Log Cabin Chronicles

Royal Orr

Yes, lady, Haiti continues to be a dangerous place


In a recent letter to the editor of Quebec's Stanstead Journal, an Internet reader took exception to a column I wrote about a recent trip to Haiti.

In it I had said that being white-skinned made a person more vulnerable to violence during these politically charged days in the capital city, Port au Prince.

The reader wrote to complain, reporting that as a white resident of the city, she felt no such danger. She criticized me for suggesting otherwise.

I was prepared to say nothing in response, taking it on the chin, until I read her appalling statement that the demonstrators who shut down Port au Prince (and several other towns) while I was there were simply "demanding action on quite legitimate complaints."

Anyway, she said breezily, "no one was killed."

The thugs who terrorize the opposition on behalf of presidential candidate Aristide and his Lavalas party (and who were behind the fiery protest barricades) have been condemned by just about every reputable national and international human rights and democratic organization in existence.

The lengths these men and women have been prepared to go to cheat the electoral system, to rob Haitian citizens of a free and fair vote, to abuse, threaten and do violence to anyone with the courage to stand up to them is a national shame.

No one was killed that day in Port au Prince, it's true. But many had been before.

Ms. Renaud's attempt to portray Haiti as an idyllic island paradise does a grave disservice to the truly heroic men and women who try in the face of such viciousness to build a political and an economic system that is no longer based on intimidation and larceny.

As for her nasty little jibe that I should not have viewed Haiti from my "chauffeur-driven air-conditioned car", it is of a piece with her look-at-me-the-friend-of-the-people self-righteousness.

For Ms. Renaud's information, our camera crew was being driven around in a bashed up, ten-year-old Mitsubishi truck.

Our "chauffeur" was a man who works with an internationally respected human rights organization in Port au Prince.

Because of his work, he and his colleagues receive death threats on a regular basis, many of them from Ms. Renaud's charming Lavalas protesters with their "quite legitimate complaints."


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