Monthly Archives: August 2007

Trench Town Politics – Politiques à Trenchtown

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On August 24, I was in Trench Town, a ghetto in Kingston made famous by Bob Marley. The reggae star grew up there in the 60es and made his big break on the reggae scene there. I had to work long and hard to gain access to get to Trench Town. To be able to work inside the slum, you need the right contacts and you need to find the cab driver who will drive you there.
Trench Town was an interesting experience for me as a journalist. In these pre-elections weeks, I did not see what I saw in February 2006 in Cité-Soleil, Port-au-Prince’s largest and most violent slum. For the people of Cité-Soleil, the presidential elections that were taking place then were a matter of life and death. René Préval, who was considered to be the candidate of the poor, was a hero for Haitians living in the slums of Port-au-Prince. In Trench Town on the other hand, most people did not seem to believe in politics any more. One could hear in the streets of Trench Town that the elctions will not change anything. People there seem to believe that hope and help can only come from abroad. The problem for them is that Jamaica is regularly overlooked by the major news outlets and people from Trench Town will probably have to wait for a long time for the help they desperately need to lift them out of poverty.

Le 24 août, j’ai effectué un reportage dans Trench Town, le ghetto où a garndi Bob Marley dans les années 60 et où il s’est révélé sur la scène reggae. L’accès à Trench Town a nécessité des jours de travail débuté à New York. Pour pouvoir travailler dans Trench Town, il faut en effet avoir le bon contact et prendre des précautions. Il faut trouver un chauffeur de taxi de confiance à Kingston qui accepte de vous y emmener et être escorté sur place par un « guide ».
Trench Town fut une expérience journalistique très intéressante. En cette période d’élections générales en Jamaïque, le ghetto m’a frappé par sa relative apathie politique. Cette sensation tranchait radicalement avec ce dont j’avais été le témoin en février 2006 à Cité-Soleil, le plus grand et violent bidonville de Port-au-Prince en Haïti. Pour les habitants de Cité-Soleil, l’élection présidentielle que je couvrais à l’époque, était littéralement une question de vie ou de mort. Dans les quartiers pauvres, les gens vouaient un véritable passion à René Préval, l’homme qui est depuis devenu leur président.
A Trench Town, les habitants semblaient en revanche quelque peu désabusés ou du moins peu concernés par l’élection. « Ca ne changera rien », pouvait-on entendre dans les rues du bidonville. Les habitants espèrent de l’aide et des lendemains meilleurs mais semblent avoir tiré un trait sur les deux partis jamaïcains et sur Portia Simpson Miller, la femme qui dirige actuellement le pays. L’aide qu’ils espèrent ne semble pouvoir venir que de l’étranger. Mais la Jamaïque, pays qui n’apparaît que rarement sur le radar des informations mondiales, n’est pas une priorité pour la communauté internationale. Les habitants de Trench Town semblent dans ces conditions condamnés à devoir attendre longtemps cette aide éventuelle.

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After Dean

Dean is long gone but large parts of Jamaica are still without power and running water. People seem to cope well.

After spending three days in the Western part of the island, I was was yesterday deep inside Cocpit Country a tropical forest in the heart of Jamaica. The road to get there was in terrible condition. Once there, I experienced something I had never experienced in my life. All night, they were voices, animal voices. And they were also rasta men spending their day in caves.

I am now back into the civilization, in Ocho Rios where I plan to do one story for my radio series before going to Kingston and Trenchtown, Bob Marley’s historic ghetto.

Jamaica has been an interesting experience so far but you quickly learn that everything is for sale here. For the first time in my professional life, I have had had to deal with people who wanted to sell me their story. I have been to many poor countries around the world but I had never seen that.

