Posted on February 1, 2010

As Food Distribution Improves, Haitians Want U.S to ‘Take Over’

Peter Slevin, Washington Post, February 1, 2010


The needs are extraordinary, and the common refrain is that the Americans will provide.

“I want the Americans to take over the country. The Haitian government can’t do anything for us,” said Jean-Louis Geffrard, a laborer who lives under a tarp in the crowded square. “When we tell the government we’re hungry, the government says, ‘We’re hungry, too.’ ”

Added Canga Matthieu, a medical student whose school was destroyed: “The American government should take care of us.”

“They’re well organized. The United States is the richest country in the world, and they can help.”


Markestre Theolien, a supervisor with Haiti Electricity, the national utility, lamented the condition of the 27-year-old transformers and asked for new ones. Asked where the help should come from, he smiled and said, “U.S.A.”

“So they’re expecting us to take over?” Jacot [Sgt. 1st Class Jason Jacot, an Army engineer] asked a translator. “No, no, no. How can we assist without completely rebuilding? We’re not here to rebuild.”

The discussion went back and forth cordially. Jacot said he would be talking with the utility’s director to learn what was needed. Theolien defined his bottom line: “What we really want is the United States to rebuild it, to modernize.”


A throng of people in the square discussed their lack of faith in Haitian authorities. One after another, they said their only hope is the United States.

“The Haitian government has been here for a while, and they give us nothing. The United States should take over the country,” said Andrelita Laguerre, shepherding four children and a grandchild at the camp. “Most of my friends expect the United States to take over. I wish!”