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#2399: Dr. Francois Duvalier Part I and III: Antoine responds to Poincy (fwd)
From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
Folks, there are some serious history questions being discussed
here, and I would wish to see Haitian Historians, of which there
must be some on the list, tangle with the issues raised. While I
stand firmly in the camp of those who reject a whitewash of the
crimes perpetrated by Papa Doc and the succeeding Duvalierist
regimes, crimes of a nature both quantitative (number of those
killed and tortured) and qualitative (the ensuing horror and trauma
imposed on the population, some of which would naturally translate
into a victim's mentality, since not every victim can be expected to
emerge with a victor's mentality)... I do not categorically reject ALL
of the points advanced by Poincy, who obviously takes his defense
of Francois Duvalier very seriously. In fact, some of those points
have intrigued me, and I wish Poincy (or others) would bring even
more enlightenment to the subject matter. To boot:
" I went on and asked WHY did he do all these wrongs after
spending most of his life as a doctor caring for rural peasants
abandoned/forgotten for a century and a half long in dark/pit
holes of rural areas? One must recognize that he helped them
overcome death stricken infections and enable them to live a
little longer. We are talking about the savings of lives of more
and more than those that he eliminated, if we make a simple
geometrical calculation. This aspect of the man cannot go
down the drain; it is unfair to flush it. "
As I said once before, the tragedy of Francois Duvalier is precisely
that he was human, and is a vivid example of how far wrong anyone
of us could go in the pursuit of power. This should not be a lesson
lost on our current and future leaders. All too often, absolute power
corrupts absolutely, and we must always make sure that tendencies
to absolutism among our leaders do not simply turn to plain old
despotism. That said, I for one would not wish to deny Francois
Duvalier any good he may have accomplished in his life. Both his
positives and his negatives should be grounded in facts, and not
rumors and myths. When I speak of the effects of Duvalierism, I
tend to limit myself to what I have personally witnessed. Similarly,
I would like Poincy or others to confirm or rebut this caring aspect
of Papa Doc, the rural doctor's life. What was the extent of his
altruism? What is the medical/historical/biographical record of his
crusade against "death stricken infections (that) enable(d) them to
live a little longer"? What authorities should we refer to, to insure
that this aspect of Francois Duvalier's life has not been embellished?
When Poincy talks about "the savings of lives of more and more
than those that he eliminated, if we make a simple geometrical
calculation", I want to know more about this "simple geometrical
calculation". Try me, I am a mathematician by education and
Poincy then makes a rather solid analysis (in my opinion) of the
historical struggle between mulattos and blacks in our History,
in his critique of our devise "L'Union Fait La Force". He expertly
brings out the fact that the union of the blacks and the mulattos
that led our victorious struggle against the French army was "hollow".
I compliment Poincy on that analysis, though I would caution that
it was never as "black and yellow" as one might conclude. As our
"uneducated masses" have long ago perceived, "nèg rich se milat,
milat pòv se nèg". To substitute self-centered, non-idealistic, and
easily corruptible people from the masses, into positions formerly
occupied by self-centered, non-idealistic, and easily corruptible
mulattos, is no great achievement on behalf of the people of Haiti.
Poincy relates the following historical event:
"At one point when they, whites and mulattos, were celebrating
their unification, the mulattos disarmed the slaves, removed them
from Ayiti and dumped them in some other islands in the Caribbean.
They did not want them to get any idea and build on their fighting
skills to reverse the slavery system one day."
Please tell me more about this, what were the personalities involved,
what islands were involved, and just what is the historical record on
this? I would much appreciate if you could enlighten me some more
on this event.
Finally, Poincy, you go at length characterizing Francois Duvalier
as a dreamer, a visionary, and not the achiever of his dreams.
However in the final analysis, one's actions should count much
louder than his motivations or desires. Hell is paved with good
intentions. Whether Duvalier's dreams and aspirations were
rooted in altruism and love of his people, as you maintain, his
horrific record of human rights violations, his perpetuation of
graft and toleration of incompetence in our public administration,
his cynically paving the way for a transfer of absolute power to his
inept son and faithful generals, all of this powerfully indicts the
man in the eyes of History, regardless of his prior saintly life (if
it were such).
Guy S. Antoine
Look thru & Imagine!