Commemorating Haiti’s earthquake, 5 years later

President Michel Martelly and his wife, to his left the newly named Prime Minister, Evans Paul.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

In the morning of Jan. 12, 2015, Haitian government officials, foreign ambassadors, and ranking police commemorated the five-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake at the site where thousands had been buried in a mass grave near Titanyen, miles north of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake killed 230,000 and injured thousands more.

Following speakers from Haiti’s Catholic, Protestant and Vodou religious communities, President Michel Martelly spoke. During the proceedings, covered extensively by Haitian media, Martelly reminded the public how in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake everyone had come together, there was no Lavalas or Makout (political affiliations) or black or white and that Haitians, sometimes using nothing but bare hands and digging through the rubble of collapsed buildings, helped “a neighbor, a colleague, someone whom we had never met before.”

Erol Josue, a Vodou priest called for all to reflect on the country as he recounted its history and that Vodou had been blamed for the earthquake. He retold that in fact, it was Vodou that set in motion the revolution. “Give Haiti a chance, put aside all of your personal problems,’’ he said. “We lost a lot of people, even people who came to visit us…we lost hope.”

Following remarks, the president and his wife placed wreaths on a memorial that had been constructed just days before.

Outside the ceremony, two small groups of Haitians demonstrated for and against the current government.

Now Haiti’s memorial day, other intimate local commemorations took place on Jan. 12 including one held at a memorial area at the environmental education center Martissant Park.

A mass took place at a church adjacent to the main Cathedral that collapsed during the earthquake. There was an observance at the Bureau of Ethnology where Vodou priestesses performed a ceremony to bless those killed.

Head of the Bureau of Ethnology Erol Josue joins the other religious clergy during the memorial service.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

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