Forges ordered us not to forget Haiti and reality has endeavored to remind us of what the master wrote in a small way in so many memorable vignettes. Beyond that deadly earthquake in 2010, other recent dramas such as a new earthquake, the assassination of the president by mercenaries and the persecution on horseback that we have seen in Texas these days immigrant families shake the conscience again before a country that seems doomed not to raise your head. But Haiti is also a place with much to offer, a country where despite being on the path of cyclones, on seismic faults and with immense structural problems, “in real life nothing has prevented people from dancing, laughing and building. a very comfortable life ”. It is recounted by Dany Laferrière (Port-au-Prince, 1953), a Haitian writer who suffered three exiles and who today lives between Canada, his host country, and France, where he is an academic. Just published in Spain The cry of the mad birds (Pepitas), the story of a crazy night, the night of his sudden exile.
Question. Your father had to go into exile from Papa Doc’s dictatorship. And you, from Baby Doc’s. Do you still feel like an exile?
Answer. When my father had to leave Haiti and continued to work from abroad, it was common for the regime to take children hostage. That is why my mother sent me when I was five years old to live with my grandmother outside of Port-au-Prince. I did not experience it as an exile because I had a happy childhood, but the exile was for her, who deprived herself of me. At 23 my own mother had a murmur and I had to flee from there overnight. I was happy in Montreal, but my mother suffered from our exiles. And that is the most painful. They are left behind, deprived of the being they love.
P. Has writing helped you overcome what happened?
R. I am a product of the dictatorship, I was within it and as a child I believed that all countries had a Duvalier. What’s more, he believed that all the presidents of the world were named Duvalier. My father had had his. I am mine… Therefore my book does not try to fix a personal problem, but rather to portray my generation.
P. Haiti is doomed? It has a solution?
R. Peoples are not problems that seek solutions. There is a wealth despite everything. There is a vibrant world. I know a lot of readers and people around the world who would have liked to live in a space as vibrant as the one I narrate in my book. Of course nobody wants a dictatorship, but I describe one night, my last night, in which we were not bored. The young protagonist must flee and regrets the situation, of course he does, but he also thinks about jazz, he is in love, he goes to the theater to see Antígona translated into Creole. Obviously, he does not spend the night snorting cocaine in a Baudelairian way in nightclub bathrooms like young people his age in North America and Europe. He’s caught up in a hot, convulsive issue. And that is also Haiti.
P. What and who has done the most damage to Haiti? Nature? The powers?
R. All my literature refuses to answer this question. I am not a handyman or a mechanic. I am not going to analyze the machine to find out what is wrong, I am not that type of writer. I have spent my whole life seeing Haitians treated badly individually and collectively. In Haiti and abroad. That is why I am impressed by those people who, despite everything, manage to have a life rich in emotion, in feelings. An intellectually rich life. That great elegance of human relations in Haiti, despite endemic violence and catastrophes. The United States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 and we know well what they are capable of. Sometimes it happens in public, in front of the cameras, as it has happened this time, but let’s think about what is being done against Haitians around the world without cameras. However, those of us who witness the great Haitian epic know that they will overcome it. In two weeks, no one will talk about these images of Texas, as no one talks about the earthquake, the assassination of the president or whatever. All that remains is the television show, and the show is always fleeting. But Haitians want energy, not tears. Offer energy, if possible. Because when the problem is forgotten, they will always be there, facing it.
P. He mentions those police officers on horseback chasing their compatriots in Texas. What does that image tell you?
R. Beyond those images that take us back to slavery, beyond that folkloric clothing that seems from the Pampas, there are 10,000 people there who need to eat, who were just bathing, a magnificent, intimate natural act, in which children they were smiling … and it is inadmissible to interrupt such a natural act. We should at least have the right to bathe without being engulfed by a state that has the brutality to prevent people from cooling off in the water. And what I feel is that there is not a great journalist there to narrate that odyssey, that great human transhumance, similar to a biblical movement. If those people had been French, Spanish or English we would have narrated it in detail, but that transhumance has happened without our seeing it. You have to find a García Márquez or an Alejo Carpentier who tells it. That’s why I only have faith in the literature, the writing, the phrase. And the great pity is that there is not a great writer or poet to write it.
For our part, we will try to obey Forges.