Mayor Heeds Advice, Postpones Trip to Haiti
From Haitian Times
Citing warnings from the American Mission
in Haiti, Mayor Michael Bloomberg postponed his trip to Haiti.
He was planning to take
part in the country's bicentennial celebrations.
"The American Mission in Haiti has asked that we postpone
our visit," Bloomberg said on Jan. 9, two days before he
was expected in Port-au-Prince as part of a one-day trip to
both Haiti and Jamaica. "It's a very complex time
Because a massive protest was planned in Port-au-Prince
for Jan 11 -- the day of his visit -- and because of recent
at street demonstrations, Bloomberg said he would postpone
his stop to Haiti to later on this year.
"Nobody ever pays attention to the small countries, and
I think that [visiting them] shows appreciation," Bloomberg
An invitation-only reception to celebrate Haiti's 200th
anniversary of independence from France will continue on for
Jan. 14 at Gracie Mansion as planned, the mayor said.
protests, often violent, have tainted Haiti's
bicentennial celebration. The U.S. State Department said the
Haitian government has failed to maintain order "and
in some instances has assisted in violently repressing the
Students and groups opposed to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
Lavalas government have been protesting throughout the country.
international organizations have evacuated their staff from
Haiti, the U.S. embassy said.
"What [Bloomberg] got was advice that now is not a good
time to travel there," State Department spokesman Stuart
Patt said. "It's a warning of potential danger."
mayor's aides said the trip was not political, but
a symbol that Bloomberg respected and recognized the Haitian
community's contributions to New York.
The decision to
postpone the trip to Haiti disappointed Haitians such as Rev.
Philius Nicolas, who looked forward to accompanying
the mayor on the hours-long stop to Haiti. But Nicolas said
"There is trouble in Haiti now," said the reverend, a
pastor of Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men Church in Flatbush.
is too dangerous now to go. It's more like we're
fighting independence now, instead of celebrating 200 years.
We should have been further than that."
the mayor on his trip to Jamaica, but as a native of Haiti,
he said he felt sad that tourists are not
safe in the country of nearly 8 million people.
The State Department
issued an announcement Jan. 9 for Americans to be aware of "ongoing
civil unrest and political demonstrations in and around the capital
"If at all possible, U.S. citizens should delay travel to Haiti until calm
is restored. Due to severe limitations on travel and communication inside the
country, the embassy's ability to assist U.S. citizens in Haiti is very
limited at this time," officials said in the statement.
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