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More News This Week / Aristide, The Poor Man / Chief Terrorists

Posted at 12:47 a.m., Thursday, January 31, 2002   

Haiti's radical leftist Aristide to meet with the country's democratic opposition

The date of the performance has yet to be announced but Haiti's radical leftist Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still writing scripts for his soon-to-be meeting with Haiti's democratic opposition to discuss a stalemate over the 2000 largely fraudulent parliamentary elections so he can this time tell a bigger lie hoping that the international community will buy his words and cease to view him as a tyrant, but a democrat instead, which will, in turn, translate into millions of dollars in financial aid.  

"I will meet with Mr. Aristide as a representative of the Convergence Democratique," a 15-opposition party coalition, "but not as a private citizen," Pierre-Charles, a fiercest critic of the dictator, Wednesday said.

The political offices of Pierre-Charles's Organization of Struggling People and those of many of his freedom fighter colleagues were consumed by flames on Dec. 17 after tyrant Aristide's chimeres or thugs-for-hire set the ablaze.  

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted at 12:07 p.m., Monday, January 28, 2002  

Haiti's poor demand rice

By Michael Norton, Associated Press Writer

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Police fired bullets and tear gas Sunday at hundreds of poor Haitians who ransacked warehouses and demanded rice under a program that critics say is illegally subsidized and benefits some ruling party officials financially and politically.

Protesters had poured out of the Cite Soleil seaside slum and surrounded hundreds of trucks and official state vehicles loaded up with cheap rice. Rice is a staple in Haiti, a Caribbean nation with one of the hemisphere's worst hunger problems.

Riot police fired shots into the air and tear gas canisters into crowds demanding a share of the so-called ``Rice for Peace.'' But they were unable to control the crowd, which ransacked port-side warehouses.

A nonprofit arm of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Party has been importing the rice from Asia and the United States free of taxes and customs duties. Party officials say the program is a legitimate way to bring down living costs, but some lawmakers from within the party are accusing one other of profiting from it inappropriately.

One lawmaker accused others of taking a cut of profits from sales of the subsidized rice. A high-ranking Senate official confirmed that most Lavalas Party senators were allowed to take some of the rice to distribute to poor people in their electoral districts.

``We voted for Aristide - not these fat cats or the riot police,'' Oscar Francisco, a 19-year-old member of a pro-Aristide grass-roots group, shouted amid Sunday's melee.

Lavalas Party spokesman Jones Petit said the party's nonprofit Pou Nou Tout (For Us All) cooperative imported 70,000 tons of rice between May and November - the latest figures he had available - and distributed it on the open market, driving the wholesale price down from $26 to about $20 for a 110-pound bag. Haiti imports a total of 300,000 tons of rice a year.

Most Haitians buy the subsidized rice for about $1.40 for six pounds, compared to $1.60 for rice imported with taxes.

Haitian-grown rice is even more expensive because soil here is eroded, agricultural practices are archaic and farmers suffer transport problems.

A single cent can make a big difference to the 8.2 million people of this Caribbean island nation, where the average daily income is $1.

Petit justified the rice program as a legitimate ``struggle against the high cost of living.''

But businessmen and economists disagreed.

``It's an unfair trading practice, and illegal,'' said Chamber of Commerce President Maurice Lafortune, adding that the cheap rice threatens to force importers and rice farmers out of business.

According to Petit's figures, the subsidies from May to November lost the Haitian treasury $4.7 million in sales taxes and custom duties. That is enough to pay 17,000 public school teachers for three months.

Since flawed local and legislative elections in 2000, the international community has frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Haiti. Meanwhile, Haiti's budget deficit has soared to an unprecedented $80 million.

Independent economist Kesner Pharel said continued rice subsidies ``will lead to the rise in the market price of other products,'' and could fuel migration from the countryside to city slums.

Opposition politicians said the government was looking out for its own party members to the detriment of ordinary Haitians.

``The government is financing the activities of the governing party with public finds, sacrificing the welfare of Haitians to the profit of its members,'' said opposition politician Serge Gilles.

AP-NY-01-27-02 1843EST

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 1:56 a.m., Sunday, January 27, 2002

No political accord, no resumption of aid, EU tells Haiti  

Madrid, Jan.  24 (AFT). European Union aid to Haiti that was partially suspended a year ago will not resume until a political accord is reached between between the government and the opposition there, the EU said Thursday. 

