Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh Port Au Prince

A woman cleans and does our laundry once or twice a week. I hate having somebody do my laundry and clean my house -- it feels weird and colonial. Although I also don't enjoy hand washing clothes myself. We hired her primarily because it's our responsibility as rich people here (or at least as people with access to more resources) to provide others with jobs.... Most Haitians also have household staff. Anyway, when she is here she talks to herself and sings Christian worship music. It's like a five-hour musical taking place at our house twice a week. She also mumbles about us not buying the proper kinds of soap and not replacing the broom or mop often enough. And since we don't sweep up the leaves that fall on our driveway every day, she thinks we are dirty people.

She just showed up for work much later than normal and told me in passing, "I couldn't find transportation because there was a bunch of shooting downtown." What? I ask if there is a protest taking place and she says yes, but with no mention as to who is protesting what. There are several protests a week here, but most people don't take notice of them unless they destroy lots of stuff or a number of people get killed. Three days ago, university students were protesting downtown near the palace which is next to a huge camp of displaced people. UN soldiers teargassed them and also managed to gas the camp. The camp residents had to ditch their tents and valuables to escape the teargas. Apparently a few children were injured and six people treated at the general hospital with rubber bullet wounds. Following the protest, UN soldiers stormed the university and beat up a few students that had been throwing rocks. The chief of mission publicly apologized on the radio for this incident, saying that the soldiers had not been authorized to enter the university. For a country without a military, militarism and military intervention is still such a challenge for Haiti. Alexis put together a set of talking points on this issue after the earthquake and although it needs to be updated a bit now, it demonstrates the complexity of military aid and the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which most Haitians we know oppose vehemently.

Speaking of protests, this one actually looks productive.

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