Another view of the attentive audience at the Liberez la Parole festival at the Biblioteque of Gonaives, Haiti. The audience asked a number of difficult questions of the participants ranging from overreach by the Martelly government to the formation of a new Haitian army. We also discussed the role of PEN American Center in holding the U.S. government accountable and the role of PEN International in promoting free expression, among other issues.
There is little doubt that Haitians eagerly participate in questions regarding literature and government—in 90 degree heat and humidity—as we had to close the session early to run to the Alliance Francaise across town for the final panel of the evening. The event caps off a long day of a beautiful drive through the rice paddies of the Artibonite valley to Gonaives, a town known for its history of defiance. The Haitian revolution, I´m told, began here, the first Constitution was signed here, and Gonaives formed the heart of the popular protests that ousted Baby Doc in 1986.