Canadian doctor recounts 'hair-raising' experience trying to escape Haiti protests
Protests left dozens of Canadians unable to reach airport
A Canadian doctor has described her "hair-raising experience" as she tried to make her way out of Haiti, amid the recent violent protests that have gripped the country.
"There were numerous roadblocks, some of them manned by angry demonstrators, some of them just consisting of burning tires and vehicles and trees," said Dr. Heather Dow, an emergency room doctor from Woodstock, N.B.
Dow was in Haiti as part of a medical team providing free healthcare to mountain villages, her seventh such trip to the Caribbean nation. As the unrest worsened, her group decided to head to the airport in the capital Port-au-Prince.
"We made our way through numerous of these roadblocks, sometimes negotiating with people, sometimes we had to pay, and then we finally made it to Port-au-Prince, about 30 minutes from the airport," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
At that point, they were told the road ahead was worse than what they had already faced, she said.
"I've never been in the middle of an angry mob that threatened physical injury to me before, that was certainly a new experience," she said.
Daily demonstrations have rocked the country since Feb. 7, as thousands take to the streets over skyrocketing inflation and accusations of corruption. The unrest has stopped humanitarian aid from reaching those who need it and also made it difficult for foreign workers and holidaymakers — including dozens of Canadians — from leaving.
Dow and her group were supposed to leave Haiti on Wednesday, but eventually managed to fly back to Canada, via a night in Portland, Maine, on Saturday.
Prime Minister Jean-Henry Ceant announced nine measures to alleviate the country's economic crisis on Saturday, but further protests are planned for the coming week.
To discuss the unrest, Tremonti was joined by:
- Carel Pedre, Haitian journalist and media personality based in Port-au-Prince
- Dr. Heather Dow, a Canadian doctor who was stuck in Haiti but returned home on Saturday
- Jennifer Sydney, director of the theatre troupe Main dans la Main
Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.
Produced by Jessica Linzey, Idella Sturino and Danielle Carr.