48 Hours Since Election Announcement
December 9, 2010
It’s now about 48 hours since the KEP (Electoral Council) announced the results of November 28 voting and declared that Jude Celestin and Mirlande Manigat would be in the January 16th runoffs. Supporters of the very popular Michel Martelly immediately took to the streets.
There were more than simple irregularities on November 28. It was a catastrophe. Loads of completed ballots filled out for Jude Celestin were found in cars coming from the DR even before voting began.
Things got worse today instead of better. Even tonight we hear gun shots and tear gas regularly from the direction of Petion-Ville. The destruction continues.
It’s heartbreaking. I (John Engle) have been in Haiti for most of the time since 1991 so political instability and coups are not new to me. My wife Merline is Haitian, born and raised in Haiti. When she was ten she narrowly escaped her life when a mob came and burnt down their home and cars.
She was raised by her grandfather who was in politics. Her brother and sister also live with us plus a family friend, Fenye. Merline’s step-mother is also frequently with us. For all of them along with Felix, another friend of the family staying with us right now, this is not new.
For Merline’s and my two children, Daniel 4 and Leila 3 (January 2), this is new. Their Haitian-Creole vocabulary continues to expand in ways that are not encouraging: vyolans, zanm (guns), tire (shooting), boule (burn), tire woch (throw stones), met difè (burn with fire)…
The three-mile distance to get here from Port au Prince–even less from Petion-Ville–can take 15-30 minutes depending on traffic. A good portion of it is dirt with sections where cars pass one another with barely inches to spare. You can’t get to our house without a good 4-wheel drive.
The rough road and the feeling of remoteness from Petion-Ville often drives Merline crazy but times like this we couldn’t be more thankful for it. We feel very secure with our family which includes little Daniel and Leila who love being at home playing with their aunts and uncles and others in our busy household, not to mention four puppies, a cat and three grown dogs.
Even now with the sounds of gun fire in the distance, there’s no spirit of fear among us. It’s more sadness knowing that the suffering down below, especially among women and children who are in tents and who don’t have a way to escape is terrible.
We’re also grieving with Haitians who have had such a terrible year. It’s like a year of grief and frustration is erupting with the threat that their right to elect their next president is being yanked away from them. CNN journalist Jim Spellman captures well what’s happening in this article.
We’ll see what tomorrow brings.