Port-au-Prince, Haiti (December 21, 2010)–Materials Management Relief Corps (MMRC), a nonprofit corporation that provides humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake, is very concerned about the health of its co-founder Paul Waggoner who is being held in the notoriously dangerous National Penitentiary.
Waggoner is accused of kidnapping a child last February despite witnesses and affidavits stating that the child had died. A death certificate exists for the child.
Although food and water can be delivered to Waggoner, contacts who have recently seen him express concern over his declining physical and mental health.
Waggoner is currently sharing a small cell with two other prisoners and is, at this time, considered safe from the general population. However he is very fearful for his future and disease is rife in the prison. Haiti is also currently battling a cholera epidemic, a disease which can be deadly if not treated promptly.
Despite reports to the contrary, the US Embassy has not visited him since his transfer to the National Penitentiary on December 16 2010. It has been confirmed that Embassy staff is working with the US Diplomatic Security Service as a liaison with the Haitian National Police. It is vital to Paul Waggoner, his supporters, and his family, that the Embassy take a stronger stance in securing his immediate release.
MMRC is urging Americans to contact US government officials demanding Waggoner’s release.
The child in question died at Haitian Community Hospital in Petionville February 23, 2010, while Waggoner was organizing supplies at the hospital. Waggoner did not administer any medical care to the infant. Despite the fact that a board-certified, US physician has signed an affidavit stating that the child in question was deceased, and the father viewed the body, the father has accused Waggoner of kidnapping the child. The doctor’s affidavit also acknowledges 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.
“We have a signed affidavit from a US doctor proving that the child in question was, in fact, deceased and that Paul showed tremendous care and sympathy toward the child’s grieving father,” MMRC Director Nanci Murdock said. “Since racing to Haiti in the wake of devastation caused by the January 2010 earthquake, Paul has worked selflessly to save thousands of lives.”
Waggoner’s father died when he was child and his mother died when he was 21. He was then left with the responsibility to raise his younger sister. Waggoner is well known and well respected in Haitian circles for his humanitarian work in local orphanages and hospitals. He also has assisted in the re-building of various structures within Haiti.
MMRC Global, members of the Waggoner family, various non-government organizations within Haiti, and friends from around the globe stand in solidarity behind Waggoner and are working tirelessly towards his release and exoneration from these false accusations.
American businessman Jack Aronson, founder of Michigan-based Garden Fresh Gourmet, a $90-million company specializing in fresh salsa, recently worked alongside Waggoner in Haiti. Aronson staunchly stands by Waggoner and the admirable work he has done in the still-ravaged country. “Since arriving in Haiti, Paul’s work has been phenomenal. I spent time working beside him and personally witnessed his extraordinary care for this country’s children,” Aronson said. “I saw how dedicated and altruistic this man is. He risks life and limb to rescue Haitian orphans.”
To help secure Waggoner’s release, people may contact their government officials; contact information may be found at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. People may also contact Overseas Citizens Services (202-647-5225).