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24069: Karshan: (reply) Bell -- on Vodou
Very quickly, and in skeletal form, in his seven months after his
inauguration in 1991, Aristide invited the Vodou community, or more
specifically the leaf doctors, to a meeting in which he acknowledged that they
are the primary health care providers throughout the country and therefore
should be officially recognized.
Also, at his inauguration at the Palace in 1991 he served the poor soup
cooked on top of three stones, which people say represented Catholicism,
Protestantism and Vodouism, although Lavalas said it was Transparency,
Participation and Justice.
In 1995 Aristide again invited representatives of the Vodou community into
the Palace for a packed and lengthy meeting in which various representatives
got up and spoke their minds in terms of wanting official recognition, wanting
their marriages to be recognized, and so on and so forth.
Prior to that grand meeting, the Vodou community, in its various regions and
societies and groupings, had met regularly to hash out what it was they wanted
overall as a religious sector.
Not too long before this last coup, President Aristide signed a presidential
decree officially recognizing Vodou as a legal religion in Haiti, thereby
legitimizing Vodou procedures such as marriage, and requiring that such
practitioners be registered and pay the necessary and normal government fees
which would then entitle them to perform such acts.
Vodou is overseen by the Ministry of Cults (located on Delmas 33) which is a
subdivision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.