Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haitians Need Closure After Duvalier’s Death

This article discusses US support for both Duvalier regimes, the negative economic and social effects, and how Haitians might deal with the lack of accountability left by Jean-Claude Duvalier’s sudden death.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

How Will Haiti Reckon with the Duvalier Years?

Laurent Dubois, The New Yorker
October 6, 2014

Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier died before he could be held accountable for the crimes of his regime.

In January, 2011, one year after an earthquake killed tens of thousands of people (by some estimates, hundreds of thousands), Jean-Claude Duvalier landed unannounced in Haiti following twenty-five years of exile in France. In the years between his return to the country and his death on Saturday at the age of sixty-three, he circulated freely about Port-au-Prince, meeting with old friends, dining at fancy restaurants, and occasionally accepting invitations to government events. For Haitians who had suffered imprisonment or torture under his regime, or who had been forced into exile themselves, Duvalier’s unapologetic presence in the country was shocking. A group of twenty-two plaintiffs, the Collectif contre l’impunité (the Collective Against Impunity) had been pushing for a trial against him, and had been gathering evidence to present in court. This February, they won a victory when a Haitian appellate court ruled that Duvalier could be charged with crimes against humanity under international law. The next step never came, and now it is too late. According to the Human Rights Watch lawyer Reed Brody, who worked on the case, “Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human-rights trial in its history.”

Instead of a trial, we’ll have a funeral. What will it look like? Who will speak, and what will they say? In a tweet, Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, made clear the tone he would seek to set: “Despite our quarrels and differences, let us salute the departure of an authentic son of Haiti.” But how we remember Duvalier is much more than a matter of “quarrels and differences”; it is a question of how, decades on, we should remember and confront a haunting and traumatic history of political repression.

When Duvalier is buried, there will be many conversations in the streets and homes of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and Gonaïves, but also in those of Brooklyn, Miami, Montreal, Cayenne, the Bahamas, Guadeloupe, and Paris. The memories of those who suffered under the Duvalier regime have been passed on quietly within families inside and outside of the country, and more openly through such writers as Marie Vieux-ChauvetFrankétienne, and Edwidge Danticat. But many have inherited a hesitation to speak about what happened during those years. The deep desire for closure, redemption, and reparation is still shadowed by a legacy of impunity and forgetting. Haiti’s future depends on a serious reckoning with the inheritance of the Duvalier regime. Now that Jean-Claude is gone, what shape will that reckoning take?

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
15 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (617) 652-0876
General Inquiries: info@ijdh.org
Media Inquiries: media@ijdh.org

Givva
Use Giving Assistant to save money and support Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti Inc.