Aerial Photography Aids Haiti Quake Victims

Aerial Photography Aids Haiti Quake Victims


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After a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sent aircraft on an aerial photography mission. In a report on February 3, NOAA describes how the photographs are used to map transportation routes through the rubble.


In Haiti, the Art of Resilience

Six weeks had passed since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing 230,000 people and leaving more than 1.5 million others homeless. But the ground was still shaking in the nation’s rubble-strewn capital, Port-au-Prince, and 87-year-old Préfète Duffaut wasn’t taking any chances. One of the most prominent Haitian artists of the past 50 years was sleeping in a crude tent made of plastic sheeting and salvaged wood, fearful his earthquake-damaged house would collapse at any moment.

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“Did you feel the tremors last night?” Duffaut asked. 

Yes, I had felt the ground shake in my hotel room around 4:30 that morning. It was the second straight night of tremors, and I was feeling a bit stressed. But standing next to Duffaut, whose fantastical naive paintings I have admired for three decades, I resolved to put my anxieties on hold.

It was Duffaut, after all, who had lived through one of the most horrific natural disasters of modern times. Not only was he homeless in the poorest nation of the Western Hemisphere, his niece and nephew had died in the earthquake. Gone, too, were his next-door neighbors in Port-au-Prince. “Their house just completely collapsed,” Duffaut said. “Nine people were inside.”

The diabolical 15- to 20-second earthquake on January 12 also stole a sizable chunk of Duffaut’s—and Haiti’s—artistic legacy. At least three artists, two gallery owners and an arts foundation director died. Thousands of paintings and sculptures—valued in the tens of millions of dollars—were destroyed or badly damaged in museums, galleries, collectors’ homes, government ministries and the National Palace. The celebrated biblical murals that Duffaut and other Haitian artists painted at Holy Trinity Cathedral in the early 1950s were now mostly rubble. The Haitian Art Museum at College St. Pierre, run by the Episcopal Church, was badly cracked. And the beloved Centre d’Art, the 66-year-old gallery and school that jump-started Haiti’s primitive art movement—making collectors out of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bill and Hillary Clinton, the filmmaker Jonathan Demme and thousands of others—had crumbled. “The Centre d’Art is where I sold my first piece of art in the 1940s,” Duffaut said quietly, tugging on the white beard he had grown since the earthquake.

 Duffaut disappeared from his tent and returned a few moments later with a painting that displayed one of his trademark imaginary villages, a rural landscape dominated by winding, gravity-defying mountain roads filled with tiny people, houses and churches. Then he retrieved another painting. And another. Suddenly, I was surrounded by six Duffauts—and all were for sale.

Standing beside his tent, which was covered by a tarpaulin stamped USAID, Duffaut flashed a satisfied grin.

“Four thousand dollars [each],” he said, suggesting the price local galleries would charge.

Not having more than $50 in my pocket, I had to pass. But I was delighted that Préfète Duffaut was open for business. “My future paintings will be inspired by this terrible tragedy,” he told me. “What I have seen on the streets has given me a lot of ideas and added a lot to my imagination.” There was an unmistakable look of hope in the old master’s eyes.

“Deye mon, gen mon,” a Haitian proverb, is Creole for “beyond the mountains, more mountains.”

Impossibly poor, surviving on less than $2 a day, most Haitians have made it their life’s work to climb over, under and around obstacles, be they killer hurricanes, food riots, endemic diseases, corrupt governments or the ghastly violence that appears whenever there is political upheaval. One victim of these all too frequent calamities has been Haitian culture: even before the earthquake, this French- and Creole-speaking Caribbean island nation of nearly ten million people did not have a publicly owned art museum or even a single movie theater.

Still, Haitian artists have proved astonishingly resilient, continuing to create, sell and survive through crisis after crisis. “The artists here have a different temperament,” Georges Nader Jr. told me in his fortress-like gallery in Pétionville, the once-affluent, hillside Port-au-Prince suburb. “When something bad happens, their imagination just seems to get better.” Nader’s family has been selling Haitian art since the 1960s.

The notion of making a living by creating and selling art first came to Haiti in the 1940s, when an American watercolorist named DeWitt Peters moved to Port-au-Prince. Peters, a conscientious objector to the world war then underway, took a job teaching English and was struck by the raw artistic expression he found at every turn—even on the local buses known as tap-taps.

He founded Centre d’Art in 1944 to organize and promote untrained artists, and within a few years, word had gone out that something special was happening in Haiti. During a visit to the center in 1945, André Breton, the French writer, poet and a leader of the cultural movement known as Surrealism, swooned over the work of a self-described houngan (voodoo priest) and womanizer named Hector Hyppolite, who often painted with chicken feathers. Hyppolite’s creations, on subjects ranging from still lifes to voodoo spirits to scantily clad women (presumed to be his mistresses), sold for a few dollars each. But, Breton wrote, “all carried the stamp of total authenticity.” Hyppolite died of a heart attack in 1948, three years after joining Centre d’Art and one year after his work was displayed at a triumphant (for Haiti as well as for him) United Nations-sponsored exhibition in Paris.

In the years that followed, the Haitian art market relied largely on the tourists who ventured to this Maryland-size nation, 700 or so miles from Miami, to savor its heady mélange of naive art, Creole food, smooth dark rum, hypnotic (though, at times, staged) voodoo ceremonies, high-energy carnivals and riotously colored bougainvillea. (Is it any wonder Haitian artists never lacked for inspiration?)

Though tourists largely shied away from Haiti in the 1960s, when self-declared president-for-life François “Papa Doc” Duvalier ruled through terror enforced by his personal army of Tonton Macoutes, they returned after his death in 1971, when his playboy son, Jean-Claude (known as “Baby Doc”), took charge.

