Interview William Gardner

William Gardner

In Haiti since 2008, Gardner is a senior program officer with the United Nations and chief of the Community Violence Reduction section of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti [MINUSTAH]. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted in early October 2010.

How has the security situation changed since the earthquake?

Because of the earthquake, because of the massive world coverage that the event received, obviously the arrival of large numbers of humanitarian aid and journalists, etc., things were put off balance for a period of time.

“It's opportunism through desperation. No, they are not dishonest people. They are people driven to desperation.”

But the security situation before the earthquake was already dramatic. ... The capital [Port-au-Prince] and some of the other large cities have had gang and crime dynamics for perhaps up to 20 years now. These were exacerbated in the period leading up to the departure of [President Jean-Bertrand] Aristide in 2004.

With the earthquake, the entire country was shaken, but also this gang took a blow, which resulted in gangs, following the earthquake, establishing themselves in what was now completely new territory of the IDP [internally displaced persons] camps. ...

So we haven't had a huge change. We've had a period of evolution. ...

What's been happening in the tent cities?

... A lot of people of course had been heavily traumatized. A lot of people had died. A lot of people were injured. Haitians knew very well that when the international machine got into motion, to be seen and to be recognized and to be registered, they would have to be in an area where there were many people like them, and therefore be participating in these assemblies of people where they would be seen. Of course these developed into the homeless camps.

The humanitarian aid mechanisms that kicked in -- there you have players that are United Nations players, NGO [non-governmental organization] players, government players, military players of different countries -- their immediate objective was to bring aid as quickly as possible to these people. So the aid was targeted to these camps.

What was missing in this formula was the situation in the adjacent slums that nobody looked at. People in the slums very quickly realized, if we stay here, we're not going to get anything; let's go into a camp quickly. ...

How would you describe the composition of an average camp?

... Possibly up to 30 percent of people in camps truly had no reason to be there other than wanting to be on a list to benefit from aid. The remaining 70 percent were people who came from damaged properties and therefore were homeless, but perhaps half of those could have stayed where they were. So possibly 30 to 40 percent were truly, fully legitimate households that really had nowhere to be.

What should have happened from day one was the model used for the distribution of the aid should have targeted the original hardship neighborhoods and slums so as to keep the people there and to attract the people back there, and not through the camps. But that is a very hard thing to do when you arrive with a catastrophe of this magnitude, and to make that kind of decision would have really required some very tough leadership that would have given it that direction. ...

These camps have sprung up in 1,300 locations. If we take the 200 largest, they are in public spaces throughout the capital, and the huge danger now is these camps will evolve into the new generation of slums, which will complicate the task of changing the dynamics in the existing slums further.

From the outside, the big problem of Haiti is, what do we do with the people who lost their homes? What is the disconnect between the perception of interested outsiders and the reality?

The interested outsiders around the world base their opinion on what they saw, and what they saw was mostly the popular news channels that gave out this image of a nation that had suffered a huge earthquake and homeless people that now needed assistance. So fix the homeless issue and you've solved the problem.

The truth is that the homeless people were almost homeless for decades before. It is not as if they were coming from neighborhoods where they had a house that was truly a house with running water, with electricity, and had children that were going to school that was following a state curriculum, and that if the kid was sick they could call the doctor and go and see the doctor and find the medicine immediately. It was not at all that case.

These are populations that have been living for decades in very trying conditions. They have been coping on a day-by-day basis. So when the earthquake hit, yes, they were homeless, but it is not as if they were coming from a safe place and had become homeless. They were coming from a very unsafe place, and now they had the added complication of the earthquake damage. ...

The problem in Haiti is a pre-existing set of problems that have been layered over the years with the various events that have occurred here, and there is no quick fix. There is the need for a very concerted program that can truly tackle the deficiencies at the source so as to start turning the balance in the other direction, and it will take a lot of time. ...

How important is it for people from the outside to understand the pre-existing problem?

... If the mistake is made to state or assume that the problem of Haiti is one of the earthquake and that all that is needed is to fix that damage and everything will be OK, that will be a huge disservice to the Haitian population.

It is very important that the world's public opinion is informed and understands that Haiti is a country that has lived through decades of very unstable governance, which has led to very marked, chronic problems in Haitian society and therefore in the neighborhoods.

The problem in Haiti is not to provide temporary shelters or homes to those affected by the earthquake. It's a problem of assisting Haiti to fix its chronic problems, so that you slowly start removing the chronic-hardship nature of this part of the population. ...

