Earthquake shook everything but the system!
Toussaint Louverture International Airport has returned to good health, clean and almost welcoming. It has escalators and duty-free shops. Jet bridges take you straight from your plane into the terminal, as never happened before the earthquake of 12 January 2010. It gives you hope that reconstruction has begun, or is beginning; the promised billions might have finally hit their first targets. You imagine the bulldozers, the diggers and the site trucks at work: perhaps these explain the traffic snarl-up that the taxi driver immediately tells you is a permanent fixture.
But no: rebuilding the airport is the only project to take shape in almost 12 months, backed by clearing the main urban arteries. Reconstruction has not yet started. Unlike the once solid buildings of now devastated Port-au-Prince, the grip of politicians and notables who have strangled Haiti for two centuries managed to withstand the earthquake. They’ve even stolen the word “reform”, which framed the social movement’s projected rebuilding of the institutions and state structures, and emptied it of meaning. For the moment, “reform” equals “staying just the same”. Continue reading