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Haiti Still Undecided on Duvalier Funeral

  • Sandra Lemaire

Haitians are seemingly unfazed by the news of of the death of "Baby Doc." Petionville, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 6, 2014. (S. Lemaire/VOA)

Haitians are seemingly unfazed by the news of of the death of "Baby Doc." Petionville, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 6, 2014. (S. Lemaire/VOA)

Haiti’s government has not yet decided what kind of funeral former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier will receive.

“A national funeral should be organized according to official protocol,” Lucien Jura, a Martelly government spokesman said in French, adding that a meeting was planned for Monday for officials to decide whether to give Duvalier a national or official funeral.

A national funeral would involve 3-7 days of mourning, flags flown at half-staff and a funeral ceremony attended by government officials and dignitaries. An official funeral would mean a ceremony attended by officials with less pomp and circumstance.

FILE - Former dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier waves to supporters from the balcony of a rented guest house where he is staying in Port-au-Prince.

FILE - Former dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier waves to supporters from the balcony of a rented guest house where he is staying in Port-au-Prince.

There has been no official comment by the Duvalier family about funeral plans, and calls to his companion Veronique Roy and son Nicholas Duvalier were unanswered.

Two days after Baby Doc’s death of a heart attack on October 4, there are no visible signs of mourning throughout the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Haitians expressed mixed reactions to the news of the former dictator’s passing.

Former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul, who was a political prisoner during the Duvalier regime, said he does not think Duvalier deserves a national funeral from a moral standpoint.

“However, if he legally has a right to a national funeral due to the fact that he is a former head of state, then so be it, but the decision will be controversial,” Paul warned. On the streets of Petionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, local residents went about their business, seemingly unfazed. VOA found mixed feelings about Duvalier’s death and whether he should receive a national or official funeral.

One man, age 71, who declined to give his name but described himself as a “concerned citizen,” says “Duvalier was a victim,” and was not responsible for the crimes committed while he was in power. He said Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s associates instead were to blame for the atrocities committed during his regime.

As to whether Duvalier should receive a national or official funeral, he responded that he didn’t really care.

“I don’t have an opinion,” Pierre Louis Delinois, 45, said, adding that he heard the news via text message on his mobile phone. “He was a former president so it’s sad news. He should be pardoned [for what transpired under his regime].”

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