What role does the rule of law have?

The rule of law is fundamental to making this work. ...

You have problems in Haiti which relate to the almost completely lacking enforcement of the rule of law, which means that [if] you are Haitian, living in a hardship neighborhood with your family, you have to protect your family yourself with your own means. You will not have any significant assistance from some state law enforcement body because of the difficulties that they have in running themselves.

Once a crime is committed and a perpetrator is identified and possibly apprehended, then the entire judiciary chain is also so dysfunctional that even if that person is tried for that crime with witnesses, and the person is sentenced, most often than not, that person will be put in a jail which is overcrowded and full to the hilt with inmates that should not be there.

And because the perpetrator has been living the life of crime, he will generally have disposable cash, and he will buy his way out. He will be released, and he will be back in the neighborhood again. ...

How can you buy your way out of prison?

I would not be able to give you a concrete answer or a tangible answer, but we have seen it happen. ...

You have 18 prisons in Haiti, the majority of which are police stations; they are holding cells in police stations. The living conditions in these prisons are horrific. Before the earthquake, the National Penitentiary that was designed for a capacity of 1,200 inmates was holding 4,300 inmates. The inmates were sleeping standing up and taking turns to sleep against the wall.

So if you are a judge, if you are a police officer, and you want to do the right thing, you know that it will be almost impossible, because that person will end up, if everything is done correctly, in that prison where there is no space to hold anybody more than who is already there.

Because of that dysfunction, it leads to a loss of accountability of the system, which allows one or two or three unscrupulous actors to arrange for a release. ...

Tell me about prisoners awaiting trial.

... People are arrested by police, and for the person to be brought to trial, there are a series of steps that have to be taken by the system. This starts with a report that should be written by the arresting officer. That will start a dossier, a file, that will follow a perpetrator through the process.

Most often this report is not written. If it is written, then it is not filed. If it is written and filed, it is not passed on to the next link in the chain, so the judge that must do the first review doesn't receive it, and that goes all the way along the chain. ...

Then this process goes beyond the legislated 72 hours, which he must be held, after which he must be released. But because the paperwork hasn't arrived, the decision is taken, "We'll wait for the paperwork," and there starts the pretrial detention.

They will hold him in the [cell] for a number of days, possibly weeks. Eventually they will end up in the Pénitencier National or one of the larger prisons around the country.

Once they're in there, that's where they are until aid organizations, United Nations, the U.N. agencies, start paying attention and start providing services for each individual case to start rebuilding the paperwork necessary for them to be brought to trial. ...

On the day of the quake, the [National Penitentiary] held 4,300. Do you know how many had been to trial?

Less than 5 percent probably. ... I believe that there were maybe 300 to 400 that had been tried of the 4,300.

... Every time you would walk through the National Penitentiary, you would walk out with 10 pieces of paper bearing the name of a detainee and their phone number and possibly the name and number of a relative, which was, "Please do something for me and find a way that I can see a judge." ...

So is it true to say that 90 percent of the people in the penitentiary were technically innocent?

I wouldn't go so far as to say they were innocent. Nobody is truly, fully innocent in Haiti, because just to survive you have to cope and get by, and that means not being innocent. But certainly 90 percent of the inmates held at the prisons should not have been there had the judicial process been functioning as it is legislated to function. ...

What's been the effect of the prison break?

I think it was a bit overplayed. Our assessment was that of the 4,300 [inmates], some 400 to 600 really should have been in jail and were a danger to Haitian society, but the remaining 2,800 were people who shouldn't have been there.

These hardened escapees, they went back to their original playing grounds, so back to their neighborhoods. When they got there -- some had been absent for a year; some had been absent for three, four years -- they immediately started to try to re-establish their role in the hierarchy.

Prior to the earthquake, these gangs in these neighborhoods were part of the balance of the neighborhood, meaning that balance that one has between legitimate actors, legitimate processes within a neighborhood, and the illegitimate. There's a very fine balance in these areas in Haiti.

The gangs had been blown up to incredible proportions in the period 2003 right up to 2007, around the departure of Aristide, and the reason was that political groups have historically tried to control these neighborhoods, where the population density is extremely high and each person above 18 years of age carries a vote. They have tried to control these neighborhoods by bringing in the gangs on their side.

