Update – I just read AndryDago’s blog and found it to be very interesting. It is interesting that TGV a person busy labeling the president a dictator, is giving orders and starting to sound like one himself mandating that private businesses and ministries close. One thing that I find disturbing is that he is threatening all people of Tana to attend the rally tomorrow apparently appointing people to check each district and mark the people who do not attend’s gates/doors with a cross. I don’t know how it would be possible to do that, but it would be something very prone to error or targeting… I sincerely hope that no one actually does find a cross on their gate/door or it will be January 26th all over again.
Yesterday marked the first day in the supposedly infinite rallies that are set to take place at May 13th. TGV had shown up with complete with accusations for the government as well as some announcements. Here is a quick summary:
- In the morning TGV supporters caused panic in Ambohipo, Ankatso II. Police had to intervene with potential looting and remove barracades.
- Andry announces that as a result of skirmishes in the morning in Tana that there is a victim with a gunshot wound to the head and he is currently teetering between life and death. (Item #1 to upset followers).
- Andry announces that he now has technicians to counter the jamming/scrambling of Radio Viva. (Item #2 to upset followers)
- Andry calls for followers to show up at the rally tomorrow with the Madagascar flag marked in black. (Item #1 to give hope/purpose to followers)
- Andry calls for a general strike in the provinces tomorrow. (Item #2 to give hope/purpose to followers)
- When leaving the rally, supporters vandalize the remainder of a travel agency near May 13th that was already burned on Jan 26. Police had to intervene with tear gas.
- A troublemaker was injured by falling on a slab, or vice versa. Police take him to hospital.
- A police officer was taken hostage by students supporters of TGV on a bus, but was later released.
- There was a joint meeting between Albert Zafy and TGV supporters in Tuléar.
- An additional 8 bodies were found burned at Behoririka Trading Center. These are additional deaths as a result of the looting that occurred on January 26th.
- Marc Ravalomanana has met a delegation of civil society led by Mrs Randriamampionona Lalao and General Ratrimoarivony. They have requested the return of order and civil peace. (Not sure what that means, but this is all from the government for the day)
- St. Francis Xavier college and a Chinese school have announce they will be closed until Wednesday.
- Leader of KMD (Komity Demokrasia Miaro ny) announces a general strike.
- More recommendations coming from France Tour Operators to stop tours to Madagascar.
So the most interesting thing I think is that they are calling for massive strikes across the country Tuesday. I consider this to be on par with his announcement that he is now in charge of the country, and if you think about it, it kind of is. He is once again coming out and telling the Malagasy that they should stop doing their jobs (risking their income) and protest in support of him. But I guess we have to wait and see whether or not the country listens to him. My hunch is that this will have exactly the same kind of result as his previous announcement and over 90% of the country will continue living life as normal and only those in Tana will have to suffer any inconvenience.
Not to sound like a broken record, but what is he offering to these people that are dropping their livelihood for him? Nothing. What are his supporters gaining by striking for him? Nothing, but I suspect that is because his supporters consist mostly of disenfranchised youth and the unemployed. If there are any businesses actually shutting down it won’t be for him, it will be for the safety of the businesses and the people running them.
If you ask me TGV is an agent of chaos, or terrorist… you pick the word that suits him best. He does nothing but incite anger and frustration in people who were already angry and frustrated about their situation long before he had shown up. He is holding businesses and tourism hostage while he promotes his agenda of “change” and his version of “democracy” (forcing all those who do not support him into hiding or silence for fear of their own safety). He uses the crowd to gain international press, and if his movement stalls, fabricates a reason for his followers to continue to follow him (ie. Send people to their death on Bloody Saturday, then use pictures and any subsequent death of any Malagasy as matyrs for his cause). And all of this he does without a legitimate reason. Here are some points that I think highlight what kind of a person/movement TGV is:
- Rally on Jan 26th, looting, violence and death: As a result of the looting and destruction of established companies (be them the presidents or any other) the Malagasy have lost jobs, and they have lost food sources. Generally, because of this the cost of necessities in the country have drastically increased cost and decreased in availability.