I got my first glimpse of Haitian art when I interviewed Baby Doc in 1977. (His reign as president-for-life ended abruptly when he fled the country in 1986 for France, where he lives today at age 59 in Paris.) I was hooked the moment I bought my first painting, a $10 market scene done on a flour sack. And I was delighted that every painting, iron sculpture and sequined voodoo flag I carried home on subsequent trips gave me further insight into a culture that is a blend of West African, European, native Taíno and other homegrown influences.

Although some nicely done Haitian paintings could be bought for a few hundred dollars, the best works by early masters such as Hyppolite and Philomé Obin (a devout Protestant who painted scenes from Haitian history, the Bible and his family’s life) eventually commanded tens of thousands of dollars. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. added Haitian primitives to their collections. And Haiti’s reputation as a tourist destination was reinforced by the eclectic parade of notables—from Barry Goldwater to Mick Jagger—who checked into the Hotel Oloffson, the creaky gingerbread retreat that is the model for the hotel in The Comedians, Graham Greene’s 1966 novel about Haiti.

Much of this exuberance faded in the early 1980s amid political strife and the dawn of the AIDS pandemic. U.S. officials classified Haitians as being among the four groups at highest risk for HIV infection. (The others were homosexuals, hemophiliacs and heroin addicts.) Some Haitian doctors called this designation unwarranted, even racist, but the perception stuck that a Haitian holiday was not worth the risk.

Though tourism waned, the galleries that sponsored Haitian painters and sculptors targeted sales to overseas collectors and the increasing numbers of journalists, development workers, special envoys, physicians, U.N. peacekeepers and others who found themselves in the country.

“Haitians are not a brooding people,” said gallery owner Toni Monnin, a Texan who moved to Haiti in the boom-time 󈨊s and married a local art dealer. “Their attitude is: ‘Let’s get on with it! Tomorrow is another day.’”

At the Gingerbread gallery in Pétionville, I was introduced to a 70-year-old sculptor who wore an expression of utter despondence. “I have no home. I have no income. And there are days when me and my family don’t eat,” Nacius Joseph told me. Looking for financial support, or at least a few words of encouragement, he was visiting the galleries that had bought and sold his work over the years.

Joseph told gallery owner Axelle Liautaud that his days as a woodcarver, creating figures such as La Sirene, the voodoo queen of the ocean, were over. “All my tools are broken,” he said. “I can’t work. All of my apprentices, the people who helped me, have left Port-au-Prince, gone to the provinces. I’m very discouraged. I have lost everything!”

“But don’t you love what you’re doing?” Liautaud asked.

“Then you have to find a way to do it. This is a situation where you have to have some drive because everyone has problems.”

Joseph nodded again, but looked to be near tears.

Though the gallery owners were themselves hurting, many were handing out money and art supplies to keep the artists employed.

At her gallery a few blocks away, Monnin told me that in the days following the quake she distributed $14,000 to more than 40 artists. “Right after the earthquake, they simply needed money to buy food,” she said. “You know, 90 percent of the artists I work with lost their homes.”

Jean-Emmanuel “Mannu” El Saieh, whose late father, Issa, was one of the earliest promoters of Haitian art, was paying a young painter’s medical bills. “I just talked to him on the phone, and you don’t have to be a doctor to know he’s still suffering from shock,” El Saieh said at his gallery, just up a rutted road from the Oloffson hotel, which survived the quake.

Though most of the artists I encountered had become homeless, they did not consider themselves luckless. They were alive, after all, and aware that the tremblement de terre had killed many of their friends and colleagues, such as the octogenarian owners of the Rainbow Gallery, Carmel and Cavour Delatour Raoul Mathieu, a painter Destimare Pierre Marie Isnel (a.k.a. Louco), a sculptor who worked with discarded objects in the downtown Grand Rue slum and Flores “Flo” McGarrell, an American artist and film director who in 2008 moved to Jacmel (a town with splendid French colonial architecture, some of which survived the quake) to head up a foundation that supported local artists.

The day I arrived in Port-au-Prince, I heard rumors of another possible casualty—Alix Roy, a reclusive, 79-year-old painter who had been missing since January 12. I knew Roy’s work well: he painted humorous scenes from Haitian life, often chubby kids dressed up as adults in elaborate costumes, some wearing oversize sunglasses, others balancing outrageously large fruits on their heads. Although he was a loner, Roy was an adventurous sort who had also lived in New York, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

A few nights later, Nader called my room at Le Plaza (one of the few hotels in the capital open for business) with some grim news. Not only had Roy died in the rubble of the gritty downtown hotel where he lived, his remains were still buried there, six weeks later. “I’m trying to find someone from the government to pick him up,” Nader said. “That’s the least the Haitian government can do for one of its best artists.”

The next day, Nader introduced me to Roy’s sister, a retired kindergarten director in Pétionville. Marléne Roy Etienne, 76, told me her older brother had rented a room on the top floor of the hotel so he could look down on the street for inspiration. 

“I went to look for him after the earthquake but couldn’t even find where the hotel had been because the entire street—Rue des Césars—was rubble,” she said. “So I stood in front of the rubble where I thought Alix might be and said a prayer.”

Etienne’s eyes teared when Nader assured her he would continue pressing government officials to retrieve her brother’s remains.

“This is hard,” she said, reaching for a handkerchief. “This is really hard.”

Nader had been through some challenging times himself. Although he had not lost any family members, and his gallery in Pétionville was intact, the 32-room house where his parents lived, and where his father, Georges S. Nader, had built a gallery that contained perhaps the largest collection of Haitian art anywhere, had crumbled.

The son of Lebanese immigrants, the elder Nader was long considered one of Haiti’s best-known and most successful art dealers, having established relationships with hundreds of artists since he opened a gallery downtown in 1966. He moved into the mansion in the hillside Croix-Desprez neighborhood a few years later and, in addition to the gallery, built a museum that showcased many of Haiti’s finest artists, including Hyppolite, Obin, Rigaud Benoit and Castera Bazile. When he retired a few years ago, Nader turned over the gallery and museum to his son John.