In the period leading up to 2004, the private sector played the same game, and they played the same game for two reasons. One is that they own industrial property where these slums are, ... so the private-sector owners needed to protect their property.

The second thing was that they were probably not happy with President Aristide as Haiti's president.

Why not?

The approach of Aristide was a populist approach in ideology, perhaps not in execution, but in ideology. ... Part of the private sector felt that Aristide would not have been acting in their interests, and with the general mayhem that was circulating in that period, and with the need to protect their properties and with certain gangs being armed with certain political groups, that triggered their entering the game. ...

Once Aristide did leave, there was no further need from the private sector to continue this, so they pulled back. Aristide was gone, and political parties no longer needed to keep that control, so they pulled back.

You are left with these heavily armed gangs, these impoverished neighborhoods with all the rancor of the preceding three years, and they went completely wild. The areas of downtown Port-au-Prince that we are referring to were almost inaccessible to everybody, and that means to governments, to National Police, to United Nations peacekeeping force, to almost everybody. ...

Tell me about the operation against the gangs.

... The operation began in 2007. It's referred to as Operation Baghdad. It took place in Cité Soleil and parts of Bel Air, [a Port-au-Prince slum,] and in a period of time there were a total of 19 gang leaders that were killed in the exchange and some 800 that were arrested. This truly cut the heads off this chimére [Aristide's protective militia, akin to "Papa Doc" Duvalier's Tonton Macoutes] of wild violence that had been running in the slums for those years.

Following that, the agencies, the NGOs, the [U.N.] mission itself, began to have access into these neighborhoods and began putting programs in place ... and started working in those neighborhoods again where they hadn't been since the 2002-03 period. Things progressively improved, slowly but progressively, up to the day of the earthquake.

With the earthquake, there was the walkout of the 4,300 detainees of the National Penitentiary, and of course this made a lot of noise. People were actually terrified: "My God, they're all out again. We're going to go back to 2004." ...

The 400 to 600 [true criminals] went back looking for their old stomping grounds and tried to re-establish themselves. Some were received by the remaining gangs and were incorporated; others were not. The same gangs, because of the earthquake, they had lost members, they had lost the control they had, so they started re-forming alliances. ...

Some of the detainees ... tried to establish themselves by force in the neighborhood in the face of the existing gangs that were very loose. In all those cases, the community rose up against them. They lynched a number directly themselves, and they participated and assisted the rule-of-law actors, the military and the National Police, to apprehend them.

So the prison escapees were not welcomed back into these neighborhoods with open arms. They had a very hard time, and now at nine months from the earthquake, there is almost no tangible evidence of the presence in these neighborhoods of the ones that remain. Eventually they will be all caught and removed.

Tell me about the way the criminal activity spread from the slums to the tent camps.

The gang dynamics in the historically impoverished neighborhoods is a dynamic which is very much in balance with the social dynamics of the neighborhood. Even though the gangs are not well seen, they are tolerated.

They also provide certain forms of services that should be provided by the state; there's a little of the Robin Hood element. What they will do is they will control the distribution of drinking water in the neighborhood. They will decide who gets electricity that is tapped into illegally from the network. They will provide a form of security if you play by their rules.

At the same time, they are racketeering. They are taking taxes from the small-commerce people, from the market woman, anyone who has a small business. They're running these neighborhoods in a way that they see themselves as the bosses and the patrons of this neighborhood. In truth, they are exploiting it; and the people, not to have problems, live with it. ...

Why have gangs moved into the tent camps?

... These tent camps suddenly emerged and represented to them new virgin territory to go and conquer. All these tent camps in the urban perimeter sprung up close to these impoverished neighborhoods; many are directly adjacent.

Initially what happened was ... the juniors of the gangs, because the hierarchy in the established historical neighborhood was already there and very tight, they went to the camps to rise. [They] would go into the camps, and they would start carrying out gang activities and make a name for themselves and rise in the ranks where there was space to do this.

Very sadly, one of the measures of gang participation is the number of rapes that a gang member carries out, so they went into these camps and started establishing themselves according to those criteria.

The other thing to note is that they weren't the juniors from one gang. They were the juniors from a number of neighborhood gangs all coming into the same place.

As they started establishing themselves, and as aid was coming into the camps and money started being made in the camps and then commerce started in the camps, the established gang members and bosses realized that to maintain control of their neighborhoods, they had to gain control also of the camps. ...

We now have the paradox where the gang activities in the historical impoverished neighborhood are actually being run from the camps.

