Haiti and the Media

Mon Aug. 29, 2005 12:09 PM EDT

For the past month a group of friends and I have been attempting to raise awareness of the crisis in Haiti. Like Iraq, Haiti is a country in which the U.S. has been meddling for years, and like Iraq, the U.S. helped orchestrate the removal of Haiti's leader. Although it remains disputed the extent to which the U.S. was involved, ousted President Aristide maintains that he was taken hostage and forced to leave the country against his will. And while there is good evidence to support Aristide's claims as well as to suggest that the U.S. backed the armed rebellion that swept into Port-au-Prince in 2004, the U.S. media to this day almost fully refuses to acknowledge what took place. You would think that the press would care a bit more about Haiti given the one major difference with Iraq: Aristide, unlike Saddam, was a democratically elected President so committed to peace that he abolished Haiti's army.

Besides myself, The Heretik has been staying on top of the unfolding crisis, and today he points to some of the NYT's rare and always atrocious coverage on Haiti. Today's article amounts to little more than apologetics for the U.N.'s so-called "peace-keeping" activities.

Consider what happened: On July 6, U.N. troops surrounded one of Haiti's worst shanty-towns, – Cité Soleil – with tanks and helicopters under the pretense of going after a gang leader and his thugs. In the weeks after the attack, the U.N. maintained that only the gang leader and a few armed gang members were killed, despite the countless reports emerging that dozens of innocent people were killed, many women and children. Independent observers who traveled to Haiti speak of the horror of bodies lying in the street being eaten by dogs. All of the victims were supporters of Aristide.

As The Heretik notes, the NYT's coverage of this event leaves something to be desired. Today's piece essentially blames the impoverished residents of Cité Soleil for the violence the peace-keeping troops inflicted upon them. The story also justifies the violent actions as necessary for democracy!

For United Nations peacekeeping forces, bringing some semblance of order to Cité Soleil and giving its residents a chance to vote in the elections are seen as important steps in establishing a new, credible government in Haiti.
With elections coming up in Haiti in the next few months, we are likely to see more violence against Aristide's supporters and even more denials and rationalizations by the likes of the NYT.

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