The elder Nader had been taking a nap with his wife when the quake struck at 4:53 p.m. “We were rescued within ten minutes because our bedroom did not collapse,” he told me. What Nader saw when he was led outside was horrifying. His collection had become a hideous pile of debris with thousands of paintings and sculptures buried under giant blocks of concrete.

“My life’s work is gone,” Nader, 78, told me by telephone from his second home in Miami, where he has been living since the quake. Nader said he never bought insurance for his collection, which the family estimated to be worth more than $20 million.

With the rainy season approaching, Nader’s sons hired a dozen men to pick, shovel and jackhammer their way through the debris, looking for anything that could be salvaged.

“We had 12,000 to 15,000 paintings here,” Georges Nader Jr. told me as we stomped through the sprawling heap, which reminded me of a bombed-out village from a World War II documentary. “We’ve recovered about 3,000 paintings and about 1,800 of those are damaged. Some other paintings were taken by looters in the first days after the earthquake.”

Back at his gallery in Pétionville, Nader showed me a Hyppolite still life he had recovered. I recognized it, having admired the painting in 2009 at a retrospective at the Organization of American States’ Art Museum of the Americas in Washington. But the 20- by 20-inch painting was now broken into eight pieces. “This will be restored by a professional,” Nader said. “We have begun restoring the most important paintings we have recovered.”

I heard other echoes of cautious optimism as I visited cultural sites across Port-au-Prince. A subterranean, government-run historical museum that contained some important paintings and artifacts had survived. So did a private voodoo and Taíno museum in Mariani (near the quake’s epicenter) and an ethnographic collection in Pétionville. People associated with the destroyed Holy Trinity Cathedral and Centre d’Art, as well as the Episcopal Church’s structurally feeble Haitian Art Museum, assured me that these institutions will be rebuilt. But no one could say how or when.

The United Nations has announced that 59 countries and international organizations have pledged $9.9 billion as “the down payment Haiti needs for wholesale national renewal.” But there’s no word on how much of that money, if any, will ever reach the cultural sector.

“We deeply believe that Haitians living abroad can help us with the funds,” said Henry Jolibois, an artist and architect who is a technical consultant to the Haitian prime minister’s office. “For the rest, we must convince other entities in the world to participate, such as the museums and private collectors who have huge Haitian naive painting collections.”

At the Holy Trinity Cathedral 14 murals had long offered a distinctively Haitian take on biblical events. My favorite was the Marriage at Cana by Wilson Bigaud, a painter who excelled at glimpses into everyday Haitian life—cockfights, market vendors, baptismal parties, rara band parades. While some European artists portrayed the biblical event at which Christ turned water into wine as being rather formal, Bigaud’s Cana was a decidedly casual affair with a pig, rooster and two Haitian drummers looking on. (Bigaud died this past March 22 at age 79.)

“That Marriage at Cana mural was very controversial,” Haiti’s Episcopal bishop, Jean Zaché Duracin, told me in his Pétionville office. “In the 󈧬s and 󈧶s many Episcopalians left the church in Haiti and became Methodists because they didn’t want these murals at the cathedral. They said, ‘Why? Why is there a pig in the painting?’ They didn’t understand there was a part of Haitian culture in these murals.”

Duracin told me it took him three days to gather the emotional strength to visit Holy Trinity. “This is a great loss, not only for the Episcopal church but for art worldwide,” he said.

Visiting the site myself one morning, I saw two murals that were more or less intact—The Baptism of Our Lord by Castera Bazile and Philomé Obin’s Last Supper. (A third mural, Native Street Procession, by Duffaut, has survived, says former Smithsonian Institution conservator Stephanie Hornbeck, but others were destroyed.)

At the Haitian Art Museum, chunks of concrete had fallen on some of the 100 paintings on exhibit. I spotted one of Duffaut’s oldest, largest and finest imaginary village paintings propped against a wall. A huge piece was missing from the bottom. A museum employee told me the piece had not been found. As I left, I reminded myself that although thousands of paintings had been destroyed in Haiti, thousands of others survived, and many are outside the country in private collections and institutions, including the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Iowa and the Milwaukee Art Museum, which have important collections of Haitian art. I also took comfort from conversations I had had with artists like Duffaut, who were already looking beyond the next mountain.

No one displays Haiti’s artistic resolve more than Frantz Zéphirin, a gregarious 41-year-old painter, houngan and father of 12, whose imagination is as large as his girth.

“I’m very lucky to be alive,” Zéphirin told me late one afternoon in the Monnin gallery, where he was putting the finishing touches on his tenth painting since the quake. “I was in a bar on the afternoon of the earthquake, having a beer. But I decided to leave the bar when people starting talking about politics. And I’m glad I left. The earthquake came just one minute later, and 40 people died inside that bar.”

Zéphirin said he walked several hours, at times climbing over corpses, to get to his house. “That’s where I learned that my stepmother and five of my cousins had died,” he said. But his pregnant girlfriend was alive so were his children.

“That night, I decided I had to paint,” Zéphirin said. “So I took my candle and went to my studio on the beach. I saw a lot of death on the way. I stayed up drinking beer and painting all night. I wanted to paint something for the next generation, so they can know just what I had seen.”

Zéphirin led me to the room in the gallery where his earthquake paintings were hung. One shows a rally by several fully clothed skeletons carrying a placard written in English: “We need shelters, clothes, condoms and more. Please help.”

“I’ll do more paintings like these,” Zéphirin said. “Each day 20 ideas for paintings pass in my head, but I don’t have enough hands to make all of them.” (Smithsonian commissioned the artist to create the painting that appears on the cover of this magazine. It depicts the devastated island nation with grave markers, bags of aid money and birds of mythic dimensions delivering flowers and gifts, such as “justice” and “health.”) In March, Zéphirin accepted an invitation to show his work in Germany. And two months later, he would head to Philadelphia for a one-man show, titled “Art and Resilience,” at the Indigo Arts Gallery.

