EDITED BY PETER ORNER AND LAURA LAMPTON SCOTT
Jean Marseille recorded these dispatches on his phone while surviving on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from October through December 2022. As the chaos that followed the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 devolved into further lawlessness, Jean witnessed first-hand a city in free fall.
His father, in turn, packed Jean up in a cardboard box and hired a woman to carry him back to Haiti on a boat. Whenever Jean tells me this story… he always includes the detail that his father fixed him up a little bed in the cardboard box. Jean calls this journey from the Bahamas back to Haiti his “first deportation.” — Peter Orner
Dispatch #2: 10/19/22
Good morning. This is Jean Marseille in Haiti. Born March 24, 1971. Deported back to Haiti in 1994. This is my second recording.
To start off my morning as of today it was very, very tragical. The sun came up like every other day and the violence came along with it. The morning was hectic. A lot of gunshots. And so you have people mostly staying in the house. Like I was supposed to leave today to go to another ghetto, but I wasn’t able to leave because of two things. One, because I don’t have money. Secondly, because I owe money. I have to pay my debts before I leave. And so, you know, I can’t leave yet. That makes my situation hectic.
There was a lot of shooting going on just now. Another group of people just came through this area here. It’s called Delmas 75. I’m sorry I didn’t get a recording, because my phone was charging. Lot of shooting. I had to rush out. There was also big rain today, and we had to run through the water in the streets. When it rains in Port-au-Prince, the roads get flooded. When the president was assassinated, whatever work they were doing, it stopped. So the roads are unpaved in this area. We have to wait for a couple of days for the water to go down.
And there’s an old person that was in a house close by. Maybe he got shot, because I heard screaming. An ambulance came and took away a body. Must have been him.
It’s so tragic out here. As I sit my heart is beating real fast. I’m panicking. I just want to go and get out of here. But like I’ve told you before, the roads are still blocked and there’s some war going on in Cité Soleil about the gas that’s being sold on the streets for $550 a gallon. That’s Haitian dollars.1
This is me, Jean Marseille. This is the report for the day, and thank you very much for listening.
1 Current rate: 1 USD to 129.1046 HTG, or $4.26 per gallon.