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Blinken faces questions about democracy in Haiti, compared to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua

Questions to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, during a panel discussion entitled "A Commitment to Journalistic Freedom", Tuesday June 7, 2022, at the Summit of the Americas, in Los Angeles.

Excerpt from the State Department website by AlterPresse, Wednesday June 8, 2022

Part of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken remarks:

“(…) At least 17 journalists have been killed in this hemisphere in this year, according to the UNESCO observatory of killed journalists, including – most recently – Yesenia Mollinedo and Sheila Johana Garcia, the director and a reporter of the news website El Veraz, in Veracruz, Mexico, shot to death on May the 9th.

No region in the world is more dangerous for journalists.

Crimes like these persist in no small part because the people who order them and carry them out are so rarely held accountable. That sends a message that these attacks can continue with impunity.

Repressive officials are also using new technologies to monitor journalists, to surveil their private communications – a practice unearthed, fittingly enough, through very dogged reporting.

Governments are using sweeping legislation to quash free expression, as we saw in the recent slate of amendments adopted by El Salvador in March and in April of this year.

In Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, the simple act of carrying out investigative journalism is a crime. (…)”

Questions and answers immediately after his presentation :

QUESTION: I want to know how you justify the invitation to Dr. Ariel Henry from Haiti when he is ruling with no mandate in contravention of the nation’s constitution, and then he’s been implicated in, I think you would admit, very serious crimes, including the murder of a Haitian journalist just this February by the Haitian police.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: So we’ll have plenty of opportunity, I think, in the days ahead to talk about the summit, the participation in the summit, who’s here, who’s not. In Haiti, we continue to work for a transition that leads to appropriate elections that are supported by all the Haitian people. We continue to work to deal with gang violence that is afflicting the country and is doing terrible damage to the Haitian people. We continue to work to try to find ways to support the Haitian people, who have borne more than their share of trouble in the last years, both human and naturally made.

So in all of these ways we’re working, including with partners in our hemisphere, to try to support the Haitian people. But we want to see them have a truly representative government, and that goes down the path of getting to new elections in the coming time.

QUESTION: But Prime Minister Henry is refusing to negotiate with civil society. Again, he is actually governing with no constitutional mandate. His government has been implicated in many different crimes, including potentially the murder of the past president. You yourself have said in your speech here today and in previous statements that countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, that you mentioned are being excluded from the Summit of the Americas because you deem them to not be democratic.

But how can you use that as your justification when you have the so-called prime minister of Haiti, who is ruling under no sort of democratic mandate here, despite the fact that this is well-known in terms of the repression of journalists, the repression of protesters, and his previous involvement in the coup against President Aristide that The New York Times has at least alleged the United States Government was supportive of?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Again, we, like many other countries, are determined to get into the facts of what happened in Haiti, including the assassination of the previous prime minister. We’re determined to find the facts wherever they lead and to whomever they lead.

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