Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Bill Nemitz firstname.lastname@example.org
(Continued from page 2)
Captain Gary Esper of Hopkinton, Mass., right, and volunteer Shipmaster Kevin Garthwaite of Wells guide the Sea Hunter to its anchorage this morning off the Haitian port of Les Cayes.
The man then spent several minutes on his cell phone. Upon hanging up, he announced that if Piard, representing Hope Village, returned to the dock with lists of what was in the containers, he would allow them to be offloaded at the dock.
Vital called Piard, who by then had returned to Miragoane to continue seeking some other path through the bureaucratic maze. "Come back out to the dock immediately," Vital told Piard.
While the crowd awaited Piard's return, a member of the Sea Hunter delegation asked the purported customs official for his business card, which he readily produced. But rather than identify him as a government representative, the card said he was Guerda Michael, CEO of Guerda Terminal Inc. The shipping company, according to the card, is based in Miami.
Before Michael could be questioned further on his identity and his role in the matter, a man identifying himself as Vincent Jamil, a government "delegate" from Miragoane, came onto the dock and spoke at length in Creole with Michael.
Finally, Piard arrived and the three continued talking. Jamil, the delegate, eventually said there was nothing he could do because the relief supplies were going to Les Cayes and were thus outside his jurisdiction.
Shaking hands all around, Jamil then departed.
Around the dock, meanwhile, the workers appeared to grow increasingly restive as word spread that the containers were bound for Les Cayes, not Miragoane.
"I don't like the feel of this," Brooks said quietly to his companions. "We need to get out of here."
"Yes," agreed Vital. "I think we should leave now."
The Sea Hunter delegation hurried back to the Mini Me -- as a few angry dockworkers began shouting behind them -- quickly untied the dock lines and returned to the Sea Hunter.
Back aboard the ship, Brooks finally made contact via satellite phone with Boisvert at Hope Village.
It was the first time the two had actually spoken to each other.
Brooks explained that he had waited in Miragoane long enough and that the situation on the dock was too unstable to ensure the security of the cargo and the safety of the Sea Hunter's crew.
Brooks said everything possible would be done to empty the containers in Les Cayes.
The mobile medical unit and the water desalinator, bound respectively for a hospital in Cap Haitien on Haiti's north coast and a church-orphanage near Port-au-Prince, will be returned to Maine, Brooks said.
In an interview by satellite phone Monday evening, a spokeswoman for Konbit Sante, the Portland-based group that was to receive the mobile medical unit, said efforts to get the vehicle to Cap Haitien will continue.
"We'll just have to figure out another way to bring it down," said Marianne Ringel, a project specialist for the organization.
The fate of the water desalinator, donated by New Jersey-based WorldWater & Solar Technologies to the Light and Peace Mission in the village of Bon-Repos, is less clear.
On Friday, the mission's director, "Pastor Bob" Lefranc, came aboard the Sea Hunter and promised to untangle the government red tape by Sunday "at the latest." He hasn't been heard from since.
Boisvert at Hope Village, after listening to Brooks recount the day's events, reluctantly agreed and assured Brooks that he will greet the Sea Hunter when it arrives in Les Cayes today.
According to Brooks, the local government in Les Cayes is eager to assist the Sea Hunter in getting the relief supplies, 80 tons of which came from all over Maine, to refugees from the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, 110 miles east of Les Cayes.
In a brief telephone interview, Boisvert said he was disappointed but not surprised by the news from Miragoane.
The Haitian government, he said, "keeps shooting themselves in the foot" even as the world tries to help the poverty-stricken nation.
"They wonder why international organizations and other governments don't trust them?" Boisvert said.
"Well, they keep proving that they don't have the welfare of their people at heart."
Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: email@example.com
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Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks rides Monday morning through the Haitian port of Miragoane in search of permission to offload the relief ship’s 10 containers and other large cargo. Above, the Maine relief ship sits at anchor.
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Sea Hunter owner Greg Brooks, left, and Captain Gary Esper, center, listen while Guerda Michel, CEO of Guerda Terminal Inc., speaks with dockworkers Monday afternoon at the Haitian port of Miragoane.