Haitians across the United States have been reacting to what they see as a biased portrayal of their country and its people in the U.S. media. Particularly galling have been the reports of mobs of Haitians looting or of fear of dangerous machete-weilding gangs making the work of rescuers impossible. Among the reactions we are beginning to see is that of Ciné Institute Director David Belle, who reports from Port-au-Prince:
“I have been told that much US media coverage paints Haiti as a tinderbox ready to explode. I’m told that lead stories in major media are of looting, violence and chaos. There could be nothing further from the truth.
“I have traveled the entire city daily since my arrival. The extent of damages is absolutely staggering. At every step, at every bend is one horrific tragedy after another; homes, businesses, schools and churches leveled to nothing. Inside every mountain of rubble there are people, most dead at this point. The smell is overwhelming. On every street are people — survivors — who have lost everything they have: homes, parents, children, friends.
“NOT ONCE have we witnessed a single act of aggression or violence. To the contrary, we have witnessed neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends and strangers. We’ve seen neighbors digging in rubble with their bare hands to find survivors. We’ve seen traditional healers treating the injured; we’ve seen dignified ceremonies for mass burials and residents patiently waiting under boiling sun with nothing but their few remaining belongings. A crippled city of two million awaits help, medicine, food and water. Most haven’t received any.
“Haiti can be proud of its survivors. Their dignity and decency in the face of this tragedy is itself staggering.”
His comments appeared at http://www.anarkismo.net/article/15546
Photo: A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention Friday, January 15, in downtown Port-au-Prince. SHAUL SCHWARZ/REPORTAGE FOR CNN