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exchange with Andrew Buncombe re Haiti

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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: exchange with Andrew Buncombe re Haiti Reply with quote

exchange with Andrew Buncombe
Posted by emersberger on January 15, 2010, 8:41 pm, in reply to "Two articles on Haiti"

Hi Joe, hope things are well with you. Imagine you are watching the scenes unfolding in Haiti with sheer horror. Hope any people you know down there are ok. I wrote a couple of bits of background for the paper to at least try and create a bit of context.

Andy Buncombe

Hi Andy,
It is good to hear from you.
No one that I have ever contacted - so far - has been hurt in Haiti.
Hope the same is true of you. I see from your blog it may be amd I'm glad of it..

Your article, by the standards of the corporate press, is very good. I doubt I'll read any better by any journalist working for the corporate press. It makes extremely important points which, if widely known, would not only generate more resources for reconstruction but also sustain constructive international attention.

I'd say your article is fantastic except for the following line

"Four years later, Aristide, by then turning to the tactics of violence to try and maintain his position, was again forced from power by a coalition of business interests and former soldiers, partly funded and supported by elements of the Bush administration and the US Republican establishment. "

No doubt Aristide supporters were guilty of some acts of violence that, regardless the threats and provocations they were exposed to, could not be justified. However, I am unfamiliar with any evidence that Aristide's government was guilty of systematic human rights abuses or that the "tactics of violence" could be said to have played any role in Aristide maintaining power (until he was overthrown).

I would not think that "tactics of violence" should include the use of security forces to prevent a violent overthrow of the government, nor that police brutality, which happens even in rich countries not facing coup attempts, could be said to warrant writing that Aristide "turned to the tactics of violence". . Anyone reading your article would assume you mean that Aristide was having opponents bumped off or otherwise repressed without justification - and basically ruling significantly through intimidation rather than popular support..If that were true then cases tested in court - such as the cases of Yvon Neptune, So Ann and Gerard Jean Juste - woudl have turned out very differently - especially since the judicary had been stacked against them. As you know, it is extremely unlikely that Preval would have had a chance to win in 2006 if the characterization of Aristide a leader who had turned significantly to violence to keep control was accurate.

I hope it is not too late for you to modify what you wrote. It mars an otherwise wonderful artice.

Joe, Thanks very much for getting back to me and for yr kind words. I think you make some valid points, though I think there's plenty of evidence that Lavalas-backed gangs were involved in quite serious violence, especially against groups such as students who ought to have been Aristide's natural allies.
If you've got a minute or two to post yr comments - and I mean the critical ones - on the online story it would be great as I think it might help encourage debate.

I am heartened that the staff and residents who were at the Oloffson hotel are ok - I wrote a small piece about that this morning - but there are still a number of people down there I am waiting to hear from. Fingers crossed and all of that.

Happy 2010 to you Joe.


Best wishes to you also Andy in the new year.
Glad you were not offended by critical comments and I will post them as you suggest (if your system lets me). I recall I had problems with it in the past.

As I'm sure you know, the most prominent case of alleged Lavalas backed violence against anti-Aristide students was So Ann's case and it was exposed as baseless in court. There was a massive propaganda campaign to convince the world that Aristide ruled through violence. However, if he had truly resorted to "tactics of violence" he might have served out his term since the majority of Haitians supported him."

Not at all clear that university students - often being relatively privileged (even if not always from the elite) in a place as poor as Haiti - would be Aristide's natural allies. It is unsurprising to me that many would have been induced to support the opposition. .

Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:45 pm
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