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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

René Theodore: On the cover

rene theodoreCSMS Magazine

He was the last Secretary General of the Unified Haitian Communist Party (UHCP) or Parti Unifié des Communistes Haitiens (PUCH) by its French acronym. He was daring. He was born in Ouanaminthe in 1941, a town in northern Haiti that borders the Dominican Republic. René Theodore was the grandson of Haitian president Joseph Davilmar Theodore (1914-1915).  

René Theodore gained fame during the youth/students movement that led the opposition against the Papa Doc fascist regime in the 1960s. He was also a member of PEP (Parti d’ Entente Populaire) founded by Jacques Stephen Alexis.  He lived in exile for many years, between Paris and Moscow, where he met his first wife with whom he had 2 children. The marriage failed because, like most Haitians revolutionaries, Theodore found out he couldn’t be married to anyone or anything but Haiti Chérie.  His Marxist convictions and obligations didn’t allow him to maintain a professional life like many of his comrades within PUCH. One remembers too well the infighting within the party politburo, especially between René Theodore and Gérard Pierre-Charles. René ultimately won the fight precisely because he was the political activist.

René Theodore and Marx Bourjolly—second in command—returned to Haiti in 1986, shortly after the Duvaliers fled the country. In Haiti, PUCH gained fame, but the fame was short-lived. The dissolution of the USSR and the capitalist triumphalism of the 1990s had some serious repercussions over the revolutionary movement in Haiti. Consequently, the party faded, and René Theodore went on to found MRN (Mouvement de Reconstruction Nationale). From then on, René Theodore, like many revisionist renegades, had morphed into a traditional politician. He died in 2003 in a Miami hospital after a long battle with cancer. So, René Theodore is our Person of the Day.

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