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#5141: Duvalier: Ron Howell's second article (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(Newsday, 23 Sept 00)

N.Y. Haitians Oppose Duvalier's Return

by Ron Howell

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier may have growing numbers of
followers in the New York area, but most Haitians do not want him to return
to power and his presence in Haiti might even lead to civil war, some local
Haitian leaders say. 

One observer said the support for Duvalier is a sign of Haiti's worsening
political and economic crisis. 

The reactions followed a story Friday in Newsday in which Duvalier said in
a phone interview from France that he was trying to get back to the
troubled Caribbean nation he left in 1986, amid growing protests against
the 20-year brutal Duvalier family dictatorship. 

"If Duvalier wants to return, he can return, but that would cause a civil
war in Haiti," said Hérold Dasque, executive director in Cambria Heights of
a nonprofit social service agency called Haitian-Americans United for

Other Haitian immigrants called Newsday Friday to complain angrily about
the group of Duvalier loyalists who are working to restore him to the

They noted that Duvalier and his late father Francois were accused of
widespread human rights abuses-some human rights groups say 40,000 people
were killed during the family's reign-and that Jean-Claude made off with
more than $100 million when he fled Haiti in 1986. 

Some told moving tales of their suffering under the Duvaliers. One man
recalled the day in 1964 when henchmen of Francois Duvalier came and
arrested his father, a lawyer. The man said he never saw his father again.
Identifying himself as a 50-year-old insurance salesman who lives in
Manhattan, he refused to give his name, saying he still fears followers of

Msgr. Guy Sansaricq, pastor of St. Jerome's Roman Catholic Church in
Brooklyn, remembered how about 15 of his cousins were murdered during a
massacre in 1963 in the Haitian town of Jeremie, by men he suspects were
acting on behalf of Francois Duvalier. 

Sansaricq said he does not think Jean-Claude will be able to live in Haiti

"I believe the Duvaliers are a closed chapter in the history of Haiti," he
said. "Their time is over, and I don't believe he has any chance of staging
a comeback." But both Sansaricq and human rights activist Ron Daniels said
Haiti is in the midst of a serious political and economic crisis, which is
making some people nostalgic for the relative peace and prosperity of the
Duvalier years. 

"He [Jean-Claude] will always have some followers," Sansaricq said,
"because there are a number of people who really benefited from his regime.

Jean-Claude enjoyed a certain era of prosperity. It was a time when Haiti
had become more open and a lot of investments were made in Haiti and a lot
of people did become richer as a result of his policies. In a way, Haiti
was somewhat better off, economically, under Jean-Claude Duvalier than
under that came afterward." Daniels, executive director of the
Manhattan-based Center for Constitutional Rights, said he went to Haiti
about a year and a half ago and heard people complaining about their
poverty, saying they were economically better off under Jean-Claude

"When living conditions are so bad, it sometimes opens the door for a
dictator to return," Daniels said. "I would be stunned if that would

But frankly I have been concerned."