Improved; seeking aid, Carter, human rights violations
Baby Doc: six years in power PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (DPI) -President for life Jean-Claude Duvalier next Friday completes his sixth year of personal power and the 20th year of rule by his family in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The 25-year-old absolute rider, who took power April 22, 1971, atter the death of his father and svas nicknamed "Baby Doc," this year faces the worst crisis of his government: a devastating drought that has brought still more famine, despair, and hardship to a country already at poverty's rock bo (torn. Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Jean-Claude's father, held the presidency for 14 years wilh bloodcurdling repressive methods that gave him tola! political power but his country zero economic growth. There were doubts that his 19-year- otd son could remain very long at the head of the turbulent, impoverished, 1 overcrowded nation of 5 million trying to scratch out a living in a mountainous territory wilh only one fifth the arable land of New Hampshire and Vermont put together. Yet the teen-ager not only survived but matured on the job, bringing modern-minded technocrats -- many with U.S. university education -- into his administration and replacing many, but not all, of his father's henchmen. Jean-Claude brought Haiti slight politicial liberalization, but his modest economc gains have come crashing to the ground with this year's drought. Because of the falling water level of the Petigre hydroelectric dam, (he government instituted electricity rationing in Port au Prince on March cutting consumption to five hours a day for any single district. The move crippled industry and created a food hazard because of the lack of refrigeration. Hotels were forced to cut their air conditioning, and often guests were left groping for their meals by candlelight during blackouts. Water, though available at major bolcls, was ralioned elsewhere in Porl au Prince and distributed by truck to the lucky. The poor trekked to public spigots on foot with buckets on their heads. A year ago Haiti exported sugar and was nearly selfsufficient in rice. Now must import not only sugar but tens thousand of tons of rice and other grains. Haiti has a per capital income of than $*^00 a year. About 80 per cent of the population live at a subsistence level in rural areas. The country has few natural resources and gets about half of ite foreign exchange from coffee exports. Foreign aid keeps Hie country alive. The Uniled Stales is expected Iq pour S26 million in foreign aid into Haiti year, and half of that will be in the form of food. More than two dozen persons are believed to have starved lo death in rural areas, and in Port au Prince water lines are occasionally broken by those clamoring for water. Newspapers occasionally criticize the Â·Â· government for inaction or for failing to dramatize the crisis and give an explanation. In the past such criticism may have been severely punished, but the government is wary of losing y.S. assistance by flouting President Carter's human rights campaign, diplomatic sources said. The sources said the JeanClaude released 500 to 600 prisoners since Carter was elected and has ordered ' justice miniser to personally investigate reports of police brutality. Serious opposition to the government is not tolerated, however, and sporadic violent retribution continues. Strikes and public demonstrations are taboo. Criticism of the president's fast lifestyle -- he is known to be fond fast cars, motorcycles, and last month ordered a $B80,000 yachl -- is unheard of. Although nearly all of Haiti has suffered fromMhe drought, the hardship is a long way from finding expression in an opposition political movement. "Everything is falling apart," a Haitian engineer complained. "The government does nothing. But there won't be any revolution. To make a revolution, a country needs some energy. There's no energy in Haili. The people suffer too much to have energy. There's no law, no institutions".