The countryside in Haiti is very quiet. Today there are almost no cars on the road, and most people are staying home. There is a rare December cloud cover, with occasional drizzle, and although there is much unrest in Port-au-Prince, where we are feels like an ideal peaceful day on a Caribbean island.
I don’t know what the news in the US is reporting, and I am no expert on political processes, corrupt governments, or Haitian history, but I am assuming the news is showing burning tires and rowdy crowds. That is accurate, but the real news here is that we are witnessing a country that wants to be heard. The electoral corruption here is at a level I can’t believe is still possible with the information technology of modernity. Last week, the people tried to vote and attempted to do so peacefully – facing intimidation, ballot stuffing, and violence from the government backed party. Still, those who have seen other elections here say Election Day was the calmest one in Haiti’s history.
Unfortunately though, the results of the Haitian election were announced on Tuesday, and it is widely understood that the numbers were cooked. The US Embassy has even stated that the elections “are inconsistent with the published results” and the Haitian people know this too. My new friend, Frank, who lives in Port-au-Prince and daringly ventured out on Tuesday night to report on the situation, wrote about his experience after the election results were announced. Frank’s experience with the fraudulent results corroborates exactly what we have seen and heard, including a classified, chance conversation I had with a member of the US State Department (that’s all I can say!)
As anyone would be, the Haitians are upset. They want their voices heard. They want peace. The phrase, “nou bouke” in Creole, which means “we are worn out” is common these days, as would be expected after the year they have had with the earthquake, hurricane scares, Cholera outbreaks, and now political shams. And the beauty we see is that Haitians refuse to give up. Ever. The people are resilient survivors, and though extremely tired, they will not give up their desire for peace, voice, and hope.
Thus we see, as all of the news outlets are saying, there is much unrest in Port-au-Prince. Unfortunately, the unrest seems to be the focus of the news from Haiti, and not much is being said of the injustice going on within the election office, nor of the noble desire of the Haitian people to participate in democracy, which is the driving them to protest the corruption that is so clearly seen. And while I am not condoning the violence or the damage to property, I do think the demonstrations are the attempted cry from the tired voice of the people who are speaking out the only way they know how.
We will wait to see how the days and weeks ahead pan out. As of now, there are roadblocks throughout Port-au-Prince, and all flights are cancelled again for today. Please pray for Haiti. The people deserve a voice. But at this point, corruption seems to be trumping democracy.