Port-au-Prince, Haiti (December 29, 2010)-United States aid worker Paul Waggoner has been released from Haiti’s National Penitentiary. Waggoner’s nonprofit corporation, Materials Management Relief Corps (MMRC), is ecstatic to report that Waggoner is being transported to a safe location where he will receive immediate medical attention.
Waggoner spent 18 harrowing days incarcerated in Haiti, accused of kidnapping a child despite undeniable evidence that the child in question had died at Haitian Community Hospital last February. The child’s death certificate confirmed this information. A board-certified, American physician signed an affidavit stating that the child in question died and the father viewed the body. The doctor’s affidavit also acknowledged that the father declined to take the child’s body as he did not have the resources to bury it, instead allowing the hospital to dispose of the body.
No charges were brought against Waggoner – who is known as Little Paul or LP – even though he was held in the notoriously dangerous penitentiary for two weeks. His co-founder of MMRC is Paul Sebring, known as Big Paul or BP.
“LP and I cannot thank everyone enough for going through this hell with us, and making LP’s voice heard to the masses, fighting to clear his name and now we are so glad it is finally over,” said Sebring. “This has been a tremendously difficult time for MMRC but it is not the end of us. We will continue to help those that cannot help themselves. I will not leave LP’s side until he has made a full recovery from his time in the Haitian National Penitentiary.”
The conditions in Haiti’s National Penitentiary are horrific. According to a Pulitzer Center report, as many as 67 inmates are crowded into 20-by-20 foot cells without plumbing in lockdown conditions. Diseases, like tuberculosis and AIDS, are rife in the prison. Haiti is also currently battling a cholera epidemic, a disease which can be deadly if not treated promptly.
“I could have continued working in Haiti and would’ve been happy,” said Waggoner. “It saddens me that MMRC’s mission has to be put on the back burner here and hurts me to the core that the kids we aided in the orphanages must feel abandoned. I love Haiti and fear this incident will stop many aid workers from coming to help. Please don’t punish the Haitian people. I pray one day that they will be blessed with the life every human on earth deserves.”
American businessman Jack Aronson, founder of Garden Fresh Gourmet, a $90-million fresh salsa and chip company, worked alongside Waggoner in Haiti in early November.
“There is no better way to ring in the new year than to see Little Paul walk free,” Aronson said. ”The passion he has shown in his tireless efforts to help the impoverished people and orphaned children of Haiti continues to be a shining example of selflessness and courage.”
MMRC, the organization’s supporters and Waggoner’s family express heartfelt gratitude to the legions of people worldwide who helped secure Waggoner’s release.
For more information about Waggoner’s continuing story and MMRC’s mission, visit the nonprofit’s website at www.mmrcglobal.org.