by Kevin Pina
At 4:30 a.m. as the rain began to fall, a collective wail could be heard rising from the makeshift camps of those left homeless due to a massive earthquake that rocked Haiti on Jan. 12. Cries of helplessness and misery quickly turned into shouts of anger and invectives against Haitian President Rene Preval as thousands then took to the streets in several spontaneous street demonstrations.
Throughout one of the largest marches that headed towards the United Nations headquarters located near the airport, protesters also sang, “If Aristide were here, he would be soaked along with us.” The reference was to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted in a coup in 2004 and continues to live in exile in the Republic of South Africa.
A quick visit to the homeless camps in the center of the capital showed why the homeless victims of the quake feel as if the pace of relief efforts has been too slow. Lack of proper shelter and sanitation left children lying in pools of water clearly contaminated by feces as families desperately tried to salvage and dry out their belongings as the morning sun broke through the clouds.
“We can’t take this anymore!” shouted the protestors as the march snaked through traffic towards the Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport currently under the control of the U.S. military.
Two protesters received minor scrapes and injuries as the police pushed a few of them towards a deep canal lining the road, where they fell in. There were no reports of injuries to the police as the march turned back and protesters began blocking the main road to the airport with large rocks and debris.
©2010 Haiti Information Project won the Project Censored 2008 Real News Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism. Kevin Pina of HIP is Haiti correspondent to Flashpoints, heard weekdays at 5 p.m. on KPFA 94.1 and dozens of other stations nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.