Two years after the disastrous earthquake that left large areas of Haiti in ruins, most stories focus on the homeless camps slowly clearing out, positive signs of new construction, and the sometimes-contentious presidency of Michel Martelly. In June, President Michel Martelly signed an amended version of the Haiti’s constitution. This new version of their constitution grants voting rights to Haitians with dual citizenship, something long desired by the large Haitian diaspora which provides Haiti with around 20% of its GDP. It also reforms how elections are run, though some say the changes are “unworkable from the start.” But does this amended constitution also eliminate constitutional protections to the religion of Vodou?
A 1935 Haitian law effectively outlawed the practice of Vodou as superstitious, noting that “ceremonies, rituals, dances and meetings during which it is practiced as an offering to the alleged deities, of sacrifices of livestock or poultry” could land a Haitian in prison, and fined (here’s an interesting article on the tensions from which that law arose). This law was explicitly abrogated in Haiti’s 1987 constitution, and in 2003 Vodou was recognized as an official religion in Haiti, meaning it enjoyed the same rights and legal protections as the politically dominant Catholic Church.
There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. While we still await to see what the sentence will be for New Age prosperity guru James Arthur Ray, convicted in June of negligent homicide in the deaths of three participants in a 2009 sweat lodge ceremony he led at a retreat in Sedona, we have learned that he promises to never lead a sweat again, at least according to a probation officer’s presentencing report. Quote: “Ray said that he won’t hold another sweat lodge ceremony or any other potentially dangerous activity, but he should be held responsible for his actions, the probation officer wrote.” So I suppose there’s some modicum of solace here for the victim’s families, and the Native American spiritual leaders who’ve long called for such appropriations to stop.
There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. The New York Times looks at Vodou, noting how recent negative news portrayals have “shaken the tight-knit and largely secretive” community. The piece also interviews academic and progressive activist Dowoti Desir, founder of Ogun’s Task Force for Haiti, a member of the Haitian Diaspora Coalition. There’s also a photo slideshow and video to check out.
The unofficial results are in from Haiti’s March 20th run-off presidential election and it looks like Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly has secured the necessary percentage of votes in order to become that country’s next leader. The president-elect has already sent out a conciliatory gesture of Haitian unity by inviting Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, both recently returned to Haiti from exile, to his inauguration. The former singer received support from musician (and would-be candidate) Wyclef Jean, and his Fugees bandmate Pras, during the election. “For me, Mr. Martelly is a clear departure from the status quo … a man with a vision for the future of Haiti, who listens to young voices,” said Jean, whose own bid to run for the Haitian presidency was blocked on ineligibility grounds.