Haiti: A Prayer for Hell

Haiti: A Prayer for Hell
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Horrific scene It takes place in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince.

One of the gang members was arrested. His body was burned outside the ruins of a destroyed house.

A few dozen meters away, a crowd of people stands and follows them. A hungry pig searches for garbage near a dead person. Black smoke rising into the sky.

Meanwhile, Pastor Locon Rigaud (46) desperately fled the country.

The trip to Haiti was marked by turmoil and sadness. He was returning home in a state of complete collapse to bury his father.

Now he just wants out.

On his way to the border, he takes a photo of the sunrise. This is how he wants to remember Haiti.

– The matches were in full swing In Port-au-Prince, we did everything to bypass the capital on our way to the border, the priest told VG.

The island of Hispaniola consists of French-speaking Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.

The vacation spot on the Dominican side of the island is regularly referred to as a tropical paradise.

The frequent chaos, suffering and death mean that Haiti is regularly compared to hell on earth.

At the border crossing, those who want to exit Haiti face closed doors. But the priest had an ace up his sleeve: an American passport.

He belongs to more than 730,000 immigrants in the United States who were born in Haiti.

After 15 years in the United StatesAnd with dual citizenship, the priest still has no doubts.

– My home is Haiti. In the heart it will always be like this. But life is almost unbearable in Port-au-Prince. He explains that when the capital is in chaos, the entire country suffers.

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Haiti's history is marked by violence. Built on brutal slavery, the island nation gained its freedom after an extremely bloody revolution in 1804.

– Haiti is still paying the price for the liberation of black slaves, says Pastor Rigo.

– The United States and France always pressured us. At the same time, our leaders have failed the people. Now the situation is terrible. once again.

France is forced In the 19th century, the liberated country paid huge reparations to the former plantation owners, and Haiti was never able to get back on its feet.

The last decades of the 20th century were marked by the brutal dictatorship of father and son Duvalier, known as “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc.” They were supported by the United States.

Since 2018, criminal gangs have taken complete control of the city. Now it's worse than ever.

A gang leader with the strange nickname “BBQ” because he burns his enemies to death has taken power.

But where do the gangs get all the weapons, asks Pastor Rigaud?

Haiti is located right next to Florida. We don't make weapons ourselves. He explained that these gangs have become stronger than the police and the army.

– The United States is unable to stop illegal arms sales to Haiti, but it is able to prevent people from Haiti who want to come here as refugees, explains the pastor.

VG hears the same argument from everyone we talk to in the New York area known as “Little Haiti.”

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Those we spoke to suggest that the overall crisis the island nation is experiencing today is due to decades and decades of a combination of bad leaders and foreign influence.

Anger and disappointment are particularly aimed at the United States and France.

-If you want to survivethen one must leave Haiti.

Activist Pascal Soulages (36 years old) is among those who managed to reach the United States.

-We know that gang weapons come from the United States. The international community supported the corrupt leaders. The same leaders used gangs to control people. She explains that it is a vicious circle.

In addition to the wave of brutal murders, rape, robbery and destruction, the gangs specialized in kidnapping and extortion.

Many Haitians in the United States were forced to buy their relatives free.

– Every time the phone rings, you feel tremendous pressure. “I always think there's going to be bad news now,” says Mark Goissant, 23.

The most crisis When they hear about the country of Haiti, they remember the terrible earthquake that occurred in 2010.

230,000 people lost their lives, 250,000 were injured, and 1.5 million people lost their homes.

The situation is worse now than it was in 2010, says Piero Lazar (43 years old), an assistant priest at the Catholic Church in Brooklyn.

He explains that despite billions of dollars in emergency aid, the country has not been rebuilt.

– The earthquake could have marked a new beginning, but emergency aid was swept away. Now there is a reign of terror in the capital. He says my brother lives there, and he lost his house twice.

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In Catholic churches In New York believers from all over the world gather.

The majority of those who participated in VG's Easter exhibition had a background as immigrants to the USA.

About half of churchgoers are from Latin America, and the other half are from Caribbean countries.

We from Haiti feel very helpless. When my brother calls from Port-au-Prince, I can hear gunfire and fighting in the background. “I tried to register him and my nieces as refugees in the United States, but they did not get permission to travel,” says Yvette Sinville, 41.

-The only thing I can do is pray for them.

New UN report Which came just before Easter, and signaled a disastrous spiral of violence in Haiti:

Last year, there were a total of 4,451 murders, and as of March 22 this year, at least 1,554 people had been killed. People are being attacked in their homes because they are believed to be supporting the police or rival gangs, or are caught in the crossfire.

The United Nations warns that killings and sexual violence against women are widespread.

In his ministry, Pastor Rigaud tries to get support from above.

On Easter we pray for peace between people, between races and between all countries. The situation in my country is terrible now. He says oh my god, I pray for Haiti.

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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