HAITI – HAITI – HAÏTI – AYITI

Celi grad je velika pijaca-The whole city as a big marketplace

Celi grad je velika pijaca-The whole city as a big marketplace

Guzva u centru glavnog grada-A crowd in the centre of the capital

Guzva u centru glavnog grada-A crowd in the centre of the capital

Labadi na severu zemlje je zakupljena teritorija i turisticki raj-Labadee on the North is a rented land and tourist paradise

Labadi na severu zemlje je zakupljena teritorija i turisticki raj-Labadee on the North is a rented land and tourist paradise

Na benzinskoj stanici-At the petrol station

Na benzinskoj stanici-At the petrol station

Vecina stanovnika zivi u siromastvu-Most people live in slums

Vecina stanovnika zivi u siromastvu-Most people live in slums

Predsednicka palata-Presidential Palace

Predsednicka palata-Presidential Palace

Pod kontrolom UN-Under the UN control

Pod kontrolom UN-Under the UN control

Male Haicanke-Little Haitian girls

Male Haicanke-Little Haitian girls

Karipska krstarica na ulazu u Labadi-Caribbean cruiser entering Labadee

Karipska krstarica na ulazu u Labadi-Caribbean cruiser entering Labadee

Kažu da većina karipskih ostrva liči na raj na zemlji, osim jednog koje mnogo više podseća na pakao. To je manja polovina ostrva Hispaniola, na kome se nalazi Haiti. Veoma neprijatno osećanje počinje da obuzima od trenutka kad se stupi na ovo tle vudua, zombija, crne magije, ekstremnog siromaštva i neprijatnosti koju osećate dok vas posmatraju lokalni stanovnici. Jedina zemlja iz koje sam nestrpljivo čekao da odem. Neprestano su me pratile slike iz romana Komedijaši Grejema Grina, u kome pripadnici odreda tajne policije Tonton Makut, sa obaveznim velikim tamnim naočarima, tako da im mala crna lica izgledaju još manja, špijuniraju i denunciraju sve što se kreće po glavnom gradu Port-o-Prensu. Dekadentne zabave iz tog romana sada su davna prošlost, kao i predsednička familija Divalije, otac Papa Doc i njegov sin i naslednik na čelu zemlje Baby Doc, koji su vladali skoro tridest godina i zaveli strahovladu koja ni do danas ne napušta ovu zemlju. I zaista većina muškaraca nosi velike tamne naočare, kao da žele da dočaraju to vreme ili da steknu izgled opasnih likova. Opasnost je ovde normalna pojava, a oprez nešto bez čega se ne izlazi na ulicu, niti se razgleda ova zemlja u kojoj je, bar u trenutku mog boravka, vladalo dvovlašće: jedan je pobedio na izborima, a drugi je zadržao vlast.

Želeo sam da prisustvujem nekom vudu-ritualu, što je bilo dosta teško, s obzirom na to da ih je vlast strogo zabranila jer su s vremena na vreme imali smrtni ishod ponekog znatiželjnog stranca. Da li je možda zbog toga nešto više užurbanih kusih petlova jurilo ulicama grada, to ne znam, ali je sigurno da su bili pošteđeni ritualnog čerupanja.

Na izlazu iz relativne sigurnosti mog hotela, koji je odavno izgubio naziv Holiday Inn, ali kao takav ostao kao jedini pristojan, već me je čekala nervozna masa ljudi koja je uspela da sazna da je stigao neki stranac. Uskočio sam u stari žuti pežo iz šezdesetih godina XX veka i krenuo da obiđem nešto od grada i zemlje. Iako sam proputovao dosta afričkih zemalja, ovoliko siromaštvo delovalo bi prejako čak i za crni kontinent. Opšte osećanje straha, pomešano sa nesigurnošću, budilo je u meni želju da što pre odem odavde i vratim se u susednu Dominikansku republiku, gde sam ostavio porodicu na letovanju.

Vraćam se u radnju pomenutog romana i pokušavam da sve ove ljude oko sebe posmatram kao komedijaše koji igraju igru života i smrti, kako u ono vreme kad su se skrivali od pripadnika tajne policije sa tamnim naočarima, tako i sada kad proživljavaju veliku ljudsku tragediju. Kao zombiji, kojima skoro da i nije potrebna noć da bi pokazali svoje obličje, jer oni i po vrelom danu izgledaju isto tako strašno. Haiti je, bez obzira na ljudsku nesreću prouzrokovanu prirodnim katastrofama i ekstremnim siromaštvom, ipak veoma lepa zemlja, ali koja će na svoje bolje dane morati, nažalost, još dugo da čeka.

Bar dok svi ne poskidaju tamne naočare i ugledaju svetlost.

April 2001.
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It is said that most Caribbean islands look like paradise, except one, which resembles hell more closely. It is the smaller portion of the Hispaniola Island where Haiti is situated. As soon as you step on the Haitian soil, an unpleasant foreboding arises, not only because of Voodoo, zombies, black magic, and extreme poverty, but also because of the way the locals stare at you. This is the only country that I was impatient to leave. I kept thinking of the scenes from Graham Greene’s The Comedians, where the secret police Tonton Macoutes , wearing obligatory dark glasses which make their small black faces even smaller, spy on and denounce everyone and anyone that happens to be on the streets of Port-au –Prince. Decadent parties in this novel are now a distant past, as well as the presidential Duvalier family, the father Papa Doc and his son and successor heading the country, Baby Doc, who, for almost 30 years, ruled by terror which has remained in this country to date. And indeed, most men wear big dark glasses, as though they either want to bring back those times or to appear dangerous.  Here, danger is a normal thing and caution is something you do not go without in the street; sightseeing is not recommended and at the time of my stay, there was actually a political rift –one candidate won the elections and the other just remained in power despite the loss.

I wanted to see a voodoo ritual, which was difficult to organise, because they were strictly prohibited by the government, as from time to time, they resulted in death of a curious foreign visitor. Whether that is why more semi-plucked roosters were scurrying around than usual, I don’t know, but they seemed to have been spared the ritual plucking of feathers. Leaving the relative security of my Holiday Inn hotel, which has long lost it name but has nevertheless kept a decent standard, I was confronted by an anxious group of people who have heard that a foreigner was in sight. I jumped into an old, yellow Peugeot from the 1960s and set off to see a little bit of the city and the country itself. Even though I have seen many African countries, poverty this severe would be too much even for Africa. An overwhelming sense of fear and insecurity made me want to go back to the neighbouring Dominican Republic where I left my family on holiday.

I go back to Greene’s novel and try to see all these people around me like comedians who play a game of life and death, much like at the time when they were hiding from the secret police, and similarly now, when they are going through a terrible human tragedy. Like zombies, they do not need much help to show their true face, they look terrifying even in a broad daylight of a hot day.

Despite the human misery caused by natural disasters and extreme poverty, Haiti is still a truly beautiful country, but unfortunately, it will have to wait for its better days for a long time.

At least until everyone takes off their dark glasses to see the light.

April 2001

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