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Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier

I'm sticking with my immediate reaction on Twitter ...

I was brought up not to speak ill of the dead, a habit that has stuck. Therefore, Jean-Claude Duvalier is dead. Nothing else. #BabyDoc
Otto Rock (@incakolanews) October 4, 2014

...though wanted to add a few words so the blog is the medium. I was brought up by people and in a culture that states you shouldn't speak ill of the dead, which has become ingrained. It's not a bad thing, it's not a good thing, it's just a thing. This is about as far as my cultural constipation will allow me to go:

Ex-President of Haiti Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, has died of a heart attack aged 63. He was country President while still a teenager (taking over from his father) and de-facto head of the Tontons Macoutes death squads that stood out as barbaric even by late 20th century Latin America standards. France gave him asylum for a long time, for which it should be totally ashamed as a supposedly civilized nation. He was never brought to justice for crimes he committed. He won't be missed.

UPDATE: Thanks due to reader FR for mailing in, a correction ensues: Baby Doc applied for asylum in France but never formally received it from the country. He did however live in the country and under its protection for nearly 25 years.
Haiti: Justice Denied by Duvalier's Death

Ex-Dictator Under Investigation for Crimes Against Humanity
October 4, 2014

(New York) The inability of Haiti's courts to bring to trial former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier deprived his countless Haitian victims of the justice they sought, Human Rights Watch said today. Duvalier's death was reported on October 4, 2014.

"It's a shame that the Haitian justice system could not bring Baby Doc Duvalier to trial before he died," said Reed Brody, special counsel at Human Rights Watch, who worked with Duvalier's victims. "Duvalier's death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human rights trial in its history."

Duvalier inherited power from his father, the dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, and ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986. During the son's rule, Haiti was marked by systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of political prisoners held in a network of prisons known as the "triangle of death" died from their extraordinarily cruel treatment. Others were victims of extrajudicial killings. Duvalier's government repeatedly closed independent newspapers and radio stations. Journalists were beaten, and in some cases tortured, jailed, or forced into exile.

When "Baby Doc" Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti on January 16, 2011, following a 25-year exile in France, the authorities reopened a criminal case against him. In January 2012, an investigating judge ruled that the statute of limitations had expired on the human rights crimes of which he was accused. His victims appealed. In February 2013, an appeals court ordered Duvalier to testify, as did many of his government's victims, but only in February 2014 did the court re-instate the charges, saying that international law barred the use of statute of limitations for crimes against humanity. One of the appeals court judges took over the investigation and was interviewing victims and witnesses when Duvalier died.

"Duvalier's court appearance in 2013 to be questioned about his alleged crimes was a critical moment in a country where the rich and powerful have always been above the law," said Brody. "A fair trial for Duvalier could have ended the impunity that has characterized Haiti's past and will likely plague its future."

A Human Rights Watch report, "Haiti's Rendezvous With History: The Case of Jean-Claude Duvalier," examined the legal and practical questions surrounding the case and concluded that Haiti had an obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute the grave violations of human rights under Duvalier's rule. The report, published in April 2011, also addressed Haiti's capacity to carry out the trial, the question of the statute of limitations, and Duvalier's personal involvement in alleged criminal acts.

"A Haitian proverb says He who gives the blow forgets; he who carries the scar remembers,'" Brody said. "Duvalier may have forgotten the blows he gave to the Haitian people, but his victims remember."
Like father, like son - both creations of the USCIA; they allowed these bastards [and a few others] to rule as brutal dictators with their horrible goon-squads [the tonton machoute]; and the USA overthrew good politicians the People wanted, voted for, and needed - such as Aristide! America has a horrible record in Haiti....but I can't think of any country in which it has a 'good record'! That's our 'exceptionalism'......
The 'civilised' west, particularly France and US, hated and never forgave Haiti for being the first to overthrow slavery and go independent.

US troops invaded Haiti five times, once staying for almost twenty years (1915-35). At the end of that prolonged visit, during which we killed thousands of Haitians for daring to rebel, we left the country in the hands of the local National Guard, confident that they'd carry on our good work.

