Saturday, April 05, 2008

News from Marie

I just phoned Marie, the woman we stayed with last month and the news is terrifying.

The cost of food has risen 50% in the past month and resulted in 5,000 people rioting in the streets on Thursday. Marie tried to go to work and people were throwing rocks and bottles. According to news reports, drug smugglers have now infiltrated the groups of people who are rioting and are stirring things up even more. They have broken into the UN compound there, and are breaking up houses and smashing them (not stealing stuff, but vandalizing). Four UN vans have been burned. One UN soldier was shot and killed by the Les Cayes entrance on the main road. According to Marie, the UN is pulling out and returning to PAP. The Haitian police have been ineffective from the start. A house next to the university has been burned (that's about a 3 minute walk from Marie's house). Vehicles and tires are being burned in the streets to effectively block all roads. All international workers are leaving.

Marie said she and her family are hunkered down in their house as is everyone else. Marie's family is especially vulnerable because she is white and her husband, who is a black American, works for the UN. Her two children are in danger also. They are constantly hearing machine gun fire, day and night. She said people are dying all around. There is no food; all of the shops are closed; no one can move. There is no electricity and no water.

She said the riots are predicted to continue on until a week from Monday (April 14).

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