These tent camps became a career opportunity for the junior gang members. In response to that, what happened?

... To tackle this problem is very complex and takes a series of very sensitive measures to be put in place.

Of course you have the law enforcements, which means through a network of informers and community members that are fed up with gang members -- that sort of intelligence, that sort of information -- to set up sting operations to pick them up.

But that isn't the end of the story, because as you remove the chief, the juniors then rise. So together with that, our approach is to twin a community-based social approach -- we go in and provide the communities with a number of other alternatives that allows them to strengthen themselves as a community -- and to start paying less attention to the gangs and rendering the gangs less relevant.

... We take groups of 250 youths out of the camps at a time and put them to work in labor-intense projects where we will be doing a rubble-sorting program for one of the major camps here. We've done, after the earthquake, a total of 15 of these projects employing a total of 27,000 Haitians from the slums.

So we start putting those [projects] in to start getting them income and activity. They come back to the camp in the evening very tired and only have time to sleep.

Then we work through the community elders and representatives. ... We identify the true leaders: the existent school teachers, the pastors, even the voodoo priests that are very prevalent in these communities. Through them, we identify the youths that are running the risk of getting involved in gang dynamics and put them into a training program for professional skills training.

Following that, we have an apprenticeship-placement program that places them in jobs in the private sector with an apprenticeship salary for six months, which gives them the opportunity to find a legitimate job but continue living in the neighborhood or in the camp so that they serve as an example to the other youths.

We're then also placing an SGBV -- that's women victims of sexual- [and gender-]based violence -- support program through a group of Haitian former rape victims that provide support directly at the grassroots level. We also put in place a drug abuse program, and all of this goes in at the same time.

By providing the sort of social-net support to the camp, we slowly want to disengage the communities from the gangs. At the same time, the law enforcement continues, and of course all these activities provide more information, provide more understanding of the dynamics within, slowly, but enough to be able to base operations on it. ...

What implication does this have on getting people to go back home if the gangs want to keep the tent cities now?

You see where and how the role of the gangs can become pivotal in the way the political game is played out, particularly now we are running elections at the end of November [2010], where you have these gang members that are in control of the vulnerable population living in very tenuous conditions.

[Gang members] can incite these communities to speak with one voice in a direction which can be decided elsewhere, by whoever has reason to give a political message to the international media or the international community. So the gangs become important in the overall balance of the country, which is very sad.

What needs to happen is that these camps do need to be dismantled. The people within the camps, their needs need to be catered to, but with the understanding of where and with what conditions they are coming from. ...

But if your house is not badly damaged, the reason to move to the tent cities is that I know that I'm going to get a house.

You know that you are going to get more access to aid items ... more easily in a camp than in my cracked hovel slum; that is clear.

There is also a fairly widespread expectation that whoever is in a camp will eventually be rehoused and therefore will receive a small property, a small home, with possibly a title deed to that property.

So yes, it is worth my time to continue being here, because in any case I have almost nothing to do back in the slum. Or I will be in both places, and different family members will make sure there is always somebody present in the camp. ...

So in a way, the tent camps are an opportunity.

To the unscrupulous people within Haitian society, they are an opportunity. ...

But by saying this about the tent camps, we aren't saying that these people are dishonest?

It's opportunism through desperation. No, they are not dishonest people. They are people who are driven to desperation. ...

You also have a lot of Haitians who have now given up and have gone back to the neighborhoods. They have started building up some form of livelihood, and they just don't have the time to stay in the camps anymore.

Staying in the camps needs a lot of organization and planning?

It takes a lot of resilience. ...

But if you are working the system, you have a tent in different places.

I wouldn't say there's that many that have managed to deploy family members in multiple camps. It does happen, but it's not the majority.

To remain in the camp as the humanitarian aid drops and conditions become harder, yes, it takes resilience. But again, let's remember that these are people that have been living in these conditions possibly for years prior to the earthquake. It's not new to them, and they have developed coping mechanisms that allow them to do it, as unfair and as incorrect as that can be. ...

Do you think the people in tent cities will get homes?

I would not say that they will necessarily get homes, because one has to also consider that possibly 60 percent of those in the tent cities were living in some form of a house, meaning a one-room concrete hovel or a couple of rooms where there were five, six, seven families living in a two-story small building.

