Pooja Bhatia

Pooja Bhatia lived in Haiti from 2007 to 2011.

From The Blog
18 September 2019

In the Bahamas, there are more immigrants from Haiti than from all other countries combined. They make up perhaps 10 per cent of the population, which totals 400,000, but it’s hard to know for sure. Among their ranks are thousands of people born in the Bahamas to undocumented parents, who are effectively stateless: the Bahamas does not grant birthright citizenship. Merely to appear Haitian is to risk detention and deportation. A 2014 policy requires non-citizens to carry passports. According to rights groups, the police use the policy to harass and extort money from Haitian immigrants afraid of being deported. Round-ups and raids are frequent. Last year, the courts halted a government plan to raze Haitian shanty towns. Hurricane Dorian has accomplished what the government could not. 

In January 2010, Jonathan Katz was working in Haiti for the Associated Press, the only American news organisation with a permanent bureau there. Other foreign journalists lived there, and a few more flew in for elections and catastrophes, but for the most part Haiti coverage had become a casualty of slashed budgets at dying newspapers and magazines. Covering a small, destitute island no longer made economic sense. It was a tough gig for a freelancer, owing to the high cost of living and the necessity of speaking Creole, or hiring a translator.

Diary: Aristide’s Brain

Pooja Bhatia, 8 March 2012

Last May I went to see Jean-Bertrand Aristide at his big white house in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince. I’d been there in March, when the former president had been back home only a week, and the place had the feel of a set under construction: workmen in overalls among the mango trees, the smell of new paint, a sputtering tap in the office bathroom. Now the Aristides’ boxes had arrived from Pretoria, where the family spent most of their seven-year exile, and Aristide’s office was dominated by a piece of scientific equipment, positioned – conspicuously, I thought – near the visitors’ couch.

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