Presidential elections take place tomorrow, Sunday. Traditionally, elections in Haiti mean rioting and violence. Many schools and businesses closed on Friday and won't reopen until Tuesday in anticipation of ugly situations in the streets.
Posters with the faces of each candidate smother the city. They are attached to every surface: walls, cars, electrical poles, billboards, motorcycles, tents, even people. Political rallies have been taking place for the past week or so, generally consisting of a crowd of about 100 people marching down the street, playing drums, honking horns, yelling, laughing and waving posters. On Thursday, when I was making my way from clinic to Thanksgiving dinner, I maneuvered around 3 very large rallies for 3 different candidates on main Delmas. They were intimidating, especially the one at a large intersection that had collected close to a thousand participants. Fortunately, none of them turned violent and so far, things have been completely calm in the Delmas area this weekend.
Everyone asks me about the candidates, but I truly don't know much. Jude Celestin (middle photo, green and yellow poster) is the son-in-law of current President Preval, so he has lots of money and is backed by the acting government. He is also soundly disliked by the Haitian populace. Rioting crowds in Cap Haitien have been burning posters of him and rumor is that the streets will explode if he wins the election. Wilson Jeudy is currently the mayor of Delmas. All I've seen him do during his years in office is rebuild his own mayor's offices, bulldoze 300 homes in my ravine, and force the demolition of all walls that were built within 3 meters of the road. He won't be getting my vote. Sweet Mickie Martelly (above photo, red posters) is a musician and he is the one that my neighbors seem to be least leery about. As Alix says, "He's the only one of the candidates that hasn't been in politics yet so we don't know if he's corrupt. We might as well try him out!"
Alix is the only one of my Haitians friends who has answered "Yes" when I asked if he was going to vote tomorrow. Everyone else either laughs at me - how humorous that American Kez thinks that it's actually worthwhile to vote - or they shake their heads solemnly at me and say that they are afraid to be out in the streets on election day.
I seem to always be asking for prayer, but here I go again. Pray with me that this election day will happen without violence and that God's man will be placed into office. This nation is crying out for a leader who cares more about his people than about his pockets. God, provide!