Sixty percent of those were actually renting, so no, they will not get a home of their own because they are in a camp. They will probably return to homes that again they will rent. A number of them will benefit from initiatives that will deliver some housing, but it will not be them all. ...

It's not the case that even if you've been renting, you're going to get a house from the government?

Not at all. There's a lot of talk and a lot of possibility in the air, but to transplant that into a guarantee that every household in the camp will get a home, or even 50 percent of households in the camps will get a home of which they will be owners is incorrect. There is no guarantee.

Is there still a relationship between the politicians and the gangs?

Is the culture still there? Yes. ... The poor, which in Port-au-Prince can represent up to 40, 50 percent of the capital's population, it is expected that they be guided, manipulated, controlled by political forces. And it has been the case that in the period following the dictatorship, the elections have also experienced part of this control carried out by gangs.

One also has to make a link of the "bas" system in the slums. The bas system is what in any American large metropolis ... one will refer to as the "'hood."

The bas is the youngsters and young men of the neighborhood that assemble at a crossroad or a street corner of a neighborhood, and there they are seen, and they sort of organize the way the neighborhood is run.

Some of these bas are actually fairly legitimate. They are not violent; they are not armed. It's the boys and men of the neighborhood that talk and discuss ... what should happen in the neighborhood and take steps to make it happen.

That bas system can then evolve into a gang system. They slowly, progressively get armed, they start having conflicts with a neighboring bas, they start having aggression between the two, and all of a sudden these bas start possessing weapons and start taking criminal action.

With that comes a whole new series of activity that they get involved in, which is racketeering, taking cuts from the commerce controlling whatever scant services there are, and there you have your gang.

So because they start as a representation of the community, the gang maintains this control over the community, and it's what political parties have tapped into in the past 10, 15 years.

I don't think that any political parties would want to have to continue to do that, and certainly with the cleanup in 2007 and the way the international community is aiding Haiti, ... surely this sort of phenomenon would be decreasing, but one cannot say that it's not in place.

So the rule of law and the elimination of this hidden hand is not yet there. ...

No, and there's also been a lot of evidence of certain political parties arming certain areas of the town, but there is no hard evidence. I think that it is also the case that certain political characters will accuse the others of doing this without having any actual evidence.

From an international perspective, I think that what needs to be understood is that it's not a case of finding a gang, ... and then you get the votes. It's a case of getting constituents on [your] side. So you go speak to your constituents, you put up your posters, and you try and canvass for your candidate, and while doing that you will also be canvassing to the bas and possibly the gang.

A gang will then say, "OK, so what's in it for us?," and perhaps in some cases there is an exchange of money or support or promises that something will be coming. That is the political buy-in that they offer to the gangs, and that's the exchange pattern. ...

Where do the guns come from, because there are a lot of weapons?

... In a former disarmament program between 2005 and 2007, the entire program collected some 300 weapons when people were thinking of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000. They never surfaced. So I would not even be that sure there's that many weapons here, but there is a perception that the weapons are here.

How do you run a justice system without evidence?

Well, we're not, are we? I mean, you can't call what has been done in Haiti today in terms of justice a justice system. ...

It's not a truly legitimate form of justice, but it is a form that one sees. The community points someone out and says, "Yes, that is the person that did that crime on that day," or, "That is the person that had done the crime, went to jail and then came out at the earthquake; it's him."

But there is no true body of evidence that can confirm without doubt that it is that person, so very often you also have individuals that just have fallen on the wrong side of the community, or individuals that have had issues with some prominent, opinion-leading community members and end up being pointed out because of that rather than actually being the perpetrators. ...

The reliance on informers is striking.

I can't say that the military component works on corroboration of information. They will not take action on a single pointing-out of community members. They will build up a case on specific people that they will have on file with photographs and a number of different aliases, and over a period of time they will corroborate that, yes, there are a number of different sources that pinpoint the same person, after which the military gets involved in facilitating the arrest of this person by the National Police.

It's not the military that arrests. The military facilitates, and legally the military cannot hold or bring in front of a judge a person that is apprehended. They facilitate the work of the PNH [Police Nationale d'Haiti], so once the person is arrested by the PNH, the person enters the judicial system, as dysfunctional as it is. And unfortunately, in most cases, when the person truly is a criminal, because he's a criminal he has disposable cash, he will buy his way out of this dysfunctional system. ...

And pretrial detention can go on for years?

