A border-River called El Massacre

Northeast Haiti, February 2009, 5:00 am. A river with some dreadful name provides a natural boundary with the Dominican Republic. The River Massacre has been the theater of several horrible killings in the stormy history of the island. The river was renamed River Massacre after some Spanish conquistadors murdered French buccaneers in its waters in […]

Polling battles in the Republic of Eagles

Koplik, Albania, Montenegrin border, May 2011. On the eve of the municipal elections, streets of the northern impoverished town of Koplik are overcome by a kind of feverishness. Wracked by more than 40 years of communist dictatorship under the absurd Enver Hoxha rule, the Balkan republic is now looking for a new breath of democracy. […]

In the land of Black Jerusalem

I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have […]

Ritual baths

They are named Erzulie, Cousin Zaka, Ogoun Feray. They are the lwas in Creole language, the voodoo pantheon of spirits. They are bridges between humans and the Bondye, the Supreme Being viewed as inaccessible by Voodoo believers. Every July, thousands of Haitians take good luck baths in Saut d’Eau. There, catholics give thanks to the […]

The story of Paula Tattmar and the Righteous’ daughters

In 2008, a college student in Lezignan-Corbieres, South of France handed to her history teacher and also friend of mine an autobiographical manuscript narrating the hunting of a young Jewish woman in the nearby village of Lagrasse in 1944, and her rescue by a local baker couple and their daughters. Based on this testimony written […]

After the chaos

In September 2008, while assigned in Port-au-Prince, I watched with horror uprooted trees sweeping up like straw. The tropical storm in the capital will make me easily understand the strike of the hurricane which will reach later the northern far away city of Gonaïves. Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Fay will kill more than 500 people […]