PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti–This considerably seemed predictable: the U.S. President calls Haiti a “shithole.” Word spreads like wildfire here in the Haitian capital, unleashing uncontrollable anger and violent protests which are televised globally–damning images of turmoil in a nation penalized through decades of dictatorships, inner cronyism, outside manipulation as well as the forces of nature.
But… that didn’t happen.
The news barely created a ripple in Haiti on Friday morning, January 12. And for a very significant reason: It had been the eighth anniversary of this January 2010 earthquake that killed over 250,000 individuals here and ruined this city, and a feeling of quiet respect for the deceased hung over the roads of the funding.
Jean Eduver, a commercial truck driver, told The Daily Beast he thought Trump's comments were “no big deal.”
“We proceed, work, try to get by, work, live,” explained Eduver.
By the end of the day, a heavy rain had washed away Trump's injurious comment in the heads of many men and women.
“It's regrettable,” explained Wilson Laleau, Haitian President Jovenel Moise's chef du cabinet. He noted that Trump’s scatalogical insult was created at a bipartisan meeting on immigration Thursday. Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and a few African countries as shitholes, according to several individuals there. “It's said he explained that,” says Laleau, “however then he says he didn't.”
In the event, the shit hit the fan just enough for the government to issue a statement in French stating: “There’s reason to believe, yet again, there exists deep contempt given that the scope of these reprehensible and shameful declarations does not correspond in any way to this wisdom, comportment, understanding of any jurisdiction invested with highest of offices.”
What hurt as much as what Trump said was that which he did not state. The White House had not even uttered sympathy about the eve of this tragic anniversary of the quake, nor, it seemed did anyone warn the “stable genius” to watch his speech. Subsequently, piling on the insults, Trump had mused about why Haitians came to the U.S. to begin with, tossing out the sinister phrase, “Send them back.”
“We proceed, work, try to get by work, live.”
— Jean Eduver, a truck driver in the Haitian capital
In fact, motives for Haitians visiting the U.S. can be traced back at least to to the U.S. occupation of the country from 1915 to 1940, and Washington’s subsequent support of this notorious Duvalier dictatorship. Since “Papa Doc” killed people in droves– at least 30,000 Haitians were “disappeared” in these days, according to declassified U.S. embassy documents–individuals fled as best they could.
However, the most recent reason for the exodus was the 2010 earthquake, which compelled many Haitians to come to the U.S. searching for survival and livelihood. The Obama government had granted them Temporary Protected Status. Trump reversed that in November 2017, ordering 60,000 Haitians to find legal status, leave or be deported. In accordance with Laleau, the Haitian government fought for and obtained an extension of 18 months to July 2019, but Trump’s “send them back” remark arouses searing memories here.
It’s a bitter reminder of those days of this “boat people,” when thousands of Haitians fleeing political persecution from the early ’90s–after the army led a bloody coup against democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide–were turned around by the U.S. Coast Guard. Pictures of Haitians clinging to sinking rafts were beamed across the world. However, while Cubans fleeing the Castro regime were granted political asylum, Haitians were denied entrance on grounds that they were economic refugees.
The international outcry forced the Clinton Administration to change course. Once more U.S. soldiers landed on the island, not least, to maintain Haitians in their place. And eventually, space was created for legal immigration.
However there's no altering course this time around, States Laleau. “We don't have wiggle room, we have to prepare for the return [of this TPS Haitians]. “That feeling of resignation is so familiar to Haitians who were forced for generations to consume the policies of this large giant to the North. And Trump's shithole remark did strike a raw nerve.
“It's a foul word,” said Haitian businesswoman Hilda Baker. “However, it's a double-edged sword,” she added. “Trump has no right to state what he said, but Haitians do nothing for their own men and women.”
That frequently appears to be too true. Driving through the funding's downtown, it's famed “pearl of the Antilles” shore is now a steaming, sprawling slum. Decades of accumulated garbage flowing down in the hilltops have become petrified “sidewalks” occasionally up to four feet high, where women sell vegetables, fruits, and broiled chicken.
There’s not any garbage disposal to speak of. Rather, cascades of garbage adorn the hillsides of Port-au-Prince. To the outsider, it yells the abominable description of “shithole.” It’s so visible, It’s undeniable.
Back in the early 1980s, the government set up the SMCRS, Service Mtropolitain de Collect de Rsidus Solides, basically waste disposal. What it has accomplished is murkier than the cloudy, clogged sewer canals that engulf the funding. However, it's one thing to point fingers at a government still learning how to govern, while plagued by old cronies and corruption. It' s another to possess imported shit.
After the earthquake, a cholera outbreak hit the island nation ferociously, claiming thousands of lives. Cholera had not been in Haiti for decades, if at all. After lengthy investigations, the United Nations finally surrendered it had been guilty. A Nepalese contingent was at the origin. However, now Haiti is left to combat a riverbed that’s permanently contaminated.
It’s costly. The U.N. has pledged some $400 million for cleanup. However, the funds haven't come through. And in a nation still reeling from the devastation of this 2010 quake, where 70% of the populace lives on $2 a day, in which the millions of dollars for retrieval pledged by donors have yet to demonstrate the fruits of their multi-million dollar projects, it is hard to digest the contempt in Trump's remarks.”
He says what he wants,” explained Laleau. “The U.S. is a big state that values humanity, that's why we're not taking this all that seriously.”
Ironically, some did take it badly, and surprisingly. “Trump is right! This is a shithole!” Said Joanes, a hardworking father of three kids, residing in the downtown slum area. “We live in it! We have officials saying their pride is offended. They#x27;re the offenders! They do nothing for those people.” On second thought, Joanes added, “Trump is only hot air.”