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Carrefour History, Haiti

Carrefour is one of the poorest districts in Haiti and part of the Quest Department of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, suffering various political and military upheavals since the last many years.

 How Carrefour got its name:

Its name means ‘intersection’ or ‘junction’ and Carrefour has often served as a mid-point stopover for the tourists preferring to visit peaceful places like nearby Au-Cap or Jacmel, which have lots of historical and cultural flavor as compared to its rocky capital city or the neighboring shanty town of Carrefour.

Tracing the past of Carrefour people: rewinding from the present

Its current estimated population of 408,000 comprise mostly the impoverished daily wage earners (with the BBC reporting recently about these unfortunate few, including women and children having to make do with ‘terra’ - mud cookies baked in the sun, for survival).

Just somehow managing to drag on despite the poverty and political instability of lying outside the downtown area of Port-au-Prince, Carrefour though never quite a haven for tourists, did get a decent amount of visitors before the US ban imposed on it for enforcing the return of deposed President Jean Bertrand Aristide some years ago.

This last embargo cut off the small but fair tourism revenues brought into Carrefour, which used to be considered among the major cities of Haiti alongside Demas, Cap-Haitien and Petion-Ville.

Carrefour is also important as a place that ushered in religious change into the ethical fabric of Haiti, which had typically followed African-associated voodoo practices or Christianity till the 1960’s with its Carrefour-Feuilles quarter, that curves up the hilly terrain surrounding the Haitian capital, accommodating Islamic prayer centres around the time and more ever since, which have led to a growing community of Muslims.

However, the volatile political climate in the country requiring 2 international interventions in the last 10 years has impacted the people and its culture adversely so that it is a painful reminder of the bloody, slavery days of its past. While the Duvalier family dictatorship in 1986 was overthrown and democratic rule established in Haiti, Carrefour struggled less to control social inequity and environmental deprivation, succeeding in attempts to draw tourists thanks to its alluring mountainsides, live game opportunities (shooting for sport wasn’t always banned) and proximity to port towns with a lively culture.

Americans visiting Carrefour in the early 1950’ right till the 1970’s found it appealing enough to stay on, mainly because of the warm and welcoming nature exhibited by the natives and small-scale housing being affordable besides the delicious fusion of Caribbean food enjoyed alongside local arts and music performances by indigenous people, when they came aboard the various cruise boats anchoring at the capital city, mostly.

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