The Death and Legacy of Papa Doc Duvalier

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Occult Powers. Duvalier began to build a personality cult. The Lord's Prayer was rewritten. "Our Doc," the revised version went, "who art in the National Palace, hallowed be thy name." He boasted that he was a statesman of the same caliber as Charles de Gaulle and demanded homage from his people, who were trucked into Port-au-Prince to sing and dance his praises in front of the palace. To stir up enthusiasm for himself, he would sometimes ride through the capital in his bulletproof Mercedes 600 limousine and stop to scatter money among the crowds.

As Haitian exiles began staging small guerrilla landings in the 1960s, Papa Doc's behavior became even more bizarre. After the leader of a guerrilla group had been killed in a skirmish, Papa Doc had the man's head cut off and brought to the palace. There Papa Doc supposedly used his occult powers to conjure information about the guerrilla band's plans from the dead man's skull. There were rumors that Papa Doc had taken to torturing prisoners himself in the palace basement.

The general assumption had been that Papa Doc's death would set off a political explosion in Haiti. Thus it was a major surprise when the country took the event calmly. At first, only a small group of curious gathered outside the palace fence, and only a few extra police and troops stood guard in Port-au-Prince. By the time of the funeral, the crowds and security forces had grown larger. Nonetheless, the city remained peaceful.

In a radio address to the country, Jean-Claude vowed to carry on his father's "revolution" with the same "energy and intransigence." The power behind Baby Doc is almost certain to be his elder sister, Marie-Denise 29. whom many Haitians regard as the old dictator's only true spiritual offspring. During the past several years, she has deftly shunted aside possible rivals within the palace inner circle.

Border Alert. There was no assurance that the brother-and-sister team could withstand the rivalries and intrigues that beset Haitian politics. Haiti has seldom escaped violence during leadership changes. Many experts anticipate a period of intense but quiet rivalry between army and secret-police factions, which may later explode into open fighting.

Haiti's neighbors braced for trouble. The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, put its border troops on a full alert. In Washington, the State Department conceded that the U.S. had increased naval and air surveillance of the sea approaches to Haiti. Since the island's northwestern tip is only 50 miles away from Cuba across the Windward Passage, the U.S. is worried that Fidel Castro, who has been more bellicose than usual in recent weeks, may seize upon Duvalier's death as an opportunity to stir up trouble in Haiti.

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