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#3545: Haiti: Countering the right wing news offensive (fwd)
From: mole mole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Haiti: Countering the right wing news offensive
Alternative News Wire (ANW) - Port-au-Prince - 9th May 2000 -
After weeks of foreign news stories blaming the current and former Haitian
Presidents for violence apparently carried out to prevent elections taking
place, some small attempts to set the record straight are at last being
Since the assassination of progressive journalist, Jean Dominique, on 3rd
April, many establishment news wires and U.S. newspaper editorials have
sought to make a link between this murder and the alleged campaign to derail
the electoral process.
According to a line adopted almost universally by foreign reporters and news
analysts, the finger of blame should be pointed at elements
connected to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The latter, according
to these opinion-formers, is manipulating his friend, the current President,
René Préval, to advance his personal prospects by sabotaging or perverting
the electoral process.
Extreme right killers
Holes in this apparent propoganda campaign are now beginning to
appear. Although only a handful of news reports went so far as to accuse
Aristide supporters of Dominique's murder outright, most were content to sow
the seeds of suspicion by writing about a spate of murders and public
disturbances in recent weeks in such a way as to make it appear as though
Aristide's hand was directing the violence.
Now, Jean Dominique's widow, and fellow Radio Haiti Inter journalist,
Michelle Montas, has said that she is convinced that it was the extreme
right in Haiti that murdered her husband.
Significantly, one of the first programmes broadcast on Radio Haiti Inter
when it went back on the air last week was a recording of
Dominique's commentary in which he revealed the hitherto secret contract
between the Haitian election observation body headed by right winger,
Leopold Berlanger, and the Provisional Electoral Council.
'Kidnapped' candidate reappears
An important element of the 'election violence rocks Haiti' media blitz, was
the 18th April kidnapping of Claudy Myrthil, a candidate for Port-au-Prince
town delegate for the Washington-favored, Espace de Concertation
On 24th April, the Organisation of American States election
mission in Port-au-Prince issued a press statement deploring the
kidnapping, which according to the OAS was clearly connected to the
electoral process. The OAS called on the Haitian authorities to act to
secure the safety of all political parties and their candidates.
Mysteriously, twelve days after he went missing, Myrthil reappeared,
unharmed, claiming to have been set free by his kindnappers in a
field north of the capitol. On 2nd May, the Espace de Concertation said he
was too distressed by his experience to give a public account of his
experience. One week later, Myrthil is seemingly still too distressed to
speak to the OAS election mission, and they are seemingly still unable to
update their 24th April press release deploring political violence.
Alix Fils-Aimé, an independent candidate for the Senate, pointed
out that the current crime rate in Haiti is somewhat lower than that
recorded in Jamaica during an election period. He suggested that the
candidates and political parties who cite insecurity as the reason for their
withdrawal from the contest perhaps have another agenda. He recalled that
certain of them are no strangers to violence themselves, and had taken part
during the 1991-94 military coup period.
IFES head kicked out
Foreign interference in the election machinery went too far even
for the normally compliant Haitian government this week, when Micheline
Bégin, the head of the USAID-funded International Foundation for Electoral
Systems (IFES) in Haïti, was made persona non grata by Prime Minister,
Jacques Édouard Alexis.
Prime Minister Alexis said that Bégin had made inappropriate
comments in a report sent to Washington in April following a National Palace
meeting between the CEP and the executive. Apparently, Bégin reported that
the meeting was planned in advance by the government with CEP functionaries
close to the Fanmi Lavalas Party of former President Aristide.
Alexis not only denied Bégin's accusation, but also said that the fact that
Bégin had drafted two separate reports on the same meeting lead
him to believe that Bégin had "acted intentionally". Presumably he
believes that IFES is another institution in Haiti acting with its own
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