A few miles up a mountain road from Pétionville, one of Haiti’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Philippe Dodard, was preparing to bring more than a dozen earthquake-inspired paintings to Arte Américas, an annual fair in Miami Beach. Dodard showed me a rather chilling black-and-white acrylic that was inspired by the memory of a friend who perished in an office building. “I’m calling this painting Trapped in the Dark,” he said.

I have no idea how Dodard, a debonair man from Haiti’s elite class whose paintings and sculptures confirm his passion for his country’s voodoo and Taíno cultures, had found time to paint. He told me he had lost several friends and family members in the quake, as well as the headquarters of the foundation he helped create in the mid-1990s to promote culture among Haitian youth. And he was busily involved in a project to convert a fleet of school buses—donated by the neighboring Dominican Republic—into mobile classrooms for displaced students.

Like Zéphirin, Dodard seemed determined to work through his grief with a paintbrush in hand. “How can I continue living after one of the biggest natural disasters in the history of the world? I can’t,” he wrote in the inscription that would appear next to his paintings at the Miami Beach show. “Instead I use art to express the deep change that I see around and inside me.”

For the Haitian art community, more hopeful news was on the way. In May, the Smithsonian Institution launched an effort to help restore damaged Haitian treasures. Led by Richard Kurin, under secretary for history, art and culture, and working with private and other public organizations, the Institution established a “cultural recovery center” at the former headquarters of the U.N. Development Program near Port-au-Prince.

“It’s not every day at the Smithsonian that you actually get to help save a culture,” Kurin says. “And that’s what we’re doing in Haiti.”

On June 12, after months of preparation, conservators slipped on their gloves in the Haitian capital and got to work. “Today was a very exciting day for. conservators, we got objects into the lab! Woo hoo!” the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Hugh Shockey enthused on the museum’s Facebook page.

Kurin sounded equally pumped. “The first paintings we brought in were painted by Hector Hyppolite. So we were restoring those on Sunday,” he told me a week later. “Then on Monday our conservator from the American Art Museum was restoring Taíno, pre-Colombian artifacts. Then on Tuesday the paper conservator was dealing with documents dating from the era of the Haitian struggle for independence. And then the next day we were literally on the scaffolding at the Episcopal cathedral, figuring out how we’re going to preserve the three murals that survived.”

The task undertaken by the Smithsonian and a long list of partners and supporters that includes the Haitian Ministry of Culture and Communication, the International Blue Shield, the Port-au-Prince-based foundation FOKAL and the American Institute for Conservation seemed daunting thousands of objects need restoration.

Kurin said the coalition will train several dozen Haitian conservators to take over when the Smithsonian bows out in November 2011. “This will be a generation-long process in which Haitians do this themselves,” he said, adding that he hopes donations from the international community will keep the project alive.

Across the United States, institutions such as the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, galleries such as Indigo Arts in Philadelphia and Haitian-Americans such as Miami-based artist Edouard Duval Carrié were organizing sales and fund-raisers. And more Haitian artists were on the move—some to a three-month residency program sponsored by a gallery in Kingston, Jamaica, others to a biennial exhibition in Dakar, Senegal.

Préfète Duffaut stayed in Haiti. But during an afternoon we spent together he seemed energized and, though Holy Trinity was mostly a pile of rubble, he was making plans for a new mural. “And my mural in the new cathedral will be better than the old ones,” he promised.

Meanwhile, Duffaut had just finished a painting of a star he saw while sitting outside his tent one night. “I’m calling this painting The Star of Haiti,” he said. “You see, I want all of my paintings to send a message.”

The painting showed one of Duffaut’s imaginary villages inside a giant star that was hovering like a spaceship over the Haitian landscape. There were mountains in the painting. And people climbing. Before bidding the old master farewell, I asked him what message he wanted this painting to send.

“My message is simple,” he said without a moment’s hesitation. “Haiti will be back.”

Bill Brubaker, formerly a Washington Post writer, has long followed Haitian art. In her photographs and books, Alison Wright focuses on cultures and humanitarian efforts.


Piles of the dead finally buried in Titanyen, Haiti’s ‘valley of death’

On the seaside hills of Titanyen, where Haiti’s dictators discarded the bodies of political opponents, the dead have been dumped by the thousands among the thorn bushes, piled in towers of russet-colored soil and debris.

Shocked by television footage of the site, Port-au-Prince businessman Daniel Rouzier hired two backhoes over the weekend to dig three long, deep rectangular ditches. Growling and beeping, they scooped up 2,500 earthquake victims and buried them in communal graves.

“You have to understand that it’s completely un-Haitian to dump bodies like this,” Rouzier said as he watched, a white mask covering his face. “We have extreme respect for the dead. And these people deserve a decent burial.”

The Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 150,000, about 1 in 13 residents of the Port-au-Prince area. Since then, the capital has hummed with determined international efforts to attend to the living with food, water, shelter and medical care.

But handling the massive numbers of dead has at times overwhelmed the government. Many bodies remain trapped in collapsed homes, businesses, schools and even a fancy shopping mall. And, three weeks later, the choking smell of decomposition still hangs in the air.

Family members of victims continue to chip away at collapsed homes, slowly retrieving the dead for private burial. But at many locations, including government buildings, stores and schools, the bodies are retrieved, along with debris, by government bulldozers.

Last week, several thousand bodies were trucked, often at night, to Titanyen and dumped in the vast public cemetery.

“We didn’t know what to do, there were just so many,” said Oman Oberilise, 26, who works as a gravedigger at Titanyen, about 20 miles north of the capital. Some of the gravediggers, seeing so many bodies, “were afraid that they were still alive,” he added.

