Thony Belizaire A Prince Among Men

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AFP photographer, Thony Belizaire

Award-winning photojournalist, Thony Belizaire, passed away on July 21st, of complications from emphysema.

Thony Belizaire became a member of the Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 1987. He fearlessly documented political events in Haiti for 30 years, including the coups to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the monstrous rules of the Duvaliers. The tectonic event of 2010's earthquake was Belizaire's last big assignment.

Praise for Belizaire's work came from all quarters, including Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Lamothe respectfully noted "Mr. Belizaire devoted . . . his life to covering . . . the life of the Haitian people." He added Belizaire left a deep impression on photographers and photojournalists in his native Haiti that will never fade.

AFP colleague David Millikin described Thony Belizaire as sensitive and a risk-taker. He never thought about the danger he was putting himself in, because his passionate commitment to his craft overrode his fears.

Before he died in a Petion-Ville hospital, Belizaire was preparing a photo essay, pertaining to Haiti's rampant deforestation and the repercussions of it on the environment. He was also documenting the lack of education infrastructure, and what, in too many instances, passes for a learning environment: a slab of wood for a desk and a teacher with no credentials.

Toward the end of his life, he had many health challenges but did not let it affect his dedication to his job, which made him an "outstanding professional". Thony Belizaire left behind a wife and three children, the youngest five years old.

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