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28637: Morse(comment) Confessions of a Hotelier
I live in Port-au-Prince. The last time my life was verbally threatened
wasn't by a gang member and it wasn't by the local police (they usually
by act). It was by a fellow from the State Department. He came over one
Thursday night, before a RAM show, with his friend, the new American
Haiti. I don't usually come out and chat before shows but I always feel a
need and a duty to be gracious to the diplomatic community.
So we're sitting at the table, mostly small talk, when the new ambassador
gets up and goes to the bathroom. The tone at the table immediately changed.
State Department guy leaned over and said, in so many words, <I don't want
you to do anything that will jeopardize the new ambassador's career>. <This
is the most connected ambassador that has ever been sent to Haiti>. I was a
little taken aback, to say the least. The <or else...> was implied by his
He then mentioned an incident between a Vanity Fair reporter and an American
Ambassador that happened more than fifteen years ago. <This fellow has done
his homework> I thought to myself.
A few months later, Latortue's police, headed by Leon Charles came into a
RAM show and arrested three of my musicians at around midnight. No warrants, no
nothing. I got no reaction from the American embassy. Fortunately I had some
friends at the Pentagon and at the American Embassy in the Dominican Republic
and some friends in the Haitian police. My musicians were brought back to
the hotel the next afternoon at 3pm by the Haitian police. Some money
hands as a sign of goodwill.
For the next couple of weeks masked Haitian policemen came to visit RAM
night, fully armed. When the Embassy's political officer came by, the police
wouldn't. When the political officer didn't come by, the masked policemen did.
It was almost like a waltz. That too came to a stop.
The Ambassador was eventually <let go>, as was the Chief of Police.
The State Department guy did tell me one thing of interest however. He said,
<When you're an American, living abroad, there is no Republican or Democrat>.
Bureaucrats are in a position to do things or not do things that can greatly
affect our careers or our lives. That particular ambassador may have been
incompetent and he may have harbored some bad feelings against me, but he was
still my ambassador and I wish him the best in his present career. And, as for
RAM, whether or not my musicians get visas, the consulate is still my