Wednesday, March 07, 2007

And when the party's over...

I miss last month, I really do. Last month afforded me 10 solid days of denial. From the chocofest of Valentine's day to a two-day work week (finally Rinse-Repeat did something I can actually enjoy!), what's not to love. As a bonus, the Carnaval was even pretty and (somewhat) on schedule this year : streets full of costumes, inaugural ball on Saturday night at the Presidential Palace, beautifully decorated stands on the plazza, only a few dozens wounded (well, at least according to the police but whatever)...

But it's back to harsh reality ever since. And boy, do we have stuff on our plate!

The banking scandal is dead. It think I can say safely say that. After all the special commission said it interviewed dozens of people and found no proof of Whistleblower Senator's allegations that several senate members were bribed into voting the decree concerning Socabank.

That story is almost dead. The Senatorial Special Commission said it didn't find any proof. Are you surprised? Even better, Whistleblower might even get sued over this.

My take on this is simple: I think he told the truth. I just don't know why or for whom he did this. This is not a country were the truth is made public. I wonder who was coordinating this behind the scenes...

The new thing is that Rinse-Repeat is talking about amending the 1987 Constitution. And wouldn't you know it? The two main issues are citizenship and money.

Note : For those who don't know, the law doesn't allow double citizenship. But the Haitian diaspora (who, last year alone injected, some 1.65 billion U.S. dollars in this country, 77% of which went to food and lodging for the families receiving these transfers) is limited by this law and it's been talked about a lot, especially in the last 10 yrs or so.

Back to the story. The best part of this is that the law doesn't let us hold referendums. So basically, the gvt can do whatever they want to the Constitution and we, the citizens/electors/tax payers will just have to live with it.

So I might just wake up one day and discover that the deal is done and that the "haitian dollar" as ceased being fiction and turned into cold hard cash. Or that all my Canadian, US, French or whatever else friends and relatives will legally be Haitians too! Wonders never cease, I tell you.

All this is part of the great virtual reality show called Haitian Politics.

Real life, as I live it, is a little more basic.

Kidnappings are as popular and lucrative as ever. A friend of mine's mother was the victime of a kidnapping recently. Except this time, they broke into her house in the middle of the night and drove away with her in her own car. The initial ransom was $300,000 USD, I think. Her family negociated a drastically lower price and so now they are broke.

I was very surprised by this b&e technique but it turns out that this is the new modus operandi. Other people have been taken the same way. My aunt's neighborhood was ringing with gunshots recently. Luckily, the people ran away in the night and escaped their fate.

There's something incredibly scary about being attacked at night. This is blackout country, people. So if you have to run for your life, you'll probably have to do it in the pitch blackness. Unless it's around the full moon. Otherwise, zero artificial light. I know several people who've lived through this and they are scarred for life.

But being attacked and abducted day and night isn't the scarriest part. It's the rape and torture part that chill my blood. And the killings. Quite a few kidnappings have been reported on the news.

Recently, they found the victim's decomposing body in the water cistern of an empty house. The neighbors had smelled something rotten. There were also two men, bound and gaged inside the house. The dead man's family had paid twice, for a total of $34,000 USD. They still killed him.

Last night, another coworker was kidnapped. Asking price : $800,000 USD. There are several witnesses, she was with friends.

I'm torn between fear, anger and disgust. I can't be the only one who wonders why this isn't over yet? The UN are allegedly cleaning up the slums of gangs and criminals. And yet kidnappings have never stopped. It's going to be 4-5 years since this started and it only gets worse.

I don't sleep well at night. It's been a while since I had this problem. About six months, I would say. So I bought exercise DVDs and it helps. A little. I drink tea at night. I blog.

Except the problem doesn't go away, does it? I still have to go to work everyday. And come home everyday. And go to bed everyday. And hopefully wake up safe and sound, everyday.

And people get kidnapped and killed. Everyday.

P.S. Sorry the links are all in French, couldn't find them in English.