A Day of Protests and a Gas Shortage Part 2
Until March 2 (the event is March 1 at Deerwood Country Club), I am going to start every blog with an invitation to learn more about our Jacksonville Fundraiser “A Taste of Haiti.” This event is very important for All Things New every year, and especially this year as we begin some new initiatives. If you would like to learn more and/or register for this event, please click here. Also, it seems like the last few blogs have not been sent out via email due to a technical issue, so you may have missed a couple and I believe that issue has been resolved.
As many of you know, yesterday was a day filled with protests and manifestations in the streets of Port Au Prince and many surrounding cities. If you missed yesterday’s post about some of the foundational issues, click here to read it so that today’s post makes a little more sense. Today is a continuation of yesterday as people have taken to the streets again to protest all that is going on in this nation. Please pray for Haiti and that a peaceful solution would come to pass. There are so many things happening right now that I cannot see a peaceful end without GOD’s intervention. Here are some of the things that are happening right now as a result of those foundational problems I mentioned yesterday:
- The gourde (Haiti’s currency) is depreciating at an alarming rate. When we first began exchaning money in Oct. 2014 it was 42HTG to $1, the rate is currently 85HTG to $1 and the rate of depreciation seems to be accelerating daily (it was 70 to 1 as recently as October). While this does not affect us or our employees (we pay in American dollars) a lot, it does effect the general population as the cost of living continues to increase with the devaluation of their currency.
- The UN left Haiti almost a year ago, and an estimated $3 million per year that went directly to jobs, paying local sellers and restaurants, and other spending that went directly into the local economy. Not to mention the added security that has gone away.
- Many NGOs (non profits essentially) came in for disaster relief after the earthquake and have subsequently closed their doors. There is no estimate as to how much this has cost local economies, but I would venture to guess it is a lot more per year than the UN.
- The government cannot pay teachers so teachers are staying home rather than going to school. Students in turn are taking to the streets to show their displeasure at not having school and their protests often include throwing rocks at passing cars.
- Haiti now, as opposed to their previous deal with Venezuela, has to purchase gas from America (specifically a company based in Texas) at a higher price. When the government tried to raise prices, the country took to the streets in one of the most violent protests I have ever seen (click here for that story). For that reason, gas prices continue to rise, the currency continues to fall (gas is purchased in American dollars and sold in Haitian Gourdes) and the government continues to subsidize the price to keep it artificially low. This cannot continue.
- There is a gas shortage in the country because the Government cannot pay the gas company. About a year ago, a Presidential decree stated that the only entity that could purchase and import gas was the Haitian government at the expense of private companies. In January, the government did not have the money to purchase the latest shipment of gas and had been late on numerous shipments over the past year. Because of that, there have been boats anchored off of the Haitian shore waiting for payment to bring in gas.
- Electricity continues to be rationed even more than usual because much of the electricity produced by EDH (the power company) are produced with gas and diesel generators.
These issues (along with many others) have sent this nation into a social, political, and economic tailspin. Prices of everyday goods are rising so dramatically that people are not eating. Without gas even moto and taxi drivers will not be able to find work. People are calling for the removal of the current President at an almost unheard of rate. In this country, with very little recourse available to the population, they take to the streets. They loot shops, shutdown public transportation, set cars on fire, and even today they set a hotel on fire. Early reports say there were 7 people killed, 33 injured, and 19 cars set on fire during the protests yesterday.
It is hard to see a way out of this, but I know that many people smarter than me are working on solutions. Usually, those solutions include other countries coming in and providing aid in different forms, but that is not a real solution. Please join me in praying that the leadership of Haiti steps up and helps transition this nation into a new age. We need a miracle so we need your prayers.