News Americas, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Fri. May 13, 2011: The Kompa singer turned President elect of Haiti officially takes the reins tomorrow, but has already promised amnesty for former dictator, Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier.
In an interview with Montreal’s French-language daily La Presse, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly said that he “could eventually think of that (an amnesty) to the extent that those who were hurt in the past understand the need for reconciliation” and that “I’m leaning toward the side of amnesty and forgiveness.”
But Martelly’s comments on Duvalier are disturbing to many, especially those whose relatives were killed under his brutal dictatorship by his and his father, Papa Doc Duvalier’s Tonton Macouts. The force was created in 1959, only two years after François Duvalier became president, due to the threat posed to the dictator by the regular armed forces. After an attempted coup d’etat against him in 1958, Duvalier disbanded the army and all law enforcement agencies in Haiti, and executed all high-ranking generals. The new militia wore straw hats, blue denim shirts and dark glasses, and were armed with machetes and guns.
Duvalier employed the Tonton Macoutes in a reign of terror against any opponents, including those who proposed progressive social systems. Those who spoke out against Duvalier would disappear at night, or were sometimes attacked in broad daylight. Tonton Macoutes often stoned and burned people alive. Many times the corpses were put on display, often hung in trees for everyone to see. Family members who tried to remove the bodies for proper burial often disappeared themselves, never to be seen again.
They were believed to have been abducted and killed by the MVSN, who were called the “Tonton Macoutes” as a result. Anyone who challenged the MVSN risked assassination. Their unrestrained state terrorism was accompanied by corruption, extortion and personal aggrandizement among the leadership.
Duvalier, 59, returned to Haiti on Jan. 16 after being chased out by a popular uprising 25 years earlier. A large team of Haitian and international lawyers are helping the Haitian government to put together the Duvalier prosecution and process complaints being filed by Duvalier era victims living in Haiti and its Diaspora.
This as Duvalier lives the good life in Haiti, socializing on the jazz circuit while a judge is investigating allegations of crimes committed during his 15-year rule and Duvalier supporters advise Martelly.