Published on Countercurrents.org, by Nazaire St Fort, 21 November, 2007.
Carrefour is one of the most impoverished and populous districts of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. It is located several miles from downtown Port-au-Prince, flanked on the west by the bay of La Gonave and to the east by the bay of Hospital Mountain. Among Carrefour’s many slums Souray is the most impoverished, amazingly given the wealth generating potential of its beaches.
How did beaches become slums?
Massive migration from the countryside since the second half of the 20th century has vastly outpaced the willingness and capacity of the public and private sector to provide jobs, education and housing. The poor quickly occupy the few abandoned buildings in Carrefour.
Squatters take up property on the beaches, as did those who migrated to other poor communities such as Site Soley, Lasalin, Site de Letenel and Site de Dye. Souray residents are often reduced to using large rags to divide their shacks up into rooms. They subsist as best they can. Old men gather excitingly to play dominos, a popular past time amongst the poor.
Relentless population pressure forces people to use the sea as a dump so that the slum can expand. Old men try to eke out a living by fishing in the polluted sea. These fishermen have no technical or economic assistance from the state Agriculture department … (full text).