Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was finally laid to rest on today, a week after his death revived bitter divisions over his legacy, reports the Jamaica Observer.
Several hundred people, including powerful players from the 63-year-old’s former regime, gathered at the chapel of his former high school in Port-au-Prince to pay their respects at a family ceremony.
The family still commands respect among some in Haiti’s business and political elite, but Duvalier is remembered by rights activists and opposition figures as a corrupt and brutal autocrat.
“Duvalier is a criminal he won’t go to heaven! Burn him, behead him,” cried a group of youthful protesters as a convoy of expensive luxury SUVs arrived at the church.
Inside the ceremony, politicians, former military officers and churchmen paid tribute to a man who stood accused of having thousands of his opponents killed and presiding over an empire of graft.
Several times the crowd rose in applause as former barons of his regime defended his 15-year reign. The late leader’s 31-year-old son, Nicolas Duvalier, stood with his head bowed.
Duvalier was driven from office in 1986 by a popular uprising and spent a quarter-of-a-century in exile before returning in 2011 — a year after an earthquake so devastating it overshadowed even the crimes of his era.