"Today, after a year and half of political crisis and attempts at reconciliation and mediation, the Union considers that, sadly, democratic principles have not been restored in Haiti," an EU statement from Madrid said.

The EU imposed sanctions on Haiti on January 31, 2001 after elections that were boycotted by the opposition.  

It froze 44.4 million euros (41.7 million dollars) in financing and suspended direct budgetary aid, primarily affecting structural realignment and food security programs, citing non-respect for democracy and human rights.

The statement from Spain, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said the measures would be maintained "as long as basic a accord has not been signed between the two protagonists in the political crisis."

If one is signed, the statement said, financial cooperation would begin again and be fully re-established if local elections are held in a manner that satisfies international observers.

It said the EU "does not want to penalize the Haitian people, and will continue cooperation programmes not affected by the measures in question."

The political crisis pits the ruling Lavalas Party led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide against an opposition centered around the Democratic Convergence, an grew out of the legislative elections in May 2000.

The result of the elections, flawed according to the Organization of American States and international observers, remains in dispute.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 4:15 p.m., Friday, January, 25, 2002  

14 Haitians perish in high seas off the Bahamas  

Anybody who knows about the abject poverty that Haitians are forced to endure by Haiti's tyrant, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, should not be surprise at all after hearing the latest bad news about 14 Haitians.  

The Haitians, who were enroute to Florida, in search of political freedom, including economic freedom, perished in high seas Friday after their flimsy sailboat, with a total of 100 passengers abroad, capsized off the Bahamas.  

Ten of the Haitians, seven men and three women, died after they were trapped inside the submerged hull, while four additional bodies were found floating nearby as if they were debris.

The survivors, as usual, were taken out of the circulation by Bahamian immigration officials, pending their repatriation to Haiti.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Five Haitian journalists threatened by government supporters

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide today against the threats made by his supporters to five local journalists, including Guyler Delva, secretary-general    of the Haitian Journalists' Association."We ask you to firmly condemn these threats and their authors and ensure the safety of journalists," RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to the president. He added that RSF, which has denounced "the atmosphere of terror developing in Haiti," would hold the Haitian government responsible for the fate of the five reporters.

RSF learns that members of the organization Youth People's Power (JPP), which has ties to Aristide, on 21 January gave Delva 48 hours to withdraw his legal complaint against JPP leader René Civil or else they would "teach him a lesson" and he would face the wrath of all the other "popular organizations." Delva had lodged a complaint against Civil on 18 January after he had threatened the journalist in a radio programme on 15 January, accusing him of being "in the pay of foreigners" and "betraying his fellow Haitians." Delva said that Civil's words on the air - "Thank you Guyler Delva, thank you, thank you, Guyler Delva" - contained hidden threats in the Haitian Creole language. On 11 January, Figaro Désir, leader of the pro-Aristide grassroots organization Bale Wouze ("Clean Sweep"), had called Delva "a traitor serving the white foreigner" and threatened to have him "necklaced" (burned). Désir retracted his threats on 21 January, saying his earlier remarks had been misinterpreted.

Four provincial journalists have fled to the capital and are in hiding after being threatened by government supporters. They are Charité André and Rémy Jean, of Radio Eben-Enzer, Duc Jonathan Joseph, correspondent of Radio Métropole in Gonaïves, and Ernst Océan, correspondent of Radio Vision 2000, in St. Marc. The threats against them by supporters of the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party increased after the apparent attempted coup d'etat of last 17 December. Radio Eben-Enzer, broadcasting from the town of Mirebalais, went off the air on 15 January for lack of security. Those issuing the threats accuse journalists of being biased against the government in reporting the news.

Régis Bourgeat
Despacho Américas / Americas desk
Reporters sans frontières

5, rue Geoffroy-Marie
75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 57
fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51

e-mail :

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, January 24, 2002  

Courtesy of Reporters Without Borders

Judge's mandate is not renewed in Jean Dominique murder case

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) protested to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide today against the non-renewal of the investigating judge's mandate in the Jean Dominique murder case. The judge, Claudy Gassant, was replaced on 23 January by three others, Josua Agnant, Bernard Sainvil and Joachim Saint-Clair. RSF secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to President Aristide that "the murder of Jean Dominique and the numerous obstructions to Judge Gassant's investigation are a symbol of the impunity that exists in Haiti. With the replacement of Gassant, there is now virtually no hope of finding out the truth about the killing, especially if the authorities continue to block the investigation." RSF praises the professionalism and seriousness with which Judge Gassant carried out his inquiry in the face of constant threats and pressure. Jean Dominique's widow, Michèle Montas, and many Haitian journalists' associations had called for the judge's mandate to be renewed.