From this arrangement emerged the Duvalier family dynasty and their private terrorist force, the machete-wielding Tontons Macoutes. "Papa Doc" Duvalier (he was a medical doctor) also relied on voodoo incantations and, during a 1959 uprising, the timely assistance of the US military. When Papa Doc died in 1971, his 19-year-old son, called Baby Doc, became "president-for-life."

Throughout the blood-drenched rule of the Duvaliers (nearly 100,000 killed by the Tontons Macoutes alone), the US barely uttered a peep about human rights violations. In 1986, however, when it became apparent that Baby Doc's presidency could not in fact be sustained for his entire life (unless he died soon), the Reagan administration airlifted him to a retirement villa in France and started talking about the "democratic process."

Before that could begin, however, the Haitian military had to be further strengthened. CIA money began flowing to Haiti, which had already seen US aid double during the Reagan years. The CIA set up an anti-narcotics service called-appropriately-SIN ("national intelligence service"). As one CIA man admitted, SIN used its millions in CIA subsidies mainly to suppress popular movements by means of torture and assassination. Far from combating drugs, many SIN officers engage in the drug trade themselves.

In 1990, elections were finally allowed. Haitians stunned the US by rejecting the candidate we preferred in favor of a left-wing Catholic priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide. The Bush administration could scarcely conceal its joy when Haiti's US-trained military deposed Aristide eight months later.

When Bill Clinton took office, he offered lip service to the idea of returning Aristide to power. Even this hypocritical posturing was too much for the CIA, who leaked a"psychological profile" that painted the courageous, dedicated Aristide as a "psychopath."

Endless waves of refugees, and US embarrassment over more than 4,000 killings by Haitian security forces, have led to even more vigorous US lip service. But if history is any indication, the chances of a government coming to power that meets the needs of the Haitian people are slim to none.

