Writer Warns Of Media Role In Less Than Truthful Haitian Narrative

Author Belen Fernandez warns against believing everything you read about the happenings in Haiti.

In an op-ed piece on Aljazeera.com, the American-born writer blasts a naïve Western media that so readily painted a picture of a country overrun by looters and at the mercy of gang members and other criminals following the massive earthquake to befall Haiti in 2010.

Relevant details were ignored, Fernandez argues, such as the contention by prominent Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph that 80 percent of the prisoners freed by the quake had never been charged with a crime.

Fernandez suggests that the media efforts were disingenuous in nature, designed to make the U.S. decision to send in more than 11,000 troops more politically palatable at home for President Barack Obama.

French Co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet was quoted as questioning U.S. priorities at the time.

“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” he said.

Fernandez alleges that teams of paramedics and first responders were delayed in the critical hours immediately following the earthquake as foreign military commandeered the Port-au-Prince airport.

As if to strengthen her point, she cites a book by author Jeb Sprague that documents the detrimental roles that the U.S. and other international states have allegedly played in Haitian history.

Offering new evidence obtained through interviews and a massive amount of formerly classified U.S. government documents, the book seeks to clarify how Haiti’s post-quake reconstruction rests on a foundation of total impunity achieved by the country’s most brutal paramilitaries and their financiers.

And they had no worries of repercussions when they collectively made sure to get rid of anybody who opposed them.

Prior to becoming the impoverished nation’s first democratically elected president in early 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide “denounced the historic role of the United States in founding, arming and training Haiti’s military, which had been responsible for so much of the violence in Haitian history”.

“They [the United States] set up the Haitian Army, they trained it to work against the people,” Aristide said.

Aristide was overthrown in a coup d’état twice, with the last coming on February 29, 2004.

His coup-inducing crimes included inviting street children and homeless persons to breakfast at the National Palace and endeavoring to raise the daily minimum wage from $1.76 to $2.94, according to Fernandez.

She cites a New York Times article in 1994, in which Aristide’s decision to raise the country’s minimum wage was “vigorously opposed by the US Agency for International Development because of the threat such an increase would pose to the ‘business climate’, particularly to American companies paying rock-bottom wages to workers in Haiti.”

Fernandez charges that Haiti’s brutal paramilitary groups have received scant media coverage because the powerful shape the news.

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