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#3118: Leading Haitian Radio Figure Shot to Death Outside Station (fwd)
April 4, 2000 NY TIMES
Leading Haitian Radio Figure Shot to Death Outside Station
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Jean Dominique, Haiti's most prominent radio journalist and a
passionate voice for democracy through decades of dictatorships
and political turmoil in his impoverished homeland, was shot to death
along with a security guard yesterday by two gunmen outside his
station in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. Mr. Dominique, 69, founded
Radio Haiti Inter, whose news and commentary in Creole and French were
heard six days a week by 300,000 Haitian-Americans in the New York
metropolitan region and by many of Haiti's eight million people since
the 1960's. He was shot as he left his car at 6:15 a.m., the station
said. The gunmen fled, and there were no immediate arrests. Wounded
several times in the head and neck, Mr. Dominique and his guard,
Jean-Claude Louissaint, who was shot in the neck, were taken to a
hospital in suburban Pétionville, where both were pronounced
dead. The motive for the killing was unknown. But
Haitian-Americans in New York including Ricot Dupuy, the manager of
Radio Soleil, the Brooklyn cable radio station that carried Mr.
Dominique's broadcasts, and Jean-Claude Bajeux, a former culture
minister and a human rights advocate in Haiti, called it an
assassination. "He was killed to silence his voice," said Mr. Dupuy. He
noted that Mr. Dominique, in recent broadcasts, had defended President
René Préval's decision to delay legislative elections until later this
year. News of Mr. Dominique's death -- solemnly
broadcast by a substitute announcer on "Inter-Actualities," the 7 a.m.
program on which the victim and his wife, the journalist Michele
Montas, were to have been the anchors -- was met with dismay, sorrow and
anger in Haiti and in the Haitian community in New York. Also surviving
are three daughters, Gigi, Dolores and Nadine. Mr. Préval, for whom Mr.
Dominique was a special assistant; Prime Minister Jacques-Édouard
Alexis; and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide went to the
hospital but issued no statements. The United States Embassy in
Port-au-Prince expressed "great concern" over "the brutal slaying." Mr.
Dominique was born in Port-au-Prince to a well-to-do family and attended
private schools in Haiti and France, studying agronomy, said Jonathan
Demme, the filmmaker, who made a documentary on Mr. Dominique. In the
early 60's, when virtually all of Haiti's news media were owned and used
as propaganda outlets by the government, Mr. Dominique founded Radio
Haiti Inter as a voice of the people. It was the first outlet to
broadcast in Creole, language of most Haitians, 75 percent of whom are
illiterate. Over the next two decades, as Haiti was brutalized
and systematically looted by François Duvalier and his son
Jean-Claude,Mr. Dominique was among the few who pleaded for human
rights. Friends said his life was often threatened by the Tontons
Macoutes,the secret police. He was severely beaten, his brother was
killed, and relatives and staff members were arrested. In 1980, Mr.
Dominique's station was shut down, and he was driven into exile in New
York. But in 1986, when a popular uprising
toppled Jean-Claude Duvalier, Mr. Dominique returned to rebuild
his station, and 50,000 people met him at the airport. He became a
supporter of Mr. Aristide, who was elected president in 1990 in the
first democratic elections in 33 years. But a year later,Mr. Aristide
was ousted by the army. Thugs attacked and again wrecked Radio Haiti,
and Mr. Dominique again went into exile, this time with Mr. Aristide.
In 1994, after United States intervention, Mr. Aristide and Mr.
Dominique returned to Haiti. But although the station was restored to
life, democracy has remained elusive. Mr. Dominique had defended the
government decision to delay elections, though opponents said it would
help Mr. Aristide's allies, because he believed that opponents were
trying to rig them, Mr. Dupuy said, adding, "He wanted to make sure the
elections were fair and democratic."