François Duvalier, Jean-Claude Duvalier

AKA 'Papa Doc' (François); AKA 'Baby Doc' (Jean-Claude).
Country: Haiti.
Kill tally: 20,000-200,000.
Background: Haiti gains independent from France on 1 January 1804, becoming the world's first black republic. Haitian history then follows a pattern of violence and political instability, with a succession of rulers being either assassinated or overthrown by revolution.
The country is further burdened by the enormous reparations it is required to pay to France. By 1900 Haiti will be spending about 80% of its national budget on repayments of loans taken to cover the debt. The reparations will not be cleared until 1947.
At the start of the 20th Century the United States becomes involved in Haiti's internal affairs. US marines occupy Haiti from 1915-1934. Indirect US influence lasts to 1947. More background.
Mini biography: François Duvalier is born on 14 April 1907 in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. His father is a teacher and journalist. His mother works in a bakery.
Duvalier studies medicine at the University of Haiti. He graduates in 1934. Working as a doctor he is given the nickname 'Papa Doc' by his patients.
While recognised as a humanitarian and intellectual, Duvalier also develops a deep interest in the African roots of Haitian culture, helping to found 'Le Groupe des Griots', a group of writers committed to black nationalism and voodoo mysticism.
Among the poor and the superstitious Duvalier will gain a reputation as a practitioner of voodoo sorcery.
1939 - Duvalier marries Simone Ovide Faine, a nurse, on 27 December. The couple will have four children, three daughters (Marie Denise, Simone and Nicole) and a son (Jean-Claude).
1943 - He participates in a US-sponsored campaign to control the contagious tropical disease yaws, an infection of the skin, bones and joints.
1946 - Duvalier joins the government of President Dumarsais Estimé, becoming director general of the national public health service. In 1948 he is appointed as minister of public health and labour.
1950 - President Estimé is overthrown in a military coup on 10 May. Duvalier returns to his medical career. Behind the scenes he begins organising against the military regime. By 1954 he is the central opposition figure and goes underground, hiding in the interior.
1951 - Jean-Claude Duvalier is born on 3 July in Port-au-Prince.
1956 - The military relinquishes power in December. A general political amnesty allows Duvalier to come out of hiding. Six governments are formed in the following 10 months.
1957 - With army backing, Duvalier is elected president for a six year term on 22 September. He promises to end the privileges of the mulatto elite and bring political and economic power to the black masses. However, the political climate remains unstable.
1958 - After an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow him in June, Duvalier takes steps to consolidate his position. Senior officers in the military are replaced with younger men, the size of the army is reduced, the military academy is closed, political parties are banned and curfews are introduced.
Duvalier also takes control of the Presidential Guard, turning it into the army's elite unit.
With chief aide Clément Barbot, he organises the 'Tonton Macoutes' (Bogeymen), a private militia estimated to number 9,000-15,000 that will be used to terrorise and murder opponents.
Recruits are initially drawn from the slums of Port-au-Prince. They receive no salary, relying instead on protection rackets and crime to support themselves. The Tonton Macoutes act as Duvalier's front-line security force and as a balance to the political power of the armed forces. Their chain of command leads directly to the president. In November 1962 the Tonton Macoutes are formally recognised as the Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale (Volunteers for National Security).
1959 - Duvalier suffers a heart attack in May. Barbot acts in his place but is promptly imprisoned when Duvalier recovers.
On 12 August a group of Cuban guerrillas and Haitian exiles lands on the southern most tip of the country in another attempt to remove Duvalier. They are defeated by the Haitian Army, with the aid of US marines.
1961 - Duvalier manipulates elections to have his term extended to 1967, winning the vote with an official tally of 1,320,748 votes to zero.
"Latin America has witnessed many fraudulent elections," the 'New York Times' reports on 13 May, "But none will have been more outrageous than the one which has just taken place in Haiti."
Following the election, the US raises concerns about the misappropriation of aid money by Duvalier. In 1962 US aid is suspended. The following year diplomatic relations are also suspended and the US ambassador withdrawn.
Meanwhile, Barbot is released from prison. He begins plotting to overthrow Duvalier but the attempt, which is to take place in July 1963, is uncovered at the last moment and Barbot is killed.
1963 - Attempts to remove Duvalier continue, reportedly with backing from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Duvalier's leadership becomes more extreme. He fosters a personality cult, exploiting his reputation as a sorcerer and portraying himself as semidivine, the embodiment of the Haitian nation, a voodoo Jesus Christ.
"I am the Haitian flag," Duvalier proclaims, "He who is my enemy is the enemy of the fatherland."
With corruption endemic, the elite gets richer and the poor suffer badly. The per capita annual income sinks to US$80, the lowest in the western hemisphere. The illiteracy rate remains at about 90%.
1964 - Duvalier has himself elected president for life in April. Haiti is now almost completely isolated. Duvalier's isolation is more profound. He is excommunicated by the Vatican for harassing the clergy and will not be readmitted to the Church until 1966.
