Originally: From Baghdad to Port-au-Prince
One killed in London. How many deaths is that worth in Baghdad? The purpose of that question is not to minimize the horror of the July 7 attacks, which resulted in 54 casualties in the British capital. However, in the week following those attacks, three times as many violent deaths have occurred in the Baghdad area alone, in similar happenings that are now part of a daily routine. Meanwhile, in London, Madrid, or New York, such an event is unique and seen as such.
By the same token, what is the price of a murder in Haiti on the cynical stock market of world news? According to press reports, 700 violent deaths have occurred since September 2004. Port-au-Prince is haunted by successive waves of kidnappings, rapes, deadly clashes between police and armed gangs, as well as murders of journalists ?
However, for some observers, that level of violence is nothing compared to what is in store ? According to Georges Anglade, Haiti is threatened by a murderous tornado, a thousand times as tragic as hurricane Jeanne, which devastated Gonaives in September 2004.
“It will be Rwanda all over again; a revolt that will set an uncompromising assault of the 90% poor against the 10% rich,” that former government minister and retired UQAM geographer told me. And today?s budding violence only gives a small idea of the growing potential for destruction.
Anglade took upon the mission to arrange for an emergency gathering of the Haitian Diaspora, a population of four million people living in Montréal, New York, Miami, and some parts of Europe, so as to conjure the curse. And nothing would make him happier than to be wrong in his predictions.
On July 7, 8, and 9, they were 300 at UQAM to launch, upon his initiative, a “Haitian Global Congress.” The local media ignored that event, while, three weeks earlier, it had just covered the International Conference of the “Donor Countries”. It should also be mentioned that the meeting took place at the precise moment of the London attacks ?
Among those present were Jean Métellus, the poet-physician who came specially from Paris to discuss “networking” and “the responsibility of the Diaspora,” Mimi Barthelemy, the storyteller, ? as well as teachers, engineers, and police officers so badly needed in Haiti. And there was Gary Eugene, one of the new officials of the Miami police, who came to discuss the difficult question of security in Haiti ?
An interesting detail: during the opening ceremony of that initial symposium, Joseph Gabay, the Quebec President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, explained to those ladies and gentlemen of the Haitian Diaspora what “networking,” “lobby,” and “solidarity,” mean ?
During those three days in Montreal, Georges Anglade deplored two absences, those of the governments of Quebec and Ottawa. “Even more unfortunate,” he stated, “that Ottawa has just received, from the ?hands? of Washington, the responsibility to manage the Haitian situation.” Perhaps, as a way to get rid of a hot potato ?