The elections are today. There are two candidates for President. Michael Martelly, a musician, who has the vote of the young people and many of the poorer population, and Madame Manigat, a teacher and professor of political science who was the First Lady some years ago. Her husband was president and was ousted by a military coup. Pere Sadoni tells me he is voting for Manigat because she is educated, she is professional and he thinks she will represent Haiti well in dealing with other nations; also she values education highly. He thinks Martelly is uneducated (no college degree) and is a rough character who thinks he can say whatever he wants to whomever he wants, even if he uses foul language as he does in his music. He tells the people he will give them money and food and housing, and they believe him, but Pere Sadoni does not. His campaign posters say “Tet Kale #8” The candidates are chosen according to their position on the ballot, so Manigat is #68. The literal translation of Tet Kale #8 is “Bald Head #8” which I think is hilarious.
Most of the other Haitians I have spoken with support Martelly. They say he is more for the people than Manigat, whom they suspect is connected to the French elite and will not help the poor as much.
Today we saw several polling places; all were full of people in line to vote. The UN has peacekeepers everywhere lining the streets, and there are international observers as well. We asked to go inside one of the polling places, but two Haitian policemen (with guns) told us we could only go in if we had a certificate for voting. “That’s okay” we said, and did not argue!
Please pray that the elections are certified as fair and the result is the best for the Haitian people. They need a leader to coordinate the relief effort and get Haiti’s people out of the tent cities and into safe housing. Haiti has no garbage pickup (it piles in the streets and is basically an extension of the sidewalk). It has no postal service. People have to buy clean water. There are few schools for the children. Only 3% of the population is over 65; actually 38% of the population is under 14. Haiti’s greatest strength could be her young population if they can get an education. This is why St Vincent’s school is such a treasure. Nowhere else in Haiti could a deaf or blind person get educated. Next time I want to complain about politics in the U S, I will remember Haiti and be thankful that we have a functioning government at all.