RSF learns that President Aristide replaced Gassant on 23 January with Judges Josua Agnant, Bernard Sainvil and Joachim Saint-Clair. Gassant, whose term expired on 4 January, has been in the United States since 9 January. He had replaced Judge Jean Sénat Fleury as the investigating judge in September 2000 after Fleury resigned for reasons of personal security.   

The progress of Judge Gassant's investigation has been constantly obstructed. His naming of Sen. Dany Toussaint, a member of the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party, as the main suspect in the murder, was followed by numerous threats against the judge by grassroots organizations. Several witnesses of the murder have also died in suspicious circumstances that point directly to the police and the Haitian authorities. Gassant was also obliged to conduct his inquiry amid continual police harassment. The last of a long list of these was on 21 December 2001, when a presidential palace security vehicle deliberately crashed into the judge's car and threatened him with a gun. In a report on the case on 2 April 2001, RSF deplored the fact that the inquiry had several times almost been shelved. In June 2000, Jean Wilner Lalanne, suspected of having been a link between the masterminds of the murder and those who carried it out, died in suspicious circumstances after being arrested. In January 2001, the senate opposed Judge Gassant's application to question Sen. Toussaint about the murder.

Jean Dominique, who was well-known for his independence on the air, was gunned down in the courtyard of his radio station, Radio HaitiInter, on 3 April 2000. Targets of his criticism had included former Duvalierists and soldiers as well as the country's powerful families (the "bourgeoisie") and, not long before he died, those he suspected inside Fanmi Lavalas of trying to "divert the movement away from its original ideals."

Régis Bourgeat
Despacho Américas / Americas desk
Reporters sans frontières

5, rue Geoffroy-Marie
75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 57
fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51

e-mail :

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 12:30 a.m., Thursday, January 24, 2002

Here we go again, a businessman kidnapped in troubled Haiti  

As a criminal syndicate, the de facto government of Haiti's radical leftist and totalitarian dictator, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has everything that is extremely negative: Gross incompetence, shooting journalists, burning to the ground opposition parties' headquarters, narco-trafficking, rampant corruption, burning political opponents alive, Congressmen and members of his Lavalas Family Party fighting over contraband rice, and a de facto Congressman who happens to be a senior member of his political party, or the party of Satan, as well discharging his F-16 gun, a total of 17 shots, instantly killing a de facto major. Like many before him, he has yet to be taken out of the circulation.

So much kidnapping is also the motto of Aristide's senior bandits and drug dealers, who he often refers to as his 'dear employees,' a prominent businessman, Serge Rosenthal, was kidnapped Wednesday as his was closing his store in downtown Port-au-Prince.

The bandits demanded U.S. $150,000 in exchange for the victim's freedom.  

If two other businessmen, Delmas Gerard and Bryant Romelus, who were kidnapped last week shortly thereafter regained their freedom after paying large sums of money to the kidnappers, but the fate of Gina Prosper, a businesswoman, who bandits forced into a car a week earlier has yet to be known. Please see more than 50 relevant photos.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 11:29 p.m., Tuesday, January 22, 2002  

Canadian journalist shot in troubled Haiti  

At home and abroad, Haiti's radical leftist and totalitarian dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide's bandits are making waves, but not the sort, such as 'no more shooting, no more killings,' that Aristide himself  promised United States President, Williams Jefferson Clinton, in 1994, as one of the conditions for his return to the dirt poor Caribbean country.

Mathieu Prud'Homme, a Haitian Press Network journalist, was shot in the left arm Monday after he went to the despicable ghetto Cite Soleil of Port-au-Prince to investigate gang-related shootings. A Cameraman who accompanied Mr. Prud'Homme there also suffered the same fate.  

The journalists, who first asked police officers stationed in Cite Soleil to protect them from bandits, but only to be told by the same officers that they could not even protect themselves, have since the regrettable incident (shooting) been receiving medical care at the Port-au-Prince General hospital, a filthy institution and where incompetence is the norm and competence is the exception, due in part to pronounced corruption and underpaid staff. Both are expected to be released soon.

