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17764: Ives: Re: 17615: Blanchet: The Bicentennial According to Radio Metropole (fwd)

From: K. M. Ives <kives@toast.net>

A quick look at Metropole's coverage:

> The 200th Anniversary of Haiti's Independence was
> commemorated, this Thursday January 1, 2004, in
> an atmosphere of chaos in Port-au-Prince and Gona´ves.

Most of Haiti was peaceful and celebratory. The only chaos was in areas
where the opposition was wreaking havoc. Its "demonstrators" went on a car
burning and windshield smashing rampage in Port-au-Prince; in Gonaives, they
valiantly threw rocks and fired shots from behind houses at passing cars;
and in Gros Morne, they attacked school buses filled with many women and
children headed to Gonaives, and then stoned and burned a police station
from which most of the police had fled.

> Anti-Aristide demonstrations repressed by the police,
> shooting almost everywhere in the capital and the City
> of Independence, many wounded by gunfire, such was the
> backdrop during this historic day.

No demonstration was "repressed by the police." The demonstrations were
provocational, unruly and violent. The police responded with great

> At the National Palace, in the presence of thousands of
> supporters,

more accurately, tens and tens of thousands of supporters,

> President Aristide, after hoisting the flag with his
> wife at his side and following a cultural ceremony, renewed
> his determination to end his 5-year mandate on February 7
> 2006. Mr. Aristide, who cannot succeed himself, expressed the
> desire of his party, Fanmi Lavalas, to stay in power until 2015.

Baloney. Aristide never "expressed the desire of his party, Fanmi Lavalas,
to stay in power until 2015." He spoke of goals for the year 2015, never
specifying a party.

> With this in mind, he presented a 21 point program to be financed
> with the $21 billion demanded of France as restitution for the
> debt of independence [paid by Haiti to France in the 19th
> and 20th century.] He also invited the opposition and Civil Society
> to participate in legislative elections this year.
> Before that, the only foreign head of state present, Thabo
> Mbeki of South Africa,

An aside here. When they say head of state, most people think "the person
that represents a nation through popular elections," i.e. the popularly
agreed upon leader. Well, the head of state of the Bahamas is the Governor
General appointed by Her Majesty. Not much hope there. PM Christie is the
closest thing to the Bahamian leader.

>had expressed his concerns regarding
> the current crisis and praised the Haitian Revolution, which
> showed the Black World the road to freedom on January 1,
> 1804. For his part, the PM of the Bahamas, Perry Christie,
> representing Caricom, expressed his pride in being in Haiti
> in spite of migration issues confronting the two countries.
> Maxime Waters, congresswoman from California representing
> the Black Caucus, stressed her friendship with Haiti.
> As the head of state began to speak, thousands of demonstrators

many witnesses I have spoken to say that march numbered in the hundreds, but

> of the opposition -- an event without precedent on January 1 --
> took to the streets of Port-au-Prince at the behest of the Democratic
> Platform to ask for his resignation. Starting in Petion-Ville, they went
> down the Delmas road while voicing their determination to
> fight the Lavalas regime. As the demonstrators progressed, the
> crowd kept growing and the police decided to react.

In reality, the demonstrators tried to take the Nazon road, which was not
their march route. Violation of the march route has now become the regular
provocational tactic of the opposition.

> At the corner
> of ruelle Nazon and Delmas road, national palace officers
> opened fire on the demonstrators. Moments later, agents of CIMO
> [Haiti's equivalent to a swat unit] intervened to block the way of the
> demonstrators.
> Ruelle Nazon then became a battle field. In response to the
> firing and tear gassing by the police, the demonstrators erected
> imposing barricades with stones and tires set aflame. The same
> scenario was repeated in Lalue, Bois-Verna, and Turgeau. In
> these neighborhoods, the GOH's followers were firing in all
> directions and engaging in a man hunt. At least 10 people were
> wounded, 3 of them by gunfire.

There were people with guns running and firing all over. It was impossible
to know who were "GOH followers" and who were GOH opponents

> In this atmosphere of chaos, President Aristide made a flash visit
> to Gona´ves where he made a brief speech in the presence of more
> than a thousand supporters who had come from neighboring areas.

First, it was a visit, not a flash one, that had been planned for months.
Two, the speech was 25 minutes long... not exactly brief. Three, there were
some 7000 celebrants in Gonaives, with many more hanging at the perimeter of
the Place due to their fear of the violence which the opposition had

> In the City of Independence, no cultural, patriotic or cultural event
> was organized. The President's speech was delivered against a
> backdrop of sustained firing in the presence of President
> Mbeki who was visibly shaken according to Haitian and foreign
> reporters present at the scene.

THIS is the BEST part, which gives an inkling of how reliable the rest of
the report is. President Mbeki DID NOT TRAVEL to Gonaives.

> The podium on which President Aristide was to speak had been
> smeared the night before with fecal matter.

This seems unlikely, since it was under guard.

> Journalists report that the presidential cortege came under fire
> from elements affiliated with the Anti-Aristide Front [of
> Gona´ves] who then fought it out with Haitian officers backed
> by the South-African military.

This is invention. There was no attack. There was no Mbeki. There were no
South African military.

> Finally, President Aristide was
> able to return to the capital by helicopter. Following his
> departure, the police arrested many people but was unable
> to stop an anti-government demonstration.
> During the day, many prisoners escaped from the national
> penitentiary in Port-au-Prince. In Gros-Morne, in the Artibonite,
> prisoners also escaped following the intervention of anti-
> government demonstrators who ransacked a police station.
> A demonstration calling for Aristide's ouster also took place
> in Jacmel.

I have spoken to many people who were in Jacmel that day. They said all was
quiet and heard of no demonstration.

> The Democratic Platform, which is comprised of students,
> Civil Society Organizations and opposition parties, will present
> its alternative to Lavalas tomorrow, the National Day honoring
> Haiti's Heroes.

Notice how they put the students up front. This "uprising" is being led by
the bourgeoisie, financed by imperialism, fought by many former Macoutes and
soldiers and hailed by reactionaries worldwide.

It should also be noted that many foreign correspondents use Metropole as
their point of reference, uncritically re-disseminating their erroneous

Most ironically, such media present themselves as "objective" when they are
patently partisan.