Greetings! I arrived safely back from Haiti, Saturday afternoon. As some of you may know, My National Guard unit was sent there for our summer training in order to take part in the ongoing relief efforts there.
Strictly speaking, this isn't really a ride report...but it is, sort of. This seemed like a good place to post up about my adventures.
My unit, the 220th Military Police, arrived in Haiti on May 26th. We were tasked with providing security for Task Force Bon Voizen (Good Neighbor), and the construction and medical efforts the UN is making. My platoon was posted to Cite Soleil, which is located in Port-au-Prince.
Cité Soleil (Kreyol: Site Solèy, English: Sun City) is an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in Haiti. Cité Soleil originally developed as a shanty town and grew to an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 residents, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty. The area is generally regarded as one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere and it is one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere. The area has virtually no sewers, stores, electricity, health care facilities or schools. For several years until 2007, the area was ruled by a number of gangs, each controlling their own sectors. But government control was reestablished after a series of operations in early 2007 by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Half of the houses of Cite Soleil are made of cement with a metal roof, half are made completely of scavenged material. An estimated 60 to 70% of houses have no access to a latrine, particularly in the marshy Brooklyn area which includes Cite Carton.
Armed gangs roamed the streets and terrorized the neighborhood. Every few blocks was controlled by one of more than 30 armed factions. Though the gangs no longer rule, murder, rape, kidnapping, looting, and shootings are still common. The area has been called a "microcosm of all the ills in Haitian society: endemic unemployment, illiteracy, non-existent public services, unsanitary conditions, rampant crime and armed violence".
This area that I found myself in really aint a very nice place...
The whole area looked and smelled like a homeless camp built in the middle of a landfill. The roads were like the surface of the moon, a series of crater-like potholes of all sizes, mostly unpaved. Some of the potholes were of a size to swallow my humvee. The traffic is wholly unregulated, people drive on whatever side of the road they feel like.
I was in charge of a guard detail at the seaport, securing an area that is used to store UN building supplies, military vehicles, and other stuff...but there was really very little inside of my perimeter. it all got shipped out as soon as it arrived.