political unrest

Before we left Port-au-Prince, I wrote a post about excitement and tension surrounding the then upcoming elections. I mentioned that the main feeling surrounding Haitian elections is usually uncertainty, combined with a realistic acknowledgement of the violent history of Haitian politics.

Well, the elections came and went with relatively little mass violence, but with plenty of ill-concealed fraudulence. There were wide-spread reports of stuffed ballot boxes and armed thugs "monitoring" people's votes. However, even given these reports and an outcry by most of the main candidates for a re-vote, some political leaders were calling the election fair. However, the results were not to be announced until a set period of time later (in accordance with the constitution).

The results were announced late Tuesday night--and no one was very happy about them. Including some of my fellow volunteers, who were supposed to fly home on Wednesday, but could not get to the airport because of the roadblocks on the way to Cap Haitian. It turns out that they wouldn't have made it even if they had gotten to Cap Haitian, because all flights into and out of the country were cancelled for two days. Today, however, the way was clear--at least for long enough that four volunteers made it to the airport and safely home.

Other than this, we have mostly just heard rumors about the demostrations--both peaceful and otherwise--that have been rampant in other areas of the country. In one community, a couple people were killed and a few others injured, and all the government buildings were burnt to the ground.

Our friends in Petionville said that, on the night the results were announced, they heard gunshots, sirens, and burning tires all night long. On the brighter side, we also heard that one of the main candidates held a peaceful demonstration that included hundreds of people marching down the streets of Port-au-Prince.

According to our original plans, Mom and I would have been in Petionville/Port-au-Prince right now, so we are happy to have missed the commotion. We plan to return to Port on Tuesday; we hope that things have settled down by then!

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