Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

How Duvalierism Persists Despite the Dictator’s Death

This article connects Duvalierism with many issues that are ongoing in Haiti, such as the lack of democratic elections and constant interference by foreign powers. It cites our work on prosecuting Duvalier, Fran Quigley’s book How Human Rights Can Build Haiti, and Haiti’s need for sovereignty.

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

The Tyrant Jean-Claude Duvalier Is Dead, but His Legacy Still Lives in UN-Occupied Haiti

Roger Annis, Truthout
October 8, 2014

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Jean-Claude Duvalier, the tyrant who ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, has died in Haiti at the age of 63. His death provides a moment for political reflection by the Haitian people, especially in view of the reality that so much of Duvalier’s harsh political legacy remains alive and well in the island country.

A UN Security Council foreign military occupation has entered its 11th year. It serves to bolster much of the authoritarian Duvalier legacy, which has always, at its heart, been about excluding the Haitian people from governing their own country.

“President for Life”

Duvalier was appointed “president for life” in 1971 by his dying father, Francois Duvalier. Known as “Papa Doc” for the medical education he received in his early years, the elder Duvalier muscled his way into power in 1957 and established one of the most ruthless dictatorships the world had ever known. He was 64 when he died.

Son Duvalier was an upstart playboy with zero qualifications to govern when he began his rule. He was 19 years old. He carried forward his father’s legacy faithfully, becoming known as “Baby Doc.” The pillars of his rule were the same as his father’s, and included the ruthless, secret police called the Tontons Macoutes and their networks of domestic spies, prisons, torture chambers and dumping grounds for the thousands illegally assassinated.

The Duvalier case is documented on the website of one of the leading legal agencies involved, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and its partner office in Port au Prince, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.

Brian Concannon, director of the IJDH, says the prosecution of Duvalier’s crimes should continue. “The case is as much about setting a precedent for protection of human rights as it is about securing a conviction of the man. Duvalier’s death is not a reason to stop the fight for justice for his victims,” he said.

A new book on Haiti has just been published and it is easily the best overview of the political, human rights and social challenges confronting the country in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. It is authored by Fran Quigley, professor at the McKinney School of Law at Indiana University, and is titled, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti.

Quigley writes in the introduction that the pervasive state of poverty in Haiti and the extensive damage caused by the 2010 earthquake could have been avoided if Haiti’s leaders followed the country’s laws and were accountable to the people. What is uniquely important in the book is how it documents the role of the big foreign powers in preventing that course.

For the Haitian people, the struggle against foreign occupation and for national sovereignty is the path that will consign the Duvalier legacy to the dustbin once and for all.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

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Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
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Telephone: (617) 652-0876
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