SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A Marin County woman in Haiti doing agricultural work has been stuck in the northern city of Cap Haitien because of riots sparked by a deadly cholera outbreak.

More than 1,000 Haitians have died from the disease, an intestinal infection that is not typically fatal. Many demonstrators blame foreigners such as United Nations troops from Nepal for cholera’s recent spread.

“They’ve basically closed the entrance to the city,” said Myriam Kaplan Pasternak of Nicasio. She had been doing agricultural work for the organization Farmer to Farmer until rioting essentially stranded her inside her hotel for safety.

”Basically nobody wants to be caught in the collateral damage.”

Cars tend to be the target of the mobs, though it is still possible to get around by motorcycle, Pasternak said.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

The former Peace Corps volunteer said sanitation and access to potable water has been problematic since the earthquake at the beginning of the year that killed 300,000.

Pasternak traces the rage expressed by the rioters to the frustration brought on when hurricanes destroyed the fragile roads, taxing the population’s faith in the government.

“The people have gotten pretty fed up with all the flooding as a result of the hurricanes on the roads in and out of the city,” she said. “You pretty much have a slog through the sludge.”

Contracting cholera does not worry her, since the symptoms of diarrhea can usually be treated with a single dose of antibiotics. But in a country where treated water for sale in stores may not be safe, access to antibiotics is uncertain for most.

Protesters want all foreigners out but are leaving them few avenues to leave. Pasternak said her last resort may turn out to be a helicopter ride out of Cap Haitien.

She has a plane ticket for November 22.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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