Tuesday, Jan. 27
Albany, NY

Madagascar’s in political trouble.

I got the details from online news. But I heard first via e-mail from a Malagasy friend.

Ony, who I met during a visit to the children’s home where she works, lives in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, where the riots are taking place. She traveled with me for a few days because she’s trying to familiarize herself with various parts of her country so she can work in the tourism industry, one of the most lucrative job sectors on the poor island.

She wrote that life has been “very hectic” because of tension between the president and the opposition party, which has resulted in strikes, riots and fires in the streets of the city.

“We are very scared with this situation but hope they will find a solution soon,” Ony wrote. “No work until life is back to normal.”

Here’s a story from Reuters that ran this morning:

Madagascar’s opposition promised more anti-government protests on Tuesday and looting shook the capital overnight after the worst day of street violence for years on the Indian Ocean island.

Two people died on Monday when demonstrations against President Marc Ravalomanana’s government turned violent, according to witnesses and security sources. Crowds set fire to a state media building and ransacked shops, with a policeman and teenager killed in the chaos and crushes.

Those scenes revived memories of past political volatility on Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, and will not help the government’s efforts to present the nation as a tourist haven and sound destination for investment in mining and oil.

Political turmoil isn’t unusual in Madagascar. The country nearly suffered a coup in 2002 over an election, and it faced minor unrest around voting time in 2006.

But no one gets used to violence. As Ony wrote, it’s scary — every time.