Port au Prince, the contrast of scenes and smells.
Tour of the city this morning on a motocycle taxi. With Jimmy, who is playing the role of private chauffeur. We found the gas in a station. Not too much of a fight. I expected more. As yesterday, when the neighborhood watched established by the young people distributed drinking water (not a lot, what they could find) to family representatives. Have I let myself be influenced by the people talking about looting and violence? Some injuries, some attempts to jump in line. No more. Certainly, there are city districts where things are a bit more complicated, but man is not devouring his neighbor to carry off anything he can.
In the districts at the base of town, scenes contrast with smells. Women wash down their stoops, sweep street corners. The large fallen chunks. A dedication to cleanliness, here. An odor of death, there. There are cadavers under the great crumbled buildings. I cross paths with people I know who have lost their near ones. We don’t speak of the dead. Interview with some French journalists. They admit that they haven’t seen the scenes of violence that everybody predicted. There is order to put in the discourses. There is also a will to begin again to live or rather to begin individual life and to begin a collective life. Some people speak of a library. Others of meeting responsible scholars. Others of starting benevolent associations of qualified professionals to inspect the buildings, to see which can be demolished, which can be used. I hear some people talking about agricultural products which should be encouraged and augmenting the production of them, nourishing and easy to produce.
Thinking of everything at the same time.
On the radio, too, I hear more and more pertinent and coherent talk. Some hours after the earthquake on 12 January and in the days that followed, we heard the silence of the state and sometimes disquieting and hallucinatory plans: abandoning the direction of the country to a scientific committee composed of great mystics (!), the sea which was going to wash over the totality of the land. … There begins to be more serious talk. One should not forget that 2010 is an election year, that the legislative voting should take place in some weeks, the presidential in some months. To find rational solutions. One of the major stakes here is not to let the earthquake put a brake on the democratic process. At the end of the Preval mandate, to put in place a provisional government if the elections can’t take place soon, that is a proposition that seems to have some echoes. The problem is that we have to think of everything all at the same time. One hears as well the spokesmen of the Haitian and American governments ‘clarify” that it is not a question of an occupation. This means that they have heard the muttering and understand that the majority of Haitians do not wish that the aid comes at the price of their political rights.
Return to the streets. Le Champ de Mars empties and fills. Yesterday, the trucks transported the refugees in the direction of the old ranch of Jean-Claude Duvalier (yes, he had a ranch, every man to his own little Texas). Their places have been taken. If the numerous streets seem empty, the shelters set up on the wastelands, in the clubs that dispose of a lot of land, are not filled. This city was as full as an egg, and even if people go south or north, there remains a lot of people.
The state, we always return to it.
Noon. New shocks. The flower pot near the computer shook without asking for my permission. We’ll never see an end to this. On the radio, they interview a psychologist about the sensation of constant disequilibrium, of vertigo, that many that people claim to feel. Its psychological, says the psychologist. Thanks for the information, Mr. specialist. But we need some information on the part of the state and the technicians to tell us and reassure us in indicating what attitude we should have concerning these aftershocks. Be it absent or present, it always comes down to the state.
Today, a new distribution of water in the neighborhood. This time, it was found by the pastor. I don’t support that man. Not because of his beliefs. But because of the noise of his preaching and his voice, which has a false sing song. But he brought water. And with the members of the watch, we discuss the future. We need to install things that don’t exist. Among other things, a small library. Need to include in the charter a clause on the sound limit for the radios. But we will have plenty of time to discuss this.
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