Haiti’s Crisis Is Familiar. Its History, Less So

Residents of the Port-au-Prince slum Cite Soleil make their way to the downtown market by foot due to an oil embargo, Oct. 26, 1993 (AP photo by Michael Stravato).
Residents of the Port-au-Prince slum Cite Soleil make their way to the downtown market by foot due to an oil embargo, Oct. 26, 1993 (AP photo by Michael Stravato).

During my first reporting trip to Haiti, in January 1988, on my very first day in the country, I rode 50 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to St. Marc, a coastal city to the north, to write about the atmosphere in the provinces on the eve of national elections. At a roadblock just shy of St. Marc, armed remnants of the feared militia of the country’s former dictatorship, the Tonton Macoutes, were burning vehicles and extorting money from passengers in broad daylight. One of the militiamen warned me that if they allowed me to pass, I would not be permitted […]

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