FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Road to Vote in Haiti

by JOHN CARROLL, MD

I walked to church in LaPlaine this Sunday morning. I usually go to Mass at La Chapelle Marie Auxiliatrice de Sarthre. Salesian priests say Mass and run the parish.

The fifteen minute walk was very easy. There were hardly any moving vehicles in the streets. An occasional motorcycle would go by. The Haitian Government has banned cars and motorcycles from using the streets today for the entire country.

Today is election day in Haiti.

However, hopes are not high that the election results will actually help Haitians who need the most help.

I arrived at church which is a long lean-to. It has a roof made of corrugated metal and a cement wall along its west side. The original church at the same location was destroyed in the earthquake in January.

The church was filled with people sitting on wooden benches. The sun did not feel bad today. And there was a little breeze.

The man leading the services was the “responsable du chapelle” (director of the chapel.) The priest that should have been there saying Mass was not able to get there because he lives in Croix-du-Bouquet and had no way to come to this area of LaPlaine without a ride. And rides were off limits today…even for priests.

So the director told us there would be no Mass or communinion but he gave a great homily and the choir was fantastic.

The director spoke a lot about cholera and how to prevent it and that we must pray for cholera victims. He also told people not to accept money from corrupt people today to vote for a candidate.

The service ended with another long prayer for cholera victims. The prayer was printed nicely and about five people would share each paper with the copied prayer.

After the service was over, a man approached me and said his three year old was sick and would I examine him right there in the neighborhood. After a quick walk we arrived at his house. A large gray tent filled his front yard in front of his little house. The tent seemed larger than his house. His house had been “fissure” in the earthquake and is still being patched with cement when he can afford it. He and his family still sleep in the tent.

On the front porch of his house was a young lady holding his three year old son. The little boy had obvious cerebral palsy and developmental delay and was covered with scabies. This little one seemed miserable.

I told his father that I could not help the little boy with his brain problem but could help with the scabies and malnutrition if he would visit the pediatric clinic in the back of Soleil where I work. The father assured me that they would come next week and knew exactly where the clinic is located.

I met another young man named Jean. He is 37 years old and is an advisor for a Catholic Youth Group in the parish. Jean was happy to report his Group is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

I asked Jean if he was going to vote today and he said yes. He is in his fourth year of “infomatik’ education and he received an e mail that said he would be voting in Duvivier.

He invited me to come with him to the voting station.

So we set out.

We walked and talked about everything. Many times during our one and one-half hour walk Jean had to stop and ask people directions regarding the location of the voting station on Duvivier.

I asked Jean how most people received information as to where they should vote. He said it was listed in many places, but he thought that many people did not know where to vote. He was happy he received an e mail telling him where he should vote.

As we walked down the dirt roads of LaPlaine, it seemed like a normal Sunday except for the paucity of vehicles on the streets. Little kids were carrying water and young adults stood around talking. Men were sawing boards and putting varnish on furniture. Green mucky horrible water filled the ditches along the street just like usual.

We passed a large field on the main road that contains a cholera compound for hundreds of paitients suffering from severe cholera who need intensive rehydration and medical care. It is staffed by Doctors Without Borders.

We kept walking.

Down big dirt roads and little dirt roads until we reached Route 9. It was surreal to see Route 9 deserted of vehicles. This highway runs north and south and leads directly into Cite Soleil. A barefoot little old lady with a long green dress was walking alone on the highway. She did not appear to be searching for a place to vote.

We crossed Route 9 and kept walking down a large path towards Duvivier.

After another half mile we turned left onto another little dirt path. We could see a lot of activity several blocks down.

At the end of the street, where it turned to the right, was a small kindergarten with many people milling around it.

This was the voting station. Finally.

The crowd was mainly young adults. Mostly men.

Four UN soldiers from Brazil stood together just to the right of the front door. They wore “rapid acting” patches on their left shoulders. The front door was managed by two Haitian National Police.

The environment was calm.

Jean simply stood in line for a few minutes and showed his Haitian identification card. He was ushered in and handed me his knapsack to hold outside.

There were three “voting offices” inside. The tip of his right thumb was covered with purple ink.

Jean voted and came out of the kindergarten/voting station smiling.

We immediately left and started retracing our steps towards LaPlaine.

About 50 yards from the voting station were a group of about 8-10 young men to our left. I could see some open Prestige bottles.

“Get out of this country” was screamed at me in Creole. I said nothing and looked straight ahead.

We walked a few more yards and I repeated what had been screamed. Jean broke down laughing and said that they were just “making a joke” and were just vagabonds in the first place.

A quarter mile later we met Jean’s brother- in- law. He was on a bicycle.

He was frustrated and told us that he was not allowed to vote in Duvivier. He showed us his thumb which had no purple ink.

His last name started with “Cou” and the list he checked told him where he should vote.

Duvivier was the 6th voting station that had turned him down this morning. I think Duvivier was going to be his last attempt to vote as he mumbled that “the country would continue its misery under Jude (Celestin)”. Both Jean and his brother in law referred to the presidential candidates by their first names.

So that was it.

Jean walked for three hours to vote and he is a computer student and gets e mails. And it was difficult for him.

And believe it or not, he and his wife are pedalling bikes to Tabarre for HER to vote this afternoon. They couldn’t both vote at the same location. And Tabarre is in the opposite direction from Duvivier. The good news is they have no kids, so no one needs to watch children for them.

Big election day in Haiti.

No school for kids tomorrow and Tuesday. Need to protect the children of course.

During our walk today, Jean checked his cell phone often to get text messages from a “correspondent” regarding how voting was going all over the country. Text messages said President Preval was happy with the way the voting process was going, another message said that there was some violence here and there, and yet another message said that a body was lying on the side of the road on Delmas 33, cause of death unknown, and “someone needs to remove it”.

John A. Carroll, M.D. is a physician working in Port-au-Prince.

 

 

John A. Carroll, M.D. is a physician working in Port-au-Prince.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail