FRENCH PRESS REVIEW (Tuesday, 19th January 2010): Writers express their angers and their hopes in an 8-page supplement in Libération this morning, illustrated by painters from Port-au-Prince
“I am writing to you Haiti,” is Libération’s front-page headline, referring to a supplement featuring essays by Haitian writers on their homeland in the aftermath of the quake.
Especially striking is a painting on pages 2 and 3 of the supplement by Préfèté Duffaut. Entitled “Friends of Haiti”, it was painted in 2006 and shows Haiti surrounded by Canada and France with the US hovering overhead. It’s especially representative of the country’s current dependence on foreign assistance.
One of the essays by Haitian writers in the supplement is “Haiti, where suffering is in good health,” by Yannick Lahens, a literature teacher in Porte-au-Prince. Here’s an extract:
“In this tropical dusk, always so fast in being swallowed up by the night, I could not help asking myself the question that haunted me: Why we Haitians? Us again? Always us? As if we were here in the world to test human limits - those of poverty and of suffering while maintaining through it all an extraordinary capacity to resist and meet these challenges with vital energy, with luminous creativity. I found an answer to my question in the fervour of chants which rose up in the night. It was as if these rising voices were turning their backs on the pain and the despair.”
She describes the next day as she walked through the town with bodies everywhere covered by sheets or by a piece of cardboard or nothing at all. “The trumpets of the Angels of the Apocalypse were all that was missing to announce the end of the world if it weren’t for the courage and solidarity and immense patience of those there which brought us back to what was essential.”
Other articles in today’s French papers:
One inhabitant said in a horribly poignant illustration of the situation, “The only dogs we’ve seen here are there to eat the bodies, not save the survivors.” (Libération)
Also in Libération, there is an interview with a former Haitian Prime Minister, Michelle Pierre-Louis. – former PM of Haiti. She explains how the government is not up to the task at hand.
Martine Aubry, the French Socialist Party leader, has suggested that the retirement age in France be raised from 60 to 61 or 62. Le Figaro leads with this breaking of a taboo in the French Socialist Party which has hitherto refused to consider raising the retirement age.
Le Parisien and the news website Rue89 publish articles on the backlash by journalists’ associations against Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and the Elysée advisor Claude Guéant over their criticism of France 3 journalists kidnapped in Afghanistan. For supporters of the journalists, they were simply doing their job and saying that they took unnecessary risks is inappropriate and “outrageous”.