We learned this weekend that Francesco Fantoli, an Italian journalist, was killed after being shot by assailants as he left his bank in Port au Prince.
He had a number of films on youtube, was a sports commentator, and had just inaugurated a school for football in the town of Jacmel. Fantoli had once told colleagues at the Haiti Press Network: “I can’t stay more than two weeks abroad, I feel so attached to Haiti”. His death will go largely ignored by the world, but in Haiti – at least – it makes today’s radio news.
I attach one of his small films, made a couple of years ago.
Reminder how fragile it all is, and where we are. We also hear that – much as in Kenya – there tends to be a spike in crime as Christmas approaches. Ah well.
I learn a few surprising facts this weekend.
If you think the UK parliamentary expenses scandal is bad, check this out. Despite an official salary of less than $3k, with various expense accounts Haitian members of parliament (there are 99 of them) get around $9000 a month.
$9000! That is greater than a UK MP’s salary, give or take. In the poorest country in the west, whose budget (incomprehensible by all accounts) is 60% paid for through foreign aid, and where the minimum wage was recently raised to a princely $5. A day, that is. Causing significant grumbling from the business sector.
I also learn another striking fact. That the members of the country’s electoral commission – the one that has recently excluded Bertrand Aristide’s party, Lavalas, as part of a power grab by president Rene Preval – get $700 a day in expenses when travelling, even when in Haiti. It’s mindblowing.
There are also concerns at recent promises by Rene Preval that anyone who joins his “Inite” umbrella party will have all sorts of expenses covered. Perhaps a few presents besides. Who will pay for that? Hmm…
The west supports this government, because it tolerates the UN presence and because there is no countrywide violence. Neither is there any clear alternative. But added to widespread Haitian criticism of the pre-electoral process, which features non-stop on the radio right now – is Haiti’s recent shine beginning to look a little less shiny?