“Mattresses smolder on the trash-strewn roads in this sprawling seaside slum of Port-au-Prince. Gray smoke blows off islands of refuse and the charred remains of burned cars, and the twisted, immolated metal smeared with ash and grime wavers in pools of heat, assuming the abject shapes of a crucifixion.” That’s reporter J. Malcolm Garcia writing about Haiti. But he’s not describing the devastation of the earthquake that hit the country this week. Those words were written in April 2005 and published in Virginia Quarterly Review. It sounds a place emerging from a natural disaster, doesn’t it? Here’s more:
We stop by a vendor and buy palm-sized plastic bags of water, tear them open with our teeth, tip our heads back, and drink. Squinting against the sky, sweat like hot oil on our skin. Ahead of us, machine-gun-toting policemen in ski masks emerge through the smoke from behind UN armored personnel carriers preceded by feral dogs. Hunched and snapping, the dogs fight among themselves in black piles of steamy garbage. No sound comes from the mouths of the withered men and women picking through the skeletal remains of vehicles. Just the slow turning of their heads as we drive past. Dogs and pigs wrestle over bloody bandages below some graffiti.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and we’ll be hearing that a lot in the coming weeks as the country emerges from this tragedy. Here are some sources we’ll be watching for Haiti reports and some of the work they’ve done already to help the world understand the magnitude of the crisis:
Repeating Islands blog
Scholars predicted Haitian Earthquake
Livesay Haiti blog
The morning after
Dispatches from a Fragile Island blog
Haiti earthquake: Ban Ki-Moon press conference
Radio Tele Ginen
Photographs (some of these are graphic)
And, of course, Twitter.
Updated January 13, 2009 4:15 PM CST:
Twitter interview @fredodupoux
The Big Picture
Earthquake in Haiti