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17

SUNDAY

In 1804, the ex-slaves of Santo Domingo won their revolution against the French and established the Western Hemisphere’s second independent republic: Haiti. Despite its heroic beginnings, Haitian history has largely been one of political instability, and crushing poverty. During the early ’90s, Beverly Bell was in Haiti, working for the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. While there, she began recording the oral histories of several Haitian women. After some translation and editing, these tales of hardship have been published in Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance. Some of the women’s experiences—such as the kidnapping and torture of Alerte Belance—are alien and horrifying. Others are familiar to the inhabitants of the hemisphere’s oldest republic: illegitimacy, domestic violence, and lack of education. Haitians say, “We are dead already so we have nothing left to lose.” These testimonies prove otherwise. Bell will be in town at 4 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Janet Hopf)