Haitians prepare for polls

Here’s a sobering article about the upcoming elections in Haiti.


My upcoming trip to Haiti will occur before these elections.  I have to admit that it has me a bit worried to be traveling there during the run up to that vote.  Given the heartbreaking conditions of so many people, I would be surprised if the elections don’t become a focal point of the people’s frustrations and despair.  How could it not?  If you are an avid follower of world news, you may remember the political violence that has erupted in Haiti in the past.

I’ve been in Guatemala and Nicaragua during similar times in those countries, and as an American, I was very much the conspicuous outsider.  I soon learned why the State Department warns Americans to stay away from any political demonstrations or unknown crowds of people.  Political violence can erupt quickly and frequently in other countries and as a foreigner it is difficult to see it coming or to understand it.

Political parties in many countries also seem to encourage a greater degree of passion, and perhaps, a greater sense of identity than they do in the United States.  Eight or nine years ago, I was traveling in Nicaragua just after the nationwide mayoral elections.  At that time, most of the cities and towns elected mayors from one of the liberal parties and not  candidates from the infamous Sandinista party.

Let’s just say, that the Sandinistas were not happy about it.  One day, I happened to be riding in a small pickup from a small mountain town, called Cusmapa, to the capital in Managua, with the newly re-elected mayor of Cusmpa.  A member of the liberal party, the mayor became a bit worried while passing through a known Sandinista town.  Members of the party with their trademark red and black flags were protesting the election results by barricading the main highway and tying up traffic in both directions.

Mr. Mayor, with his gringo cargo in tow, and pistol in lap, carefully threaded the barricade as inconspicuously as possible.  While nothing happened, it is still a vivid reminder of how different the world can be and how insulated I was as a naive American.  It is one of the few times during my travels abroad when I felt particularly scared because I didn’t truly understand the situation I found myself in.

So, during my trip to Haiti, I will keep my eyes open and rely on the knowledge and advice of our hosts to avoid finding myself in any similar sort of situation.

Prayers for the people of Haiti and for the new government that they are electing.  With God’s grace, I hope they can continue rebuilding their country and end the corruption that has plagued them for so long.

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