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#1548: The accuracy of "the Phrase" -- Antoine comments on Jean-Pierre's analysis (fwd)

From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

Great note from Jean Jean-Pierre who in the noble tradition of 
journalism turns "The Phrase" on its head and shakes it out,
rather than just accepting as an acceptable filler the banal, the
trite, the stale, the dull, the insipid, the habitual.  What emerges
from his analysis is no victory for Haitians, and perhaps much
more of a disgrace in that it deals more squarely with the worse
ill of Haiti, not its poverty, but the immeasurable disparity in the
wealth of those who have and those who have not, and the lack
of social and political will to do anything about it.  It's the I-don't-
give-a-damn attitude of most in Haiti's influential circles.

Haiti may or may not be "the poorest country in the western
hemisphere", though as stated earlier I'd be quite ready to
submit to the veracity of this statement, if it were not offered in
such casual manner.  In fact, I have affirmed it, though I am
not an economist.  If it can be proven in true economic terms
that Haiti IS or IS NOT, then so be it.  But as much as I share
Max Blanchet's concerns, I don't think that the label is irrelevant.
I am glad that this whole discussion has provoked Jean, and
David Lyall before him, to question the trustworthiness of "the
phrase", its "truth" value as Greg Chamberlain would say,
because in doing so, in going beyond the too facile or perhaps
even "lazy" generalizations, we may arrive at a deeper
understanding of Haiti's reality, as comforting or discomforting
as it may be.  This is not an exercise in denial, as many failed
to comprehend.  It's a challenge for better journalism, period.

As Mark Gill says "i tire of it, just as i tire of reading articles 
that must add 'filler' by repeating the tired phrases about the 
l994 'invasion' or whatever....."  Mark, you are not alone!
It is not my intention to bash journalists as a group, but in
general the reporting on Haiti over the last few years has been
nothing short of a phenomenal bore, due to not only "the phrase"
but the extraordinary amount of filler attached to almost every
news article about Haiti.  How many times can one rehash the
same old story about how Aristide came to power, how he
was sent packing by the Haitian army, how the U.S. restored
Democracy in Haiti, and how fragile this process has been
du to the Haitians' inability to implement the political and
economic reforms demanded by the international community.
How many times can one rehash the same old story without
an effort to bring additional light to the matter, or to even
challenge some of its assumptions.  The answer appears to
be: ad nauseam.  We buy the newspapers, and we're not
about to stop, but don't be surprised when we demand some
higher standards from the profession whose purpose is to
report (freshly) and to illuminate.  Filler, for filler's sake, is 
just er... filling.  Some of us want to throw up.

To go back to Jean-Pierre's point, a dollar is a dollar.  From
all appearances, Haiti is now getting flooded with currency
from the traffic of drugs to the United States primarily, from
Colombia primarily.  If you take into account all that money,
perhaps Haiti would no longer be "the poorest country in
the western hemisphere", perhaps it would the second, or
third or fourth... but the implications of such wealth would be
even more dire for the life of the average Haitian.  In fact,
the great rise in criminality (social, and no longer mostly
related to political purposes) in Haiti seems to confirm that.
I sense that this is a big story, but who is illuminating us on
this score?  Is Haiti fast on his way to becoming the land of
the most marked contrasts between poor and rich, the land
with the greatest ratio of luxury vehicles to mile of pavement,
the land with the most drastic rise in criminality due to its 
intermediary role between the greatest supplier of cocaine 
and the greatest user of cocaine, the land with the greatest
diversion of tax money and public debt used to finance its 
elites residing in villas adorned with every conceivable luxury 
item to the real allocation of funds for public works, the land
that's most becoming unrecognizable to those who used to
enjoy the simple life in it?

One country has to be the "poorest country...", but poverty is
not the worst attribute of a society.  To conceal real analysis
beneath a plethora of "label and libel" is to miss the story...

Guy S. Antoine
Look thru & Imagine!