Just a week after we left Haiti to return back to Canada for the summer of speaking and traveling, news of sudden outbreaks of rioting and uprisings throughout Haiti. The government has been actively looking for ways to raise revenue over the last number of months by seeking ways of taxing the people. They've announced the introduction of property taxes, health care taxes and enforcing city power payment. Most of these things the people have not responded to since the majority of the population is living under the poverty line and are not affected by these decisions. But the announcement of raising the gas prices by almost 50% came with an outcry of warnings back to the government to not carry out such a plan. If so, there would be repercussions of the population backlashing.
The average Haitian that lives on $2 a day already spends .80 cents of that on transportation. Raising gas prices affects everyone and puts an even heavier burden of poverty on the people. This is why they are upset. The Haitian government is not properly managing the country's money. Corruption is so rampant, the people do not trust the government to use their tax dollars to their benefit. If the government presented what their plans of development are for infrastructure with the people's tax dollars, and then followed through, then the population may be more ready and willing to comply. But this is not the case. Roads are a mess, security is an issue, market prices are rising every day, to get even the simplest documentations done take months and lots of paying under the table. So you can understand why the people are so protective over the few dollars they do have in their pocket.
Haiti needs a change. This is the real root of the outcry. The gas price is just another straw to break the camel's back. The people want a change, I want to see a change! Haiti needs a revolution. Unfortunately though, violent protests are not what are going to help change the country. Destroying businesses is not going to help the population. Burning tires and blocking roads does not help kids get to school, does not help vendors get to the market, and does not improve the economy. It cripples the country more. The protests have influenced the government's decisions to recant the rise of gas prices for now, but this has now enflamed and empowered protestors to elevate their attacks against the government. They are now calling for a coup; they want Jovenel Moise, the president, to step down. This is a scary prospect that the population may not recant until they are successful.
The rioting and uprising is currently most prominent in the capital city, Port-Au-Prince. There have been road blocks and burning tires in all of the main intersections and streets, with violent protestors blocking anyone from passing. An estimated 120 American and 100 Haitian guests are staying in a Port-au-Prince hotel where demonstrators earlier tried to set fire to the hotel and get past security, said Stacy Librandi Bourne, an emergency medical professional from HERO Client Rescue who is at the Oasis Hotel. All of the major airlines have canceled and suspended flights until things calm down. The US and Canadian Embassy's have closed until further notice. Rioters have thrown fire into some of the major businesses, such as the Auto Plaza and General Motors, burning cars and trucks. They've also burned gas stations, markets, and attempted to burn a major hotel. There have also been uprisings in Mirabalais, Cap Haitian and they tried to burn the Petit Goave courthouse. Fortunately, there is no activity in Grand-Goave, where we are based, but all transportation and commerce has come to a halt, which cripples the economy and any activities.
So we need prayers. We need prayers for a transformation in Haiti. We need prayers for a peaceful revolution. We need a spiritual revival, a movement of integrity and honesty to come in and change hearts of our leaders. We need godly leaders. We ask you to please join with us in prayer for this situation and for Haiti as a whole. Our desire and belief is to see Haiti arise, rise out of ashes, poverty, violence, and become righteous, beautiful, to become all the she has been called to be.
We will do our best to keep you posted on the situation. For now, we are grateful that our ministry and members are relatively safe, but our heart breaks for our country and people.
"Where there is moral rot within a nation, it's government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability." Proverbs 28:2