Roxane Gay on 2009
In late 2009, Royal Caribbean opened a new pier in Labadie, Haiti and an area for offshore excursions with a bar, cafe water sports and local vendors. The world’s largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, docked there on its maiden voyage and will continue to dock in Labadie on future voyages. I love this story for many reasons not the least of which is that my father supplied the concrete for the pier. More importantly, the building of this pier represented hope for Haiti’s future because for the first time in years, foreign corporations have started investing in the country and the tourism industry is showing signs of life after more than 30 years of political and civil strife. The juxtaposition of this massive cruise ship, a boat that cost $1.4 billion to build, docking at what the US media loves to refer to as the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” is staggering. I started writing this days ago and tonight, as I finish this brief reflection, Haiti has been devastated by an earthquake which essentially decimated the capital of Port-au-Prince. To have held such a fragile hope for the future of my country in the face of what has now happened is also a staggering juxtaposition.
If you would like to make a donation to relief efforts in Haiti, some recommendations have been provided at PANK, where Roxane is associate editor.