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Monthly Archives: February 2019

We ask for continued prayers for HAITI 🙏🏾

It has been a week since the cancellation of our return flight to Haiti. We are in touch with Annette and the youth who live on the property of the Felician Mission in Haiti. They say that there are calmer days in Jacmel and that people are out on the streets. However, schools and institutions are still not open. We asked Fr. Samson, the pastor of our parish in Jacmel, to look out for those living at our mission and to lend us money for them, so they can purchase food and the special water coolant needed for the batteries that controls the inverter which produces electricity. Jean Philip noticed that the batteries needed a cleaning and more water. If the inverter fails, the mission will lose its power source, which means no refrigeration, no charging of phones and, after some time, no water because it depends on a pump. It could also mean loss of contact with our people. We also need to pay the staff of the Mother Angela Mobil Clinic. We are hoping Caritas International will be able to help.

We ask for your continued prayers for our people. We have heard that the children keep coming to the mission hungry and asking where we are and when we will come back to continue their lessons, the faith formation program, and other activities. Our hearts ache for our children, and we want to be with them.

Meanwhile, Sr. Marilyn will have gall bladder surgery on Thursday, February 28; and on Friday, March 1, Sr. Inga will have her kidney stones blasted. These will be done in two different hospitals in New Jersey. We offer our little suffering for peace in Haiti and a resolution that would mean a new civil order that gives life to all.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

From America magazine

Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Mk 8, 25): So begins a pastoral letter released on Feb. 11 by the bishops’ conference of Haiti. The letter calls for calm and dialogue amid a growing popular revolt that has rocked the Caribbean nation.

“The hour is serious, poverty is increasing; the common good is threatened,” the bishops wrote. “The country is on the brink of collapse! This situation cannot be prolonged. Let us wake up to listen to God, master of wisdom and principle of all life. Let us listen to this people he loves so much.”

Haiti has been on lockdown over 10 days of sometimes violent street protests in February. Immiserated by a 50 percent devaluation of the local currency over the past six months and incensed by alleged corruption within the government of President Jovenel Moïse, Haitians have taken to the streets. Protesters have been demanding, “Kot Kòb Petrocaribe a?” (“Where is the Petrocaribe money?”)—a reference to more than $4 billion in Venezuelan development funds that have vanished under the current administration. Barricades manned by unemployed youth have paralyzed transportation in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Protestors have burned cars, looted private property and clashed with police, leaving at least seven dead. Demonstrations have brought all private and government business to a halt in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in the provinces.

“The options are not clear because the political opposition also has no credibility. Meanwhile, the people are desperate…. For a people who live from day to day, it is impossible to hold on. We’re hungry and thirsty.”

“Anything could happen to anyone at any moment,” Jean Dennis Saint Félix, S.J., superior of the Jesuits in Haiti, told America, attesting to the acute insecurity that has accompanied the popular uprising. The watchword for Jesuits during the crisis has been prudence, he said, “but it is a prudence that is similar to fear…which we must break if we are to accompany the people in their fight for justice and better living conditions.”

Days earlier in a communique to fellow Jesuits, Father Saint Félix wrote: “I have great difficulty seeing how this government can continue because it is being criticized on all sides for its incompetence and its inability to react well and on time. We are calling for the pure and simple departure of the President of the Republic, Jovenel Moïse, as well as that of Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant.

“Parliament is also discredited,” he wrote. “The options are not clear because the political opposition also has no credibility. Meanwhile, the people are desperate…. For a people who live from day to day, it is impossible to hold on. We’re hungry and thirsty.”

“Me personally, I’m suffering,” said Huswald Timothee, a resident of Port-au-Prince and the honorary consul of Romania in Haiti. “I have little-to-no access to water and fuel.” Mr. Timothee spent the duration of the unrest locked in his house, afraid to leave because of the breakdown in public order. He places the blame for the disturbances squarely on the president’s shoulders. “The only solution would be for him to resign.”

Popular anger over the Petrocaribe scandal first boiled over in October, as Haitians commemorated the assassination of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of the country’s founding fathers. “Every year there is a commemoration about Dessalines and the president goes to the tomb and places a wreath,” said Raymond Alcide Joseph, the former Haitian ambassador to the United States, “and this year the president was met with stones.”

Popular dissatisfaction with government corruption was stoked this time by the swift decline of Haiti’s currency, the gourde, which has gone from 64 to the U.S. dollar to 86 to the dollar in less than a year. Inflationary pressure on prices for basic foodstuffs, fuel and even water set the stage for the countrywide demonstrations that erupted on Feb. 7, the anniversary of the fall of Haiti’s odious Duvalier dictatorship.

