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Culture: The urgency nonetheless to hope in the face of the risk of destruction of heritage in Haiti

  • June 5, 2024
  • 7 Min
  • 12

P-to-P, June 5, 2024 [AlterPresse] — The engineer-architect and former Minister of Culture in Haiti, Olsen Jean Julien, launches an invitation to hope, in the face of the threat of destruction that hangs over cultural heritage in Haiti, during an intervention at the show TiChezBabroadcast on the private station AlterRadio 106.1 Fm and followed by the online agency AlterPresse.

Olsen Jean Julien draws up a grim assessment of the disaster caused by armed gang violence on artistic production and cultural heritage in Haiti.

Faced with this “immense and disorienting” challenge, the engineer-architect insists on the urgency of hope, emphasizing how heritage conservation remains a crucial issue.

It calls for a response in favor of artistic productivity as well as artists (women and men) forced to move, and artists’ studios destroyed in the violence of armed gangs.

“The government must improve security and society will take care of the rest.”

Armed gangs attack cultural spaces without any consideration or concern for their values ​​and this is dangerous, says Olsen Jean Julien, deploring a total lack of security for institutions that protect and safeguard cultural heritage.

Artists’ workshops in Carrefour Feuilles (south-eastern suburbs of Port-au-Prince) Noailles 9 in the north-east), Bel Air and Grand Rue (center of Port-au-Prince) as well as vodou churches and temples were attacked , he denounces, warning of a risk of ongoing destruction of cultural heritage.

The escalation of armed gang violence has pushed a large number of artists to flee their studios and residences in the metropolitan area of ​​the capital, Port-au-Prince.

With the clashes, which broke out since Wednesday October 12, 2022, between rival armed gangs, around fifteen people were killed, more than twenty families affected and nearly a dozen houses burned in the artistic village of Noailleslocated in the commune of Croix-des-Bouquets (municipality northeast of the capital, Port-au-Prince).

Seven people were murdered on the single day of Monday, October 17, 2022, said the Association of Artists and Craftsmen of Croix-des-bouquets (Adaac) and the AfricAmerica Foundation, in a joint note, dated October 19, 2022.

The artistic village of Noailles is threatened by the gangs of Vitelhomme Innocent and 400 marozowho pillage, burn houses and kill, they denounced.

These organizations had asked local authorities as well as international bodies to take steps to stop the massacre, the humanitarian catastrophe and the current destruction of this national heritage.

On October 13, 2021, the hougan and leading artist of the village of Noailles, the sculptor Jean Anderson Bellony, was assassinated by armed bandits, who burst into his sanctuary.

In August 2023, dozens of artists from Carrefour Feuilles (a southeastern suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince), including painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers were severely affected by the violence of the gang of Grand Ravinin the zone.

“More than 70 artists of all categories – painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers – had to flee. The workshops were destroyed. They lost everything: production tools, musical instruments, etc. “, according to a note from the Toussaint Louverture Cultural Foundation, a non-profit company that promotes Haitian culture, in Haiti and the United States of America.

The main institutions, such as the National Archives of Haiti (Anh), the Institute for the Protection of National Heritage (Ispan), the National Library, the National Bureau of Ethnology (Bne), find themselves deprived in terms of resources material, human, financial, to develop operations for the conservation and preservation of Haitian cultural heritage, notes Olsen Jean Julien.

These establishments do not have adequate resources to resolve the problem of heritage protection, despite the proposals made and efforts made, he regrets.

“We cannot develop a serious heritage conservation policy in Haiti, without adequate human, material and financial resources, even if only for planning.” [mff emb rc apr 05/06/2024 10:55]