For a country with minimal infrastructure and media communications in place, news travels frighteningly fast NGOs, businesses and locals. Today is election day– it is the runoff between Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat— and contrary what you would think to be the case, PAP is a veritable ghosttown, aside from the helicopters flying overhead at regular intervals. Deaththreats were rumored to have been given out to people in Cite Soleil, specifically “write your name on your foot before you dare come out to vote tomorrow.” Pretty heavy stuff. This is apparently because local gangs run the polling stations, and can therefore quite successfully influence the outcome of elections.
This is unfortunate in several ways. First, people cannot exercise their right to vote. Second, fear tactics keep people off the streets, and brings any economic activity to a screaching halt– the last thing you need in a recovering country. Third, it reinforces these tactics, such that they will continue to be employed by a very small, very powerful elite group who have their hands on anything of value in Haiti– political offices, large businesses, beautiful homes, and other associated resources.
Jules and I will ourselves not be traveling today. We may take a walk down to the new land to survey it for additional landscaping plans– we have a team of horticultural students who have volunteered to landscape our new place! Otherwise, we’re resigned to catching up on administrative items from within the hotel (which is surrounded by very high concrete walls and has a guard at the entrance).
Today, only the brave will vote. No one will earn their sums selling foodstuffs or other wares on the roadside, and everyone will wait.