Marie-Yolande Saint-Fleur | 1994 Courage in Journalism Award
Agence Haitienne d’Images, Haiti.
Because of her photographs, Saint-Fleur was targeted by both the military and armed civilians. Her photo agency was forced to close after the coup and Saint-Fleur, fearing for her life, was forced into hiding, fleeing to remote areas of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and then to United States.
In 1990, she co-founded the Agence Haitienne d’Images (Agence Haitien de Photo) with five other photographers. The agency quickly became a national photo archive and a “picture bank”, as she said, with a press department. Saint-Fleur also served under contract with a lot of newspapers such as the Daily Nouvelliste, the weekly Libete, L’Union, Enfomasyon, Bon Nouvel.
After the military coup against Haiti’s first democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in September 1991, the agency was closed and Saint-Fleur’ life was in constant danger. “I got into hiding, frequently changing my hiding places because these places were frequently discovered by the military and their spying Attaches and Macoutes,” she said.
In January 1993, she was shot in Petionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. She was not wounded. After this incident and repeat threatens from the military and armed civilians, Saint-Fleur sought to leave the country.
On November 19, 1993, she successfully entered the Dominican Republic with the help of some friends and organizations. On March 12, 1994, she went back to Port-au-Prince, and two weeks later, she was sent to Miami as a refugee by the American Embassy of Port-au-Prince.
At the time of her Courage in Journalism Award, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported: “The military coup that toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide abruptly ended a flourishing period for the Haitian media. The Haitian Armed Forces and their paramilitary squads intimidated and attacked news outlets.”
Marie-Yolande Saint-Fleur is the second IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner from Haiti, following Lilianne Pierre-Paul (1990).