Carnivals and circuses offer temporary relief. Very small, very short-term

The Carnaval des Fleurs 2014. Photo: Rashmee Roshan Lall

The Carnaval des Fleurs 2014. Photo: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Even the Haitian government admits that carnivals offer only temporary relief. Welcome relief, of course, but fleeting. One minister told me on the Carnival of Flowers’ opening day that it offered the people “release”, something they badly need “at this time”.

There was no explanation about why it was needed now, but it’s not hard to figure out. (Unemployment numbers remain stubbornly high in Haiti. As do prices. Life is hard. Always. Toujou, as they say in kreyol.)

Anyway, another minister claimed the carnival created “employment opportunities for tens of thousands of households”. An official press release backed up the point. More than a thousand people served as drivers, supervisors and on safety detail. Another thousand worked as sweepers and175 were assigned to collect recyclable items from the stands.

As I said before, we’re talking incredibly small economic opportunity for very limited periods of time. The sad reality of the most fun event it’s possible for the Haitian capital to imagine.

(Tomorrow: In Haiti, elections generally arouse less passion than carnival. Here’s why)