Thursday, April 17, 2008

Food Riots

Several people have emailed me, asking how the food riots have affected me and Seguin, so I thought I should blog about it. Last week there were some riots here. Lots, actually. My mom was visiting me, and we were staying at a hotel north of Port for the weekend. On Monday, when we checked out of the hotel, we heard rumblings that there might be riots starting up, so we asked around before we headed into Port to buy meds. The people we asked said that everything in Port was quiet and good, so we went. And they were right... everything in Port was quiet and just like normal. We got all our med shopping done, and then it was time to leave Port and head to Christianville for the night. That's when things got interesting. When we got to Carrefour (the first big suburb outside of Port... built on a garbage dump and always a hot spot for riots), we noticed that no cars or trucks were moving along the road. There were several big trucks parked on the side of the road, waiting. I figured they were waiting for five o clock to roll around, because that's generally when the rioters get hungry and go home for the night. So we pulled off to the side and waited with them. At around 4 or 4:30, a police car loaded with officers with big guns pulled onto the road ahead of us, and all the big trucks that had been waiting revved up their engines and followed the police. So did several other cars and trucks. So, we decided to join the caravan, thinking there's safety in numbers (and big guns). We got about a mile down the road, and arrived at our first road block. There were many, many drunk, hostile-looking men standing in a line across the road, slowing the progress of our caravan. While we were watching these angry men, a rock flew out of nowhere and hit my truck, about six inches below the window on the passenger's side, where my mom was sitting. It made us both jump, but did no other damage. The men in the road let us through with just a few angry shouts and hands hitting our car. Then we just followed all the other drivers who had made it through the blockade. The cops with their guns stopped driving after awhile and turned back, leaving us on our own. Thankfully, though, we didn't encounter any more active blockades. There was plenty of evidence of previous ones, however. Every couple of miles we drove through areas with black scars on the road from tires that had burned there, and huge amounts of shattered glass. In some places, people were out in the road with brooms, sweeping up the glass as non-chalantly as if it were leaves in fall.
When we arrived in Christianville, we decided that we would spend the night, and then leave for Seguin very early the next morning, before the rioters got going. That plan was thwarted, though. I had a flat tire from all the glass in the road, and in the time it took me to fix it, the rioters got started and blocked our way out. The next day, we attempted to go to Seguin again, but had the same luck. Looking back, I know it was God's protection that kept us from travelling on those days. On Saturday the riots ended, my mom flew home, and then on Monday I drove back to Seguin. I saw evidence of last week's road blocks every couple of miles, even along the mountain roads. When Aristid was ousted, which was the last time road blocks were put up, they didn't make it to the mountains.... it was isolated to the cities and major roads. I guess this time it is different, since it is about food costs, and the mountain poor people are hit hardest by that. Unfortunately, it's not usually the hungriest that are out in the streets rioting, but instead the young, bored and unemployed.
Seguin was affected by the riots in a few ways. A large truck carrying rice and other provisions was looted on its way up the mountain. Many women here in seguin had their goods stolen, and are now in worse shape than before. There were also rumors that one of our local christian youth were involved in the looting, which made me so sad to hear.
So, now that the prime minister is gone and the price of rice is supposedly going to be lower, the people are somewhat appeased, and the riots have stopped. Please pray for peace here.

Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place. You will protect me from trouble, and surround me with songs of deliverance.