Diesen Artikel spiegele ich mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Cali Ruchala. Das Original dieser Seite ist auf der Sobaka-Website http://www.diacritica.com/sobaka/2002/comedians.html gespeichert.
Cali Ruchala kindly allowed me to mirror this
article, the original can be found at Sobakas website at
THE HEAT FROM THE flames rose like geysers as the insect swarms lurched in the humid waves. Cars, vans, even a few donkey-carts stopped, then drove around the row of burning tires blocking the road.
I resisted finding any deep significance in symbols like these during my time in Haiti, but that deadly but nevertheless ineffectual roadblock was a temptation. Life in Haiti is hard, filled with obstacles, but simple ways can be found to surmount the high and mighty. And the tactics used by whatever ruling clique is in power to stay in power are draconian and brutal, but the victims so often merely shrug them aside.
My friend Pierre called me this weekend. We normally "chat" by letter, even if he has to settle for being the second or third person to open the mysteriously torn envelopes he gets from me. There was a pitch of excitement in his voice. "This time I think they're going to do it," he said. "Do you think the Americans will save Aristide this time?"
He quickly filled me in on the details. About a month ago, Aristide arrested a man who was one of the "capos" of the popular mobs of "Titid's" supporters who take advantage of bad news to beat, rob, and burn their opponents alive. After a couple of days of popular protests, the jailed man's supporters drove a tractor into the jail in Gonaives, freeing their hero and 158 other convicts. The police were outnumbered and outgunned, and fled after firing a few cans of tear gas. The city hall and the courthouse are piles of ashes. The city is now in possession of a group calling themselves the "Cannibal Army". And Pierre says the government has surrounded the town, and the burning-tire barricades have returned.
Things like this happen often in Haiti. People out of work turn out in huge numbers to protest, in sizes and frequency that would stun observers in any other country. Aristide's supporters rebel, or he rebels from them, withdrawing the patronage he once gave.
What makes it different this time is that a people without much in this material world have lost even more. In a catastrophe mirroring the infamous Albanian pyramid scheme meltdown in 1997, thousands of Haitians have lost their homes and whatever savings they could scrape together when a chain of cooperative banks collapsed. As in Albania, everyone with a brain warned the government to dissolve the rackets and seize their assets for months; as in Albania, the government refused to do anything. A few international economists familiar with the issue have noted that the banks probably would have collapsed much sooner, but were given a reprieve as drug profits were laundered and washed one last time before being converted into legit cash.
The way that outside powers handle Albania and Haiti is influenced by memories of a massive exodus: the massive depopulation of Albania in 1993 when thousands fled on boats to Italy, and the constant stream of botpippel which seems to pick up steam as regimes begin to decay or degenerate in Haiti. Everything is seen through that prism: do what's necessary, prop-up who you have to, kill if you must - anything in the short-term to keep their respective Continent's most godforsaken people from building more boats.
Albania and Haiti are two countries that I love, populated by peoples I both despise and adore. Whether it's the zip of knives and the flash from a pistol's black lacquer from a zenglendo in an alley off the Iron Market in Port-au-Prince, or the cowboys with their faces covered in red bandannas blocking a road near Skhoder with vehicles stolen from the UN Refugee Aid program, I've had enough sketchy experiences in both countries to thoroughly fumigate whatever sweet room of roses a romantic spirit might fertilize in connection with Haiti and Albania. But I can still cultivate those cherished moments - the illiterate artist painting every wall on his block with gorgeous murals in Dalmas, or the faces of destitute street musicians sharing a single beer in Tirane. It's the verve of peoples who have grown strong beneath a blast of wind that leveled everything in its path. Nowhere else have I so enjoyed as poor a spread as total strangers offered in shantytowns in Haiti and Albania, accompanied by homemade klarin or bootlegged brandy. It's a cultivated sense of desiccation, and the vibrant spirit which exists underneath; the reminder that nations are made of people, not dollars, not Volvos or bare IKEA furnishings.
On a purely subjective level, one thing that both Albania and Haiti have in common is the haunting sense of age about the place. Haiti is a few decades younger than the United States, but seems many times as ancient. It's in the disintegration of the houses, the lines of people's faces, the sense that things have been so chaotic for so long, the standard of living mired in the same bestial poverty for so many generations that sensibilities really haven't changed much in a hundred years. Albania is even younger as a state, but here too I had the notion that I was walking streets as old as ancient Greece. Noisy squalor and calm silence both have a timelessness.
Albania has still not recovered from the horrible days following the collapse of the pyramid schemes, either financially or psychologically. Like Haiti, there would seem to be little left in the country to loot after an especially brutal dictatorship, but somehow the crooks will always find a way to convince the poor to sell the soles of their shoes, and the foot and the ankle after that. (It's no coincidence that the biggest pyramid schemes in recent history have been perpetrated the poorest country in Europe and the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.) In both places, a former "savior" - Sali Berisha in Albania, Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti - turned out to be no more honest than his predecessor, if relatively less brutal.
To have lost everything gives this bizarre event - the "liberation" of the city of Gonaives - added significance. Is it the start of a nationwide uprising, as the "Cannibals" have been calling for and my friend Pierre fears? Aristide has never had so many enemies as he has now. Far from sending marines to put him back in power, the Americans this time would probably applaud his departure. I don't have much good to say about who America thinks are its "friends" in the world, but they'd probably be right in disowning fortune's orphan. Aristide's not much better in reputation than Berisha was on the eve of the collapse of the pyramid schemes in 1997. Most people believe he's part of the problem, though he is still quite popular in Haiti - or was, the last time I was there...
I've burned a piece of flesh in both countries, among blonde whites and dark blacks half a world apart, sharing so little among so many. It breaks my heart to think that Haiti could be entering another slide toward revolution, but has there been any other way? The people - most of them, anyway - will survive, though hardly better off than they are now. New waves of botpippel will wash up in Miami, causing more consternation to politicians who lament that they're too dark to be "real" refugees like the palefaces from Cuba. Journalists will write more stories referencing Graham Greene's novel The Comedians, which is to hack writing about Haiti as Joseph Conrad is to stories about the "heart of darkness", Africa. Human rights groups will write more reports. The people go on, though, with the timelessness of silence, cleaning up what their betters have left behind, with the bearing of a machine that always seems to be on the verge of breaking down, but never does.
Mirror erstellt: 18.03.2004