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#4465: Haiti Progrès reporting: Chamberlain comments (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Charles Arthur has usefully pointed out some careless categorization of
pre-election deaths in a Reuter news story.
I'm puzzled, though, as to why he doesn't think worthy of mention an
astonishing attempt to launder the news in one of his favourite newspapers,
Haiti-Progrès, as posted here each week.
The most dramatic event since the strong and largely peaceful turnout in
the May 21 elections has been the flight from the country (despite reported
attempts by the government to physically stop him) of the 78-year-old
president of the electoral council, Léon Manus, and his subsequent
broadcast statement from exile. He spoke of threats to him "at the highest
level of government" (Préval and Aristide, according to his son) if he
didn't certify election results he had come to believe were inaccurate and
a clear violation of the electoral law. When he refused to sign, the next
day, as if by magic, violent mobs shouting pro-Aristide slogans paralysed
Haiti's main cities demanding that what Manus had refused to do, be done.
He fled and the rump of the electoral council caved in to the street
violence and signed.
Haiti-Progrès' account of these events is quite different. Manus simply
"resigned" (though other electoral council members said he didn't) and
"flew into exile" (actually he clandestinely crossed the land border to the
Dominican Republic in fear of his life) and is "bent on complying with
Washington's dictates." Not a word about his broadcast statement (at least
in the English section of the paper).
This from a newspaper whose editor rants ceaselessly about "corporate press
outlets" and their "lies and distortions." His headline is: "Haiti stands
firm against foreign intimidation." An editor of any integrity would've
made it: "Elections chief stands firm against government intimidation."
But integrity isn't Haiti Progrès' style.
Can we perhaps have an explanation of the paper's omission of this major
news event? And was Manus in fact "kidnapped by international forces," as
René Civil, one of the paper's favourite "grassroots" street gang leaders,
was quoted as saying? If so, where's the report of that extraordinary
Haiti Progrès is a firm ally of Aristide and currently acts as his
mouthpiece abroad. Is this the kind of thing we can expect when he returns
to power? Haiti Progrès is a force of darkness in Fanmi Lavalas and
harmful to those who voted for the party in the hope of seeing their lives
bettered. Instead, they may soon find their access to information tightly
controlled by Haiti Progrès' authoritarian upper-class boss, who has lived
comfortably in the US for the past 36 years, and his wealthy white American
assistant. Just the kind of foreign imperialism the paper spends most of
its time deploring.