1982 - Baby Doc not lessining Haiti's issues

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1982 - Baby Doc not lessining Haiti's issues - Haiti's 'Baby Doc 9 can 9 t seem to end...
Haiti's 'Baby Doc 9 can 9 t seem to end island's hunger, disease ByMARCD.CHARNEY Associated Press Writer PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Jean-Claude Duvalier inherited the presidency-for-life of this black republic when he was 19 years old. He promised to bring political liberalization and economic progress to this poorest nation in the Americas. Eleven years later, hunger persists among the masses and dissenters are voiceless, while he and a tiny elite live in luxury. To explain that, defenders portray Duvalier as a liber- alizer and modernizer hampered mostly by history and by holdovers from the days of his despotic father, the late Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Detractors say Jean- Claude (who dislikes the "Baby Doc" nickname by which he is known) lacks not the power — just the will or ability — to do better. Meanwhile, the countryside is in a crisis of hunger which has caused an explosive migration that Haiti and the United States are trying to stem. Duvalier's photograph, often with his wife, Michelle, graces public buildings deep in the countryside, where much of the topsoil was stripped bare by primitive land management long before "Papa Doc" came to power in 1957. Occasionally Duvalier travels there, tossing petty cash to peasants who cheer as aides praise "Jean- Claudism" — the name given to his economic and political promises. Michelle, daughter of a businessman, is often photographed photographed with poor children. Malaria, gastroenteritis, venereal disease and, above all, hunger, plague that countryside, where 76 percent percent of Haitians live. The infant mortality rate is 150 out of each 1,000 babies. The average national income is less than $300 a year. Health officials, meanwhile, cite evidence that children of the urban elite have their own nutrition problem — overweight. When the Jean-Claude and Michelle married in May 1980, their wedding was lavish — but in some eyes scandalous for a country so poor. It brought hope to Duvalier's defenders, who said it would cement ties between him and Haiti's businessmen, on whom U.S. diplomats focus their hopes for development. That promise, however, was strained by a chronic shortage of dollars last year, after the government failed to account for millions in foreign exchange support from the International International Monetary Fund. The IMF held off new support for a year. Human rights pledges are part of "Jean-Claudism," but liberalization ended abruptly in November 1980, when the government jailed and expelled dozens of dissenters. dissenters. By law, "insulting" Duvalier can land journalists journalists in prison. Today, virtually virtually all dissidents are in jail, in exile, or silent. There have been some changes during Jean- Claude's years. Foreign aid has built a paved road linking north and south. Papa Doc's "Tontons Macoutes," thugs who were highly feared in their day, now are organized organized into a uniformed paramilitary force. Perhaps 60,000 of the nearly 6 million Haitians work in assembly plants, lured by a $3-a-day minimum wage. More than $100 million in foreign aid flows annually. U.S. diplomats increased their support for foreign investment last fall, after pressuring Duvalier into letting the U.S. Coast Guard stop Haitian refugees at sea. But population growth threatens to outstrip any progress. Economists say Haiti needs 30,000 new jobs annually just to stay even. And even as tens of thousands flee by boat for Florida and elsewhere, hundreds of thousands leave the barren countryside for overcrowded Port-au- Prince. Despite that, central government services and control outside Port-au-Prince remain minimal. Meanwhile, U.S. and other aid officials keep pressuring for guarantees against corruption in the financial system. Duvalier promised reforms Aug. 8, but diplomats give mixed reviews to his performance since then. Still, his defenders claim Haiti has improved since the days of his father. They also say there are few alternatives, because the Duvalier family retains appeal among the 90 percent of Haitians who are black even though his wife is from the 10 percent mulatto elite. "Papa Doc" was a physician physician elected president in 1957 as a black populist. He stripped the mulatto elite of political clout, gutted the legislature of power, used his "Tontons Macoutes" to spread terror, and in 1964 became president for life. He promoted voodoo and fought such "foreign" influences influences as the Roman Catholic Church. His excesses made Haiti a pariah nation without foreign aid, investment or tourism. When he died in 1971, his constitution passed the presidency-for-life to Jean-Claude, then a rotund law student fond of fancy automobiles. Educated in Haiti, he is believed to have gone abroad only once — to Europe as a teen-ager. Yet he promised to open up Haiti to foreign investment, investment, tourism and aid. His promoters bill this as an "economic revolution" to follow his father's "political revolution." The Agent to see for • AUTO INSURANCE • HOMEOWNERS • 3 YEAR POLICIES (Includes Storm) • FLOOD INSURANCE 1424 TRE MONT 765-6646

Clipped from
  1. The Galveston Daily News,
  2. 07 Feb 1982, Sun,
  3. Page 31

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  • 1982 - Baby Doc not lessining Haiti's issues

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