In another development, Aristide's Lavalas Family Party Congressmen, nothing new, continue to fight each other over contraband rice as poor and hungry citizens took to the streets in protest demanding that they too get some of that rice.

Also, a new de facto Premier has yet to be designated since the anticipated resignation of   Jean-Marie Cherestal Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 2:15 p.m., Monday, January 21, 2002

U.S. Congress wants sanctions imposed on radical leftist dictator Aristide and partners in crime

Congress of the United States - Washington D.C.
December 20, 2001
The Honorable Colin Powell
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Powell:

Knowing of your prolonged interest in the United States policy and toward Haiti, we are writing to request immediate access to a list if Haitian Government officials possessing United States' documentation, such as valid visas and green cards. Based on recent discussions with U.S. Ambassador Brian Dean Curran, it is our understanding that the consular and political sections within Embassy Port-au-Prince have compiled a list of Haitian Government officials possessing valid U.S. immigration documents.  

We are especially concerned that a number of Haitian Government officials, such as Senators Dany Toussaint and Medard Joseph, currently possess some form of U.S. immigration documents. Senators Toussaint and Joseph have been credibly linked by a number of U.S. Government agencies to narcotics trafficking in Haiti. Specially, 8 U.S.C.1182(2)(C) notes with respect to controlled substance traffickers that: "Any alien who the consular or immigration officer knows or has reason to believe is or has been a knowing assister, abettor, conspirator, or colluder with others in the illicit trafficking in any such controlled substance, is inadmissible."

We are further concerned that other Haitian Government official, such as President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Environmental Minister Webster Pierre and Interior Ministry official Eric Trouillot, also possess some form of U.S. immigration documents. Specially, 8 U.S.C. 1182 (3)(C)(i) notes with respect to foreign policy constraints on the issuance of U.S. documents to aliens: "An alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible." Given the growing evidence of the hostile and anti-democratic nature of Haiti's Aristide regime, we believe that the Department of State needs to make a clear determination as so whether Haitian Government officials should benefit from having access to U.S. territory through their possession of valid U.S. immigration documents, such as visas and green cards.  

We therefore reiterate our interest in obtaining the list of Haitian officials possessing U.S. immigration documents that was prepared by staff at Embassy Port-au-Prince. Given the changes in Haitian Government leadership since the list was first prepared, we would further ask for an updating of said list to include all relevant officials in the Haitian Cabinet. President Aristide's office (including the Presidential Security Unit and the Presidential Intelligence Unit), the Haitian Parliament, the Haitian National Police leadership (including the directors of the SWAT, CIMO, Central Judicial Police, and the HNP Investigative Unit), senior officials of Fanmi Lavalas, and the leadership of the Haiti-registered Aristide Foundation. We look forward to a detailed response to this request no later than January 20, 2002.   

Mike DeWine
Senate Select Committee On Intelligence
Porter J.Goss
House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence

Haitian de facto Premier formally calls it quit

There have been growing evidence that Haiti's radical leftist and totalitarian dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide's de facto government days are numbered. Still, if a Hollywood screenwriter had suggested the idea that his Prime Minister, Jean-Marie Cherestal, resigns his post, it would have been dismissed as silly.  

But Cherestal, who for months was apparently accused of gross incompetence, to include rampant corruption, while the majority of Haitians continued to endure abject poverty, formally resigned his post today - six days after he submitted a letter of resignation to tyrant Aristide. 

                                                                                                                                                                                      Haitian judge apparently applies for political asylum in the U.S.  

Once again, it has been proven that Haiti continues to be a dictatorship of the proletariat, with Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the head of it, and specially after the United States spent billions of dollars there in the name of ideals: human rights, democracy, and freedom.  

Claudy Gassant, the investigative judge in the early morning of April 3, 2000 brutal murder of Haiti's prominent radio journalist, Jean Leopold Dominique, is currently in the process of applying for political asylum, it has been said, and more than two weeks after fleeing troubled Haiti for his life. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted at 11:25 a.m., Friday, January 18, 2002   

Haitian de facto Premier Cherestal resigns his post after months of internal fratricidal political fighting

It is not a surprise at all. Haiti's de facto Premier, Jean-Marie Cherestal, resigned his post Wednesday after being severely chastised for months by Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Party's members and his bandits as well, who sometimes threaten his life, apparently for his failure to improve the quality of life, especially that of the dirt poor Haitians.

