(Note: One year ago this week, Haitian journalist Jacques Roche was kidnapped and killed in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. The cultural editor of the Haitian newspaper Le Matin, as well as a television host and published poet, Jacques Roche joined the roll call of those in Haiti waiting for justice. Shortly after his murder, Michele Montas-Dominique, widow of slain Radio Haiti-Inter director Jean Dominique, published this open letter to Mr. Roche. It is sadly as relevant today as it was one year ago, when we involved with Haiti lost another irreplaceable light in a country that desperately needs them. MD)
A Note To Jacques Roche
New York, July 21, 2005
Today, you also are confronted with savagery in that descent into hell that has become our daily lot as a people, a descent into hell that was nonetheless predictable and avoidable, a descent into hell paved with so many stones of impunity.
Your fellow journalists will be standing at your side to say no to the unacceptable just as they said no for Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor. The difference is that today the unacceptable has become the norm undoubtedly as a result of so many unpunished crimes.
Because you, Jacques, had believed in principles in a Haiti today devoid of law and faith; because you also believed that words could change life, they silenced you with a bullet to the throat and your tongue savagely cut. Silence, they kill.
Because you had the temerity to dream that men and women of good will could contain the onrushing violence, they assassinated you as well.
Today you will be put to rest with belated pomp, you will hear many official promises, and many crocodile tears will be shed on your tortured body. You will hear many promises to investigate. Do not believe too much in them. Your family will demand -- as we did and as the family and colleagues of Brignol Lindor did – the truth, but the investigation will continue forever because too many influential people, under an elected government as well as an interim government – mutatis mutandis – have an interest in protecting impunity.
The "Jacques Roche case" – this is the way they will refer to you – will collect arrest warrants that will not be served. They will find witnesses dead – as they found you – in a street corner and investigating judges will resign out of fear or a sense of powerlessness. You "alleged" murderers will continue to move about freely as with Ti Lou and Gimmy, who were accused of killing Jean Dominique and who, today out of jail, lead their own gangs in total impunity… An even if some day they are tried, your murderers later will probably be exonerated under the justice of the winners of the moment. Courage, Jacques, for at that moment you will need much more courage than you had when you were confronting your torturers.
They will praise you today the better to cover their impotence or refusal to act. Political leaders will shower praise on you and hasten to forget you once the Jacques Roche case ceases to be useful to them. Do not be surprised if they even spit on you should they find it useful to sit down with your murderers. You understand very well the extent to which the culture of forgetfulness, which is the comfortable mirror image of impunity, is nurtured in our country. Courage, Jacques, for you will need much courage to listen to "the words disguised by the wretched to inflame the idiots."
In the mean time Jacques, when you see Jean, tell him about the multifaceted violence, the gangrenous corruption, the loss of references, the shoving aside of principles and values, tell him about the bitter struggle for miserable power, and these elections, planned elsewhere, to serve a purpose. Tell him about the country "on the outside" drained of blood and abandoned to its own devices. Tell him about the wind of Maribahoux… But do not forget to tell him, Jacques, about the courage displayed daily by thousands of us, when confronted by savagery, stupidity, cowardice, the courage that you yourself displayed. Tell him about the resistance and tenacious hope. Tell him that your struggle has more than ever meaning and that no murderer can assassinate the dreams of his loved ones and your loved ones. I know that you will understand one another with few words.
Dreams like people put forth new shoots and flowers. And the murderers who roam the city cannot put an end to it. And the time will come for "your dream" to be born again.
Goodbye, my friend.
We will never forget.