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Filed under jamaica, radio

The choice to face Dean

The choice

 

I am on my way to Montego Bay. I am sitting in the plane and see my son looking at me from the other side of the street. I see my wife hoping that I will not get on the plane. It was this morning, a couple of hours ago. I had scheduled this trip to Jamaica a while ago. I am going there to do a series of in-depth radio stories for Swiss Public Radio and to cover the August 27 elections. I had not planned with hurricane Dean. As we left  New York, it was a category 4 storm and was about to become a category 5 hurricane as it was making its way toward Jamaica.

I was suddenly faced with a choice. Should I postpone the trip or get on that plane and head to a place people would desperately want to leave if they could ? I was on the phone to my wife. I knew she did not want me to get on this plane but she would not say it. I made a choice of going and report was I was going to see. If Jamaica is hit hard, the people are going to need aid. And to get that aid quickly, they will need as many reporters as possible to tell the rest of the world what just happened on their island. I covered the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans two years ago. I remember the rotten smell around the Superdome. I remember the saddest looks on children faces. I remeber the dignity of the people of New Orleans. This morning I thought about it when I decided to board the plane to Montego Bay.

 

My son’s look this morning will help me do my job in the coming days. I firmly believe that it is the choice who makes us who we are. The one I made this morning was difficult. But as I look at faces of the people in the plane around me, I know it was the right one.

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tpinews.com in Jamaica – tpinews.com en Jamaïque

Expect fewer U.S. news on this blog until Aug 28. I will be in Jamaica from tomorrow to cover the elections for the.point.is. news agency, 24heures and Tribune de Genève and do a series of in-depth stories for Swiss Public Radio. I will try to keep a daily blog of the Jamaican elections. This might prove difficult as I will be staying in some remote parts of the island. But please check this blog regularly and and tpinews.com for stories on a country you hardly hear about.

Il y aura pas d’infos américaines sur ce blog jusqu’au 28 août prochain. Je serai en reportage dès demain en Jamaïque pour couvrir les élections législatives pour the.point.is., mon agence de presse, la Tribune de Genève et 24heures. Je vais aussi réaliser une série de reportages pour la Radio Suisse Romande. Je vais tenter de tenir un journal quotidien de la campagne électorale jamaïcaine ici. La démarche risque d’être parfois compliquée car je vais souvent me trouver dans des endroits reculés de l’île mais je ferai en sorte d’être le plus régulier possible. Rendez-vous aussi sur tpinews.com pour des reportages exclusifs sur un pays dont on ne parle jamais.

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Jenna Bush stays in the family – Jenna Bush reste dans la famille

A few days ago, I wrote about Rudy Giuliani’s daughter who had just pledged allegiance to his democratic rival Barack Obama is the race for the White House next year. George Bush must have done something better than poor Rudy, who his running for president as a Republican . The president’s daughter Jenna Bush, 25, just announced her engagement to Henry Hager, the son of John Hager, chairman of the Republican party in Virginia. There is not going to be a revolution in the Bush family and the president will be at least spared another embarrassment for his last 17 months in office. Jenna will stay in the Republican family. That is a lasting legacy, isn’t it Rudy?

Il y a quelques jours, je parlais de la fille de Rudy Giuliani qui avait annoncé son soutien au démocrate Barack Obama pour la présidentielle de 2008 avant de se rétracter. L’affaire était inquiétante pour Giuliani. Non seulement sa fille ne voulait pas de lui à la Maison Blanche mais en plus, elle avait opté pour un représentant du parti rival. Englué dans les problèmes, George Bush a au moins un souci de moins. Sa fille Jenna, 25 ans, vient d’annoncer ses fiançailles avec Henry Hager. Le jeune homme est le fils de John Hager, le président du parti républicain en Virginie. Jenna va donc rester dans la famille républicaine. La belle affaire, n’est-ce pas Rudy?

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Bye bye Karl, we’ll miss you – Bye bye Karl, tu vas nous manquer

Life under George Bush will never be the same again. His “brain” Karl Rove is gone. Democrats have lost their nemesis. Congress might lose sight of an important witness for its investigations into the Bush administration. Lawmakers had been unable to for make him testify under oath anyway. And we, journalists, will lose somebody who summed up everything that had gone wrong with the Bush White House.

