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Jalousie from afar. Photo: Jim Wilentz

 

Just so everyone can see the hypocrisy of the Jalousie paint job I wrote about earlier, here’s a picture my brother, a cardiologist who has been working in Haiti, took from the rue Panamericaine  a little more than a month ago.

To the left, the nicely painted, festive, cheerful, postcard-ready slum of Jalousie.

xsmn Kết quả xổ số Vũng TàuTo the right, the continuation of the hillside, Jalousie adjacent slums, as they truly are, without the rouge and mascara.

The perky houses on the left, painted by the municipality of Petionville, a town just up the hill from Port-au-Prince, can be seen from the new Royal Oasis hotel, built with post-earthquake loans from the World Bank and the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund.

The honest, unpainted, nonbotoxed true shantytown cannot.

Here’s what Haitian slums often look like when you’re in them:

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Shantytown on the ground. Photo: Alice Smeets

 

To be clear, the shantytown pictured just  above is not Jalousie, nor is it a hillside bidonville like Jalousie. In the flatlands, water from runoff and rain causes this kind of flooding. But as a hillside slum with no water system to speak of, Jalousie has its own dangerous problems with rainfall, and certainly, while being spruced up with paint, was not seismically retrofitted to withstand another earthquake.

As I’ve said from the beginning of my engagement with Haiti, it’s always wise to use a wide-angle and also to take the long view.

Interesting. While conducting field-work for research in Haiti (2013-14), I had the pleasure of visiting the decorated version of Jalousie. I clambered through its precipitous rabbit runs and narrow stairways, chatting with residents. I was very surprised to hear them explain to me, contrary to all my presuppositions of what can only appear to be as highly seismically vulnerable slum as one could see from a distance, that there was very little damage incurred there from the earthquake, say even compared with the posher districts of Petionville and Delmas. This is not to question the lack of essential infrastructure you draw attention to, or the absurd political decision to decorate that section for the hotel guests to gaze upon!

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