Cherestal's resignation letter, which was dated Wednesday, was on that same day delivered to tyrant Aristide.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Posted at 6:57 a.m., Friday, January 18, 2002

Hours before the calamity, Haitian judge in prominent murder case flees to Miami  

Claudy Gassant, an investigative judge in the early morning of April 3, 2000 brutal murder of Jean Leopold Dominique, a prominent radio journalist and commentator, in the front yard of his Radio Haiti Inter station, fled Haiti 10 days ago for his life, and has since been leaving in Palm Beach, Florida. Haitian judge who probed murder comes to Florida, fears for life 

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Posted at 7:01 a.m., Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Read, both in French and English, letter of Reporters Without Borders' letters asking for sanctions against Haiti's criminals, including radical leftist and totalitarian dictator, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 1:08 a.m., Tuesday, January 15, 2002

American kidnapped by de facto Haitian government regains freedom

After a totalitarian dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Dec.17 put-up coup d'état that further helped focused world attention on gross human rights violations, extreme poverty and gross incompetence by Aristide - also a radical leftist and de facto president - and members of his so-called government in the Caribbean nation of Haiti, a Haitian native, but long a naturalized American, who the Haitian government said was connected to the coup, was taken out of the circulation.  

The victim, Antoine Saati, regained his liberty Monday after having been detained for more than tree weeks.

In another development, Aristide is to travel to the neighboring Dominican Republic on Wednesday to meet with that nation's president, Hypolito Meija - a leftist like him.  

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 6:41 p.m., Saturday, January 12, 2002

Courtesy of Reporters Without Borders  

                                                                                                                                                                                          Press group urges sanctions against Haiti leaders  

By Michael Deibert

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan 11 (Reuters) - A Paris-based advocacy group on Friday asked countries that respect freedom of the press to put pressure on Haiti with steps including freezing the assets of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, saying his government wields an official policy of press repression.

Robert Menard, secretary-general of the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, said at a news conference in the capital Port-au-Prince that threats against journalists in Haiti had increased sharply since a Dec. 17 attack on the National Palace that Aristide called an attempt to overthrow his government.

Menard advocated sanctions against Aristide and members of his ruling Lavalas Family party.

Menard called on "countries committed to freedom of speech" to revoke the travel visas and freeze the assets of Aristide, his wife, Mildred, Haitian Senate President Yvon Neptune, Minister of Justice Gary Lissade, Interior Minister Henri Claude Menard and Lavalas Sen. Dany Toussaint, as well as those of 19 other individuals.

Menard also questioned why the government had not arrested suspects in the murders of two prominent journalists, Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor.

Haitian opposition parties mocked the Dec. 17 attack as an act of "theater" staged as a pretext for the repression of opposition groups, media and human rights groups.

Offices of opposition parties and politicians were torched in mob violence following the palace assault in Haiti, which is struggling to build a democracy after decades of dictatorship and military rule. "President Aristide is personally responsible for this situation," Menard said. "And he is personally responsible for the impunity that has been manifest in the Haitian government."

As Menard spoke, Paul Raymond, a Lavalas militant wanted for questioning in the Dominique investigation, appeared with about 30 supporters and held a chaotic demonstration in front of the hotel where Menard was appearing, briefly entering the building despite a police presence.

Dominique, 69, one of Haiti's most famous journalists as the director of the independent Radio Haiti Inter and an adviser to then-President Rene Preval, was gunned down outside his station on April 3, 2000.

The investigation into his death has served as a lightning rod in Haiti, both as a symbol of the danger faced by journalists in the troubled Caribbean nation and as a test of the Aristide government's commitment to the rule of law.

The judge investigating the Dominique slaying, Claudy Gassant, repeatedly complained that Haitian officials were interfering in the probe. Gassant's term expired this week and he left Haiti for the United States. Government representatives padlocked his office and seized documents.

Lindor, news director for independent Radio Echo 2000 in the southern city of Petit Goave, was hacked to death with a machete by Lavalas militants on Dec. 3.

Aristide met with journalists at the National Palace last week and said his government "has a commitment to the benefits of diversity and plurality of views."

