge rats that ran around the back of the trees by the fence. There were sex workers working for pittance and being abused. Now there is just the red fence. Terrible events are taking place in Haiti in the name of reconstruction and Martelly’s new tagline – Haiti: Open for Business. People who have spent the last two years and more in tents are being forcibly moved not to new housing but just forced out. Whole market areas have been cleared – its as if people are being picked up and swept by giant dumpsters