Jean-Bertrand Aristide says he’s ready to leave for Haiti right now – complete with medical supplies – but has only made it as far as Joburg’s OR Tambo airport. His message is clear: let me back into my country and let me help.
The former leader of Haiti held a press conference at an airport hotel on Friday, a location he said was symbolic of his willingness to fly straight to the island whenever he could. What he studiously did not say is why he was not already airborne. Not once did he mention the current rulers of Haiti, his relationship with the United States or, in fact, anything at all relating to politics.
“When we think of their suffering,” he read from his statement, “we feel deeply and profoundly that we should be there, in Haiti, with them, trying our best to prevent death.” Shortly afterwards he left the press conference organised by his South African hosts, ignoring the questions shouted at him by journalists.
Perhaps he is carefully avoiding being accused of politicking while tens of thousands lie dead and thousands more are dying. Just walking from his car to the room where the press conference was held took him past two televisions, both running near-constant images of crushed children and piles of bodies.
By Phillip de Wet
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