EDITED BY PETER ORNER AND LAURA LAMPTON SCOTT
A border control station between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
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 firsthand a city in free fall.
Jean was living with his second oldest son on the streets of Port-au-Prince—an already battered, starving capital city that has descended into unprecedented chaos and violence. The two of them couldn’t leave the city, because the exit points are all controlled by armed gangs. — Peter Orner
Dispatch #8: 11/10/22
This is Jean. Listen, Peter, I just sent a video of a young guy being tortured, burned with plastic. Did you get it? His name is Fritz-Jean Wilson. He’s twenty-one years old and he was… It’s terrible. What happened to him was terrible. Fritz, I knew him from a while back. And you know, he’s not a guy that’s into any kind of gang violence.
So about nine or ten days ago, a massacre happened over near the airport. The gang leader Vitelhomme and his group, they were having problems with the 400 Mawozos, so they got together and they wiped out that place. Burned down every house.
Fritz lived in that neighborhood. Lucky for him, when the burning occurred, he wasn’t around. He was in the neighborhood, but he was not at his house. So he found a way to save his life.
In the meantime, everybody at his house was killed. His mother, his father. You know, he doesn’t have any other relatives. His mother only had the one kid.
Real nice guy, man. Young. He had dreams of going to the States. He wanted to be a big-time basketball player.
I didn’t know about this until the other night when I was sitting down talking to a friend of mine. I was explaining that I was trying to get out of here, planning to go to the DR. And that’s what he told me, “Man, whatever you do, don’t go illegally, because of what happened to Fritz.”
The thing is, they already killed this person’s family. What my friend told me was that Fritz escaped and reached the area around Malpasse on the north side of town. He probably paid somebody to take him there. Unfortunately for him, he must’ve got caught in between the woods and in the bushes trying to get into the DR. Because these guys you see—well, my friend didn’t know exactly what happened. All we know is that these guys took the phone from Fritz and they videoed what they did to him, you know, the torturing, and sent it to all his friends on his Facebook.
As I speak to you now, I don’t know where Fritz is. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive. We never got any more messages after that one.
This is what happens to the young people in Haiti when they get caught up in this stuff and they run away. They get caught up between Haiti and Santo Domingo.
This thing is very disturbing.
And today was already a difficult day because they said that gas was going to go on sale on the streets. But it still hasn’t happened and nobody knows when it will.
This is Jean Marseille in Haiti. It’s November 10, 2022.