By Francklyn B. Geffrard
Last February 7 was the 28th anniversary of the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship. Targeted by a popular revolt and abandoned by the Americans, Jean Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier and his associates had to flee the country early in the morning. For close to three decades, François Duvalier (from 1957 to 1971), then his son Jean Claude (from 1971 to 1986), had ruled the country with an iron fist. To facilitate the departure of Jean Claude Duvalier and his associates, a U.S. Air Force plane had been placed at their disposal by the administration of President Ronald Reagan.
During the long years that Haiti was ruled by the Duvaliers, the country faced serious economic, political and social crises. Arbitrary arrests and assassinations carried out against thousands by the Tontons Macoutes sowed fear, in its most basic form, in the hearts of the people. No opposition was tolerated. Every opponent of the regime was condemned either to imprisonment in the regime’s numerous torture centers, to disappearance, pure and simple, or, for the lucky ones, to exile. This explains, furthermore, why it is outside the country that Haitian exiles tried to create a movement in opposition to the regime, which had enjoyed the unfailing support of France and the United States. (more…)