Random Violence at the Carnival

It’s been a week since Carnaval des Fleurs (Carnival of Flowers) in Port-au-Prince, but this morning, at the Repheka Clinic at Carrefour Feuilles, I’ve seen two revelers victim of random acts of violence. One of them, a 20-year old man, was hit in the eye while breaking a fight. Fortunately, though the eye is still red and sore, he has no major injury. The second patient, a teenager, presents at the clinic with hearing loss and purulent discharge from the right ear. On the first night of Carnival, the 29th of July, he was slapped on the right side of the head by a man, for no apparent reason.

These two patients were peaceful revelers minding their own business and enjoying free entertainment. Unfortunately for too many of our young men, having a good time at the Carnival is not about dancing the night away, it is rather about hitting and hurting each other, snatching T shirts or hats from people, pouring drinks or pees on bystanders, and so on and so forth—I’ve heard accounts of such despicable acts from a group of young men, the day after the first night of Carnival.

The carnival committee has reported a little over 300 injured people and three dead. However, if you’d count people like my two patients who didn’t get seriously hurt and went straight home, the number of injured revelers would at least double.

Violence at the Carnival runs against the spirit of cultural celebration of this three-day opened air public party. Besides foul language and indecent dance moves, random violence is one more reasons why many of us choose staying home during Carnival and sending our kids to far away camps.