“It’s no longer a political crisis,” said Ambassador Joseph. “It’s a crisis of the stomach.”

“It’s clear that the people of Haiti are suffering. What’s also clear is that the international community needs to remain committed to their plight. We must not abandon them.”

The paroxysm that overtook the country interfered with the work of church relief efforts and international humanitarian organizations. “With so much chaos unfolding, it’s simply not safe for us to operate,” said Chris Bessey, the country representative for Catholic Relief Services in Haiti, in a statement released on Feb. 15. “As things deteriorate, there is a fear that all of the progress that’s been made in the last decade could be lost,” he said, “and that the entrenched poverty will become even more pronounced.

“It’s clear that the people of Haiti are suffering,” Mr. Bessey added. “What’s also clear is that the international community needs to remain committed to their plight. We must not abandon them. Haiti needs our support now more than ever.”

Archbishop Thomas Gerard Wenski of Miami, one of the U.S. centers of the Haitian diaspora, told America that the crisis has interfered with post-earthquake rebuilding efforts. The archbishop is in charge of overseeing relief funds for post-earthquake church construction in the country. He said that “when there’s [protests] in the streets like this, the cost of construction goes up exponentially.”

As hospitals around the country struggled due to lack of medicine, supplies and fuel, an increasingly desperate population has turned to the church. “We as churchmen are receiving calls all day. People are knocking on our doors looking for help,” said Father Saint Félix. “But we can’t really say that we are doing anything major to help,” he adds. “You just can’t go outside; it’s too dangerous.”

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

We stand with Haiti

When God asks Cain where is Abel, Cain says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Other translations say, “Am I responsible for my brother?” or, “Am I supposed to care for him?” The answer to that question resounds throughout the scriptures: “Yes! Yes! Yes!” We have a God-given responsibility to care for the welfare of others—-especially others in need.

These words keep shouting in our souls as we think of our Haitian brothers and sisters and all that they are experiencing now. Since February 7, there has been civil unrest, demonstrations, road blocks, burning of tires, shootings, looting, deaths. The Haitian people just want their voices heard by their government leaders, especially wanting transparency regarding all the monies they had received to help their country physically, spiritually, socially. Businesses, schools, banks have all been closed; and everything is literally locked down.

We think about and pray for our kids and teens, and all those with whom we are blessed to share life, to work with, to serve and to empower. We were to return to Haiti on February 17, but we were advised by many of our people in Jacmel not to return until things calm down. We would need to land in Port au Prince and then have a 3-hour drive through the mountains to Jacmel. Then the American embassy gave us the news–a level 4 travel advisory, no travel to Haiti at this time of unrest.

Our hearts are aching as we think of those who have no access to food and water; those who cannot go to school because their teachers have not been paid; those markets which closed due to fear. God knows our prayers and listens, and so we pray today that hardened hearts will be opened to hear the cries of the poor so we can be the heart, hands, feet and bodies of Christ for others so we can again care for the welfare of our Haitian brothers and sisters. We stand with our people who desire to learn and grown and prosper. Please pray with us for a peaceful resolution to this conflict and for life to once again grow in Haiti.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Keep praying for for Haiti

Haitian President Jovenel Moise has broken his silence after eight days of violent protests during which protesters demanded his resignation.

“I hear you,” Moise said in an evening address to the nation, televised on the national television station, TNH, and streamed live on Facebook.

“I will never betray you. You are the reason I ran for president. I’m working for you,” he vowed, reminding the country’s most underprivileged citizens that like them, he, too, came from humble beginnings.

Moise has been widely criticized by politicians and citizens alike for failing to publicly respond to the demands of the people. He has also been vilified for his government’s lack of transparency and its ineffectiveness.

Economic hardship

Protesters nationwide have criticized soaring prices, sky-high inflation and corruption, which have led to worsening living conditions for many.

Moise sought to diminish tensions by saying he understands the frustrations that led to the mass protests. Progress takes time, especially for the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, he said.

Demonstrators flee as Haitian police open fire during clashes in the center of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, Feb. 13, 2019.Demonstrators flee as Haitian police open fire during clashes in the center of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, Feb. 13, 2019.

The president announced that he has taken a series of measures to make life better for Haitians and has asked Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant to communicate those measures and apply them immediately. After his speech he tweeted that the prime minister would announce new economic measures on Friday.

“The crisis we are confronting is extremely serious,” Moise said. “The people took to the streets in July 2018 to demand change. I heard you. That’s why I chose an electoral rival — notary public Jean Henry Ceant — as my prime minister. Five months later, the crisis has worsened and it threatens the very foundation of this nation.”

Moise warned those who seek to “force the country in a direction that is not in our interest” that they will not succeed. He said only a multiparty dialogue can solve the current crisis.

