James Mc Calla
HEART OF ICE
Jumping out of his bed, Billy ran to his mother’s room to see if she had overslept. As he walked in he found his mother awake by the side of her bed, listening to the radio. Billy knew something was wrong. He went up to his mother to ask her why she had not awakened him in time for school. Before he could even start, his mother raised her arm up signaling him to wait until the reporter on the radio was done. Billy waited for about 10 minutes when mother finally turned to him and said, “There’s no school today.” Surprised at what his mother had told him, Billy now knew that something was definitely wrong. He knew a problem had occurred because his school never desists unless it was planned several months ahead of time. The journalist on the radio had a report about people who were taking the law into their own hands. To express their authority the people wrapped tires around the political figures and cut off their heads. Political leaders such as, senators, mayors, judges, and wealthy factory owners with political influences were the main targets.
Later on that day brave video reporters televised one of Haiti’s many coups, where people were shown with machetes with which they chopped the arms, legs, and heads of corrupt politicians’. Finally the bloody heads were burned at the stake; dark and smoking from the fire, they were stuck on pikes. That was one of the most horrific sights Billy had ever seen in his life.
These events marked Billy for the rest of his life. They affected him so much that the sight of a dead body on the streets of Haiti, which were sometimes left there for various days, was just another common day tragedy.
An example of these common day tragedies, was one summer when Billy was on his way to work, and saw a dead body. It was 7:00 a.m. when he had first seen the body. At 12:30 a.m. on his way to lunch, Billy again saw the dead body. By this time the carcass had begun to develop a stench, which was only normal with a scorching sun of 95 degrees in downtown Haiti. With the sweltering sun still burning, the blood that had gushed out of the man’s head onto the streets was now dried up with flies all over the carcass. The brains were protruding out of a hole from the man’s head, where the piece of skull that was missing from the whole in his head clanged to the rest of the head by a piece of flesh.
Billy later found out that the man was a tonton macoute – an elite force under the Duvalier regime (Duvalier was a former dictator of Haiti and ruled Haiti for over 30 years)- which was why the man was left out to die on the streets without any help. These tonton macoutes had done very inhumane things to people during the Duvalier regime. An example being, making people defecate in front of them and telling them to eat it up if they wanted to live. Still, the Haitian people did not ameliorate the situation by slaughtering these macoutes and committing inhumane crimes against them.
The Duvalier regime in Haiti can be compared to Hitler’s Holocaust. During this time thousands of people were simply killed, either reported missing or brutally murdered in public. People at this time who were merely “suspected” of treason were executed. Even relatives of Billys had to flee the city of Port-au-Prince to escape persecution, not because they were corrupt politicians but because they disapproved of the so-called democracy in Haiti, where the only law was the law of the military. While Francois Duvalier A.K.A. Papa Doc was the president of Haiti his motto was: “if you are not with us, you are against us.” After Papa Doc’s – and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier A.K.A. Baby Doc – rule was over, people thought that Haiti would become a better place and see better times. They could not have been more inaccurate. Haiti fell into an economic depression, needing outside help, which was one of the worse things that could have ever happened. Of course the U.S., a superpower, the overseer and protector of Latin American and Caribbean countries, volunteered to help Haiti. A lot of people opposed this from the beginning; but worse came to worse and it became inevitable. The soldiers that came to Haiti did not want to be there and were extremely prejudice. This created a very unstable atmosphere between the Haitians and the soldiers, and instead of the economy getting better it only got worse.
After U.S occupation came countless amounts of presidents that were either overthrown, impeached, or assassinated. There was so much political unrest at this time that schools were shutdown for weeks, forcing Billy’s parents, who wanted the best education for him, to send him to New York to study for a year. This was the first time he had ever been away from his parents. It was hard to adjust. Whether or not he really ever adjusted is not sure. Seven months later Billy returned to Haiti and rejoined his family. Less than a month after he had reunited with his family the country of Haiti was put under an economic embargo by the U.S. government who had no idea what it was getting itself into.
Finally came the U.S. invasion of Haiti, to reinstate power to the elected president of Haiti “Aristid”. People were frightened in Haiti. Planes circled Haiti and scrambled all radio communication; even cables and phones were out. Hummers roamed the streets, while helicopters and planes filled the skies of Haiti. Billy lived in Haiti for two years after this invasion, and there was nothing he hadn’t seen, from shredded carcasses lying on the streets to mutilated bodies hung on pikes.
These were only some of the events that shaped and formed who Billy is today, whether it is good or bad, we’ll never know, but there is nothing he could have done about it. He was only an innocent bystander at the “right” place, at the wrong time.