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#5303: Re: The Haitian press . . . Simidor comments (fwd)
Laurette's "avid" relationship with the Haitian press was common enough in
the 1980s. To get a balanced view of events at home, Haitians in the US had
to buy all three tabloids: the conservative or right-wing Haiti-Observateur;
the liberal or independent Haiti-en-Marche, and the radical or pseudo-radical
Haiti-Progrès. Things have not necessarily gotten better since. The old
left-center-right breakdown has broken down even further into a
Please bear in mind that things are not any better in the US media. Anyone
who has surfed the AM and FM radio bands in urban America, or tuned in to the
major TV networks, knows that you get the same version of the news, the same
corporate point of view all across the board. Thanks to the growing
concentration of media ownership by a handful of multinational corporations,
the news is cloned from one station to the next. The result is so grotesque
that the FCC tried to license community-based, low-power FM radio as an
alternative. But Congress and the cartel of commercial broadcasters won't
have any of it. In comparison, the radio dial in Haiti is much more lively
with diversity and independent viewpoints.
Jean Desquiron described the Haitian press as partisan, passionate and
subjective. The pro-Lavalas press for instance will not report an event, no
matter how big, if it doesn't reflect favorably on Lavalas. Thus it should
not come as a surprise that the main three Lavalas media outlets available
here, Haiti-Progrès, Agence Haitienne de Presse and Radio Soleil d'Haiti, did
their level best to stonewall the biggest news item out of Haiti last week.
October 2 was the deadline for candidates to register for the Nov. 26
elections, and Mr. Aristide had dramatically waited until the last day to
appear in front of the CEP. By 1 pm, a crowd of Lavalas supporters was at
the rendezvous in front of the CEP offices in Delmas. Ronald Cantave a.k.a.
Ronald Cadavre, the Lavalas strongman of Portail St. Joseph, was working the
crowd when police lieutenant Jackie Nau stepped forward and confiscated an
unconcealed gun from his person. Mr. Cadavre's acolytes, vexed, reached for
the nearest Père Lebrun and were at the point dispatching the good lieutenant
à l'infinitif (i.e., burning him to a crisp with a tire necklace), when the
latter's subordinates rescued him in extremis. The momentum was lost: the
crowd dispersed and Mr. Aristide made arrangements with an obliging CEP to
extend the registration deadline.
I confess that when I first heard of the Oct. 2 incident, I put the whole
thing down as a "coup monté," a clever provocation from some occult
anti-Lavalas sector. Surely the Lavalas people couldn't be so stupid or so
drunk with power! The eye-opener for me was "Senator" Dany Toussaint's
commendation of Ronald Cadavre for helping "save" Jackie Nau's life, and the
silence of the Lavalas press – Agence Haitienne de Presse in particular.
Meanwhile, the level of corruption in Haiti today is staggering. The state
doesn't have enough money to pay its employees, yet there is fierce
competition among Lavalas partisans and henchmen for government jobs and
contracts. And for good reasons because, lo and behold, everybody from top
to bottom manages to thrive and to prosper by robbing the people and the
state indiscriminately. Anybody who's had the unpleasant experience of
having to get something through Haitian customs recently, without the proper
connections, will attest to that fact. Again, Lavalas did not invent
corruption and there is plenty of corruption right here in the US. But too
good Haitians have given their lives in the name of change, for Lavalas to
wallow in the gutter so good-naturedly and with such gusto. Besides, even if
the Lavalas "big eaters" don't give a damn about the dead, how can they
expect the Diaspora to finance the Lavalas "economic revolution," if
returning Haitians keep getting plucked like pigeons, every step of the way,
when they try to invest their hard-earned savings in the Haitian economy?
The Haitian press is so polarized that those who had the moral authority to
raise the alarm are keeping mum, while the anti-Lavalas press
(Haiti-Observateur, Radio Vision 2000) lacks credibility. Maybe that's one
reason Jean Dominique had to die: he had too much integrity to remain silent.
His killing has sent a tremendous chill across the land. Haitian radio has
suddenly lost its combativeness. The most outspoken Haitian journalists now
shy away from investigating or analyzing the news. Too many people are now
speaking in whispers when they dare speak at all. The internet is still a
new element that cannot be brought fully under control, but there is a
growing campaign to discredit, if not the medium, at least those who use it
to criticize the Leader. Haiti-Online has been smeared as a Macoute outlet.
How long before the so-called cyber-Cacos get run out of the Corbett list?