Originally: Former Aristide loyalist is now a leading voice for change in Haiti
She is a prominent Haitian journalist who has made a name for herself attacking the very regime she once supported.
And as one of Haiti’s more well-known radio journalists, Nancy Roc isn’t shy about speaking her mind.
Not about the endangered plight of Haitian journalists.
Not about the dismal failures, as she sees them, of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas Family Party.
And certainly not about ”the profound revolt” she feels when she sees the current conditions people in Haiti are living in: misery, corruption, destruction of the environment.
”I do not have any more hope,” says Roc, who served as Aristide’s press secretary in the early 1990s and has since become one of his harshest critics. ‘People ask, `Nancy if you do not have any more hope, then why do you fight?’ ”
The answer, says Roc, is simple: Haiti needs more courageous souls.
”If each of us do half of our duty to that country, we would not be in this state,” says Roc, who is in South Florida at the invitation of the Weston-based Haitian Resource Development Foundation to promote her new book, Les Grands Dossiers de Métropolis (Large Files of Metropolis).
Roc, 40, believes one person who did his duty was Jean Dominique. An internationally known Haitian journalist, Dominique was killed three years ago Thursday after being gunned down outside his Radio Haiti Inter station in Port-au-Prince. Most private radio stations in Haiti suspended newscasts Thursday to commemorate Dominique’s death.
Roc says Dominique’s death and the failure of a recent government indictment to say who ordered it serve as a reminder of the constant threat Haitian journalists face.
The book, written in French, is a compilation of 20 of Roc’s commentaries, all of which appeared as topics on Métropolis, the 90-minute French-language radio show she hosts on Port-au-Prince-based Radio Métropole. Written from the perspective of a Haitian intellectual, the pieces are highly critical of Haiti’s political and social conditions and relay Roc’s disappointment in the Aristide government, the Lavalas party and even the Haitian people.
She will have book signings from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Sant La Haitian Community Center, 5000 Biscayne Blvd., and from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., sixth floor.
”Haiti is a country that is totally disintegrating,” Roc says. “2004 is a very important year for us. It’s a year of challenges and pain if we do what we have to do — search for our real identity. I don’t think we have cut the abscess — racism, corruption — that came from 1804.”
Born in Port-au-Prince, Roc grew up in Africa, where her father worked as a surgeon in several countries. She returned to Haiti at age 23. She has been educated in France and the United States, and holds a fine-arts degree from the University of Arizona.
Journalism, she said, is more than a job. It’s a vocation, which she chose because of her love for people and passion in helping good win over evil.
Like many Haitian journalists, she has been the victim of harassment and attacks, including an incident in April 2001 when someone ran her car off the road, leaving her with 18 stitches. She alleges the culprit was a government official.
”I choose to stay in my country,” says Roc, who has had to hire two security guards. ‘I will not get in this game of leaving. We need some people to dare to say `No’ and not accept the unacceptable.”
Still, she doesn’t blame those who have left. According to the Paris-based watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, 29 journalists have fled Haiti since 2000.
”Being a journalist in Haiti right now is one of the most dangerous professions. It is very, very dangerous,” Roc says. “Once the media are in danger, the whole society is in danger.”