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.
Jean has a way, a hustle, as he says, but I worry, and he does, too, about a day when the hustle might not come through and I stop getting those messages at night, “Laura, I’m so worried.” — Laura Lampton Scott
Dispatch #9: 11/20/22
Good afternoon. This is me, Jean Marseille. Today is November 20, 2022. This is a short recording. [COUGHING] I’m sorry.
I don’t really want to leave Haiti. But things just keep getting worse and worse, until it got to this point. I don’t know if I’m going to live to see the day I get out of here, because it seems like things are taking so long. If I am going to stay here I just want to live somewhere that is decent, so I don’t have to be on the streets.
Look, I’m sleeping on the streets. [COUGHING] I’m super sick. My mom passed away in the States. My brother don’t give a fuck. Excuse my language. And I’m not sleeping well. I had a blanket. This woman that had seen me sitting on the plaza and I guess felt kind of bad for me, and she gave me a blanket for me to use. [COUGHING]
I really didn’t want to do this recording, because I didn’t want you to hear how bad I’m sick. But I guess I have no choice. Because this recording, it’s very important that you guys hear me.
If I get a chance to get a better life in the DR, the only thing I’m going to regret is that I didn’t sell my house. It got taken from me; I didn’t sell it. Yeah, I love Haiti. But to the point where it’s gotten right now, it’s like a lot of love lost.
And I’m getting old. I’m fifty-some years old now. I can’t be going on like this. I have to get myself stabilized. And I have these kids coming up; I gotta prepare for their future. But here in Haiti, I just feel like I’m wasting time.
Tonight is different. This woman let me stay in her backyard. Like a log cabin thing, but there’s still no door. And I’m still cold as heck. I have this cold. She made me some tea. It made me feel better.
If I ever get a chance for a better life, I would come back to Haiti to sell my house. I know gangs can’t rule forever. And as far as I’m concerned, I don’t know how long all this is going to last. It’d be nice coming back only if Haiti changes. If not, I’d rather move away forever. I just regret not selling my house before leaving.
I don’t really care. I already made up my mind to start a new life somewhere else. So let be.
The recording’s gotten to a point. It’s me, Jean Marseille. Today is November 20, 2022. Thank you very much. Have a good night.