At Least Some Find Reason to Celebrate in Haiti

Country holds first Carnival festival since last year's deadly quake.

By Thoai Lu Mar 11, 2011

Haiti started its week-long carnival recently, which marked the nation’s first celebration since its massive  earthquake on January 12, 2010. Even though some critics felt that it was outrageous for the government to put on a carnival when over 1.3 million people are still homeless in the Haiti.

CBS News described the scene:

Raucous crowds danced in the streets of the Haitian capital Sunday as the city celebrated its first Carnival since last year’s devastating earthquake forced the cancellation of the annual festivities.

The parade filed past the ruined facades of downtown shops, and the normally busy boulevard outside the collapsed National Palace was turned into a pedestrian zone for three days of revelry. Organizers erected a plywood wall to separate the Carnival zone from the huge Champ de Mars plaza, now a camp for tens of thousands of people made homeless by the quake.

Haiti, of course, is still reeling from an onslaught of devastation. On top of last year’s deadly quake that killed over 300,000 people, there’s a cholera epidemic that’s killed thousands more and growing political unrest over the country’s presidential elections. Federal immigration authorities in the U.S. have resumed deportations to Haiti despite the pleas of advocates who claim the country is ill equipped to handle new residents. So far, at least one recent deportee has died as a result of being detained in a Haitian jail.

However, local officials defended the celebration. 

"People want the Carnival and if we didn’t sponsor it they would do it on their own," Herve Saint-Preux, the festival’s coordinator, told reporters, adding that the budget was only about 20 percent of what had been spent in previous years.