ON TUESDAY (April 13) Haitians of the diaspora in America and their friends and allies will gather in New York for the premiere of a film documentary on the working life of Haiti’s best known journalistatnhome and abroad, internatioally,Jean Dominque.
    An agronomist turned journalist, he was assassinated four years ago this month on the steps of his radio station, “Radio Haiti Inter.” He was then 69. No one has yet been prosecuted for his murder. He was 69 years
    Organised by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), in collaboration with film producer Jonathan Demme, and rap artist, Wyclef Jean, the premiere of the  “The Agronomist”, will attract journalists and human rights advocates familiar with the outstanding contributions of Jean Dominique and life in Haiti under successive regimes, including that of Jean Bertrand Aristide.
    There will also be some well known personalities like Harry Belafonte and Meryl Streep. And, of course, Dominique’s widow, Michelle Montas.
    The controversy continues over how Aristide was removed from office, as the United States of America and France remain opposed to an independent international investigation to determine the truth of his dramatic loss of political power on February 29.
    In declaring last Monday during his very brief visit to Port-au-Prince that “no purpose” would be served in investigating—as called for by CARICOM— how Aristide was removed from office, Secretary of State Colin Powell may have failed to realise that if there is nothing to hide, then there is no need to fear an independent probe.
    In writing this column, I am aware of media and other reports speculating on the likelihood of Aristide leaving Jamaica with his family before the eight to ten-week stay, as originally announced.
    I had the privilege of first meeting Jean Dominique in the company of  President Aristide during a human rights conference.in Port-au-Prince. We were to remain in contact as circumstances dictated.
    It may be too late,  but nevertheless desirable, that the ousted Haitian leader consider making a public statement why no one was successfully prosecuted, while he governed Haiti, was for the murder of the courageous Dominique, and the ‘Radio Haiti”security guard, Jean Claude Louissaint.
    Aristide would know of the lingering, widespread belief  that Dominique, the French-trained agronomist who became the first journalist to broadcast radio programmes in Creole in Haiti—much to the delight of the Haitian masses—was the victim of hired assassins of the then President’s Lavalas Movement.  
    Greater has been the suspicion, given the fact that Dominique had returned from forced exile under the notorious Duvalierist dictatorship in time to support a populist movement that catapulted Aristide, the priest-hero of the poor and oppressed as President of Haiti.
    So impressed was Aristide with Dominique’s commitment to freedom and social  justice, and as a nationally admired journalist, that he requested the journalist to serve in his first-ever cabinet as Minister of Information.
    Not surprisingly, Dominique graciously declined, preferring to do what he liked best and did so well–remaining in the practice of journalism and with his equally commited wife, Michelle Montas, kept the flag of ‘Radio Haiti Inter” proudly aloft.
    This was the journalist who, after repeated threats from those who wanted him to back-off from the criticisms flowing from his radio station on things he knew, or perceived to be wrong, and contrary to the promises of President Aristide, was shot to death in the compound of ‘Radio Haiti”.
    When other journalists were later attacked, some forced into hiding, and the widow of Dominique luckily escaped a reported assassination plot, fear and anger combined to question the lack of any effective initiative under the Ariside presidency for justice to be done. 
    “The Agronomist” will point to the integrity, courage and commitment of Dominique, his struggles and trials.
   Like some courageous Haitian human rights advocates, in and out of Haiti, with whom I am familiar—among them Jean Claude Bajeux— Dominique was once quite militant in his eloquent support for the populist priest who promised fundamental changes on his rise to political power. 
    Creeping corruption in public affairs and rising allegations of state-sponsored terrorism and assassinations were to result in the disillusionment of once stout defenders of the the President—among them media and human rights advocates—though some remained wary of the forces, at home and abroad, working to derail governance by Aristide and his Lavalas Party..
    Some of those anti-Aristide forces, including beneficiaries of foreign financing, were to prevail when the moment was finally chosen to abruptly and illegally bring an end to the Aristide administration.
    Corruption and abuse of power is not a Haitian peculiarity. Such sins exist in some of the best known “democracies”, including the “land of the free and the home of the brave” where a current administration can expediently wink at brutal crimes by its “friends and allies”—Israel readily comes to mind—but goes with a crusading zeal against those singled out as “enemies of democracy” and “sponsors of terrorism”.
    However, neither such display of hypocrisy by the powerful and wealthy, nor the cries against the unconstitutional removal of Aristide from power, should overlook the need for a response from the ousted Haitian leader on the murder of Dominique and failure to secure a conviction.Speculations abound..
    It is felt that Aristide should use this still early period of his exile, before realising his dream of returning to his homeland—whenever–to explain why no one was successfully prosecuted for the assassination of a towering journalist.
    After all, he was the Haitian icon, once in the forefront of Aristide’s own struggles for human rights and social justice, a people-focused agronomist who had emerged as a formidable broadcast journalist, long before being suddenly cut down by the bullets of hired killers.
    Will an explanation be forthcoming, Mr President? I deeply regret my own inability to attend, as invited, the premiere of “The Agronomist”. Proceeds from the event will be shared with “Radio Haiti”, according to NCHR’s Executive Director, Jocelyn McCalla