From Sunday, July 2
I spent the morning and early afternoon with JS and Josette. They have a 16-month-old son, J, and another son due in September. Josette made rice, a black bean sauce, a tomato sauce, meatballs (with MCC canned turkey, a very hot item!) and key lime juice. It was very tasty! Pictures are attached of J and cousin L, age 10.
JS mentioned that the MCC country reps who just left Haiti knew someone who was kidnapped last December--an 18-yr-old Canadian who'd lived most of his life in Haiti. He was kidnapped during the day while he was driving with a Haitian friend along a road that's not known to be dangerous. The kidnappers had guns and stopped the truck, let the Haitian man go (or he got away), and took the Canadian to Cite Soliel, the most notorious slum in Port-au-Prince. When they got their ransom (not sure how much) they let the boy go unharmed. The boy said the kidnappers wanted the money to buy guns in order to keep fighting for Aristide to return (he's in exile in South Africa). The kidnappers treated the Canadian well--they gave him three meals each day and even fixed his truck, which had been damaged when they kidnapped him, and gave him money to fill the tank with gas when they let him go. Guess they must have felt generous with the ransom money coming in.
I asked JS if he thought most kidnappings were Aristide-related and he said that some were, but not all. He said that "people you wouldn't think are involved"--that is, wealthy, educated people, perhaps from the elite class--were behind some/many of the kidnappings simply as a way to make money. Some of the kidnappings are politically motivated, as was the case with journalist Jacques Roche who was killed last July despite the ransom being paid. A UN peacekeeping force has been here for--is it 2 years now? They're supposed to be disarming the gangs and thugs, but have just about nothing to show for their time here. They patrol the streets in expensive armored vehicles and SUVS, but besides driving around we're not sure what they do. They are not at all liked by most Haitians, who refer to the UN mission as "Tourista" instead of its official name, "MINUSTA."