One type of monster that seems to be very pervasive in the human psyche across cultures is that of creatures with the power to transform from human to animal, and by far the most well-known of these entities is the werewolf of legend. Yet there have always been those who believe that these are not merely the product of our imagination, but very real monsters that lurk out beyond our understanding. One such creature seems to have crept out of the shadows of lore in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy in the Caribbean country of Haiti, where survivors of a terrible earthquake have had to deal with homelessness, lack of resources, looters, thieves, and apparently werewolves as well.
The situation was so bad that Cadet claimed that the homeless had set up guard patrols at night to keep a lookout for the monsters. In many cases there has been alleged success in finding the creatures, and this has usually led to bloody retribution. In 2016, three deaf women named Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl, and Monique Vincent, ventured out from the village of Leveque, which was set up to provide homes for displaced deaf people, in order to collect supplies in Port-au-Prince, some 20 miles away. They were later found in a ditch, beaten, stabbed, burned, and with their tongues cut out in an apparent ritualistic murder. According to an Associated Pressarticle on the case, one suspect said that the women had been killed because they were suspected of being werewolves. The article stated:
One suspect told investigators that the deaf women were killed by Gelin’s husband because the family feared that they were werewolf-type creatures called “lougarou,” their disabilities the product of a hex.
In another camp for those displaced by the quake a man suspected of being a je-rouge was beaten to death after trying to steal a child, and in yet another camp a woman was supposedly lynched and murdered while in the process of transforming. In yet another camp called La Grotte a man killed by a mob was thought to be a je-rouge killing and kidnapping children as well. One resident of La Grotte named Michaelle Casseus said of this:
After the earthquake, the loup-garou fled from prison. He was bragging that he was in jail because he was caught eating children. During the night he went into the tents and tried to take someone’s child. He was killed.
Despite the claims that werewolves are running amok, the sad fact is that in the wake of the earthquake relief agencies and the UN have reported that instances of kidnapping and child smuggling have skyrocketed in this impoverished and disaster ravaged nation, where thousands of children were left homeless or orphaned by the calamity. Most of these are carried out by roving local gangs looking to sell the children into slavery for a profit, but foreigners have also had a hand in it, sometimes in an effort to take them away for illegal adoption in what they believe to be a better world. One shocking case of this concerned the arrest of 10 American Baptist aid workers who were accused of attempting to smuggle 33 homeless children ranging from 12 years old all the way down to 12 months old. As for the child stealing as it relates to werewolves, Sylvain Lafalaisse, Haiti’s secretary of state for finance, has said of this:
People talk about loups-garous to give a name to their fears, but it is child snatchers who snatch children, not evil spirits.
It is likely that the rise in reports of the je-rouges or lougarou of folklore after the earthquake stems from a volatile combination of the increased vulnerability of populations affected by the disaster, the opportunistic nature of human thugs who would prey on the weak, and the increased reliance on the belief in mysticism and voodoo magic to cope with the fierce hardships these unfortunate souls face. These age-old Haitian beliefs in dark folklore, magic, and spirits have come to the fore, and may be causing them to project supernatural monsters onto what are simply human monsters, and sadly even onto the innocent. Yet many of these people still continue to adamantly insist that the werewolves, these je-rouges, are real, and that they certainly do hunt the ravaged region of the earthquake. For them the darkness that has descended upon them is not only that of disaster and human suffering, but also of frightening supernatural monsters. It illustrates that in some cultures what we consider to be myth, legend and magic are a reality of life, and perhaps always will be.