In 2004, I was covering the presidential debates in St Louis and Phoenix. Right after George Bush had finished sparring with John Kerry, Karl Rove was in the press room spinning what we had just seen. He was so self-assured and the press loved it. Karl Rove knew he had the power. He knew he would be quoted all over the country. Democrats tried to beat Rove at his game, but the man George Bush called the “Architect” or “Boy Genius” outplayed them every time.

While writing some of my stories about him, I was wondering how he could put politics above anything else. On Monday, he thanked the president for giving him the opportunity to “witness history”. Rove was not into witnessing anything. He wanted to shape history and to turn it into a political fight that could benefit his Republican party.

As a journalist, it was fascinating to witness his efforts and strategy. He made our job interesting but the problem is that America has to bear the price of his six years at the White House.

La vie sous George Bush ne sera plus jamais la même. Son “cerveau” Karl Rove l’a quitté pour rentrer au Texas. Les démocrates sont débarassés de l’homme qui les a humiliés en 2000 et 2004. Le Congrès risque de perdre de vue un important témoin pour leurs enquêtes sur les scandales de la Maison Blanche. Les élus n’ont jusqu’ici pas réussi à le faire témoigner sous serment. Quant à nous journalistes, nous nous retrouvons sans l’homme qui symbolisait tous les dérapages et échecs du gouvernement Bush.

En 2004, je couvrais les débats présidentiels entre George Bush et John Kerry. A peine les joutes verbales étaient-elles terminées que Karl Rove arrivait dans la salle de presse pour dire aux journalistes ce qu’ils avaient vu. Il n’était de loin pas le seul. Les démocrates avaient aussi leur armada de fournisseurs de citations mais ils n’ont jamais pu battre Karl Rove à son propre jeu. L’homme était fort et il le savait.

Quand j’écrivais des articles sur Karl Rove, je me demandais comment il pouvait constamment politiser tout ce qu’il touchait. Hier, lors de l’annonce de son départ, il a remercié le président de lui avoir donné la possibilité d’être le “témoin de l’histoire”. Karl Rove n’a pourtant jamais voulu être le témoin. Il préférait nettement modeler l’histoire pour permettre à son parti d’en profiter.

Pour nous journalistes, il était fascinant de voir les efforts et la stratégie de Rove. Il a rendu notre travail intéressant mais l’Amérique, elle, a dû payer le prix de ses expériences.

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Poor Rudy Giuliani -Pauvre Rudy Giuliani

Imagine if your own daughter does not want you to be president of the United States. George Bush never had that problem with his twins. But this is the latest issue former NYC mayor Rudy Giulian has had to deal with. On her Facebook profile, 17-year-old Caroline Giuliani listed herself as a member of Obama’s Facebook group, “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack).” But she backed off on Monday when online magazine Slate revealed her allegiance to Obama. Rudy Giuliani said he would not comment on his children. Could  his candidacy be sunk by his own daughter? No! But with republicans failing to deal with the Bush legacy , the Caroline incident will definitely not help him.

Imaginez que votre propre fille déclare qu’elle ne veut pas de vous comme prochain président des Etats-Unis. Même l’impopulaire Geirge Bush n’a jamais perdu le soutien de ses jumelles. En revanche, l’ancien maire de New York a désormais la difficile tâche d’expliquer pourquoi sa fille Caroline, 17 ans, a indiqué qu’elle soutenait Barack Obama sur sa page Facebook. Rudy a choisi la facilité: il a affirmé aujourd’hui qu’il ne dirait rien sur ses enfants. Sa fille peut-elle plomber sa candidature présidentielle? Non. Mais pour un républicain qui peine déjà à se démarquer de george Bush sans le critiquer ouvertement, la gaffe de sa fille (elle s’est retirée du groupe de soutien à Obama ce lundi) ne va certainement pas l’aider à se forger le respect de ses concitoyens.

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Filed under New York, US news, White House 2008