Moise is drunk. When he's not in full swagger, he wobbles. On Thursday night, he's been drinking for roughly 12 hours, along with his crew, a ragtag group of small-time do-nothings and drug dealers. They spent the day battling U.N. troops in Champ de Mars plaza, releasing their frustration about the government, the conditions, the spread of cholera, about whatever is the latest injustice. And now they're celebrating.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm everything, baby," he croons. He's got a tooth missing right in front. When he smiles wide, the gap gives the unsettling impression that he's a kid in a gangster's body.
Moise is led by the equally charismatic, equally drunk, Samuel Pierre. The 25-year-old stands at the edge of the tent city, puts his hands together over his mouth and barks. He sounds like a seal, but clearly the image he's going for is dog -- top dog.
All around us in this massive, winding camp are sensible people who look on -- mothers with babies, parents, kids. No one dares roll their eyes. Samuel and Moise have nothing but bravado, some might say. But actually they have nothing and bravado. They are unemployed, restless, exhausted, angry and, at last, foolish.
Everywhere on the streets around the National Palace, tires are still smoking in the middle of the road, and overturned dumpsters block the intersections. Protesters set fire to cars and threw rubble at U.N. troops and cars carrying aid workers.
"Tomorrow," Samuel promises Thursday night, "things are gonna be hot."
There is a seemingly endless list of things to protest in Haiti -- the upcoming elections, cholera, the U.N., President Rene Preval, the camps, the misery. One look around these streets, though, and it's clear enough why a guy like Samuel would bother to wake up early to riot -- 800,000 tarps, tied up, folded, taped, tucked and leaking.
It's a deck of cards, thrown out into the rain. And this is where rain meets desperation. Where rubble has transformed itself not into houses but into weapons. This is the place where bad boys learn how to do worse. And do.
"I am afraid. Yes. He's risking his life," says Dorotie Amazan, Samuel's girlfriend. "I've talked to him, told him he has to stop, he could die. He's always been like that, not with me, but, you know, tough. And angry."
Samuel makes one demand: no elections while they're still in tents.
"We don't mind risking our lives," he says. "We cannot accept this situation. I swear to God. Anything can happen now."
Mirlande, a neighbor, stands nearby with her baby girl, Taina. Taina was unconscious for three hours Thursday after U.N. troops released tear gas around these tents. There are rumors that two, three, four babies died in their tents because of tear gas. Sure, she nods, it's a political problem. But is violence the answer?
"I have no idea."
The best solution?
"I want to leave this place and stay somewhere else," she says, wisely. So does Michaena with her baby, Darlene. So does Fedline with her baby, Kelvins. A line begins to form.
"You want protection or anything tomorrow, come here, come hang out with us. You'll be with us," Moise says. Then he smiles: that scary, goofy smile. He is a child, with a gun.
"I don't like what happened today," says Jean. He says his friends are not to blame. "It's the U.N. ... It's the U.N. in combination with Preval."
They say, over and over again, that they wish Preval would say something that matters. Aurelus takes out his wallet and shows me his old, battered Teleco identification card. After the earthquake, he was laid off from the government telephone company. So was Eli. And Rezye.
"Tell me something, Samuel," I ask. "Have you been drinking that all day? If you had to guess, how much of what happened today came from that? How much fuel did that give you?"
He looks at the sidewalk. He's sad but angry too. "I'm suffering," he says.
Great leaders have said a great many things about poverty and injustice. What Samuel remembers is this: "By any means necessary."
And, perhaps, he doesn't even know that anyone said it before him.