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#3126: Diplomat: Shooting in Haiti has lesson... (fwd)


Published Wednesday, April 5, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Diplomat: Shooting in Haiti has lesson
 Dialogue needed, he tells people BY DON BOHNING 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE -- The longtime head of an international human rights
mission departed from Haiti on Tuesday for the last time with a warning
of dire consequences if Haitians don't learn any lessons from the
assassination a day earlier of Jean Dominique, the country's leading
radio journalist-commentator. ``I hope it brings people to their
senses,'' said Colin Granderson, a Trinidadian diplomat who headed an
 international human rights monitoring mission to Haiti from its
inception in 1992 until the end of its mandate March 15. ``It's time for
everybody to sit down in a wide political dialogue,'' Granderson said
 in a parting comment. ``If not, there will be a slow descent into
violence and even worse.'' Granderson's comments came as friends and
foes alike united to mourn Dominique's death at the hands of unknown
gunmen early Monday and the implications it held for the future of free
speech and democracy in Haiti. Prime Minister Jacques Alexis paid
tribute to Dominique as a fighter for democracy, not just for his family
and co-workers but for all of Haiti.


 The local media, not all of whom were admirers of Dominique, showed a
rare display of unity in condemning the assassination and expressing
condolences to his family and concern about his death and the
implications for free speech. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches
came together in a joint appeal for legislative elections in time to
seat a new Parliament on June 12, and questioned why democracy had to be
built on blood. Police said they were working around the clock on the
assassination and would not stop until they had identified the killers
and the people behind them. Dominique, 69, was gunned down as he arrived
at Radio Haiti Inter, the station he operated with his family, and where
his acerbic and sometimes personal attacks targeted anyone perceived to
be an enemy of democracy as he saw it.


 His sometimes inflammatory commentary made enemies on the left and the
right, and speculation on his assassins ranged across the spectrum, but
he had multitudes of admirers as well. An informal advisor to President
Rene Preval and a friend of Preval and former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, Dominique staunchly defended the government in his radio
commentaries. ``He was perceived as a spokesman for the government,''
Yvon Neptune, a spokesman and Senate candidate for Aristide's Lavalas
Family Party, said in an interview. ``The reason he was perceived that
way was because he always worked to show what the government was
doing.'' Neptune also expressed the concern of many in saying that
Dominique's death ``sends a very threatening message to the people who
want elections and who want justice for the victims of the coup''
against Aristide in September 1991, as well as being a ``threat to the
freedom of speech.''