One of Haiti?s most popular radio stations was forced to suspend
broadcasting Thursday night after receiving what
station employees characterized as “very serious and
grave” threats.
Radio Kiskeya, an independent radio station based in
Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, stopped broadcasting
at around 6:30 Thursday night, the station’s news
director, Marvel Dandin, told Reuters.
“We received information from a reliable source that
the station was to be burned this evening, so we were
obliged to cease operations and evacuate our
employees,” Dandin said.
Sources at the station confirmed that the threats were
communicated to Kiskeya employees by a person present
at the meeting where the attack was being planned,
apparently as a warning. They said the station was
being targeted as a result of it’s coverage of the
disappearance of a community organizer last week and
also the arrest this week of a leading advocate for
investors who lost money in a pyramid scheme that has
rocked Haiti.
Kiskeya had been delivering daily updates on the
inquiry into the fate of Felix Bien-Aime, a political
activist once associated with the Lavalas Family
political party of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Bien-Aime disappeared last week after a traffic
altercation with several cars bearing official license
plates in the southern Port-au-Prince suburb of
Martissant, where he lived.
Neighborhood residents claim he was arrested by
officers of the Haitian National Police force, but
police spokesman deny he was ever taken into custody.
Late last week Bien-Aime’s car was found abandoned at
Titanyen, a region north of the capital that was once
the favored dumping ground for the body’s of the
victims of Haiti’s many dictatorships Demonstrators
battled police in Martissant this weekend demanding
Bien-Aime?s return, and this week the situation
remained tense.
Kiskeya had also been decrying the arrest of Rosemond
Jean, coordinator for the National Coordination of
Member Victims (CONASOVIC), a victim’s rights
organization for investors who lost money in a
pyramid-scheme based on Haiti?s system of traditional
co-operative lending institutions.
The scheme attracted investors with inflated promises
of huge interest revenues on deposits, before
beginning to falter this past summer into an eventual
collapse, wiping out the life savings of thousands of
poor and middle class Haitian virtually over night
Many investors pointed to speeches made by Aristide in
the early spring in which he appeared to give a nod of
approval to the co-ops as a possible salve for Haiti?s
dire economic straits as their main reason for having
the faith to invest in the first place.
Aristide began his second term as Haiti?s President in
January 2001. He has since been locked in a two-year
dispute with the Convergence over May 2000 legislative
elections that his opponents contend were biased to
favor Aristide’s party. The deadlock has stalled over
$500 million in international aid.
In a resolution passed earlier this month, the
Organization of American States called for a
restoration of aid to the country, as well as calling
for disarmament of political militants, the arrest of
those responsible for violence and compensation for
people who lost property.
The situation for Haiti?s press has grown increasingly
tenuous since the start of Aristide?s second term.
After a mysterious attack on the National Palace in
December, several journalists were threatened by armed
government mobs and several stations, including
Kiskeya, were forced to temporarily suspend
The investigations into the murders of two journalists
have also come under fire among charges of government
collusion and interference.
Aristide was named for the first time as a ?predator
of press freedom? by the Paris-based press-advocacy
group Reporter?s Without Borders earlier this year.