Report on HaitiMarch 23, 2006
Global Ministries missionary Daniel Gourdet reports on a recent trip to Haiti.
On January 18th I took a trip to Haiti in order to continue to teach, as usual, at CONASPEH and mainly to be a critical presence among the people of Haiti as they crossed a difficult period in their lives. I would like to remind you that the interim government, which has been in power since March 2004, organized presidential elections in an effort to bring peace and stability in Haiti. The elections were postponed at least 4 times.
On February 7th the Haitian people said enough is enough. They went to the polls and voted for René Preval who was among 33 selected candidates. Two days after the voting took place with no clear indication of who won the election, people in large numbers – thousands and thousands – went to the five-star Montana Hotel where the final decision was to be proclaimed. They invaded the Hotel and its facilities. They tried to forcibly remove the iron gate of the hotel ignoring the presence of the United Nations troops. Finally the gates were opened to them. As it was really hot, some people jumped into the swimming pool with their shoes on while others went to the kitchen and served themselves. Others went to visit the hotel rooms because it was the first time for them to be in a hotel so luxurious.
The former Archbishop Desmond Tutu was there and tried to calm them, but they maintained a strong will to make sure that their own duly elected leader be proclaimed the official President of the country. To avoid a tense situation from degenerating into a violent catastrophe, the majority of the election Committee decided that the voice of the majority of the people had to be heard. That same night, ordinary people found boxes and boxes of voting ballots thrown away in a place not too far from the capital city. These ballots were removed from the main office in order to decrease the number of votes obtained by the candidate of the people. Fear was everywhere. People in higher government positions as well as those without any position were thinking or predicting the outcome of this discovery the next day. The election Committee then proclaimed the candidate of the people as president for 5 years.
The following morning was very calm. People simply removed the barricades and roadblocks that were along the main roads and went back to their usual, daily activities. There was an atmosphere of carnival in the streets.
In spite of the hardships, financial constraints and roadblocks, activities at CONASPEH are slowly returning to normal with the strength of a living and protective God. For me personally, it was hard to leave Sandra for 6 weeks but it was worth the time spent there as a critical presence and in solidarity with CONASPEH and the Haitian people. Thanks to the Latin America and Caribbean office and Global Ministries for giving me the opportunity and privilege to witness during this difficult situation.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers, and your support during this particular moment. People came from very far. They are where they are today because of your accompaniment. Please continue to do so and we will be blessed.
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