Haiti Unrest

Oct 8, 2019

Youth in Need of Hope and a Future

They are called the Petrochallengers. They are an ad-hoc group of 20– and 30-year-olds across Haiti who have called for peaceful protests over the past year in Haiti.

The group formed through Twitter and social media and are asking for accountability of their leaders after a government auditor’s report detailed in August 2017 how $1.7 billion dollars received to aid the country through Venezuela’s discounted PetroCaribe oil alliance program was embezzled or misused by Haiti’s politicians.

The PetroCaribe program, the result of an agreement that the Haitian government reached with Venezuela in 2006, was meant to give Haiti fuel at half the market price ($100/barrel at that time) and for the Haitian government to grant loans for development projects — such as housing, schools, hospitals and roads — through domestic oil sales.

But the report shows that many of the funded projects were never completed, and auditors say that $1.7 billion went missing between 2008 and 2016. The report implicates 15 former ministers and senior officials along with a company once headed by the current President — Jovenel Moïse.

In February of this year, political opponents of the President added their voice to the movement, but with the intent on ousting the President. This led to violent uprising throughout much of Port-au-Prince. On April 9, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory for Haiti due to the protests on the streets. After it was clear the President was not going to resign, the protests have lessened. On June 11, the State Department reduced the travel advisory back to a Level 3.

We praise God that over the course of this past spring and summer, only two U.S. volunteer mission teams have been forced to postpone their visit due to this unrest and all three of our summer leadership camps were held without any security problems.

Haiti is a young country: More than half of the population of 11 million is under 25 years old and more than half the country (6 million) live below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 per day. Many of these young people are in need of education and jobs and a way to use their God-given talents. They need to know that they are valued by God and not been abandoned without hope and a future.

Let’s not underestimate what the transformed lives of a few young people who are led by the Spirit of God can do to transform a country. Please pray for the country, for its leaders, and for our Haiti and US staff and educators as we work together to transform the lives of Haitian young people to become everything God desires them to be in their home, church, community, and nation.

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