|Radio commentator shot dead Death adds to Haiti's
Published Tuesday, April 4, 2000, in the Miami Herald
BY DON BOHNING email@example.com
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Gunmen ambushed and killed Haiti's best known radio journalist early Monday, further fueling a deteriorating political and economic situation in the country.
Jean Dominique, also an informal advisor to President Rene Preval, was shot by two gunmen who were waiting for him in what appeared to be a well-planned attack about 6:10 a.m. (7:10 Miami time), after he pulled into the station grounds and was preparing to park. The assassins hit him with at least seven bullets, then fled. Dominique died in an ambulance en route to a hospital. A station security guard was also killed.
It was the third high-profile assassination in Haiti in a little over a year:
Yvon Toussaint, an opposition senator was killed in March 1999, and Jean Lamy, a onetime Haitian army colonel and police advisor close to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was gunned down in October. No one has been arrested in either of those killing.
Dominique's death comes at a time of increasing tension and uncertainty over legislative elections, already delayed three times, despite intense international pressure on the Preval government to hold them as promptly as possible.
Haiti has had no parliament since January 1999 when Preval effectively dissolved it by declaring its term at an end. The lack of a parliament to approve international assistance has cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars in such aid.
As a result, the international community, including Washington, has become increasingly frustrated with the Preval government and, what many see as the power behind it, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was restored to office in October 1994 by a U.S.-led invasion.
At the same time, a new and probably final, United Nations mission to Haiti with police, human rights and judicial system advisors, has yet to become operational, even though its one year mandate began March 15.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, in a letter to the General Assembly on Friday, said that the new Haiti mission may have to be terminated due to lack of funds.
The United States, which promised a $7.5 million voluntary contribution for the mission, has so far failed to come through.
Dominique's death also came after three days of sometimes violent election-related street demonstrations last week, with some demonstrators demanding elections and others protesting the rising cost of living due to a deteriorating economic situation.
Speculation abounded Monday about who might have been responsible for Dominique's assassination and what its political implications might be on an already volatile country, apart from the further intimidation of local media.
Dominique, 69, made no pretense of being an objective journalist, and as an acerbic and opinionated commentator had made many enemies across the political spectrum.
Still, according to one local journalist, his 7 a.m. radio program was a must because he was regarded as the unofficial voice of the National Palace.
In recent weeks, according to observers here, he had become stridently anti-American, perhaps as a result of the increasing pressure on the Preval government for legislative elections.
But Dominique had enemies on the left, including among Aristide supporters.
In October, after the Lamy assassination, Dominique had accused Danny Toussaint, a former interim police chief after the U.S.-led invasion that returned Aristide to power, of wanting to kill him. Toussaint is now an Aristide candidate for Senate. But there were those on the right, including remnants of the Duvalier dictatorship, who also had it in for the outspoken Dominique.
Dominique, prominent in Haiti radio circles for 40 years, went into exile under President Francois ``Papa Doc'' Duvalier, returned under his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, then was exiled again after he spearheaded a freedom of speech movement in the late 1970s.
He returned in 1986 when Jean-Claude fled, reopened his radio station, only to be exiled once more after the September 1991 coup that ousted Aristide. He came back for the last time in 1994. The United States, meanwhile, voiced frustration over Haiti's stalled elections.
State Department spokesman James Rubin said significant further delays would undermine the credibility of the electoral process and risk the current momentum toward holding an election soon.
``In our view, the government of Haiti must publish new dates for elections soon, and lend full financial, logistical and security support for the provisional electoral council to ensure those dates are met. Failure to constitute promptly a legitimate parliament will risk isolating Haiti from the community of democracies and jeopardize future cooperation and assistance,'' Rubin said.
Special correspondent Stu Stogel at the United Nations
and Herald wire services contributed to this report.
COMMENT ON ARTICLE:
Domonique was a piece of garbage who betrayed each segment of Haiti's community - at one time or another. He originally stole his radio station from associates. When he got into financial trouble, Duvalier lent a hand. He then attacked Duvalier. When he got into more financial trouble, the business community stepped in and gave him assistance. He then attacked the business community. Since Aristide's appearance he took from Aristide's plate and then attacked Lavalas. The Duvalierists and business communities were not dangerous, however, you screw with Aristide and you die. Domonique paid for his many crimes with his life.
Now the Aristide will use a ploy the applied with the murders of Izmery, Malary and Vincent, during the 1991-1994 embargo period. They kill a problem person - Domonique - then blame another problem person for the murder. In this case Aristide plans to blame Chamber of Commerce President, Olivier Nadal, a potential presidential candidate in the fall elections.
Aristide's actions will prevent Nadal's return, removing another competitor from the game.+