No official funeral for Haiti’s Duvalier: lawyer


‘The government has reversed its decision. The funeral will be organized by the family’, Agence France Presse reports.

Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier will not receive a state funeral after all, his lawyer said Thursday, after a public outcry that a man accused of corruption and mass killings could receive such an honor.

Duvalier will instead be remembered at a family ceremony on Saturday in the chapel of his former Catholic high 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 the appropriate protocol.

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 honored 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.”

“There will be no official ceremony. The government has reversed its decision. The funeral will be organized by the family,” he told AFP.

Duvalier came to office in 1971 aged only 19 after the death of his still more feared father and fellow president for life Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. He ruled the impoverished Caribbean nation for 15 years until driven into exile by protests.

He returned in 2011 on the first anniversary of a devastating earthquake, saying that he wanted to help his country rebuild, but found himself exposed to lawsuits from the victims of his rule accusing him of graft and human rights abuses.

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