Happenings, By RAJ

Happenings, By RAJ

It happened Friday night, December 21, in Port-au-Prince where a fire consumed Radio Kiskeya, whose best-known crusading journalist Liliane Pierre-Paul dares to speak truth to power. Thus, the fire is considered suspicious.

According to a reporter from Le Nouvelliste, (December 22), the Port-au-Prince daily, who arrived on the scene around 10 pm Friday, the fire started around 9 at a house next door to the two-storied gingerbread structure housing the station. Ms. Pierre-Paul was in the backyard of the station when the fire started. Seeing the threated to their own building, she and others did what they could with pails of water to dampen the fire— to no avail.

Firefighters from Port-au-Prince, about 10 minutes away from the station, didn’t respond to several calls. Finally, after the fire had done its work, firefighters from Delmas, an adjoining suburb about 30 minutes away, north-east of the station, arrived to observe the charred remains of Radio Kiskeya.

Lately, in her 4 pm very popular daily broadcast, available online, Ms. Pierre-Paul has dwelt on the November 13 “Massacre of La Saline”in which the number of the dead has been revised upward to 71, from the previously 59 reported by the human rights organization Réseau national de défense des droits humains (French acronym RNDDH, or National Network in Defense of Human Rights).

According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald who reached Ms. Pierre-Paul late Friday night, Radio Kiskeya was started May 7, 1994. It was the fruit of cooperation among three well-known journalists –herself, Marvel Dandin and the late Sonny Bastien— who, three years earlier, had parted ways with renown journalist Jean Léopold Dominique over a labor dispute.

One can feel the poignancy in Jacqueline Charles’ reporting. “Everything happened right before my eyes,” she quotes Ms. Pierre-Paul, who adds: “I powerlessly witnessed the destruction of a lifetime’s worth of work; all of it is lost.” Regarding the inability or the unwillingness of the firefighters to come to the rescue on time, Ms. Pierre Paul states: “There is no State in Haiti.”

It’s relevant to note that Jean Dominique was shot dead April 3, 2000, as he arrived early that morning at his Radio Haiti Inter station. The watchman, Claude Louissaint, was also gunned down. Considering the time of day and the location of the station at Delmas 66, a thoroughfare linking Port-au-Prince to Pétion-Ville, some people must have witnessed what happened. But no investigation, sources say, was possible by the Préval administration which, nevertheless, organized an elaborate funeral for the revered “Jean Do,” as the fearless journalist was affectionately called.

A former Lavalas enthusiast turned critic of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was then a candidate to reelection to the presidency, Mr. Dominique’s assassination re mains a mystery. Even President René Préval, Aristide’s first Prime Minister in 1991, was warned against conducting an investigation. The Agronomist, a documentary directed by Jonathan Demme, released in 2004, is a testimonial to Jean Léopold Dominique, one of several Haitian martyrs of journalism.

As for Radio Kiskeya, sympathisers from everywhere, say that voice should not be silenced and a movement is under way to raise funds to make it happen. The Mayor of Port-au-Prince, Ralph Youri Chevry, came to the station Friday night to show his solidarity with Liliane Pierre Paul and Marvel Dandin, the proprietors of the radio station. Also, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant and the Minister of Culture came to Radio Kiskeya to show their support. Gary Bodeau, president of the Lower House of Parliament calls for an investigation on the fire.

The “La Saline Massacre” revisited

Two police officers were the target of the General Inspection of the Haitian National Police (French acronym (IGPNH) as having participated in the gruesome massacre of civilians, including women and children, on November 13, in the Port-au-Prince shantytown of La Saline, northwest of the central city.

According to the Juno blog on line, in a dispatch dated December 12, it quoted Jean-Claude Benjamin, a deputy spokesperson for the IGPNH, who stated that the regulating body of the PNH urged the Director General to fire Jimmy Chérizier, alias Barbecue, and Gregory Antoine, nicknamed Ti Greg. The police oversight organization asserts that they were in possession of illegal arms and had deserted their posts.

Those two police officers were cited in the reports of the two human rights organizations that carried out investigations in La Saline after the massacre became known. The Foundation Je Klere (Bright Eyes Foundation) had rushed to present a report on November 16, before the nationwide demonstrations that were projected for November 18. In addition, the RNDDH had conducted a 10-day detailed investigation, a released the report November 28.

Both Je Klere and RNDDH mentioned the names of the two police officers in their reports. They said that the two had used police equipment, including vehicles, during the November 13 massacre. To be noted, RNDDH had called the wanton slaughter of innocent people “a State massacre.”The ruling of the IGPNH con firms the reports of the human rights organizations. Yet, until now, neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Presidency has undertaken any investigation to find the underlying cause of that massacre. How much is the Executive Branch involved in the dastardly act ? As previously reported, members of the Executive have had contact with gangs which have turned certain communities of Port-au-Prince into no man’s land.

*Is Haiti considered an “unaccompanied post” for American and Canadian diplomats ?

That would mean spouses and children may not accompany their parent or spouse who would be posted in Haiti. That information circulating on social media for Thursday couldn’t be confirmed, whatnot with the partial shutdown of government in Washington, due to a $5 billion funding President Trump asks Congress to include for his unpopular southern border wall.

*About that southern Border Wall with Mexico, something big happened in Washington, on Friday when the outgoing president of the House, Congressman Tim Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, let go and slammed the President without ever mentioning his name.

Follow our transcription of a very emotional speech of Congress man Ryan on the floor of the House, which was carried by CSPAN Television :

“This has been really an interesting debate, because our friends on the other side, Mr. Speaker , it’s as like they have amnesia, and nothing happened before the election a couple of years ago.

“All of this promise about a border wall were followed by the cheers and the chants on who’s going to pay for that wall ? You remember all your fans standing up and saying Mexico will pay for that wall ? Who ?  Mexico !

“And here we are today getting ready to shut down the government over you asking the American taxpayer to pay for this border wall. And then some of you up there are saying that we have hollow words, that our words don’t mean anything. When this president is going back on the promise that he made. He said Mexico was going to pay for it. He said it at the rally. He was in Ohio, he was in the swing states. And now, he’s going back on his words on that, and he just went back on his word where he promised the entire Senate that he was going to support the continuing resolution. (His voice cracking!) And you’re calling us and saying our words are hollow. Are you kidding me ?

“Oh look, I am for border security. [Yes,] I am for border security ! But I am not for a wall.

“You know what ?

I like cars too, but I’m not for a model T. “I like planes. I don’t want a glider that was designed and built by Wilber Right.

“I like my phone, but I don’t want to go back to get the rotary dial out.

“You guys are living in the past. And this government is in chaos. It’s in a free fall. The market is in a free fall. The staffing at the White House is in a free fall.

The Secretary of Defense is gone we’re pulling out of Syria. What is going on ?

“You are in charge of the House, Senate and the White House. Get a grip and learn how to govern the country !”

What can one say after this short but to the point speech ? Nothing. Perhaps others will be emboldened to say what’s on their mind. As for Congressman Tim Ryan, he already said goodbye to his colleagues. He had announced a few months back that he was leaving the House in January.

RAJ December 26, 2018

cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur, édition du 26 décembre 2018 et se trouve en P. 1, 13 à : http://haiti-observateur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/H-O-26-december-2018.pdf