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Haitian bishops declare year of prayer in response to political crisis

“Hasn’t the Lord always listened to the voice of His people crying for him? Aren’t we his people, His flock?”

The bishops of Haiti have launched a year of prayer in the face of a dire political situation in the Caribbean island nation.Haiti has been rocked by protests in recent months, some of them violent, to urge President Jovenel Moïse to step down. Moïse has been accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of government funds earmarked for badly needed social programs.

Time magazine reported that a government program, PetroCaribe, is at the center of protesters’ anger:

Under PetroCaribe, a strategic oil alliance signed with nearby Venezuela in 2006, Haiti––the poorest country in the Americas––saved precious dollars by borrowing fuel from its oil-rich neighbor and deferring payment for up to 25 years. Governments were supposed to use the extra money to develop the economy and fund social programs. Instead, at least $2 billion (equivalent to almost a quarter of Haiti’s total economy for 2017) went missing and Haitians saw few of the promised benefits, according to protesters and local media. Haitian taxpayers still owe Venezuela billions of dollars for the borrowed oil.

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