As Food Distribution Improves, Haitians Want U.S. to “Take Over”

imageHaitians line up for food in downtown Port-au-Prince. They had to disperse after people in the front of the line broke through and grabbed all the food being distributed. Photo: Carol GuzyThe Washington Post.  Click to see full size

By Peter Slevin; Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — International relief organizations backed by American soldiers delivered hundreds of tons of rice to homeless residents of the Haitian capital Sunday, laboring to ease a food shortage that has left countless thousands struggling to find enough to eat.

But even as food-aid workers enjoyed their most successful day since the Jan. 12 earthquake, the increasingly prominent role of U.S. troops and civilians in the capital is creating high expectations that the Obama administration is struggling to contain.

The needs are extraordinary, and the common refrain is that the Americans will provide.

"I want the Americans to take over the country. The Haitian government can’t do anything for us," said Jean-Louis Geffrard, a laborer who lives under a tarp in the crowded square. "When we tell the government we’re hungry, the government says, ‘We’re hungry, too.’ "