I knew why I was having these dreams. The anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010—levelling parts of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas, and leading to thousands of deaths, including those of several friends and family members—was coming. And sometimes anniversaries hurt. You feel them in inexplicable aches in your body, or in a general unease that you keep trying to shake until you realize, yes, it is that time of year. Again.
This past year, there has been a lot more than usual to worry about. Haitians have been protesting against President Jovenel Moïse since July 6, 2018. They have been demonstrating against fuel hikes, corruption, and other systemic problems, such as high rates of unemployment, spiking inflation, currency devaluation, and extrajudicial killings, some of which have been linked to government officials. Between September and early December, 2019, the country was on an extended lockdown, or peyi lòk. Forty-two protesters were reported to have died during that time, and more than eighty injured. Nearly two million students could not go to school. Health care, already a challenge, became harder to access. Gang violence has intensified. Greater food insecurity looms ahead. The President refuses to resign. Haitian opposition leaders, some belonging to Moïse’s own political party, have vowed to keep protesting, but most parliamentarians’ terms will expire on January 13th, and, since no legislative elections have been held, the President can soon rule by decree.