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The Agronomist

Demme’s latest is a documentary on Jean Dominique, the founder of Haiti’s first free radio station, Radio Haiti-Inter.   As a radio journalist Dominique was the voice of the democracy movement in Haiti until he was assassinated in 2000.   However, he always thought of himself as merely an agronomist, a man of the people, the farmers.   He loved film and was inspired in particular by the French New Wave.   Demme, who’s long been interested in Haiti, has made a stirring and instructive film.   In particular we learn of longstanding U.S. efforts to undermine and subvert democracy in Haiti (although the Democratic administrations are depicted as being better on human rights than the Republican).   Although it ends before current events, the film is relevant in that the Haitian democracy movement has recently been dealt a perhaps crushing blow, now that Aristide has been deposed by the wealthy, Duvalier-linked “opposition” (with its enthusiastic backing from the Bush Administration).


- May 13, 2004

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