Troubled meat market is key supplier for Haiti’s capital

La Saline slaughterhouse is a nightmarish panorama of animal blood, body parts and detritus. It’s also an essential part of the economy of the Haitian capital, supplying meat to restaurants, street vendors and stores.

Associated Press photographer Chery Dieu Nalio spent nearly a month documenting conditions in the market and the lives of more than 100 people who work there. He found a constant struggle to make ends meet in the face of unhygienic conditions, poor regulation and even deadly violence.

In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, Chalemagne Nepturne blows air into the leg of a goat carcass to loosen the skin, at the La Saline slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The 69-year-old has worked at the open-air market for a year as a “pike kabrit” or goat killer. He is not paid when slaughtering the goats for wholesale clients, but is allowed to keep the testicles and teats, which he in turns sells for a profit. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

More than 300,000 goats are butchered every year in La Saline, at the edge of a slum by the same name that forms part of the sprawl of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The market is mostly a dirt yard, with a few huts made of worn sheet metal, wood and cloth. Chunks of raw meat sit on tables for purchase by customers. The remnants of slaughtered animals are dumped in a canal at the entrance of the market, filling the area with a foul stench and causing flooding in the surrounding neighborhood.

Outside the market is the neighborhood known as La Saline, so violent that market workers and customers frequently have to dive to the ground to avoid stray bullets.

Customers, neighbors and even the market’s workers say Haitian authorities have long failed to take any action in to improve conditions there.

In this Nov. 22, 2017 photo, Monise Jironer 54, left, and her 50-year-old co-worker Etty Felixas, clean goat intestines at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Jironer who dreams of a safer and cleaner work environment says when residents inside the La Saline slum start shooting they are obligated to take cover on the ground covered in waste and mud. Felix and Jironer are former housekeepers who have worked together at the market since 1988. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Butchers are paid $10 for $20 for each goat they slaughter for individuals. They get no money from wholesale customers, but rather keep some parts of the animals to sell to retail buyers.

Other workers skin the animals, clean them, transport them and sell them to customers. Etty Felix, 50, and Monise Jironer, 54, remove waste from goats’ intestines, disinfect them in boiling water and sell them to vendors who make bouillon to sell. They receive 16 cents per intestine.

Market owner Polynice Amboise, 65, said the market has been repeatedly moved by Haitian administrations, from inside the slum to the seaside and back again.

In this Nov. 22, 2017 photo, owner of the La Saline slaughterhouse Polynice Amboise poses for a photo at his open-air market, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “The authorities don't come. I bring all my papers to City Hall but they never get back to me,” Amboise said. “I am not happy with the situation of the market. The workers also are not happy.”(AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

He said that since Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people and threw the government into crisis, he hasn’t paid taxes for the market and the government has taken no action to improve its conditions.

“The authorities don’t come. I bring all my papers to City Hall but they never get back to me,” Amboise said. “I am not happy with the situation of the market. The workers also are not happy.”

In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, goat skinner Sonson Pierre hauls goat pelts at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The 28-year-old, who has worked at the open-air market for 12 years, is dismayed that a market which provides meat to most of the capital’s supermarkets and restaurant, is so unregulated. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Youri Chevry, the mayor of Port-au-Prince, said the situation is complicated by a broader problem of lawlessness, but which he claims is improving. A U.N. peacekeeping mission recently left Haiti and the country is re-establishing its own army, a force supposed to be dedicated to maintaining domestic order.

“Everyone knows that this zone is a lawless area, a red zone with armed people that create a lot of problems,” Chevry said. “Step by step, peace is returning in the area. Step by step, we will get control of the slaughterhouse.”

This Nov. 11, 2017 photo shows the a view of the La Saline slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, Gesner Sagaille 65, scrapes hair off a goat’s snout, at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Slaughterhouse workers complain of the squalid working conditions, but also know they have little choice but to keep working at the open-air market. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, goats munch on soybean pods at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, Gesner Sagaille stirs a goat's head in a pot of boiling water to remove its hair, at the La Saline meat market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. "The market is not only for animals, I am a human being who spends my day inside this market," says the 65-year-old who has worked at the market for more than 30 years and wants authorities to provide sanitary facilities. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, children watch a butcher portion a goat carcass at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, Lifene Dorilas 27, shovels mud and waste at the La Saline slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dorilas has worked at the market for 15 years. His main job is to remove hair from goat heads and hooves. He is paid 40 U.S. cents per goat. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 14, 2017 photo, a vendor takes a catnap on a layer of disassembled cardboard boxes at the La Saline slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The more than 100 people who work at the open-air market find it a constant struggle to make ends meet in the face of unhygienic conditions, poor regulation and even deadly violence. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 15, 2017 photo, customers wait with their livestock for available butchers at the entrance of the La Saline slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. More than 300,000 animals, mostly goats, are butchered every year at the open-air market, a dirt yard with a few huts and tables holding raw meat. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, Lisianne Chalemagne, 65, removes waste from goat intestines, at the La Saline slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Chalemagne has worked at the open-air market for 32 years.  She hopes the La Saline will one day be transformed into a modern, safe market. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 8, 2017 photo, slaughterhouse workers push a wheelbarrow filled with a load of goat carcasses, ready for sale, through the La Saline slaughterhouse yard sodden with animal waste and mud, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Customers, neighbors and even the market’s workers say Haitian authorities have long failed to take any action to improve conditions at the market. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, Difisil Michel does a jig as his work day comes to an end at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Michel, a former cabinetmaker, has worked at the market 11 years, scraping the hair from goat heads and hooves. The 30-year-old would like to see authorities construct a modern-day slaughterhouse that would provide change rooms and shower facilities so he doesn't have to go home smelling like a dead animal. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, a slaughterhouse employee bathes at the end of his workday, at the La Saline slaughterhouse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The open-air market is mostly a dirt yard, with a few huts made of worn sheet metal, wood and cloth. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, a moto-taxi driver transports a La Saline slaughterhouse customer and his newly acquired goats, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)


Text from the AP news story, Troubled meat market is key supplier for Haiti's capital, by Chery Dieu Nalio.