Reporters Without Borders previously has called for similar sanctions against other governments it accuses of suppressing media and free speech, including Zimbabwe and Myanmar.

Régis Bourgeat
Despacho Américas / Americas desk
Reporters sans frontières
5, rue Geoffroy-Marie
75009 Paris - France

tél. : +33 (0) 1 44 83 84 57
fax : +33 (0) 1 45 23 11 51
e-mail :

For relevant photos: The pantheon of assassins and their victims

                                                                                                                                                                                        Radical leftist and totalitarian dictator Aristide's foreign minister, Joseph, not welcome in France

Remember the man, who in the 60s kidnapped then United States' ambassador, Clinton Knox, in Haiti.

But on Wednesday Philippe Antonio Joseph, now a radical leftist and totalitarian dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide's foreign minister, was told he was not welcomed in France when hundreds of Haitian-French and French born citizens held a very noisy protest in Paris, where Joseph was said to be attending a UNESCO, a United Nations' agency, meeting.

"All those guys in Haiti are doing is killing people, and we cannot accept this type of behavior," the protesters, who sensed that tyrant Aristide's continuing gross human rights violations greatly tarnish the reputation of all Haitians, said.  

                                                                                                                                                                                  American missionaries held at gunpoint in Haiti for ransom

American missionaries in the Bolosse section of Port-au-Prince were held this week at gunpoint by radical leftist bandits, and regained their freedom after they paid $15,000 to the criminals who were armed with F-16s.  

The bandits broke windows, including tables and lamps, and threatened to rape the female occupants of the house.

Also this week, the owner of a supermarket was kidnapped by bandits, and paid $22,000 - a lot than the $1 million demanded - in exchange for his freedom.  

A businesswoman managed to escape her captors, also this week.

In another development, a fight broke out this week between de facto interior minister, Henri Claude Menard, and a multitude of radical leftist Jean-Bertrand Aristide's bandits at the ministry of interior, where the later went to demand jobs for their friends. The bandits repeatedly punched Menard, and they were punched back by him.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted at 8:45 p.m., Monday, January 7, 2002

Haitian journalists flee tyrant Aristide for the U.S.

In the land that is Haiti, could there be doubt that journalists would again have to flee for their lives, especially after the United States spent more than $2 billion of its taxpayers' moneys in the name of virtue - democracy, human rights, and freedom?     

But today, the forced departure of six Haitian journalists to the U.S. from foreign embassies in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where they took refuge after tyrant Aristide nearly burned them alive on December 17, 2001, when he staged a coup d'état, suggests there could.   

Radio journalists Phares Duverne and Yves Clausel Alexis, who the dictator's bandits held at gunpoint and forced to yell "Long live Aristide!" figure among those who are now in the U.S. preparing their political asylum cases.  

On December 17, more than 40 journalists went into hiding, and the number of those assaulted surpassed 12.  

The latest incidents came less than two weeks after radio journalist, Brignol Lindor, 32, was hacked to death in the provincial city of Petit-Goâve by radical leftist Aristide's bandits, and more than two years - the early morning of April 3, 2000 - after prominent radio journalist and commentator Jean Leopold Dominique was brutally murdered in the courtyard of his Radio Haiti Inter station. 

                                                                                                                                                                                           17 fatal shots: a new year's day present from totalitarian Dictator Aristide's Congressman to a provincial Mayor

In a country like Haiti, after spending the whole night dancing and having a heated argument over girls with someone else there is always a possibility that you may be shot to death several times.

Fernand Severe, a mayor in the town of Saint-Rapheal, in the North of Haiti, was shot 17 times Sunday by tyrant Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Congressman, Jocelyn Saint-Louis, after they had a heated argument at a party over a young girl.                                                                                                                                                                                     Immediately after the mayor's brutal death - a machine gun was used to commit the crime, we learned - the town's residents took to the streets, killing the Congressman's nephew.

The latest killing came just days after an 80 woman was accused of being a voodoo priestess and hacked to death in the provincial city of Saint-Marc by two Aristide's bandits. Also, a few days after two young men, one 17 and the other 18, were burned alive in the capital Port-au-Prince Post-Marchant section.