Rouzier, local chairman of the charity Food for the Poor, heard about the bodies piling up at Titanyen, called a local Roman Catholic priest, hired the backhoes and enlisted volunteers to go to the site.

As the bulldozers worked, one of the volunteers, 73-year-old Hilaire Polycarpe, brushed white paint on a cross, one of three that was later placed atop the mass graves. He had bought the paint himself that morning.

“I just thought it was important that people know where the bodies are buried,” Polycarpe said.

No one knows the names of those buried here. But, Rouzier said, “the point is to make spiritual peace with what’s happened. And burying people is step one.”

After the burial, the priest offered prayers for the dead and Rouzier placed holy water on the soil.

“Now is not the time to point fingers,” Rouzier said. “Now is the time to make things right.”

Since the quake, more than 10,000 bodies have been buried in Titanyen and another nearby cemetery, where bodies from the Port-au-Prince morgue have been taken to be interred in mass graves.

The cemeteries occupy a rocky landscape above National Route 1, overlooking the water. Titanyen, known locally as the “valley of death,” has a central place in the collective psyche of Haiti. During the dictatorships of Francois Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, the bodies of thousands of political prisoners and executed government opponents were dumped there. Even today, it is scattered with skulls from that era.

The death toll from the earthquake has been so massive that, for most, the rituals once followed after a death have gone by the wayside. For those able to recover and identify family members, funerals and burials have been swift.

The pressure to find places to bury the dead is evident in small cemeteries in Port-au-Prince. One burial ground in the Delmas area last week was strewn with coffins that had been dug up and opened, and the bones of the original occupants removed so that earthquake victims could be interred.

Still, as the days pass, the capital’s survivors are, to a remarkable degree, focusing on the future. Even with all the challenges of daily life in a community devastated by loss, they walk the streets in freshly washed clothes. Many men headed to church on Sunday were wearing ties. And street-side car wash businesses were busy, washing the white dust off vehicles.

“People have this impression of Haitians being in a constant state of upheaval and violence,” U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten said in an interview. “But 90% of the people living in Port-au-Prince have been handling a very difficult situation in a stoic and dignified fashion.”

By Sunday, the bodies at Titanyen were underground, the freshly turned soil marked with the crosses that Polycarpe had painted.

“We hurt all the way to the bone to see these people dying,” said Oberilise, the gravedigger. “But we have to bury them.”


Remote sensing

Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object, in contrast to in situ or on-site observation. The term is applied especially to acquiring information about the Earth and other planets. Remote sensing is used in numerous fields, including geography, land surveying and most Earth science disciplines (for example, hydrology, ecology, meteorology, oceanography, glaciology, geology) it also has military, intelligence, commercial, economic, planning, and humanitarian applications, among others.

In current usage, the term "remote sensing" generally refers to the use of satellite or aircraft-based sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth. It includes the surface and the atmosphere and oceans, based on propagated signals (e.g. electromagnetic radiation). It may be split into "active" remote sensing (when a signal is emitted by a satellite or aircraft to the object and its reflection detected by the sensor) and "passive" remote sensing (when the reflection of sunlight is detected by the sensor). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


Haiti Earthquake & Voodoo: Myths, Ritual, and Robertson

A voodoo scholar on how believers may view the quake, why he thinks Pat Robertson's remarks were "cruel, ignorant, unforgivable"—and more.

Anthropologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence* Wade Davis is the author of The Serpent and the Rainbow and Passage of Darkness, books that explore Haitian voodoo, magic, and zombies.

Davis recently spoke with National Geographic News about how voodooists might view the recent Haiti earthquake, the concern many Haitians are feeling as they bury loved ones without proper rituals, and U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson's remark that Haiti's earthquake is God's retribution for a voodoo "pact with the devil."

Note: Davis's views are not necessarily those of National Geographic News.

Voodoo is a religion, a complex spiritual worldview, the distillation of profound religious ideas that came over from Africa during the slavery era and through time became manifest in any number of traditions in the New World.

It is . a fusion of a number of religious traditions, of which Catholicism is one influence. Haitian culture and religion was inspired by virtually all of Africa from Senegal to Mozambique.

What do voodoo followers believe in?

Voodoo is based on a dynamic relationship between the living and the spirit realm.

The living give birth to the dead the dead become the spirits the spirits are the multiple expressions of the divine.

A human being has both a physical body and a soul or spirit, and at death the two dissociate. The spirit of the individual slips away and must be ritually reclaimed by a priest in a ceremony at a certain time after death, usually a year and a day in Haiti.

The spirit initially associated with a particular relative, a father or grandfather or whatever, in time becomes reclaimed and is placed into a vessel, which is placed into the inner sanctuary of a temple.

In time the vessel becomes part of a vast ancestral pool of energy, and out of that pool emerges the archetypes of the spirits of the voodoo pantheon, which are seen as multiple expressions of the greater god.

In ritual these spirits, or lwa, can be summoned. Responding to the power of prayer, they momentarily displace the soul of the living such that human being and God become one and the same. This is spirit possession, the moment of divine grace.

As Haitians often told me, we go to church and speak about God the voodooist dances in the temple and becomes God.

An analogy might be your grandmother's soul going to heaven and then coming back as an angel that both helps you and inhabits you.

What do you think of Pat Robertson's recent remarks that this month's earthquake in Haiti was God's revenge for a pact Haitian slaves made with the devil to overthrow French colonists in the late 1700s?

Cruel, ignorant, unforgivable, the ravings of a lunatic. He doesn't even know what he's talking about.

What happened—according to both historical record and the founding history for the Haitian state—was that there was a voodoo ceremony where the symbol of freedom sang out, which was the sound of the conch trumpet [spurring African slaves to rebel against French coffee and sugar plantation owners in 1791].

