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Art of the Obituary: Baby Doc

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How much Duvalier Jr. took with him when he made a run for it in the face of a popular uprising is anyone’s guess. Anything from four-hundred- to nine-hundred-thousand dollars is the commonly-given estimate…Having fled to the French Riviera, Duvalier burned through his fortune quickly and then engaged in a tawdry divorce dispute in 1993. Having been nearly wiped out by that, Duvalier was kept afloat by the donations of ordinary Haitians in France, including cab drivers, who for reasons best-known to themselves felt this was the right thing to do, and Duvalier took it as no more than his due. Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal in 2003, Duvalier said, “I laugh when I hear the amounts: $400 million, $800 million. It’s a lot of blah, blah, blah.” The only contrition he had was this: “Perhaps I was too tolerant.” Leaving behind him innumerable unpaid bills, including for hotels, Duvalier returned to Haiti almost exactly a year after the massive earthquake in January 2010 that destroyed much of the capital city and at least half of the government. Almost inexplicably, Duvalier was greeted by a cheering crowd on his return. He was arrested, and was technically on trial when he died, but the charges never went beyond the corruption; there was never, and now will never be, a reckoning for the human rights abuses in the Duvalier years.

-by Kyle Orton, via Syrian Intifada

• • •

There have been some murmurings that former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier might get a state funeral in Haiti.

Rather than spending money on a funeral, how about just putting up a sign that says “Good Riddance.”

-by Gary Stein, via Sun Sentinel

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