Under the Duvalier dictatorship, Martelly ran the Garage, a nightclub patronized by army offi cers and members of Haiti’s tiny ruling class. At a recent press conference, Martelly spoke nostalgically of the Duvalierist era, when François "Papa Doc" Duvalier and later his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" enforced their iron rule with gun and machete wielding Tonton Macoutes, a sort of Haitian Gestapo. “Today the dog is eating its vomit," lamented Marcus Garcia of Radio Mélodie FM in a Dec. 8 editorial. While "Michel Martelly openly defends the Duvalier regime in a press conference,” the youth who have been duped into supporting him are “without memory of [the infamous political prison] Fort Dimanche-Fort La mort, without memory of the Nov. 29, 1987 electoral massacre,” when neo-Duvalierist thugs killed hundreds of would-be voters.
In a 2002 article, the Washington Post explained how the konpa singer was a long-time “favorite of the thugs who worked on behalf of the hated Duvalier family dictatorship before its 1986 collapse.” But the mainstream media of late has yet to pick up on the singer’s past affiliations. Duvalierist affinities should not be taken lightly. Human rights groups such as the League of Former Political Prisoners and Families of the Disappeared compiled a partial list of several thousand of the Duvalier regime’s victims, which was published in Haïti Progrès in 1987, but total estimates of those killed under the U.S.-backed 29-year long dictatorship range from 30,000 to 50,000 people. After Baby Doc’s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement, long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as the Lavalas, or flood. Martelly quickly became a bitter Lavalas opponent, making trenchant attacks against the popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.Haiti needs competent, professional leadership and should not return to the days of the Baby Doc era. What a shame. And, what's more shameful, is that the United States has embraced this farce.