EDITED BY PETER ORNER AND LAURA LAMPTON SCOTT
Jean Marseille recorded these dispatches on his phone while surviving on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from October through December 2022. As the chaos that followed the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 devolved into further lawlessness, Jean witnessed firsthand a city in free fall.
After the last conversation, I realized something that should have been obvious from the beginning: Jean should be talking to people, conducting interviews, not acting as a middleman. . . . When he talks to people, Jean is fully absorbed. He listens with his brand of almost fervid curiosity. — Peter Orner
Dispatch #6: 11/03/22
Good morning, good morning. It’s me, Jean Marseille, in Haiti. Today’s date is November 3, 2022. I’m going to back up a little and try and explain why some of these things are going on right now.
Ever since our president, Jovenel Moïse, was murdered in his bedroom on July of 2021, we’ve been hearing about a man named Ariel Henry. He became prime minister and then he also became president. No one really knows how. Some say it has something to do with a tweet off the internet.
Now a lot of people in Haiti are talking about a military intervention coming into the country. But it’s the elites and this prime minister, Ariel Henry, who have been calling for the US and Canada to come in with soldiers. But the population doesn’t trust this Ariel Henry to be making these kinds of decisions, because he wasn’t elected. You understand? The people didn’t vote him in. Some feel like he had a part of the killing of the old president, Jovenel Moïse. And we have all this mixed-up information about what’s going on. Because people don’t know exactly how Henry got in, and they don’t want him to stay in power. And so they’ve been keeping this fight, all this violence that’s been going on two or three months now. It’s because they don’t want Ariel Henry.
You see, the elites and the government are one. The elites, the bourgeoisie—they are the ones with all the big money. They hold all the power in Haiti. The government is controlled by the elites. And so the people think, If the elites want an intervention, it must be to help them get even richer. I think that’s the problem that Canada and America are having right now, because they don’t know what to do. Would they be coming in to help the population? Or would they be coming in to help the elites, the ones who control everything already?
So that’s the information I got for today. My name is Jean Marseille in Haiti. Thank you very much and have a good morning.
It’s me again, Jean Marseille. It’s still November 3.
Something else happened this afternoon. A police officer was trying to get home after work. Unfortunately, while riding his moto, he was trapped by some guys from this gang called Ti Makak. That’s another very powerful gang right now. Lucky for this policeman, he had good legs, and at first he escaped. Then he fell into some bushes, and he hid under them. He was able to call the main police station asking for backup but the guy in charge said there’s nothing that they can do for him right now, because the area is too dangerous. He told the cop he was going to have to figure it out for himself.
But some other police officers, they heard what was going on. And they took a big truck and some heavy weapons without telling any of the higher ranks. They just went straight up to where the cop was hiding and just started shooting at this gang, Ti Makak. And lucky for that police officer, they took him back home and they made a victory out of it.
But now, you see the problem? Some of the police are saying they don’t have to listen to the chief of police. They feel like they can take the law into their own hands. And that makes the police unstable.
There’s corruption in every direction. If other countries want to help the police, they have to understand that nobody’s really in control.
And this is me, Jean Marseille, giving you a short update about what occurred this afternoon about an officer who was going home and was caught up by gangs. Thank you.