Yesterday, early in the morning, my driver and I got on a motorcycle and inched along on back roads to the pediatric clinic where I work just off of Route 9. (Route 9 is a major highway in and out of Cite Soleil.) It was very strange to cross the bridge at Riviere Grise on Route 9 and see no cars anywhere. This major highway is usually very busy at this time of the morning. I noticed a black soot of burned rubber spanning the width of the bridge from tires burned last week during a similar protest.
A few minutes later we arrived at the clinic which was closed. There was no staff or patients. Usually there are 400 moms and babies present by 7 AM on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Not long after arriving hundreds of people passed by on Rue Marin one block from the clinic in a peaceful march.
I talked for a while with two of the Catholic Sisters who run the clinic. One Sister is from El Salvador and the other from Cuba. They told me of a sick 14 year old girl in their clinic neighborhood who has heart disease. We got back on the motorcycle with a guide and tried to find her in her home but her family said she is very ill and in a little village south of Port called Ti Goave. They agreed to send for her when the streets calmed down.
We dropped off our guide and reversed our steps and continued to Route National 1 past Cite Soleil and towards a zone called Aviation which is the site of the old Haitian Air Force. Route 1 was empty of cars also. Oncoming motorcycle drivers would indicate whether it was ok for us to continue on towards downtown. We peacefully passed through many ad hoc soccer games set up in the middle of Route 1. The players used stones as goals.
Route 1 Port -au-Prince, February 9, 2015 (Photo by John Carroll)We reached lower Delmas and cut up to Airport Road which has a Caterpillar Distributor and new car dealerships. Airport Road was also mainly devoid of cars. There was a smattering of people on the sidewalks and a few other motorcycles.
We stopped at a factory that assembles small electronics parts and is run by a friend of mine. He employs about 320 people and he guessed that less than 25% of his employees showed up due to the protest and lack of public transportation. Manushka, who lives in Cite Soleil, and who was present for work on Friday, was not at work either.
Masnushka, February 6, 2015 (Photo by John Carroll)On the way home in the afternoon we passed a Doctors Without Borders ambulance on Airport Road which was deployed to pick up any trauma victims during the protests. This vehicle was guarded by UN Soldiers.
UN Soldiers on Airport Road, Port-au-Prince–February 9, 2015 (Photo by John Carroll)Today is Tuesday and looks the same on the streets from my motorcycle. The city is shut down once again.
John A. Carroll, MD