tral Plateau our ambulance was “borrowed” by rebel troops three times. Each time, thanks to the consummate negotiating skills of Delva, it was located and returned to Thomonde.
I was shocked to see a picture in the Miami Herald of rebels escorting Red Cross troops through Gönaives. The article talked of the “humanitarian crisis” developing in the north as a result of the roads being cut by the rebels and the inability of the Red Cross to deliver emergency food relief. The rebels had let them through in exchange, it seems, for a major photo opportunity. I drafted a protest e-mail to the Red Cross and received a polite letter back, explaining how they could not be effective if they didn’t remain neutral. Meanwhile, my Haitian-American friends were advising me to give it up.
“The handwriting is on the wall, Art. The Haitian elite, the U.S. Embassy, and the media are all over Aristide. Remember, after he is gone, you still want to be able to function in the country,” they pleaded.
We were forced to cancel our spring volunteer trip. Communication with Thomonde was sporadic. Marie was marooned in Port-au-Prince, our e-mail was down, and Delva could only occasionally get to the capital to send us phone messages. Fortunately, our Haitian infrastructure held together. The hospital in Cange never shut down. The Thomondois protected our guest house and clinic from looting and vandalism. Medical service interruptions were minimal. Through it all, our community health workers slogged it out, assuring that the mundane miracle of direct observed therapy continued.
Eventually, a small contingent of U.S. marines landed. A few days later the United States and France declared they had no confidence in Aristide and, in the middle of the night, escorted him out of the country. He later claimed he was “kidnapped” by U.S. forces. The bizarre history of the relationship between Haiti and the United States had taken a new turn. When a “caretaker” Haitian-American prime minister was flown in from Boca Raton, Florida, he hailed the rebels as “freedom fighters.”