Senate Leader Carl Cantave Murat echoed that opinion earlier Thursday during a midday press conference.

Protesters undeterred

According to VOA Creole’s reporter in Port-au-Prince, gunfire rang out in various neighborhoods as soon as the president’s speech ended.

Reaction on Facebook immediately following the address was mixed. The 1,000 comments left on TNH’s Facebook page ranged from “finally” and “nice address darling” to “why did it take you so long to say something?” and “is he serious?”

VOA Creole reporters say protesters were back in the streets Thursday night, seemingly undeterred by the president’s address. The national police, PNH, are using tear gas, according to reports.

Meanwhile, in Washington the State Department has raised its travel alert for Haiti to level 4, the most serious. “Do not travel, due to crime and unrest,” the advisory reads.

Matiado Vilme and Florence Lisene in Port-au-Prince, and State Department correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Pray for Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Sporadic gunfire echoed through the streets of Port-au-Prince on Monday as the government remained silent in the face of protests that have paralyzed the Haitian capital and triggered rising violence.

The normally traffic-clogged streets were largely empty as schools, shops and municipal offices were shuttered for fear of more violence that has already left several people dead and an air of uncertainty hanging over the government of President Jovenel Moise.

Barricades have sprung up in some areas of the capital and other cities, as protesters have taken to the streets demanding the president step down over reports of mismanagement and possible embezzlement of development funds in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

After a quiet but tense start to the day, hundreds of youths from the capital’s poorer quarters marched toward Petionville, the wealthiest neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, throwing stones at houses until police opened fire with tear gas rounds to break up the march.

Police also thwarted an attempt to attack a bank during the demonstration, dragging away several blood-stained suspects and making five arrests. 

Since the opposition organized widespread demonstrations last week to mark two years of Moise’s presidency, smaller and more spontaneous protests have broken out in key urban centers.

In some places, young men have erected barricades and seized bypassers for ransom, while vehicles have been torched, and shops damaged and looted, creating a climate of fear and intimidation alongside the opposition protests.

Taking advantage of the chaos, there was some looting Monday — but traders still felt anger only toward the president.

“What we are enduring today is because of Jovenel (Moise)… they are hungry,” said Joseph, whose stock of fish was totally depleted, of those who stole his goods.

“By selling what they took from me, they are going to be able to relieve their families a bit.”

“We don’t have good leaders: if there was work in the country, this would never have happened,” he said.

Demonstrators are demanding Moise quits over a scandal centering on the Petrocaribe fund, under which Venezuela supplied Haiti and other Caribbean and Central American countries with oil at cut-rate prices and on easy credit terms for years.

Investigations have shown that nearly $2 billion from the program were misused.

A report released in January on the misuse of the money also named a company that was then headed by Moise as a beneficiary of funds from a road construction project that never had a signed contract. 

During his election campaign, Moise promised “food on every plate and money in every pocket,” yet most Haitians still struggle to make ends meet and face inflation that has risen 15 percent since his election.

‘A DANGER AND A THREAT’

“We call on the police to arrest Jovenel Moise because he represents a danger and a threat to the life of every Haitian,” said Andre Michel, one of the main opposition leaders.

“He no longer has any legitimacy: the country will remain deadlocked until Jovenel Moise resigns.”

A mediation group composed of a senior UN official, the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany and the United States, and representatives of Spain, the EU and the Organization of American States, has called on Haiti’s politicians to enter dialogue over the crisis, lamenting the loss of life and damage caused by the protests.

The US State Department expressed concern for its personnel in the country.

“The safety and security of our personnel and their families is our top priority. We are monitoring the security situation in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” a spokesperson said, declining to discuss any potential security measures.

“We are prepared to do the things we need to do to make sure we keep our people safe.”

The Haitian administration has remained mute in the face of rising unrest over the past five days, with only Eddy Jackson Alexis, the secretary of state for communication, issuing a brief statement on Twitter.

“The government recognizes the right of every person to demonstrate and exercise their rights according to the law, but looting shops, blocking streets, burning tires, smashing car windows or throwing oil on the road do not fall into that category,” he said.

While the government has offered no response to the demands of demonstrators, opposition groups have also failed to spell out any concrete solution to the crisis, beyond calling for the president to step aside. 

“We are facing the biggest crisis since 2008,” said Haitian economist Etzer Emile, recalling riots that rocked the country a decade ago.

After racking up a record budget deficit of 24 billion gourdes ($306 million) in 2018, the government can no longer fund social welfare programs without slashing spending. 

“There is no magic wand, but if we do not close the valve on government spending, we won’t be going anywhere,” said Emile. 

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2019 in Uncategorized