Friday, December 01, 2006

Just like that...

Today is the first day of December, my favorite month of the year. Except it's been a while since December 1st was full of happy anticipation for me.

The last two weeks have been more and more difficult. Mostly it's the kidnappings/murders that have me down. Last week, everyone was glued to their radios, listen to this mother's testimony. Her 20 year-old daughter was kidnapped and held captive for nearly 10 days. The kidnappers wanted $300,000 USD for her release.

The poor woman "sells" phone calls for a living and couldn't possibly come up with this sum, even in her wildest dreams. After days of constant negotiations, and with the help of neighbors, she scrapped together a mere 10,000 gdes. Finally, they called her and told her to go to a certain neighborhood to find her daughter.

What she found was the girl's body. They'd broken her arm at one point and shot her. Probably in both eyes. They told the mother she shouldn't have tried to contact the police so they were "throwing [her] back [her] kid".

The day after this terrible interview, one of the employees at work was kidnapped near her home. Which is in the same neighborhood the girl was taken. Those kidnappers (although it could be the same group) asked for the same amount, $300,000 USD. The employee's family paid an undisclosed amount and she was released. She's since left the country.

A few days later, I read in the papers that the body of a six year-old boy was found in Cap-Haitian by his father. The man had paid the ransom twice, in gourdes and in US dollars, but still they killed his son.

Everyday, you hear a different kidnapping story. This Monday, a priest is abducted inside the parish school he taught at. Tuesday, at least six women were kidnapped in broad daylight; all were alone in their cars when abducted. At least four more people were taken that same day. Two high-profile victims were on of Preval's former ministers and a well-know professional.

Wednesday, Thursday, today, probably the same has already happened or will soon enough.

Meanwhile the police says it arrested six hundred people for the month of November alone. Meanwhile, the municipal and local elections are for this Sunday and so the candidats are campaining. Meanwhile, the President, the Prime Minister and nine Ministers are all currently traveling abroad.

The Prime Minister, before leaving, told the press that his government believes that dialog and negotiations are the way out of this situation. One senator thinks that the death penalty should be reinstated for murderous kidnappers. A LOT of people agree with this.

So, if right now, you're dreaming of egg nog and fancy diners, and cakes and decorations, of caroling and gift shopping, enjoy it.

Others aren't so lucky.

We won! We won! We won!

Some good news, people (enjoy it while it lasts). Our very own BélO won the Prix RFI Découvertes 2006.

Unfortunately, I only have links in French at this time. Those who wish to, can listen to Claudy Siar of RFI's Couleurs Tropicales. He does a two-part show from Douala, Cameroun around the contest.

For the record, this is our second win, the first being Beethova Obas, back in 88. And I'm sure it won't be the last...

Ayiti cheri, mete pou yo!!!