By Gerald V. Paul
Reflecting on the death of Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier and the regime started by the father, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, Haiti-born Dr. Eric Pierre told The Camera “I still feel the father and son regime was evil.”
“We did not have the opportunity to heal,” Pierre said, noting he was speaking as a Haitian citizen and not as the country’s honorary consul general in Toronto.
“I have to show respect for the dignity of a human being. Death is a common destiny. On the other hand, I cannot show any regret for the passing of him. The regret I have is for the victims and the families.”
The sensitive nature of the Haitian psyche during the regime of ‘Papa Doc’, a medical doctor turned- dictator, and son, ‘Baby Doc’ is responsible for Pierre speaking only as a private citizen.
“My mother told me that when she heard the dogs barking, she thought they were coming for her son. And I was not politically motivated; there was the atmosphere of fear. The middle class and creative people were sent into exile.”
Jean-Claude Duvalier, the self-proclaimed “president for life” of Haiti whose corrupt and brutal regime still reverberates in the minds of Haitians at home and abroad, died last Saturday of a heart attack. He was 63.
Pierre, who is also president of Pierspective Entraide Humanitaire, working to complete the Ecole St. Paul de Corail Cesselesse in Haiti through their fifth-annual fundraising gala at the Toronto Don Valley and Suites on Nov. 22, noted: “Jean-Claude Duvalier’s brutal dictatorship physically ruled for 15 years in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.”
Pierre painfully revealed the brutality, under ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier was to the extent that people communicated with symbols and signs. They were afraid of using words, since they will be arrested in any part of the country, just merely by association and having a conversation. Death will come for the entire family, the maids, dog and anything related to that family, he said.
“We were not offered the luxury to express our opinion.”
Today, Haitians are still talking about it because it is part of the narrative.
‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti in 2011, causing victims of his regime to pursue legal claims against him, and some old allies to rally around him.
Human rights groups documented abuses and political persecution. A trio of prisons known as the “Triangle of Death” symbolized the brutality of the regime. Despite a chorus of voices calling for him to be brought to justice, he spent his final years quietly living in a villa among the powerful elite in Port-au-Prince.
However, Pierre expressed the hope that Haiti will move forward in peace and prosperity.