PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — With graffiti and protests, from sweltering tents to air-conditioned offices, Haitians are desperately trying to get a message to their government and the world: enough with the status quo.
The simple phrase “Aba Préval” (Down with Préval, a reference to Haiti’s president, René Préval) has become shorthand for a long list of frustrations, and an epithet expressing a broader fear — that Haitians will be stuck in limbo indefinitely, and that the opportunity to reinvent Haiti is being lost.
While few have given up entirely on the dream that a more efficient, more just Haiti might rise from the rubble, increasingly, hope is giving way to stalemate and bitterness. “Is this really it?” Haitians ask. They complain that the politically connected are benefiting most from reconstruction work that has barely begun. They shake their heads at crime’s coming back, unproductive politicians and aid groups that are struggling with tarpaulin metropolises that look more permanent every day.
“We’re going to be in this position forever,” said Patrick Moussignac, the owner of Radio Caraïbes, a popular station broadcasting from a tent downtown. “We could be living on the streets for 10 or 20 years.”