UF Professor Addresses American Missionary Arrests in Haiti
Ten American missionaries remain in jail accused of trying to smuggle 33 Haitian children out of the country. It's a practice that has been going on for years. It was born of good intentions to improve the lives of children born in poverty. Sometimes, though, the children have been hurt. In this case, group members have pleaded their innocence.
One University of Florida faculty member said they may be guilty of a crime, but their accomplices may have been the childrens' parents. UF Professor Gerald Murray has studied and worked in Haiti for nearly four decades. The anthropology professor has closely watched the situation in Haiti since last month's earthquake and most recently the arrest of 10 American missionaries.
"We can hear about it and say 'Oh they're giving their children away how horrible,' Murray said. "No, it's part of a logical survival strategy that is subject to abuse. You know I don't want to romanticize the system. Many children, who are relocated are terribly abused."
murray says that possibility for abuse makes those unfamiliar with the practice view it negatively."
Murray said many Haitian parents willingly give up their kids with the hope they would receive more food, clothing, and better schooling. An option that has become more prevalent following the January earthquake.
"We're talking about developments, reconstruction of haiti, etc, etc. very good conversations. very necessary," Murray said. "I think most Haitians are trying to figure out how to get out. That's going to be their strategy. And, the main recipient of them may be the Dominican Republic, and that's going to create other issues."
Issues that have existed for years and are just now being brought to the eyes of an international audience.
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