Tags: US | Marines | Haiti | quake

U.S. Marines Land in Quake-Battered Haiti

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 09:35 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — American military helicopters landed on Tuesday at Haiti’s wrecked National Palace, and troops began rolling through the capital’s battered streets, signs of the growing international relief operation here.

But the troops’ presence underscored the rising complaints that the Haitian government had all but disappeared in the week since a huge earthquake struck.

Haiti’s long history of foreign intervention, including an American occupation, normally makes the influx of foreigners a delicate issue.

But with the government of President René Préval largely out of public view and the needs so huge, many Haitians are shunting aside their concerns about sovereignty and welcoming anybody willing to help — in camouflage or not.

“It is not ideal to have a foreign army here, but look at the situation,” said Énide Edoword, 24, a waitress who was standing in a camp of displaced people. “We are living amid filth and hunger and thirst after a catastrophe.”

When Mr. Préval asked religious and business leaders at a meeting on Saturday whether they supported the intervention of the United States Marines, the response came with a caveat.

“They said, ‘Yes — as long as it’s temporary,’ ” said Bishop Jean-Zache Duracin of Haiti’s Episcopal Church, who attended the meeting. “We have no choice because the government has collapsed.”

At the international airport, where the United States Air Force now controls incoming and departing planes, Haitian officials are on hand and insist that it is still theirs, even if it more resembles a military base.

“We are like a country whose capital has been hit by two atomic bombs,” said Patrick Elie, a presidential adviser and former defense minister.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010 09:35 PM
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