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Haitians Speak: How Life Has Changed Since Aristide Has Returned

February 11, 1995

Haitians speak about changes since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return:


Henri-Claude Menard, Aristide’s information minister, who acknowledged cost of living and unemployment remain high:

``Right after returning from exile Oct. 15, we began to see people who had been in hiding during the coup. We could hardly recognize them _ they were so gaunt and hollow-eyed. Several days later, their faces were transformed. They told us, `We don’t eat enough now, but we can sleep soundly.′ That is the main change _ social peace.″


Willy Charles, refugee forcibly returned by U.S. authorities in January, speaking at construction site where he found a day’s work:

``I thought that something better would be in store for us when we got back. It’s true, we can sleep without terror at night, but we are sleeping in someone else’s house on empty stomachs.″


Hubert Deronceray, coup supporter and leader of opposition party:

``The presence of U.S. troops in Haiti was welcomed by Aristide partisans and the illiterate urban masses as a liberation. But patriotic Haitians take it to be the supreme humiliation of the century, after the 1915-34 U.S. occupation. This said, there are rays of hope. The lifting of economic sanctions has permitted the country to recover its place in the international community.″


Jean-Herve Landrin, businessman:

``In May, the U.N. imposed a total embargo on Haiti, and I went bankrupt. Aristide returned, and, without a red cent to my name, I went back to work. The banks have the capital, but many of us were ruined and do not have the collateral. ... I am hopeful, moderately but definitely hopeful.″


Erntz Saint-Louis, son of market vendor:

``Now you can work at night anytime you want. Before, people used to come to your house at night and kill people. Not anymore. . .. But I was expecting more. I was expecting more for the people. Most of my family members still don’t have jobs. And life has become very expensive.″

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