All the prisons were emptied in 2004, so all the 18 prisons in Haiti had no inmates in 2004 because of the departure of Aristide. So the population that we saw in Jan. 12, 2010, built up from 2004 to 2010. It went up year by year by year. It never stabilized; it never went down; it continued climbing. ...

For how many years can people stay in pretrial detention?

... There were people there for those six years.

Awaiting trial?


And these are people who might have stolen a chicken?

That's the anecdote. Let's say it's people who may have been accused of being involved in a theft, and the actual evidence is very scant or nonexistent, but they were caught up in a series of accusations where they unfortunately were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is one legal term used in Haiti in the judicial system, which is the "association with malefactors," which means, in literal terms, association. ... If at the moment of [a criminal's] arrest I am sitting next to him, I truly run the risk of being arrested with him because of my physical proximity. I will end up in jail with that accusation, and I will have to wait until I can face a judge. ...

Association with criminals?

Association with criminals, but it's a physical association. ... I run the risk of being arrested and bearing the same accusation, and because I will not be able to see a judge for one, two, three, four years, I will be sitting in jail with that accusation even though I have absolutely nothing to do with it. ...

Tell me about marronage.

"Marronage" is a term that developed during the plantation/slavery period of Haiti. Slaves would manage to run away from the plantation, and to survive once they'd left the plantation they would ... seek refuge in the mountains that were fairly densely wooded and hide up in the mountains. That process is referred to by Haitians as marronage.

... In the modern era, the Haitian will use the marronage technique not to be tied down to any place or time where he could be a victim of attack. So you will have people from public office, or Haitian people involved in public congress or in politics, who will give multiple appointments to different people and never actually be at the place at the time but will turn up maybe half an hour earlier or an hour later or not at all or on a different day.

This is a concept widely understood in Haiti and accepted, so it's not a case of the person being lazy, being late, being unpunctual; it's a person doing marronage. Even though he will not be there at the time, he will get into contact with you and you will settle that business, but not at the time that had been arranged between the two.

Is it also a state of mind?

It is, "I'm never going to be pinned down by anybody, anywhere; I have the freedom of moving where I want when I want." ...

Who are the private sector?

... In Haitian society, a number of private-sector families that over the generations have done rather well in business and therefore today hold significant property and economic activities in Haiti. ...

You have this varied composition of Haitian society where these rather better-placed and more successful businesspeople are referred to in Haiti as the "bourgeois." ... The bourgeois is the elite.

This doesn't mean they are detached from the Haitian society or that they are -- as is the case in many South American countries -- a very powerful, small elite that is running all the economy. They are families that have done rather well.

They are also surviving. They are also trying to find ways to cope with a dysfunction, and they have managed to run commercial activities in a way that their lifestyles are far better. But they are fully Haitians, and they are considered by all as being Haitians.

What are you seeing here?

Here you are seeing a post-earthquake tent city which is slowly becoming a form of almost more permanent abode. You can see that the tents are being replaced by hard materials, wood and metal sheeting, and are becoming hovels.

Eventually, if it progresses, cement will appear and cement blocks, and it will become another of the informal slums of Port-au-Prince. ...

What you see here -- you have that tin-sheet roofing -- are the informal settlements that sprang up in this neighborhood during the late '70s and '80s, when there was some significant industrial development in the area and people came in from the provinces looking for jobs. Of course, not having many means, they ended up building small homes of this type in the spaces that they found around the more industrial parts of the capital.

When the earthquake struck, it didn't always strike the houses of the middle class, which is mostly in the high parts of the city, but it struck the poorer neighborhoods. Therefore, people living in this sort of housing or worse have then relocated themselves to camps of this type. ...

The rich are retreating into the hills?

The rich have been retreating up into the hills. ... They have moved up the hill where their own security is easier to arrange, and they run less risk than they would do living down here. It's actually quite sad. It's developed into a very [clear] class disparity, which I don't think was anybody's intention, but that is what has happened. ...

What do you think the chances are that these tent cities will be gone in a year's time?

I think some of them will be gone. I think that some of the reconstruction and international aid support and government coordination will work for a number of the camps. ...

But it will not be possible for this to happen for all of them, and a number of them will run the risk of progressing in this evolution, whereby each tent will become a hovel, will become a slum housing as time goes by.


blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

Posted January 11, 2011

Watch Battle for Haiti »
FRONTLINE series home | Privacy Policy | Journalistic Guidelines | PBS Privacy Policy | PBS Terms of Use

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation