Forty-two years ago, my wife and I caught a flight from Montreal to Port au Prince. We went there not as tourists but as observers. Jean Claude Duvalier -- "Baby Doc' -- was President for Life. He was preceded by his father Francois Duvalier -- "Papa Doc."
When we left our hotel in the morning, children gathered around us, hands outstretched, begging for money. We travelled around the city in minibuses -- they called them "tap-taps." Once, when stuck in a traffic jam, a legless man was wheeled out beside the bus, with his hands outstretched -- like the children.
On a hot evening, after a tropical cloudburst, a puddle formed in the streets. It looked like a prairie slough. A woman bathed there, as human feces slid from the shanties on the hill into the pool.
Outside the city, the landscape was deforested. A few struggling stalks of corn grew in the open spaces.
That was over forty years ago. Nothing has changed.