Victims of the Duvalier regimes fear that the memory of the terror the two dictators inflicted is being lost. More than half the Haitian population wasn’t born when Jean Claude-Duvalier’s dictatorship ended in 1986 and it isn’t taught in schools, leaving the youth to learn about the Duvalier regimes through rumors. As the current administration is also Duvalier-friendly, victims fear that things in Haiti won’t change if the truth is forgotten.
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Can Haiti keep alive memories of ‘Baby Doc’s’ brutal dictatorship?
Victims and survivors of dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier say they fear the truth behind his violent reign are being forgotten in Haiti, where half the population wasn’t even born by the time he was forced into exile.
Amy Bracken, Yahoo News
October 9, 2014
Bobby Duval is not mourning Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator who died of a heart attack last Saturday. Mr. Duval’s more inclined to grieve for the more than 180 people he says he saw perish during his eight months at Fort Dimanche – a notorious prison under the Duvalier dictatorship.
When Mr. Duvalier returned from exile in France three years ago, Duval testified against him, sharing memories of the 13-by-14 foot cell, crammed with dozens of naked men who were weak from disease, abuse, and near-starvation. Duval’s is among countless repugnant stories of a regime responsible for thousands of deaths, as well as torture, rape, and arbitrary incarceration in the 1970s and 1980s.
But for Duval and other victims, what’s even worse than remembering these atrocities is seeing the country forget.
“It’s not normal that students don’t know the history [of the Duvaliers],” he says. “They’re not critical. Everything is rumor. There are people who say Duvalier was very good, and when Jean-Claude returned to Haiti it was a lot of young people who greeted him.”
Jean-Claude Duval (no relation to Bobby) was still in his mother’s womb when his father was jailed in Fort Dimanche. His dad was kept there for four years, and, unlike Bobby, he never made it out. “It was a regime of terror I grew up in,” Mr. Duval says. “I was always afraid.”
Duval hopes to write a book about his family, which was also targeted under Francois Duvalier. “The thing I can do [to make a difference] is to teach people, because you have young people who don’t know what happened, who see Duvalier as just a president.”
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