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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Jean Claude Duvalier: The end to an era

JCDaBy Claire Bijou

CSMS Magazine

Jean Claude Duvalier was born on July 3rd, 1951 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Son of Francois Duvalier (Papa doc), died unexpectedly on Saturday October 4th, 2014 at the age of 63.

At the age of 19, Jean Claude Duvalier (known as Baby doc) became the youngest president to have ever taken power in Haiti. From April 21,, 1971 to February 7, 1986, he ruled for 15 years until he was forced into exile in France. After 25 years of exile, he returned to his homeland in 2011. Since his return to the country, he had lived a peaceful existence. Roaming the street of Haiti, going shopping or hanging out with friends in a completely carefree outlook.  On Saturday October 4th, 2014 at the age of 63, he died suddenly of a heart attack at his home in Montagne Noire.

The news of his death brought sadness, anger and a careless attitude to some. Those who lived and had fallen prey on his reign, felt anger beyond words. Others, who had enjoyed a steady life, felt like the country has lost one of its great leaders. Others, the non-caring ones, the youngsters of our current decade, truly don’t give a care about it since they did not live in that period of time.  For them, the news of Duvalier’s death was received as they would say in French “comme une lettre à la poste” (like a letter from the Post Office). For others, the news sparked a curiosity—a curiosity to know who Jean Claude Duvalier was?

As the news hit nationwide, TV stations would give documentaries of the Duvalier regime for hours.  Debates would sound on the radio, and between those debates, there was the ongoing trial! Many had filed complaints against Duvalier for the crimes they said he had committed during his reign. As they would say, a dead person can no longer be brought to justice. The Chief Justice in Haiti has decided to drop those complaints, but nonetheless, the regime (his accomplices) are bound to be trialed.  

The current government has decided to have a nationwide funeral to honor the late ex-dictator; a decision that has sparked outcries amongst some of the population, and total understanding toward others.

But there are two things that cannot be ignored: the two main wishes of the late dictator. The first was to die in his homeland, for he had refused to die overseas on foreign soil—thus his return in 2011. This wish did indeed come true. The second was to aid in the development of Haiti, but unfortunately, the latter wish could not be materialized.

Note: CSMS Magazine has learned that the government of Haiti has decided at the last minute to walk away from its earlier announcement. According to Le Nouvelliste, a major Haitian newspaper, Martelly has gone on a trip to the Caribbean while his Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe is nowhere to be found. A viewing was scheduled for tonight at the Saint Louis de Gonzague High School, where he graduated from. The burial takes place tomorrow.

Claire Bijou is a dynamic young lady whose talent in creative writing is a joy to observe. She is the new contributor for CSMS Magazine. She lives and works in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She may be reached at bijouclaireb@yahoo.com

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