The situation regarding the Americans in Haiti jailed for trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border without documentation has taken a bizarre turn.
An NBC producer, visiting with some of the 10 Americans in jail, was slipped a hand-written note scribbled on a piece of scrap paper.
“We fear for our lives here in Haiti,” the note read. There is corruption and extortion.” Another part of the note read cryptically, “Laura wants to control – we believe lying – we’re afraid.” Then the group begs: “Please you must listen. We have no way to call. Court will not let us have a say with anything about trust for us. We only came as volunteers. We had nothing to do with any documents and have been lied to.”
The note was signed by all of the volunteers except group leader Laura Silsby, who organized the trip, and her aide Charisa Coulter. The group appears to be pointing a collective finger at Silsby, blaming her for lying to both authorities and the volunteers traveling with her.
They aren’t the only ones. A Dominican consul claims he told Silsby that what she was planning to do was illegal, and the group’s own defense attorney — who, in another twist, has now been accused of trying to bribe officials into releasing the group — says Silsby knew she needed paperwork for the children to cross the border. And a family member back in Idaho says that they’ve known for some time that the group has been divided.
Whether or not the group’s ignorance to Silsby’s plans will help them with their defense remains to be seen. But despite direct pleas to both State Department and Bill Clinton, the U.S. government is making one thing clear: The ball is very much in Haiti’s court.
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