Sunday, January 08, 2006

Life Goes on (Badly) in Haiti:

Not much happy news coming from Haiti since we left. The elections have been postponed again, the kidnappings continue, the Brazilian military leader of the U.N contingent committed suicide on Saturday, U.N raids into the slums are being planned, and a general strike to protest the kidnappings is scheduled for Monday.

A little context on the above: the U.N, OAS, and government of Haiti are all blaming each other for yet another election delay. The voter cards haven’t been distributed, among other logistical snafus. Many theories abound as to why elections aren’t happening. Some say that the anti-Aristide forces don’t want the huge front runner and former Aristide supporter Rene Preval elected. Others say it’s the Columbian drug runners who don’t want any stable government that might crack down on the flow of drugs through Haiti from Columbia to the U.S. It might not be any more than the general incompetence that plagues Haiti.

A few white Americans have been kidnapped and also some election workers, which is always worthy for a few lines of print. Some charge that U.N. soldiers are being paid off by the gangs to look the other way and that some corrupt police are in on it too.

Apparently, the U.N is planning on occupying Cite Soleil, home of many of the kidnappers. This will undoubtedly result in many deaths. Some reports say that the General who shot himself at the Hotel Montana disagreed with this plan. The evening before his death, he met with two prominent Haitians, one of whom is organizing a general strike on Monday to protest the kidnappings, who want the slum raids conducted.

How does all this chaos and violence affect our work? Haitian Hearts has five children accepted for surgery. We have brave, committed people in Haiti who are trying to get these children’s visas and other paperwork completed so that they can travel. All of the above makes getting anything done more difficult than usual. Mothers with sick children already have to make heroic efforts to get their children to the doctor. The dangerous, unstable conditions in Haiti result in many “inadvertent’ deaths.

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