Like Yvon Neptune, dictator Aristide's de facto Senate President, who against this week accused the United States, which nearly two years ago suspended its economic assistance for Haiti after a series of largely fraudulent elections, of practicing "economic terrorism," the young men lost their lives after they were said to be bandits.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Posted at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, January 5, 2002   

In Haiti, press still tense after alleged coup attempt, says Reporters Without Borders in a January 3,   2002 press release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In a letter to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, RSF expressed its serious concern after close to a dozen journalists, including Ives-Marie Chanel, a radio journalist and RSF's correspondent in Port-au-Prince, were the victims of intimidation. In addition, no measures have been taken to assure the protection of radio stations that have been threatened. "Despite the tragic murder of Brignol Lindor, accusations by your supporters that certain journalists are members of the opposition continue," deplored RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. "The absence of measures to protect threatened newsrooms and public radio's participation in the intimidation campaign negate the commitment you made on 17 December to see to it that press freedom is respected," the organization deplored. RSF urged the president to allow a return to calm by taking measures to guarantee the security of threatened journalists and media outlets. RSF also urged Aristide to give his supporters very clear orders to end their intimidation of press representatives.

Lindor, a journalist from Radio Echo 2000, was killed on 3 December 2001 by individuals who are close to the president's party, Fanmi Lavalas. Three days earlier, the Petit-Goâve mayor's assistant had called for the "zero tolerance" policy to be applied against the journalist after he received opposition figures as guests on his radio programme. Since October, an estimated forty journalists have been threatened or assaulted by government supporters who accuse them of being too critical of the government.

Climate of insecurity persists

According to information collected by RSF, the Haitian press's situation had yet to be normalized four days after the 17 December alleged coup d'état's failure. Close to ten journalists remain in hiding as they feel threatened. Five journalists have reportedly sought refuge in embassies and allegedly wish to leave the country. At least two of the four radio stations that were forced to cease broadcasting on 17 December have reported that the police have not offered them any protection. Yet, during a recent speech, President Aristide had committed himself to ensuring that press freedom is respected. Moreover, on 11 December, a meeting of media outlets and the police was organized. The police had sought the meeting in an effort to improve its relationship with the press.

Private radio stations, a majority of which either suspended their news bulletins or ceased broadcasting altogether on 17 December, have gradually started rescheduling their normal programming. However, Radio Caraïbes FM announced that it was suspending its news programmes until January 2002. Cap-Haitien based Radio Maxima has also yet to start broadcasting its news programmes again. Station director Jean Robert Lalanne explained that this is due to the continued sense of insecurity felt by the station's journalists. The persistent climate of insecurity has also led Radio Kiskeya to continue its suspension of the call-in programme "Dim ma diw" ("From You to Me"), in which listeners occasionally express very strong views.

RSF has also learned that on 19 December, Thony Jean Ténor, a Haitian citizen residing in Florida (USA), stated on the public radio station Radio Nationale that Chanel worked for the Organization du peuple en lutte (OPL, an opposition party). Interviewed by Radio Nationale news director Jean Th. Pierre-Louis, Ténor also stated that Chanel was among the persons who were "frustrated" by the coup d'état's failure. On 18 December, the journalist issued a statement on Radio Kafou, a Florida-based Haitian community station. He stated that he was saddened by the violence in Haiti and highlighted the climate of insecurity for local journalists. Since Chanel's comments on Radio Kafou, station director Alex Saint Surin has stated that he has been the object of attacks by Florida-based pro-Lavalas radio stations.
Chanel is director of Radio Sans-Souci FM, programming director of Radio Ibo, and Haiti-based correspondent for Inter Press Service (IPS) agency and RSF.                                                                                                                                                                                    Background

On 17 December, about thirty armed men attacked the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince at dawn. A few hours later, security forces stormed the palace and regained control. Several thousand Aristide supporters took to the streets after an appeal by the president. Armed with machetes, sticks and pistols, they threatened about ten journalists. Some protesters told one of the journalists, "we would have killed you if you were a Radio Caraïbes journalist." Four private radio stations based in the capital ceased broadcasting for security reasons. The demonstrators also attacked several opposition parties' offices. The opposition has since labeled the failed coup attempt a "set-up" against it.

Reporters Sans Frontières defends jailed journalists and press freedom throughout the world, that is, the right to inform and be informed, in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Reporters Sans Frontières has nine sections (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland and United Kingdom), representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, Montréal, Tokyo and Washington, and about a hundred correspondents worldwide.

Régis Bourgeat
Despacho Américas / Americas desk
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