On Friday, May 15, 2009, Raoul Peck, film director and former Minister of Culture of Haiti, sent an open letter, entitled “The Monster,” to René Préval and Leonel Fernández, presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, addressing the profound significance of the recent (May 2) decapitation of a Haitian worker, Carlos Nerilus, in the Dominican Republic [also see May 6 post, “Escalation of tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic”].
The letter, published in AlterPresse, begins with Martin Luther King’s phrase, “In the end, we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Peck underlines the historical continuity in which this heinous crime took place, which, he explains, indicates the deterioration of human rapports within the Dominican Republic and between the two countries.
Peck reminds each president that this was neither “a civil affair” nor simply “an incident between individuals,” but rather a barbaric act that cannot be overlooked. He states that the presidents cannot ignore the symbolic relevance of a public act that was applauded by the crowd: “If both of you refuse to recognize the monster that is showing its fangs, you are denying the countries that you represent at the highest level, their place and their dignity.” He stresses that neither one of them has the right to remain silent or to find attenuating circumstances in this gesture, for which “we are all collectively responsible. A collective responsibility that you [the presidents] do not want to accept.”
Peck admonishes the presidents about the impossibility of ignoring the line that has been symbolically crossed for “both sides of this painful border,” and avows that nothing will ever be the same again. He evokes the memory of previous historical figures and upheavals to remind the presidents of the fact that once barbarism is tolerated, it knows no limits. Finally, he emphatically urges Presidents Préval and Fernández to show greatness, to find their place in history and on the island, and to be upright men. His last exhortation is, “Do not side with the monsters.”
[Raoul Peck is best known for his feature films Lumumba (2000) and Sometimes in April (2005). For more information, see March 16 post, “Raoul Peck’s Moloch Tropical.”]
For full letter (in French), see http://www.alterpresse.org/spip.php?article8351