Colonel Octave Cayard, Commandant of the Haitian Coast

Colonel Octave Cayard, on the morning of April 24, 1970, led a section of the Haitian Coast Guard into a rebellion against the Duvalier government and a naval attack on Port-au-Prince. In a United States memorandum sent to Washington, the event was chronicled by Viron P. Vaky, who wrote that the revolting guards had acted in desperation after those plotting a coup against the then president, Cayard included, had gotten wind that the controversial leader was in pursuit of them.


At 9am Colonel Octave Cayard declared in a telephone call that he would capture the Coast Guard's largest vessels. By sixteen minutes to twelve a round was fired, but landed short of the Palace. Though a subsequent ten rounds were fired, Vaky reported that things were 'reasonably calm' and that there was no sign of additional forces joining the erstwhile rebellion as ground troops appeared patriotic to the government.

It was alleged that Cayard acted after a month-long pursuit and the capture of various other members of the coup-plotting committee. Vaky extemporizes, contrarily, that Cayard had political ambitions, but was a soldier by profession, acting with no political motivation, and divulged that, just the year before, the officer had plotted to de-seat the ailing Duvalier as he recovered from a heart-attack. While seeming confident that Cayard was acting on the impulse of fear and not making a coordinated attack, Vaky stressed that, given time, forces could come to his aid.

Colonel Octave Cayard, 47 at the time, had been at his post for almost exactly seven years that day. Vaky told Washington that he'd been 'friendly' towards the US, which probably gave reason for his advice that Washington not move to assist Duvalier so quickly, and that Cayard had been favored as a likely candidate should Duvalier be taken from his seat.

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All Comments (3)

Ted Pahle says...

I had the pleasure of meeting Col Cayard when in the middle of the Caribbean Sea I boarded alone the St Jacques Dessalines mine layer ship of the Haitian Coast Guard on my birthday April 24, 1970 several hours after his failed coup against Pres. Duvalier.

He basically turned over his pistol to me and asked that on behalf of himself and his 104 coast guard personnel and two coast guard cutters be given asylum in the US. He was a very professional officer and we worked together and I communicated his request to the White House and State Department.

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Gary Wright says...

At the time of this episode, I was an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y. After his fall from favor, Octave Cayard was banished from Haiti and given refuge in the USA. He was given a job as my assistant.

He came across as a very refined gentleman, and I enjoyed our work

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Cayard Azer Junior says...

je fais partir de cette famille et j'aimerais savoir plus sur cette famille, j'habite en Haiti (Gonaives).


svp aidez

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