Discontent with the regime continues to grow, despite the tight security imposed by the Tonton Macoutes. Conspiracies and dissent proliferate. Duvalier responds with a reign of terror and is able to stay in power longer than any of his predecessors.
1971 - The constitution is amended in January to permit Duvalier to name his son, Jean-Claude, as his successor. Jean-Claude comes to be known as 'Baby Doc', echoing his father's nickname.
François Duvalier dies on 21 April in Port-au-Prince. Power is immediately transferred to Jean-Claude, who, at the age of 19, becomes the youngest president in the world.
However, Jean-Claude is not interested in the details of government and leaves much of the running of the country to his mother, Simone Ovid Duvalier, and his dead father's cronies.
Bending to pressure from the US, and at home, Jean-Claude agrees to economic and judicial reforms, the reopening of the military academy, the release of some political prisoners and the easing of media censorship. But no political opposition is tolerated and the president retains the power to appoint officials and judges.
Though US aid is restored, Haiti remains diplomatically isolated. Corruption reaches new heights. The US Commerce Department reports misappropriation of 64% of Haiti's government revenues. Tens of millions of dollars are diverted from public funds for "extra-budgetary expenses," including deposits to Jean-Claude's Swiss bank accounts.
1973 - Jean-Claude creates a personal security force, the Corps des Léopards (Leopard Corps). The Leopards will take over most of the functions of Haiti's police force.
1978 - In August the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visits Haiti. The commission finds evidence of widespread abuse of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture.
1979 - Changes to Haiti's laws make it a jailable crime to offend the "chief of state or the first lady of the republic" or to make "any attack against the integrity of the people's culture."
1980 - In May Jean-Claude marries Michéle Bennett. The lavish wedding, estimated to cost US$3 million, alienates much of the population. Bennett is considered to be an elite mulatto and her family is implicated in corrupt business ventures, including drug running.
During the final months of the year, several hundred journalists, trade unionists and opponents of the regime are detained.
1983 - On a visit to Haiti in March Pope John Paul II declares that "something must change here."
1984 - All political activities and groups are banned, except "those of the president."
1985 - Jean-Claude gets 99% of the vote in a fraudulent election. Popular demonstrations against high unemployment, poor living conditions and the lack of political freedom break out late in the year and early in 1986, beginning in the provincial capital of Gonaives.
On 28 November 1985 soldiers in Gonaives chase demonstrators into a schoolyard and shoot and kill three schoolboys who were not involved in the protest. The incident leads to more demonstrations and riots.
1986 - With the Tonton Macoutes unable to repress the mounting social unrest and the military pressing for his resignation, Jean-Claude and his wife accept assistance from the US and flee the country for France on 7 February.
As the news that the Duvaliers have left spreads, crowds take to the streets. The Guardian newspaper reports that François Duvalier's tomb at the national cemetery is demolished and the remains of the dead dictator burned.
Jean-Claude leaves behind an impoverished and ruined country. Well over half of Haiti's workers are unemployed. Over 80% of Haitians are illiterate. Almost a third of Haitian children die before their fifth birthday. Life expectancy is 53 years. Per capita income is US$300 a year.
US$6 million held in a Duvalier family bank account in Switzerland is frozen.
The Duvaliers, nevertheless, continue their luxury lifestyle. The couple take up residence in a chateau outside Paris and a villa in Mougins, near Cannes. Over the following years they will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on car, boats, jewels, clothes and art.
1992 - Jean-Claude and Michéle Bennett divorce. It is reported that the split strips Jean-Claude of much of his wealth.
1993 - Jean-Claude moves to Paris with his companion, Véronique Roy, the granddaughter of former Haitian president Paul Magloire.
2002 - In a television interview broadcast in the US on 17 December Jean-Claude reveals that he would like to return to Haiti. "It is my firm intention as soon as conditions allow," he says, adding that he wants to take part in "rebuilding" Haiti.
According to Jean-Claude, there are no legal reasons for him not to return. He claims that Haiti has "gone backward by 50 years" since he fled the country and calls on the current president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to retire.
"(Aristide) does not have the possibility of ruling Haiti any more," Jean-Claude says, "He has been rejected by the vast majority of the population. He should, according to me, retire. ...
"People are suffering a lot. It is not bearable. It is revolting. I know parents who can't have their children go to school any more. Some families eat every other day."
When questioned about his alleged misappropriation of tens of millions of dollars of Haiti's state funds, Jean-Claude challenges his accusers to provide the evidence.
2003 - Jean-Claude tells the 'Wall Street Journal' that he neither stole state funds nor organised the murder of opponents. "If I were dictator, I would have done everything in my power to stay in power," he says.
