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#2241:Re: #2222: Antoine responds to Poincy on Francois Duvalier (fwd)
From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
Ah... the stuff of nightmares.
>Young, shuuuuu, quiet! Don't say it too loud, you might open old
>wounds, objective reflection on Dr. Francois Duvalier's era can't be
>voiced that loud when wounds are not completely healed. The truth
>is not to be told that loud about Papa Doc.
Poincy, you are right... the wounds are not completely healed, and I
suspect that they rightfully will not be for a long time yet. It comes
down to basics: when innocent people are sacrificed (as thousands
were... I don't want to play the numbers game, but the order of
magnitude may be significantly higher), under the guise of an anti-
communist, anti-kamoken, whatever campaign, when friends and
family members have been arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and often
never heard from again, for the crime of saying anything at all that
was construed antipathetic to the designs of the "President à vie",
or something that could be construed as antipathetic, or simply
accused of saying something antipathetic... when nearly everyone
absolutely believed that the walls had ears, meaning that there
were spies everywhere and the means of survival was a form of
internalized zombification, then you CANNOT FORGET. Some
effects of this zombification have survived to this day, as most
Haitians will not reveal their opinions or real identities in public
forums for fear of prosecution or terrorism). The same behavior
exists among many of the survivors of Hitlerism or Stalinism.
Some have prospered under François Duvalier. Some have even
managed to accept the persecution of people close to them, friends
or family, and still embrace the government for reasons of survival,
or for reasons of greed, another form of zombification. But do you
blame those who refuse to forget?
For many personal reasons, I will not forget. When those reasons
are joined with the experiences of tens of thousands of families
across the land, it pretty much becomes a national reason... not to
The tragedy of Francois Duvalier was that he was... human. Look
carefully and you will see him lurking in our souls. This is THE
reason for a democratic system: To keep well-intentioned people
from becoming tyrants. As far as I know, Duvalier may have been
at some point in time a decent man... As far as his intellectual
ability went, he understood Haitians and the historic class struggle,
and how to exploit it, perhaps more than any one who preceded him.
There ALWAYS are perks that come with one-man rule. Crime is
monopolized, so when you do not fall under the direct wrath of the
man in power, you can live in relative safety. Especially if you
internalize the "no see, no hear, no think, no do" attitude with
respect to the welfare of the state or of your community. One could
almost praise Duvalier for the fact that, aside from the crimes
committed by his henchmen on his behalf or on their own volition,
with total impunity, there simply was not the rash of social crimes
that we are witnessing today. But this was simply the "beneficial"
effect of a controlled society... where the criminality is concentrated
in some identifiable hands, rather than being diffuse and random.
It's very hard to adjust to that randomness. There is some comfort
in knowing the enemy, and conforming one's behavior to maximize
chances of survival, but today there are scorpions under every rock,
it seems. But should we then advocate a return of Duvalierism?
No, a thousand times, no!
>What I can't understand really is how some today's Ayitian leaders,
>historian, intellectuals and blacks buy all the lies about Dr. François
>Duvalier and keep feeding them to the people. The masses don't
>comprehend what was happening and vowed to destroy whatever
>was of Duvalier or whatever he had accomplished.
Poincy, I don't know about buying all the lies. I lived in Haiti under
Papa Doc, and I generally do not trust the media. I base a lot of
my conclusions on personal, familial, and community experiences.
I generally do my best to keep an open mind. Please, tell me
without dissertation (no offense to you, it's just that this exercise
requires brevity for clarity sake) what are the lies that you are
alluding to, and what were the accomplishments of Francois
Duvalier as President of Haiti. Once you distinctly list them, we
can argue about their merits.
>They are so much into a "blue and red flag" without knowing the
>history behind it and associate it with Duvalier's creation.
Poincy, you may be historically accurate as far as the origins of
the "black and red" or "blue and red" flags go. But what is a flag,
if not pure symbolism. You are a well educated man, and you
know well your history, so you reach back to the symbolism of
two hundred years ago. Under Duvalier's rule, there was no great
effort about educating the masses on this issue -- it was accept it
or be gone... (basically the same way that Cabaret became Duvalierville).
To embrace the black and red flag was just one of the ways to
indicate that you were embracing Duvalierism. In the mind of the
masses, whom you have portrayed convincingly as much more
concerned about where they will get their next meal, such historical
intricacies become unimportant. In their lifetime, one thing is certain:
the blue and red flag immediately predated Duvalier. The black and
red black symbolized Duvalierism, history notwithstanding. The
popular choice is perfectly understandable. Now, if only the black
and red flag had been re-introduced in a democratic fashion, by
educating the people, rather than forcing it down their throat!
>Moreover, its emblem "l'union fait la force" is a joke in itself
>considering the social aspect of the country's history. However,
>almost everyone adopt it despite today's contradictory circumstance.
I don't understand your argument. The joke is not that "l'union fait
la force", but that divisiveness is so prevalent in Haitian society.
The emblem rings true, since it was the solidarity (however temporary)
of the blacks and the mulattoes against the French that led to our
victory in the War of Independence. The joke is that we proclaim
it, but nearly no one adopts it in their attitude in daily life. But
I am being a bit cynical here. Haitians do come together on occasion,
and sometimes with spectacular results. It's just that "this coming
together" is usually short-lived, as their leaders jockey for power.
>This is what we have. A group of people whom refuse to acknowledge
>the effectiveness and grand vision of Christophe and Dr. François
>Duvalier just because these two were the true defenders of the black
Poincy, I think we'd be better off studying the legacy of Christophe and
Duvalier separately. I grew up idolizing Henri Christophe because I
practically lived in the shadow of the Citadelle in Cap-Haitien, and at
the foot of the Citadelle, as one might say, in Dondon. I am convinced
of the greatness of the man who defended against the French by burning
Cap-Haitien starting (as legend or history records it) with his own house.
A man who re-established prosperity in the North, rising above its ruins.
A man who willed an astounding fortress that my young legs never tired
of visiting (while they were young). But I also grew up under Duvalier.
What are some of his accomplishments that are in any way comparable
to Christophe's? Duvalier played the "class" card very well, to suit his
own quest for money and power. But once again, tell me about any
real accomplishment (not just symbolism) that would allow rational men
such as yourself to bestow upon him the title of "true defender of the
>Duvalier would have stayed a brilliant doctor serving his rural peasants
>right by curing them of death stricken infections.
Oh YES, don't we wish!
>Smart was he, he took advantage of the US fight against communism
>(Cuba next door) to get rid of his enemies whom would want to remove
>him from power and take his place through successive coups d'Etat like
>they used to do before. Duvalier tagged every one of his enemies
>communist to justify his political clean up.
Cunning like a fox... I'll give you that one! But what good did this do for
the Haitian people? Many of his so-called enemies were idealistic young
men and women, the "bread and butter" of a developing nation. Gone,
but not forgotten... cannot be forgotten... brothers, sisters, parents,
>Relating all this is not to justify Duvalier's wrong doings, but to outline
>the truth for what it is.
Yes, Poincy, what is the truth? Let's quantify it for a change. I am
for hard facts, not emotion... I know you like that.
Guy S. Antoine
Look thru & Imagine!