In the same way that we speak so reverentially of Washington crossing the Delaware, that was the catalyst of the slave revolt. It was the only successful slave revolt in history [to have won control of a country], and it's said to have begun with a voodoo ceremony.

So Pat Robertson is saying by that comment that voodoo itself is the devil. Voodoo is not a black magic cult, nor does it have anything to do with a Christian notion of the devil.

All he's saying by that comment is that all African religion is devil worship, and he's revealing not only his ignorance about what voodoo really is, but also his bias that any religion not his own is devil worship.

For a man who aspired to the presidency he revealed himself to be remarkably unschooled in American history.

Had it not been for the revolutionary slaves of Haiti, we might well be speaking French in much of what is today the U.S.A.

Napoleon at the height of his power dispatched the greatest military force ever to sail from France. Its mission was twofold: Crush the slave revolt in Haiti, and then proceed up the Mississippi, hem in the expanding 13 Colonies, and reestablish French dominance in a continent that only 30 years before at the Treaty of Paris had become British North America.

Thanks to the Haitian patriots, the French armada never reached New Orleans [and Napoleon decided to sell much of what is now the western U.S. via the Louisiana Purchase.]

But it's not just televangelists who have a dark impression of Haitian voodoo. Why is that?

The thing about African religion is that it's very dynamic and astonishing. To see someone possessed by the spirit and actually become a god and handle burning coal with impunity and cut into the skin and so on—your reaction is either fear or disbelief for those of us who don't know our god in this direct way.

There's no question that in African religion there are very theatrical displays of faith.

The reason you cut yourself or handle burning embers is to show that a person taken over by the god is a god and can't be harmed.

There are things like animal sacrifice that we get very upset about. Well, actually what's going on there is—as in many religious traditions—a sense that disease or misfortune must be addressed by reestablishing energetic equilibrium. So you make an offering, and that offering is something precious to you, whether it be human blood or animal blood.

Also, in the 1920s, the U.S. Marine Corps occupied Haiti. This was during the era of segregation, and most of the U.S. Marine Corps in Haiti were Southerners. Afterward, every one of them seemed to get a book contract, and . they were all filled with pins and needles and zombies that don't exist. They gave rise to the Hollywood movies . such as Night of the Living Dead and Zombies on Broadway and so on.

Does the Haiti earthquake look any different through the prism of voodoo?

In traditional African belief, no event has a life of its own. Everything is connected in a flow of causal association.

Many Haitians in their agony and sorrow will be asking deep and anguished questions: Why now? Why us? What more can a tormented nation and a people be expected to bear?

I think all cultures would respond in such a way to such an unimaginable and unprecedented cataclysm. After 9/11 we all [in the U.S.] asked, Why do they hate us? Which in a sense was another way of asking, Why did this happen?

Is voodoo a potential source of consolation to Haiti's earthquake victims?

For all its challenges, Haiti remains a place of extraordinary human resourcefulness, a land where people having so little have found a way to adorn their lives with the imagination. Culturally it is arguably the most vibrant and extraordinary country in the Americas.

In a time of tragedy and pain, the Haitian people, like people everywhere, will find comfort in faith, be it Christianity or the traditional religion of voodoo.

All people in all cultures honor the dead, and the fact that the sheer scale of the disaster has precluded the possibility of proper ritual burials will be a source of concern and sadness to all Haitians.

Perhaps in time some of this grief may be released in a ceremony of national remembrance that will honor all who have been lost.

For now the rest of us, the entire global community, must do everything we can to support the living and facilitate the rebirth of a nation that has given so much to the world.


Haiti aid flows out of the Dominican Republic, and the desperate flow in

A wrought-iron gate across a two-lane road in the mountains separates two nations speaking two languages and, especially in recent days, living two realities.

On Monday, dozens of vans carrying relief workers and trucks laden with emergency food, water and other supplies kicked up dust as they arrived here from the sleepy capital of the Dominican Republic and crossed into Haiti, bound for earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince.

Coming in the other direction were several hundred Haitians, seeking permission to enter the Dominican Republic. They disembarked from joyously decorated minibuses, just steps from a brackish cobalt-blue lake that laps near the road. Doctors at a tiny clinic by the gate treated minor injuries and, in small groups, those coming from Haiti were allowed past the gate to plead their case before Dominican border agents.

The two-way traffic at this border crossing has grown precipitously since the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince last week. Dominican authorities have been worried about a flood of refugees, though so far the numbers have been relatively modest.

With the seaport in the Haitian capital damaged, and the airport handling a full load of relief flights, aid agencies have increasingly used two airports in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo as the first stop on the island of Hispaniola. Some of those goods are put aboard smaller planes bound for Port-au-Prince, but large shipments are put on trucks for the four-hour drive to the border.

Santo Domingo, on the southern flank of the island, suffered no major damage from the earthquake, which struck on the western edge, just a few miles from Haiti’s capital. Some tourists have canceled vacations to the Dominican Republic, but the gleaming hotels that line the waterfront are filled with relief workers coordinating the incoming shipments or preparing to make the seven-hour overland trek to Haiti’s capital.

At a large warehouse in Santo Domingo on Sunday, several dozen Dominican volunteers singing church songs gathered to put together packs containing enough food and water for a family of four for several days. The packs, in large buckets, were loaded onto 24 trucks and dispatched to Port-au-Prince.

For the two countries, not always the friendliest of neighbors, it has been a revelation.

“It’s a great experience of solidarity with the Haitian people,” said John Service, country director for Catholic Relief Services in the Dominican Republic. “There are historic tensions but it seems no deep animosity. After all, they share a common history.”


