Some Americans Ignore Deadline, Stay in Haiti

By Compiled From News Services | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 24, 1994 | Go to article overview

Some Americans Ignore Deadline, Stay in Haiti


Compiled From News Services, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Many Americans in this troubled Caribbean nation seem to be ignoring the United States' recommendation to leave by today, when a U.S. travel ban takes effect.

"I have Haiti under my skin," said Eleanor Snare, director of the Haitian-American Institute, which teaches English to about 2,000 adults.

Before arriving in 1969, "I didn't even know where Haiti was," said Snare. Now, as an international economic embargo tightens, she feels, "In the middle of a hurricane, you huddle with the people you're close to."

Hundreds of other people, though, had a different view. They crowded the airport Thursday, trying to leave the country before the travel ban.

Families laden with as many possessions as they could carry crowded outside the capital's airport several hours before their flights were due to leave. Many more joined the long lines in the hope of taking an unclaimed seat.

About two dozen heavily armed police and soldiers tried to keep order.

The U.S. ban, effective after today's flights, will cut off the main air connection to Haiti. However, at least one commercial airliner is maintaining service for now, and special humanitarian charters are being planned.

The Rev. Wallace Turnbull was born in Haiti to American missionary parents 45 years ago. His grandfather started and his father expanded the Baptist mission on a mountainside above the capital of Port au Prince.

Today, the mission is part of a system of 300 rural parishes that teach 47,500 students in the impoverished nation, where public education is of the lowest quality.

"We are here on a mission to serve God and the people of Haiti," said Turnbull, whose independent mission is linked to a Baptist church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"Bill Clinton didn't send me," he added. "Therefore, unless an act of war is declared and we are ordered to leave," he, his wife and their young daughter will stay.

The U.N.-sanctioned and U.S.-led economic embargo aims to pressure the ruling junta, led by Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, to step aside in favor of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was toppled in a coup in 1991. …

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