- Subsequent rallies from Jan 26th to today: As a result of the non-stop rallying any business that is at May 13th, would most likely be closed, or at the very least hindered in their daily operations. All other businesses around the core of Tana most likely have varying schedules correlating with rallies in fear of looting or violence that may come from TGV supporters attending/leaving a rally. The only businesses that are definitely open are those that desperately need the money (street vendors), they are out regardless of their personal safety (including TGV supporters) because they have to be.
- Installing the TGV Prime Minister: TGV supporters were lead to a very deadly confrontation with the security forces whose duty was to protect the palace (and perhaps their own personal safety). He angers followers and gives them a sense of empowerment and ownership and sends them on a mission to install his (non-elected) Prime Minister within “their” palace.
- Taking control of Ministries: TGV supporters were again lead to believe that “they, the people” owned the ministries and could take what they want, when they wanted it. Again he directs them to carry out an objective for him and lucky for his followers the army and police stood down while the ministries were taken despite them being declared a “red zone”. TGV clearly had no concern about this “red zone” particularly since he decided to line the front of the march with women and children to use them as human shields.
- Talks of a march on Lavoloha: Attempting to re-create the events of 05/13/1991 and 08/10/2002 when people marched to Lavoloha in protest and were fired upon by the army. Before talks of negotiations occurred, there was a good chance that there would have been more confrontation and great potential for deaths and injuries.
- Failed Negotiations: TGV went into the negotiations knowing full well that he was going to back out. He has consistently said that he does not want to talk unless the president resigns… which is basically all he has been rallying for. He has set the negotiations up for failure from the start, and used the 3 days of talks to relieve some of the pressure of failing to capture the ministries and to use the inevitable failure as fodder for his cause.
- Political Instability: As the protests continue so does the violence and anarchy. Businesses stay closed, people lose jobs, prices of food and necessities go up. There is confusion as to whether or not people go to school/work, and there is concern everyday about your own personal safety. All of Madagascar is suffering because of TGV, the poor are getting poorer, and the people of Tana cannot live their daily lives in peace always fearing for their safety.
- Bringing out the worst in people: An unfortunate side effect of having a rally and a mob of people is that people start to have “mob mentality”. A very good example of this is what had happened on 01/26/09 when people had gone berserk robbing and burning businesses and attacking innocent people. I have heard from friends and relatives that this is something that is progressively getting worse in Tana now that TGV supporters have been erecting barricades to block access to certain parts of the city. They have been allowing people to get through the blockades, but apparenty that comes with a price… and once you get to the barricade you apparently lose your choice as to whether or not you pay it. It seems that TGV supporters feel empowered enough to think they own a lot more things than just the palace and the ministries, it seems they are starting to take control of the streets. This sets such a dangerous precedent, I fear for anyone who has to just go about their business that isn’t wearing some form of orange. It appears as though we are now seeing more of a gang (wearing colours) or organized crime than we are support for a political cause.
I am sure some people can find a few reasons here and there why Malagasy should be upset at the government, but there is always a reason for everyone anywhere to be mad at their government. But day after day people continue to rallying, and for what? There are no hard “facts” to support anything he is actually saying to them. If you look at the international news and his version of the news you can quite clearly see that the information is being doctored to suit his cause as is his daily speeches. This situation reminds me of how the US went to war with Iraq and justified it by saying that there was weapons of mass destruction. Turns out, there wasn’t and they have wasted lives and money because of it. I am betting that there not nearly as many problems with the government as he says there are but for some reason his explanation is a good enough reason to hold the country hostage and damage the economy in every way. Mark my words TGV followers, you will probably never hear a word from him regarding how he will repay you for your loyalty. Don’t expect the economy to instantly get better if he ever happens to win whatever he is fighting for, and don’t expect any monetary gain. You will be lucky if he even remembers you.
I apologize if this turned into a bit of a rant, but it is becoming increasingly more frustrating to sit and watch Madagascar fall apart before my eyes and have to worry about the well being of family and friends there. This is something that is very complicated and will be hard to resolve, so I don’t expect that it will be resolved any time soon. I am just hoping for more words/actions from the Malagasy government and the international community.