Finally starting to dust off my Haiti photos…
Port-au-Prince has some good graffiti. Much of it is political, some of it is ambiguous. Here are a few examples from my stash of photos…
Rasta dude. A popular theme.
This fellow is going to do his voudou on you.
The lady was painted by a mysterious Haitian graffiti artist named “Jerry.” At upper left is some election graffiti that says “election without Lavalas now.” Lavalas [“avalanche”] was the political party of former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been in exile in South Africa [having been both placed in power and removed from power by the United States if the stories are to be believed], but who came back to Haiti just prior to the 2010/2011 presidential election while I was there. Below that are a bunch of pink Michel Martelly election posters. The slogan roughly reads “Vote for the bald head.” Martelly eventually won the election.
“American Embassy = Cholera” was written overnight on the outside wall of the IHRC/old-U.S. Embassy compound where I worked. Cholera appeared for the first time in 50+ years in Haiti to add to its problems after the earthquake. The outbreak continues to this day, and has killed close to 8,000 Haitian people while sickening many thousands of others. Haitians blamed outsiders, and indeed the outbreak has subsequently been traced to effluent from a field base of Nepali origin UN peacekeeping troops. The UN peacekeeping force was already widely unpopular in Haiti, and this only worsened their image though there was certainly nothing intentional about it. Haiti’s frequent floods, exacerbated primarily by environmental degradation, lack of solid waste management, lack of clean water sources for drinking and washing, and poorly maintained (or destroyed by the 2010 earthquake) sanitation infrastructure, leads to spikes in cholera every time a major rain comes to Haiti now.
This graffiti reads: “Down with Preval and MINUSTA.” René Préval was the president of Haiti when the 2010 earthquake occurred, and was widely seen as having been an ineffectual leader in the post-disaster period. His term of office ended when President Michel Martelly came to power in the 2010/2011 election. To Préval’s credit, he was the first Haitian president in 200+ years to make it through his legal term of office without being killed or deposed or illegally extending his reign. MINUSTA is the acronym for the UN peacekeeping force which many Haitians view as an occupying force (but which others believe is necessary for Haitian stability).
This creation by “Jerry” appeared just before Christmas 2010.
Another Christmas 2012 graffiti creation by Haitian artist “Jerry.”
I don’t know what this is, but I passed it on the way to work everyday.
I’m going to call this one Gangsta Karaoke.
Some basic election graffiti: “Vote Pasteur Elie for Deputy of Gressier.” Every neighborhood had favorite local candidates whose names were scrawled on walls all over the place. Not exactly subtle, but hey, free advertising!
Graffiti drawn on the outside wall of one the UN compounds in Port-au-Prince.
Another bit of graffiti that appeared in January 2011 on the outside wall of the IHRC/old-U.S. embassy compound where I worked. It says “Welcome Back Jean-Claude Duvalier.” Former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (son of even more former Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier) had been living in exile in France, but, like former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, he used the chaos of the post 2010 earthquake period in Haiti to facilitate his return. This graffiti is a poke at the U.S. government, who helped remove Duvalier from power (under Ronald Reagan), and who certainly had no interest in seeing him return at this time. So now Haiti has all of it’s living former dictators back under one roof and at some point that could prove mighty interesting, though it hasn’t much yet…
This “Jerry” creation appeared on a wall a couple of days after the Japan tsunami/nuclear disaster in March 2011. A nice gesture from an artist living in a place still utterly devastated by the 2010 Haiti earthquake.