PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier won’t receive a state funeral after all, his lawyer said Thursday, after public outrage that a man accused of corruption and mass killings could receive such an honor.
Duvalier will instead be remembered at a family ceremony Saturday in the chapel of his former Catholic school Saint-Louis de Gonzague in Port-au-Prince, more than a quarter-century after he was driven into exile by a popular uprising.
When the 63-year-old died of a heart attack last week, Haiti’s President Michel Martelly declared in a tweet that he had been “an authentic son of Haiti,” and his spokesman told AFP that a national funeral would be appropriate.
But the idea that a man accused of overseeing the looting of Haiti by a corrupt elite and of unleashing the murderous Tonton Macoute militia against his opponents be honoured in such a way outraged opposition groups and surviving victims of his regime.
It could also have embarrassed Haiti’s international partners, who have stuck by Martelly’s government despite its ties to figures from the former Duvalier regime.
The Duvalier family lawyer, Reynold George, expressed bitterness that the government, “rather than stand by its principles, has ceded to pressure from certain figures.”