I mean sort of safe. "Haiti safe." Reed Lindsay reports:
Today, Haiti’s reputation is undeserved, say security analysts and
officials from the U.N. peacekeeping mission. They argue that Haiti is
no more violent than any other Latin American country. "It’s
a big myth," said Fred Blaise, spokesman for the U.N. police force in
Haiti. "Port-au-Prince is no more dangerous than any big city. You can
go to New York and get pickpocketed and held at gunpoint."
He may not be a totally objective and disinterested observer. How about this:
Reliable statistics are scarce in Haiti, but U.N. data indicate that the country could be among the safest in the region. The U.N. peacekeeping mission recorded 487 homicides in Haiti last year, or about 5.6 per 100,000 people.
U.N.-World Bank study last year estimated the Caribbean’s average
homicide rate at 30 per 100,000, with Jamaica registering nearly nine
times as many – 49 homicides per 100,000 people – as those recorded by
the United Nations in Haiti.
In 2006, the neighboring
Dominican Republic notched more than four times more homicides per
capita than those registered in Haiti: 23.6 per 100,000, according to
the Central American Observatory on Violence. Even the United
States would appear to have a higher homicide rate: 5.7 per 100,000 in
2006, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
I believe these numbers; at some margin even murder is a normal good. But most convincing, I think, is this:
Viva Rio, a Brazilian-based violence reduction group that came to Haiti
at the request of the U.N. mission’s disarmament program, has found
Port-au-Prince’s armed groups more receptive than those in Rio de
Elsewhere in the country poor Haitians are eating cakes of dirt, and William Griffiths points me to this:
millions of Haitians go hungry, containers full of food are stacking up
in the nation’s ports because of government red tape – leaving tons of
beans, rice and other staples to rot under a sweltering sun or be
devoured by vermin.
A government attempt to clean up a corrupt port system that has helped
make Haiti a major conduit for Colombian cocaine has added new layers
of bureaucracy – and led to backlogs so severe they are being felt 600
miles away in Miami, where cargo shipments to Haiti have ground almost
to a standstill.