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Haitian media should be wary of Michel Martelly’s threats

Declaration of Groupe Médialternatif, 11 March 2011

Groupe Médialternatif takes very seriously the threats made by presidential candidate Joseph Michel Martelly against Gotson Pierre, editor and journalist for AlterPresse, the group’s online news agency, during a televised debate on March 9, 2011.

Related to a dossier of general public interest concerning debts owed by Martelly to U.S. banks, when asked about his management capacity and his ability to handle his eventual responsibility, the candidate flushed with anger and blurted out: “Let him bring them [the questions] on! They sent him to attack me! I’m ready [to confront him]!”

Martelly explicitly evoked possible reactions “by street heat.”

Ought one to believe that Martelly has a list of journalists he won’t tolerate, or whom he thinks are against him?

The serious declarations of the candidate ought to be considered as threats to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, freedoms only acquired since February 7, 1986, when the bloody Duvalier dictatorship fell.

Groupe Médialternatif salutes the watchfulness of the national and international media, which were quick to reveal these deviations, and invites all members of the press and of society in general to draw the logical conclusions from this aggression towards journalists and the media from Martelly, who is after the president’s seat.

Groupe Médialternatif reserves the right to take the appropriate actions in the face of a resurgence of institutional threats against the free practice of journalism as guaranteed by the March 29, 1987, Constitution.

For the Management Council of Groupe Médialternatif,

Ronald Colbert