I first heard the term RED ZONE in reference to the WAR in IRAQ. The term seemed to imply that if you entered the RED ZONE of Iraq and you were an American or if you could be mistaken for an American, then you would either be killed or kidnapped. The other rating I read about was GREEN ZONE which, from the press reports, seemed to imply; a militarily secured area where though you could still be killed or kidnapped or blown up by a roadside bomb, it was less likely to happen.
The first time I heard these terms in Haiti was seven or eight years ago when an effort was being made to topple President Aristide's government by an alliance of Haiti's Economic Elites and THE powers in Washington DC. The PEACE CORPS, who used to love staying at the Hotel Oloffson and dancing to my band RAM were told they could no longer do so; they were told they had to move to a Green Zone hotel in Petionville or they would be forced to leave the country (which happened anyway).
Now I don't live in a dangerous part of Port au Prince by any real security standards so I didn't initially pay much attention to the label. It's easy to develop enemies in a place like Haiti especially if you say things that people don't like. Eventually I realized that the RED ZONE concept had morphed into another reality. RED ZONE now began to mean; "we don't want you to spend money there". "We don't want you hanging out there." "Thats a poor or middle class area and we don't want you or us to be seen there." "We want you to go spend your money in the GREEN ZONE." "We want you to go to these specific hotels, these restaurants and this part of town." "If you don't comply, we will fire you or you will lose your funding." When RED ZONE/GREEN ZONE took on these new attributes, I began to write about it on the Internet.
Today, perhaps because of Internet ridicule, there's a new kind of RED ZONE. It's the one where some people tell you you're not in the RED ZONE, and the map shows that you're not in the RED ZONE. yet "people in the know" tell you, "Rich, believe me, you're in the RED ZONE"... or someone else says simply, "I'm not allowed to go there".. Or even better; "I'm sorry, can we meet at MY place; I could get in trouble if go there." "I hear the band is really good, I wish I could go." "Why do they go on so late?"
My favorite RED ZONE comment of all time is: "If you stop blogging for 6 months, we'll CONSIDER taking you out of the RED ZONE". (I was told that by Ray Kelly's advance team.)
I've developed a term to apply to these new security conditions:
The new term I'm applying is the STEALTH RED ZONE or simply the STEALTH ZONE. "No, I'm not in the RED ZONE, I'm in the STEALTH ZONE": you have to navigate this zone "under the radar". You have to come here when your boss doesn't know you're out. You can come here but you can't be "seen" here. You have to get your own car and/or driver or car pool to get here. As with the RED ZONE, you can lose your job or your funding for being seen here. Coming to the Stealth Zone can perhaps be equated to taking the "A train" to Harlem during the early days of the Jazz era or getting fake ID when you were seventeen so you could buy liquor or go to a club.
I don't want to say that these Zone determinations are "racist" because all zones in Haiti are Black. I don't want to say that these "security" determinations are "corrupt" because i don't know if if the OAS or the UN were getting kickbacks from the Montana Hotel to send all their people there. I do however know that if you looked at real statistics on crime in Haiti you would find that these so called Green Zones have often led Haiti in Kidnapping and murder.
Imagine that. Two kidnappings in the Petionville GREEN ZONE just last week and the International press decides that they're not going to say anything about it. A collective press "HUSH". Then some jerk spouts out about the kidnapping on TWITTER!! Why? Because that guy on TWITTER knows that if the kidnapping had happened in his RED part of town, everyone in the Hemisphere would be saying, "You see? We told you it wasn't safe there!!"
To further prove my point, these two kidnappings happened in Petionville but out of the blue, suddenly there were four other murders "in the Haitian capital" and downtown Port au Prince is off limits after dark. Still no mentions of restricting movement because of danger in Petionville. The referred to curfew in the newest article is 1AM for embassy personnel, and 6pm for relief workers, last I heard.
Matt Damon's new movie GREEN ZONE should definitely have been filmed in Petionville Haiti (Petionville is the wannabee GREEN ZONE capitol of the World) and the movie should have starred Wyclef Jean who is said to have a $105,000 YELE/HAITI AID GIRLFRIEND. (An A.D.D. moment, sorry)
I don't expect the term "Stealth Zone" to catch on just like the term EarthQuake "SAMSON" (another name I came up with) never really caught on. What was I thinking? Imagine giving a Biblical reference to an EarthQuake that 1) destroyed the infrastructure of a government, 2) killed local UN leadership; 3) is forcing us to re-evaluate HAITI/UN/WASHINGTON policies. Who am I to imply that GOD didn't like what was going on down here in Haiti. Imagine that, an EarthQuake named SAMSON!!" Well, to tell you the truth it could have been a lot worse. GOD could have sent an EarthQuake named NOAH!! Then we'ld all be goners!