"I laugh when I hear the amounts: $400 million, $800 million. It's a lot of blah, blah, blah. ... There were the children to care for, school expenses, other bills. ... We were not perfect. Perhaps I was too tolerant."
2004 - On 29 April President Aristide is forced out of office by an armed rebellion. Jean-Claude quickly restates his wish to return to Haiti, telling a French journalist on 1 March that he wants to put himself "at the disposal of the Haitian people."
"I think I'm getting close and that I will soon have the opportunity to go back to my country," Jean-Claude says, revealing that he had requested a diplomatic passport several weeks earlier.
According to Duvalier, while he is in constant communication with contacts in Haiti, he is not involved with the rebel movement and is not planning to run for president if he returns.
Meanwhile, on 25 March the international anticorruption organisation Transparency International (TI) places Jean-Claude at number six on a list of the world's most corrupt political leaders of the past two decades.
According to TI, Jean-Claude is alleged to have embezzled between US$300 million and US$800 million from Haiti.
2007 - In September the Transparency International estimates are quoted in a report by the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative, a joint venture of the World Bank and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.
"According to the numbers ... Jean-Claude Duvalier allegedly stole the equivalent of 1.7 to 4.5 percent of Haitian GDP for every year he was in power," the report says. "The only other two kleptocrats to come close as a percentage of GDP were Ferdinand Marcos (of the Philippines) and Sani Abacha (of Nigeria)."
At the same time, Jean-Claude makes another appeal to the Haitian public. "If, during my presidential mandate, the government caused any physical, moral or economic wrongs to others, I solemnly take the historical responsibility," he says in a prerecorded statement. "(I) request forgiveness from the people and ask for the impartial judgement of history," he adds.
Jean-Claude is reported to be living modestly in a one-bedroom flat in Paris, his money apparently gone.
2010 - On 12 January a massive earthquake rocks Haiti, killing over 200,000, destroying infrastructure and leaving more than one million homeless.
2011 - Jean-Claude unexpectedly returns to Haiti on 16 January, saying he has come back to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake.
"I was waiting for this moment for a long time," he says. "When I first set foot on the ground, I felt great joy."
"I know the people are suffering. I wanted to show them my solidarity, to tell them that I am here, I am well disposed and determined to participate in the rebirth of Haiti."
Two days later a Haitian prosecutor formally charges Duvalier with corruption, embezzlement and other alleged crimes committed during his rule. Duvalier also faces criminal complaints accusing him of crimes against humanity. Following an investigation into these complaints, Duvalier is indicted for crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, a new law allowing the Haitian Government to claim the US$6 million frozen in Duvalier's Swiss bank account since 1986 comes into effect in Switzerland. Some commentators speculate that Duvalier's return to Haiti was a last-bid attempt to access the funds before the law came into effect.
In September, Amnesty International releases the report 'You cannot kill the truth': The case against Jean-Claude Duvalier. The report calls on the authorities in Haiti to bring Duvalier to justice for the human rights abuses committed under his regime.
"For 15 years, Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled Haiti with total disregard for the rights of the Haitian people," the reports concludes. "The grave human rights abuses perpetrated during those years still remain shrouded in absolute impunity. ... Torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions were state policy under Jean-Claude Duvalier."
According to Javier Zúñiga, special advisor at Amnesty International, "There's sufficient evidence to prosecute Jean-Claude Duvalier for the widespread arbitrary detentions, torture, deaths in custody, killings and disappearances that took place during his regime, some of which amount to crimes against humanity."
"What is needed is political will from Haiti's new administration to comply with their international obligations and their duty to the survivors and victims of abuses."
Duvalier, meanwhile, is reported to be living comfortably in a private villa overlooking Port-au-Prince.
2012 - At the end of January the judge investigating the case against Duvalier recommends that the charges of crimes against humanity be dropped because a 10-year statute of limitations had expired.
The judge recommends that Duvalier only be prosecuted for financial corruption, a charge that would carry a maximum prison term of five years, if Duvalier was convicted.
The judge's recommendations are expected to be challenged by both Duvalier and the victims of his rule.
2013 - Duvalier attends an appeals court on 28 February for a pre-trail hearing to determine the charges he may have to face. It is the first time he has been questioned in court about his alleged crimes.
2014 - In February an appeals court rules that Duvalier can be charged with crimes against humanity, rejecting arguments that the statute of limitations had expired and that international law underpinning the charges did not apply. The court stops short of ordering a trial and calls for further investigation.
Duvalier's defence attorney files an appeal against the ruling in March.
Jean-Claude Duvalier dies from a heart attack at the home of a friend in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, 4 October. He was 63.