Une dame a la justice de la Reine Soleil

Edouard Jean


The Electric Art Gallery: Paintings Under $250

From Soul in a Bottle by Madison Smartt Bell


Northbound from Croix des Missions, we crossed the peninsula into the region of the Duvalierist abbattoirs. Since the previous summer a monument had been raised, west of the road: a big square tablet reading simply JUSTICE.

I felt a twisted cynical grin wrinkling up my face and distorting my mood, for my first thought was that few enough of the murderers and torturers had been brought to account for their crimes in Haiti-- on the contrary many of them were prospering very nicely in exile, sometimes with a surprising degree of support and protection from the U.S. Government, while the legal system both here and abroad evolved from one Gordian knot to the next. Ah well, another monument, I thought. After all, the country was full of them.


But after the North and the circuit through the interior, my whole way of thinking changed, as I had expected and hoped. So that, when we approached the Duvalierist abattoirs from the north, my attitude was different, partly owing to Xavier's having stressed at different times that when Aristide returned from exile, il a dit `la paix,' --meaning no retribution against macoutes and attachés, or anyway no extralegal retribution. Passion called for an Old Testament response to the unspeakable atrocities visited on the people by the defaktos and FRAPH, eye for eye and tooth for tooth, but, southbound on Route Nasyonal 1, I saw that retribution was contrary not only to the Christian principle Aristide has enunciated when he stepped down from the plane, but also to l'ésprit Ginen: better to leave the wicked to their own devices, in which case they would likely destroy themselves.

The same principle was well known even to Stateside urban police, who seldom interfered in gang warfare and assassination programs until innocent bystanders began to drop. It was a true fact that the whole insecurity problem was much less under discussion this year than last, and it was conceivable that the zenglendo and drug warriors, which was what most of the attachés had been obliged to turn into, were preoccupied by fighting among among themselves: killing each other off, so to speak, though maybe that was a little much to hope for.

As the truck swept down toward the bay of Port au Prince the tablet of the memorial thrust up suddenly from the desert scrub. Jistis, read its northern face, in Kreyol. It seemed to me now less like an unanswered question than a pwen, a concentration of spiritual energy in the material world, as if, when the old malefactors passed the ground that they had bloodied, this pwen itself would bring down thunder and lightning to wipe them out of creation.