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A Haiti Chronicle
Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince in 1999-2001, Daniel Whitman was haunted by the country’s people and landscapes, its nuanced language, and complex and rewarding friendships.
His friends included neighbors, art gallery owners, gas station attendants – but mostly Haiti’s intrepid journalists and broadcasters. Unlike others, Whitman believed that the three elections of 2000 could advance Haiti’s democracy and its development from the bottom rung as poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. He was wrong; they did not. Local supremacists killed, torched and rushed to fraud while foreigners forgave and even blessed the electoral debacles without posing the resistance even of meaningful public comment.
However, seeds also germinated to make Haiti one day fit for its inventive, humor-loving and too often betrayed people. The effort was kept alive largely by Haiti’s gritty journalists, going into hiding when necessary for their survival, but newly organized in October of 1999, into a tenacious and daring national federation. The nation-wide Haitian Press Federation advanced against all odds, and held eight regional meetings which changed political discourse forever in Haiti. The country now enters a post-Aristide interlude. The failure of one regime does not guarantee success for the next. A Haiti Chronicle offers recent context for understanding Haiti’s current crisis, and opportunity.
About the Author
Whitman holds a PhD in French (Brown University), and served for the U.S. State Department in Denmark, Spain, South Africa, and Haiti. In Washington he was Cultural Coordinator in the Africa Bureau, and Program and Coordination Officer for the European Bureau.
His forty articles range in topic from current affairs, African culture, profiles of Europe, and of cultural leaders on three continents. They have appeared in Musicus, Parabola, The New York Times, The Foreign Service Journal, The Strad, and Research in African Literatures, among other publications.
His books are Kaidara, a presentation and study of a 1000-year-old African folk epic; Madrid Inside Out, a guide to residence for foreigners in Spain; and One Step Up, a manual for buyers of stringed instruments.