It’s more than an un-PC cliche. “‘Voodoo is part of Haitian politics,’” voodoo priest, Philippe Castera tells Marina Jimenez, a Toronto Globe and Mail correspondent on assignment in Haiti. “‘The National Palace is filled with the spirits of the ancestors, and the president must be introduced to those spirits and deal with them.’”
Jimenez does a fine job explaining the influence voodoo has over the country’s politics in her article, “Aristide’s real sin.” In Jimenez’s report, Castera and other voodoo priests — known as hougans — charge that Aristide’s downfall resulted from his disregard for voodoo gods, among whom might have been two national heroes from the Haitian Revolution. Aristide was a “left-handed” practioner of the religion, according to critics like Castera, who explains that “‘without voodoo, there is no government. But Aristide misused the religion.’”
The list of Aristide’s alleged trespasses provide an interesting characterization of the religion as politics. There are some accusations of improper sacrifices, sorcery, and the failure to observe certain holy days (sounds like Karl Rove), but the main source of the gods’ ire, according to the hougans, was Aristide’s political actions: abusing citizens’ rights, creating or encouraging gangs, supplying people with weapons and engaging in violence.
It’s an interesting take on the seperation, or lack thereof, between church and state; whether or not Haitians — with their long history of suffering under violence and dictators — should believe hougan Edgard Jean-Louis when he says, “‘If you do something bad, the spirits will abandon you.’”