The Haiti Earthquake

In the harrowing days after the Haiti earthquake, filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Julie Platner witnessed families mourning loved ones and youths whose injuries meant tragic choices of life over limb More »

Photos: Haiti's Tent Cities Brace for the Rainy Season

Four months after the earthquake, Port-au-Prince is a collection of jury-rigged tent cities. As the rainy season approaches, the country braces for more misfortune. More »

Photos: Commerce Comes to the Aid of Haiti

American entrepreneurs are trying to revive the ailing country by focusing on business

Photographs by Richard Mosse for TIME More »

Video: Haitians Mourn and Begin Again

As the search for survivors ends, Haitians begin rebuilding a nation with an uncertain future More »

Photos: Children's Messages of Hope for Haiti

A few samples of the notes bound for the earthquake-ravaged country, collected from children around the world by the Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Program More »

Video: Reviving Jacmel: Haiti's Cultural Capital

After Haiti's devastating earthquake, local activists and international historic preservation groups are trying to figure out how to rebuild Jacmel, a port city known for its French colonial architecture. More »

Dramatic Rescues of Haiti's Earthquake Survivors

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Photos: Out of the Ruins

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Aftermath of Haiti's Quake: A Photographer's Vision

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Video: Haiti Relief Efforts from the Aircraft Carrier Carl Vinson

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Video: Radio News Saves Lives in Haiti

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Video: ShelterBox: A Quick Fix for Home in Haiti

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Photos: Devastation from the Haiti Earthquake

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Photos: Haiti's Lines of Communications

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The 10 Deadliest Earthquakes

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake has hit northeastern Japan, producing a destructive tsunami that swept through several coastal areas. TIME takes a look at some of history's most unforgiving earthquakes More »

Video: Bill Clinton on Haiti

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Photos: The Destruction Seen from the Air

An aerial look at the damage done by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Carribean nation More »

Timeline: Haiti's History of Misery

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Where Will the Next Five Big Earthquakes Be?

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Video: Crisis and Chaos in Haiti

TIME's Ioan Grillo reports from Port-au-Prince about the medical crises, looting and infrastructure collapse in Haiti's capital More »

Video: Running with the Looters in Haiti's Capital

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Video: Haiti Rescue: Saving the Man Who Saved My Life

When E. Benjamin Skinner heard about the collapse of a shelter for homeless boys in Port-au-Prince, he knew he had to act to repay a debt More »

Photos: The US Army Brings Aid to Haiti

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Video: What is Slowing the Relief Effort in Haiti?

Relief work is slowed by logjams at the airport, traffic and high gas prices. Desperation is leading to looting and violence More »

Video: In the Ruins of Haiti, Searching for Madame St. Fleur

Taking a break from reporting in Haiti, TIME's Bobby Ghosh searches for 94-year-old France St. Fleur, to deliver a message and money from a grand-niece in New York More »

Video: Pain and Hunger at Port-au-Prince's General Hospital

Volunteer doctors and EMTs face obstacles in treating patients at the Haitian capital's main hospital, where medication and food are in short supply More »


Obama pledges $100 million in aid for Haiti earthquake

President Obama, signaling “one of the largest relief efforts in history” for victims of the earthquake in Haiti, said today that he has ordered an immediate investment of $100 million in U.S. aid.

“This investment will grow over the coming year,” said the president, standing with several Cabinet members and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whom Obama said he has ordered to make the disaster in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince the No. 1 priority of all their agencies.

U.S. armed forces are on the way to Haiti, the president said, citing several Coast Guard cutters already deployed, elements of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and a Marine Expeditionary Force en route.

Obama made his second public statement on the Haiti crisis in two days from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, where he was joined today by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

“The losses that have been suffered in Haiti are nothing less than devastating,” Obama said, promising not only the “power” of the U.S. military for a massive relief effort, but also “the compassion” of the American people.

“Yet, even as we bring our resources to bear . . . we need to summon the tremendous generosity and compassion of the American people,” said Obama, calling on Americans to contribute money for the relief effort. The State Department said today that people already have contributed more than $3 million in $10 donations with text messages.

“I’ve made it clear to each of these leaders that Haiti must be a priority for each of their departments right now,” Obama said of the Cabinet, military and diplomatic leaders standing alongside him. “This is a situation that calls out for American leadership.

“The first wave of relief workers are on the ground and at work,” Obama said, and an airlift has been set up for water and medicine.

“We have no higher priority than the safety of American citizens, and we are airlifting Americans out of Haiti,” he said.

“Even as we move as quickly as possible, it will take hours and in many cases days, to get all of our people and resources on the ground,” he said, noting that for those trapped under rubble or living without food for their children “none of this will seem quick enough.”

As the State Department attempts to help people in the U.S. learn of the status of relatives in Haiti, Biden plans to meet with members of the Haitian American community in South Florida this weekend.

“Finally, I want to speak directly to the people of Haiti,” Obama said. “Few in the world have endured the hardships that you have known . . . After suffering for so long, to face this new horror, must cause some to look up and say, ‘Have we been forsaken?’

“You have not been forsaken. You will not be forgotten,” Obama said, promising that Americans will stand by Haitians. “Today, you must know that help is arriving. Much, much more help is on the way.”


U.N. Peacekeepers in Haiti Said to Have Fathered Hundreds of Children

Women and girls were left behind to face poverty, social stigma and single motherhood in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti fathered and left behind hundreds of children, researchers found in a newly released academic study, leaving mothers struggling with stigma, poverty and single parenthood after the men departed the country.

While the United Nations has acknowledged numerous instances of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers in Haiti and elsewhere, the study on Haitian victims went further in documenting the scope of the problem in that country — the Western Hemisphere’s poorest — than had been previously known.

“Girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated” by peacekeepers, who were stationed in Haiti from 2004 to 2017, and some of the women were later “left in misery” to raise their children alone, according to the study by two academic researchers.

“They put a few coins in your hands to drop a baby in you,” one Haitian was quoted as saying by the researchers, whose work was published on Tuesday by The Conversation, an academic website supported by a consortium of universities.

