The Sound of Silence

Killing the Hope in Haiti

News of Dominique's murder brought a disturbing dose of new reality to the Haitians in the diaspora, as both of his daily programs— Inter-Actualités at 7 a.m. and the interview-oriented Face à l'Opinion (Face the Opinion) in the afternoon—have been simulcast since 1995 in the tri-state area over Haitian-owned Radio Soleil, a Brooklyn-based subcarrier, which reaches over 275,000 people.

As speculations abound as to who was responsible for the assassinations of Dominique and Louissaint, some suspicions have focused on the atavistic Tonton Macoutes, while others hint at participation of the left. Jean Dominique was a staunch opponent of the Duvaliers and their murderous Tonton Macoutes, who had tortured and jailed him. And a celebrated editorial last fall addressing what he believed was unjust pressure being put on him by Aristide's former chief of police, Danny Toussaint—now a senatorial candidate—reads like a testament: " . . . and if I am still alive, I will close down the station after having denounced the plot hatched against me and I will return into exile one more time with my wife and my children."

Nevertheless, in spite of the tears of his friends, nobody on the political scene in Haiti today can be exculpated. Friends and foes alike have helped create a climate of violence in which a life is not even worth the $100 that is reportedly the asking price for hired guns these days in the country.

Jean Dominique: "quintessential professional and patriot"
photo courtesy of AFP Photo
Jean Dominique: "quintessential professional and patriot"

Jean Dominique recently told a journalist, "I have no tolerance for those who speak with guns in their hands." Once again in Haiti, we are reminded that those with the guns have no tolerance for people who speak with their hearts and minds.

A memorial service for Jean Dominique will be held at Columbia University next month. Time and date will be announced.

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