Haiti,The Giant Zoo In The World

Jean Pierre Alexandre - March 29 2012, 1:39 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- One senator warned of a panic.

Another said things were going to be hot. Neither gave any details, but that didn't matter: Within minutes of their comments on the radio, hundreds of shops closed, schools canceled classes and seemingly everyone rushed home.

Port-au-Prince, a city of 3 million people, abruptly shut down. There were radio reports of injuries in the scurry home and even a few shootings.


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This month's scare was another example of how Haiti's national grapevine, the "teledjol" -- Creole for "telemouth" -- can quickly add yet more chaos to this already messy country.

It's also a reminder of just how fragile Haiti remains a year after presidential elections marred by violent protests paralyzed the capital and halted reconstruction efforts following the 2010 earthquake.

Haiti has long been vulnerable to radio-fanned rumors, driven by the lack of reliable information, widespread illiteracy and a government with a long history of being opaque.

Now, there are new elements, including social media outlets such as Twitter adding to the fray, as well as what appears to be an orchestrated effort to undermine President Michel Martelly, who has been in office for nearly a year.

"We take the teledjol very seriously," said Marvel Dandin, a popular talk show host with the privately owned Radio Kiskeya.

"Most of the time it has something true but you have to dig for it. You also have to confirm it."

The latest rumors -- a product of political agitation, really -- come at a delicate time in Haiti following Prime Minister Garry Conille's sudden resignation last

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