The study, based on interviews with 2,500 Haitians who lived near peacekeeper bases in the summer of 2017, depicts a trail of abuse and exploitation left by some of the soldiers and civilians who served in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as Minustah, an acronym for its name in French.

The resulting children are known as “petits minustahs.”

Asked for comment, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations said in a statement that it took the issues raised in the study seriously and that combating sexual exploitation and abuse committed by peacekeepers is a top priority of Secretary General António Guterres.

“We have unfortunately seen cases involving Minustah peacekeepers over the past years, although allegations have been generally declining since 2013,” the statement said.

The United Nations has previously acknowledged that more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers deployed to Haiti exploited nine children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007, and the men were sent home, but were not punished.

The new study, by Sabine Lee, a history professor at the University of Birmingham, and Susan Bartels, a clinician scientist at Queen’s University in Ontario, is the latest to document sexual misconduct by international peacekeeping forces, including those stationed in Mozambique, in Bosnia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Central African Republic.

Of the people interviewed by the authors, 265 told of children fathered by members of the peacekeeping force, who came from at least 13 countries but mostly Uruguay and Brazil, according to a chart in the study.

“That 10 percent of those interviewed mentioned such children highlights just how common such stories really are,” they wrote. They noted that over the years, news organizations had reported anecdotal cases in Haiti in which “minors were offered food and small amounts of cash to have sex with U.N. personnel.”

The authors did not estimate the exact numbers of impregnated women or children left behind. But legal experts and aid workers say the problem has been pervasive, and that the United Nations has failed to assist the women.

The Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, a group of Haitian lawyers based in Port-au-Prince, has filed paternity suits on behalf of 10 children said to have been fathered by peacekeepers. Sienna Merope-Synge, a staff attorney at a Boston-based partner organization, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said the groups had approached United Nations officials in 2016 about securing child support for the mothers but had received none.

“The U.N. must be much more proactive,” she said. “It shouldn’t be on a woman in rural Haiti to seek transnational action for a man in Uruguay.”

Others were far more critical of the United Nations, seeing the Haiti study as another instance of what they called the organization’s male-dominated ethos. Paula Donovan, a co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, a group that has frequently castigated the United Nations over sexual abuse and gender issues, said the study had corroborated her views.

“This research confirms that standard U.N. practice is to exploit women — from those subsisting in tents to those presenting at conferences — and then squash them like bugs if they dare complain about sexual abuse and threaten the U.N. patriarchy’s 75-year-old culture of entitlement and impunity,” Ms. Donovan said in a statement.

While some mothers told the researchers of sexual violence by United Nations personnel, most of the stories recounted subtler forms of coercion, with peacekeepers trading small amounts of money or food for sex with women and girls who were often desperately poor. In other instances, women and their relatives described consensual relationships that ended when the peacekeepers left Haiti.

The authors said Haitians residing in communities around 10 United Nations bases had been asked “what it’s like to be a woman or a girl living in a community that hosts a peacekeeping mission.” The Haitians were not asked specifically about potential abuse or sexual relations with peacekeepers, according to the study, but participants raised the issue themselves.

“I started to talk to him, then he told me he loved me and I agreed to date him,” a woman was quoted as saying of her relationship several years earlier with a peacekeeper. “Three months later, I was pregnant, and in September he was sent to his country.” She added that she could not pay the fees to send her son to school.

The testimonies echoed a pattern seen in Liberia between 1990 and 1998, when thousands of children were reported to have been fathered by international peacekeepers.

In Haiti, the peacekeeping mission began as an attempt to bring stability after the 2004 rebellion that toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the United Nations extended it after a catastrophic earthquake ravaged the country in 2010.

But the mission itself was devastating, according to human rights organizations and researchers. Peacekeepers have been accused of unintentionally killing dozens of civilians, and some introduced cholera to Haiti after the earthquake, starting an epidemic that killed more than 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000. The United Nations has apologized for its role in the epidemic but has resisted legal efforts aimed at compensating cholera victims and their families.

The study’s authors recommended that the United Nations educate its personnel about the economic and social hardships of the mothers and children left behind. They also urged the world body to stop simply repatriating its people who are implicated in sexual exploitation or abuse, rather than turning them over to local authorities.

Ms. Lee, the lead author of the study, said member states that contribute troops to United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts also bore direct responsibility to help support the mothers and children.


Contemporary conflicts are generally classified as “new wars,” a term that indicates how much warfare has changed in recent history. In new wars, non-state actors intimidate civilians through mass killings, brutal and coercive acts, and destabilization strategies. The classical rules of warfare in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—which grant civilian noncombatants immunity from violence—are continually being challenged in contemporary conflicts as the distinction between civilian and military has virtually disappeared.

As photographers, we tend to visit conflict and disaster zones for a short time, hoping our photographs can expose others to the victims of injustice or unnecessary violence. Without our coverage, these people would probably be unknown or soon forgotten. However, who—or what—are victims, and what do we know about them?

Questions relating to the concept and identity of victims are highly problematic, because our attitudes towards victims (and how they should be dealt with photographically) are likely to be shaped by the brief assumptions we make about them during our short encounters with them, and these suppositions are not always well founded. Moreover, viewers of such imagery do not always know the history hidden behind the shots or the circumstances. Viewers just see the photographer’s visual concept.

The aim of this series is to raise questions regarding the identity of the victims I met and let the viewer answer these questions on their own. Some of the images are outtakes from commissioned assignments in troubled areas across several countries.

If you’re interested in seeing more work on this subject, we’d recommend these previous features: Emergency to Normalcy, a series on the aftermath of the disastrous nuclear power plant explosion in Japan Citizens of War, documentation of the normal people living on the front lines in Ukraine and Saints, Panos Kefalos’s project on the homeless refugees living in Athens.


Watch the video: Φονικός σεισμός στην Αϊτή: Στους 724 οι νεκροί οι τραυματίες Κεντρικό Δελτίο Ειδήσεων 15821


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