Haiti: Duvalier protested, Aristide threatened

Hundreds of Haitians attended a private funeral mass on Oct. 11 in Port-au-Prince for "president for life" Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc”) Duvalier (1971-1986), who had died suddenly of a heart attack while eating breakfast with a friend the morning of Oct. 4 (not the night of Oct. 3 as reported previously). The government of President Michel Martelly ("Sweet Micky”) apparently decided not to hold a state funeral for the late dictator, and Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe stayed away from the mass, as did the diplomatic corps. Former president Gen. Prosper Avril (1988-1990) and former acting president Boniface Alexandre (2004-2006) attended. Duvalier’s coffin was covered with a Haitian flag—but the current red and blue flag, not the red and black flag used by the 1957-1986 Duvalier family dictatorship. (Miami Herald, Oct. 11, from correspondent)

Protesters held a demonstration in downtown Port-au-Prince at the same time to remind people of the brutalities committed under the Duvaliers. "We mustn’t forget the dictatorship’s victims" read one of the signs held by the protesters, who wore white shirts with red spots to symbolize blood and had their mouths covered with white scarves to symbolize the Duvaliers’ repression of free speech. The demonstration was organized by a group called Responsible Citizen Action (ASIRE). (AlterPresse, Haiti, Oct. 12)

In other news, investigative judge Lamarre Bélizaire ordered the police to bring former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004) to appear before him on Oct. 10 as part of the judge’s ongoing investigation into Aristide’s second administration. Aristide’s supporters, including members of the Lavalas Family (FL) party and the Patriotic Force for Respect for the Constitution (Forparc), gathered outside Aristide’s home in the Tabarre suburb northeast of the capital. While some agents from the riot police were seen outside the house around noon, there appeared to be no effort to apprehend the former president. Judge Bélizaire has reportedly threatened to prosecute Haitian National Police Director General Godson Orélus if he doesn’t carry out the order to bring Aristide in. (AlterPresse, Oct. 11)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, October 12.