The Cité Soleil
The Saint-Alphonse Mixted School is located in the Cité Soleil, a disadvantaged district located 3 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince.
These lands, originally called La Saline as an extension of the current La Saline, planted with hectares of sugar cane fields, first welcomed workers from the former HASCO company in 1963. Then, in the 1960s and 1970s, major fires in La Saline moved families to this area. These districts, called Cité Simone, in homage to the wife of François Duvalier developed in an accelerated and anarchic way until the 1980s, extending to the seaside. The districts built along the N1 national road , on the edge of an industrial zone, housed soldiers and militiamen of the regime and a local workforce, without any rights, poorly paid and in increasing numbers over time and over the increase of rural misery. Economic policies and environmental degradation have forced hundreds of thousands of rural Haitian families into a massive exodus from the countryside. Most of these families went to Port-au-Prince to look for work, and among these families, many ended up settling in Cité Soleil, where access to cheap housing and factory jobs was the easiest.
The state, however, showed little eagerness to build infrastructure and provide social services. It was in January 1983 that the little school created by Denis Puthiot, together with Pastor Justin, was called the Ecole Mixte Saint-Alphonse on the proposal of the Salesian Fathers, and benefited from the Father's “little schools” program. Bohnen.
In February 1986, when Jean Claude Duvalier left, the Cité was renamed Cité Soleil in memory of Radio Soleil which greatly participated in the popular uprising leading to the end of the Duvalier regime. On September 30, 1991, the dream of the inhabitants of Cité Soleil turned into a nightmare. For having supported at arm's length the rise of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, this population has experienced difficult times: rape of women and girls, summary executions, imprisonment, torture, persecution of activists ... However, Cité Soleil persecuted by the FRAPH and the soldiers of Raoul Cédras and Michel François also resisted and even dared to express his anger and his support for President Aristide in the midst of a coup d'état… After the latter's departure into exile in 2004, chimeras and others armed groups commit atrocities of all kinds: theft, rape, extortion, kidnappings, murders. Each group controls its territory and uses the most violent means to protect it. They make the law and terrorize the population. Because of abject poverty, endemic unemployment and social exclusion, Cité Soleil has become a fertile ground for the development of political violence and conflicts between armed gangs and remains a risk area where an explosion of revolt lasts. population.
In June 2002, nearly 40 years after its birth, Cité Soleil was elevated to the rank of commune. It is made up of 34 districts. Many NGOs are investing in the Cité Soleil with community development programs, without really visible results.
Between 2013 and 2015, violence between armed gangs splashed the reputation of the town. In 2016, an apparent peace returns to the city. Since then, Cité Soleil has never ceased to be the covetousness of politicians and has become a fertile ground for the development of political violence and conflicts between armed gangs.
Cité Soleil is the most populous slum in the district of Port-au-Prince, with nearly 500,000 inhabitants in the 1990s, over an area of 21 km². Most houses are slums made from blocks, cardboard, old tin or other salvaged material. In each one can find a family of more than five people. The misery is in the open. The inhabitants lack everything. The socio-sanitary conditions are alarming: precarious health, unhealthy physical environment, pile of rubbish and mud everywhere, serious problem of toilets, very limited access to electricity, major problem of water supply drinking, lack of infrastructure, almost non-existent public services.
The inhabitants of Cité Soleil live daily in the total absence of public hygiene. After each rain, the hygienic conditions worsen, the rainwater does not flow and floods the different neighborhoods then forms muddy pools infected with mosquitoes. Tuberculosis wreaked havoc in the 70s and 90s among the Solean population. Cité Soleil is the victim of several major epidemics between 2010 and 2020, cholera, introduced by peacekeepers in 2010, then those of Chikungunya and Zika, caused by mosquito bites, and finally that of Covid 19 in 2020.
Life in Cité Soleil is synonymous with misery. Food is expensive, and the lack of purchasing power leaves families hungry. Unemployment is one of the main characteristics of the social status of the population of Cité Soleil. Even those who work have great difficulty in feeding themselves, because in assembly industries or other jobs, they earn a pittance.
The inhabitants of Cité Soleil or Soléens and Soléennes, suffer from all the evils of poverty, both on the socio-health level and on the socio-economic level. They are deprived of almost everything. They are not all gang members, thugs, or parasites. This population is also made up of honest people but driven into misery, they are: "needy little people, but also workers, women, children, adolescents, abandoned by the public authorities and taken hostage by the gangs. armies. Food insecurity is increasing every moment.
Cité Soleil remains to this day the most marginalized area of the country. Cité Soleil is the only municipality in Port au Prince without two functioning public schools, without a bank, without a service station, without a youth center, without a vocational school, without a university. It remains at the mercy of armed groups always conquering more neighborhoods.