Haiti has submitted its first application to the UN Agency for Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO) for international recognition of a cultural contribution to humanity. Win or lose, its entry of Soup Joumou (Pumpkin Soup) is a unique and delicious dish that is symbolic of Haiti's identiy and freedom. As polarized as Haiti is right now, it helps to remember the things that unite people, one of which is a fondness for the country's national soup. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacquline Charles follows.
Haiti makes some of the best rum in the world, the most iconic of which are made by Barbancourt. Founded in 1862, it was now managed by CEO Delphine Nathalie Gardère. Barbancourt employs 500 people and works with 3000 local farmers making it a significant source of livelihoods. Her goal is for Barbancourt to be an International Ambassador of sorts for Haiti. Political unrest persists in Haiti - but so does the art, music, rum, humor, decency and everything else that makes Haiti unique. Take a look at the full article in Sante Magazine, also copied below, and see if you can find or order a bottle of Barbancourt Rum. You'll be glad that you did.
Haitian-Canadian filmmaker Michèle Stephenson’s documentary, Stateless, was the centrepiece film of this year’s Toronto Black Film Festival - which, due to COVID-19, was conducted online, It examines the strained relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the consequences, sometimes violent, for Haitian migrant laborers and Dominicans of Haitian descent who, despite having been born in the Dominican Republic, continue to be denied citizenship due to racism and xenophobia. A review by Sarah-Tai Black follows - a trailer is posted on The National Film Board of Canada’s Media Library and the documentary itself will follow.
According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, a historical landmark church inside Haiti’s UNESCO World Heritage site, was gutted by an early morning fire on April 13th which destroyed its wooden dome and much of the interior. Haiti has few fire-fighters and it took the poorly equipped team in Cap Haitien over an hour to arrive, after which it was too late. Preservationists and business leaders had previously called upon the government to protect historical sites, emphasizing that "only these monuments remain testimonies of our history of struggles, suffering and hope.” It may be too late for Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church but it is not too late to better protect Haiti's many historical sites throughout the country. The full article follows.
Haitians are, without a doubt, hard workers. Most just want opportunities, security, and for their familiies to have good lives. Opportunity can be hard to come by in Haiti although some have found it in Tijuana. In fact, the Mayor of Tijuana has praised Haitians for their work ethic and ability to integrate. Given a chance, Haitians will prove themselves - whether in Miami, Montreal, or Tijuana. The full article by Associated Press writer Julie Watson follows.
Haitian women are holding the country together - yet are vulnerable to gender-based violence and other abuses. According to USAID, one out of every three Haitian women between the ages of 15 - 49 has experienced gender-based violence. In this era of #MeToo, women are increasingly choosing to be voices for change instead of suffering in silence. Haitian comedian Gaëlle Bien-Aimé is a brave Haitian comedian who has shared her experience as a rape survivor and became a human rights activitist. Through her performances, her outreach, and her example she encourages other survivors to do the same. Most about this inspiring activist in the full article below.
In the Caribbean, rum was born of pain and suffering but over time became an integral part of the identity of Caribbean countries. Haiti is no exception - maybe I'm biased but I thnk Haiti has the most interesting rum in the world, ranging from Barbancourt 15 Years to the potent white rum of the countryside called Klerin. Haiti's aged rums are ideal for enjoying neat - perhaps with just a bit of ice and a twist of key lime. Klerin is gaining an appeciation by bartenders who appreciate its rustic, grassy flavors. You don't have to get on an airplane to enjoy Haiti's rums although if you do, there will be no shortage of opportunities to try a range of traditional rums, infused rums, and rum-based cocktails.
Spirit Airlines has announced a new routing to Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest city. Haiti was once, and could be yet again, a significant tourism destination - but this would be unlikely if tourists coudl only enter the country through a congested and unpedictable Port-au-Prince. In Jamaica, most tourists fly into Montego Bay and bypass Kingston altogether. Cap Haitien, with its history, beaches, and relative stability, may eventually become Haiti's Montego Bay. Managed properly, increased tourism could be good for Cap Haitien and the north. A full article on Spirit AIrline's recent announcement by Jacqueline Charles of the is linked and follows.
For many years, Haiti was a significant tourist destination. However, the industry never recovered from the American embargo, erronous claims that the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in Haiti, political instability, and natural disasters made worse by deforestation and erosion. Despite that, tourism has a great deal of untapped potential. Sure the beaches and rum are great but other Caribbean countries have that as well. It is Haiti's unique history and culture that could bring the right kind of visitors. New York Daily News journalist Jesse Serwer writes below that Trump's "shithole" comment spurred interest in Haiti, including visits by celebrities such as Conan O'Brien who filmed a special there recently. Read through his article and you just may find yourself planning your next vacation.
Below is a beautiful article (with similarly beautiful photos) taken by New York Times contributer Peter Kujawisnki. The author, who previously lived in Haiti, visited as a tourist recently and reflects on what has and has not changed. As with many of us who previously lived in Haiti, his memories are complicated and filters what he experiences now as a visitor. He sees signs of progress and the potential renewal of long dormant tourism in a country that remains much in need of livelihood opportunities. Visting Haiti, and experiecing what it has to offer, as he puts it is now neither brave nor unusual - just normal.