The former First Lady of Haiti, Michele Bennett Duvalier, is back in the public scene. After more than 30 year living quietly, she has decided to come out in defense of the family reputation.
In an open letter, Michele Bennett Duvalier has decided to make some corrections on a statement recently made by businessman Marc Antoine Acra.
The new Government Commissioner, Jean Danton Léger, recently made the decision to impose a travel ban on Marc Antoine Acra following the scandal where a boat from his company NABATCO "Manzanares" containing a cargo of drugs from Colombia was seized. Subsequently, Marc Anthoine Acra went on to say that:"" .......... a Government Commissioner set up a transitional government advocating transparency and justice acts as the time of the totalitarian regime of Duvalier asking arbitrary acts, anarchic and totally illegal. "
"Cher Marc Antoine,
J'ai lu ce jour avec interet ta note de presse du 6 Avril ecoule parue sur facebook.
Dans cette note, tu contestes l'interdiction de depart prise a ton encontre par le Commissaire du Gouvernement, Me.Danton Leger, suite au dossier du bateau "Le Manzanares" qui a ete saisi contenant une cargaison de sucre et de drogue qui etait destinee a ta Societe NABATCO en provenance de la Colombie.
Je comprends que tu te defendes et que tu defendes aussi l'honneur et le nom de ta famille qui depuis 3 generations travaillent et investissent dans le pays. Tout citoyen a droit a la justice de son pays. Egalement, c'est tout a fait normal que le Commissaire du Gouvernement fasse son travail d'enquete et d'instruction en toute serenite pour trouver le ou les coupables concernes par l'importation clandestine de cette grande cargaison de drogue et le deferer devant la justice.
The state-sponsored wedding between Former Haitian Dictator Jean Claude Duvalier and a member of the Mulato elite in Haiti,Michèle Bennett, was reported to be one of the most expensive weddings of the time.
This wedding also comes to signal a new alliance in the Haitian society, The union represents a new aliance between Noirisme that has been promoted by the Duvalierists and the mulatto elite class.
Michèle Bennett was the daughter of a wealthy coffee merchant. Her father, Ernest Bennett, took advantage of his presidential connection to increase his wealth.
Born in 1950, Michele Bennett was the daughter of a Haitian businessman who owned 50,000 acres of land, where he mostly grew coffee. She moved to New York when she was 15 and stayed there until she completed her school from St. Mary's School in Peekskill, New York. Her first job was with a slipper company, where she worked as a secretary.
Her first marriage was with the son of a mulatto officer in 1973, a lock from which Michele gave birth to two children. Michele's first marriage ended five years later, in 1978, post which she took up a career in Public Relations. Her first stint was with a classy hotel called Habitation LeClerc.
An ardent supporter of the Duvalier regime, Haitian Bishop Francois-Wolff Ligonde passed away. According to Radio Kiskeya based on information obtained from Bishop Louis Kebreau, he died following an unspecified illness.
Bishop Francois-Wolff Ligonde was born in the city of Les Cayes, on January 17, 1928. On August 20, 1966, Pope Paul VI nominated him as Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. After more than 40 years in this position, Bishop Francois-Wolff Ligonde retired from his post in 2008.
Bishop Francois-Wolff Ligonde became famous when he presided over the wedding of Jean Claude Duvalier and Michele Bennett, whom he is the uncle. The wedding that many people believe marked the beginning of the end of the regime. There were several issues on the table with this particular wedding: One, Michele Bennett, a mulatto who came opposed to the Noirisme movement that Francois Duvalier has been promoting throughout his government. Two, the wedding itself in 1980 cost over $5 millioms.
It was revealed that the two met in High school. However, the romantic relationship between Michele Bennett and Jean Claude Duvalier did not begin until ten years later. the wedding that was considered the biggest event of the time took place on May 27, 1980. The wedding was estimated to cost over US$3 million. The marriage also brought an underlining issue to the surface in the Haitian society. Many saw it as renewed symbol of alliance with the mulatto elite by the Duvalier regime. This was in direct contrast to the policy of Francois Duvalier who in 1957 was fighting against presidential candidate Louis Dejoie, a mulatto land-owner and industrialist from the north of Haiti. Francois Duvalier used used a Noiriste strategy to challenge the mulatto elite and appealed to the Afro-Haitian majority.
Following the wedding and the increased power gained by Michele Bennett as the new First Lady, new friction started to flair-up between her and her mother in law, Simone Duvalier.
During the Government of Jean-Claude Duvalier, he attempted to balance the power between the existing Armed forces and created as a result created a new military force, the Leopards Corps. The Haitian Armed Forces, also known as Forces Armees d'Haïti, (FAD'H) and the Tontons Macoutes, Volontaires de la Securite Nationale (VSN) were the two main military powers in the country before that. The VSN was an informal force and accused for many cases of abuse. The government of Jean Claude Duvalier was under pressure from the international community to decrease the level of abuse. The creation of the new force, the Leopard Corps, was designated to take care of the problem.
Jean-Claude Duvalier was growing up in an insular and wealthy family culture. When Francois Duvalier died in 1971, Jean-Claude inherited the presidency while still in his teens. At this time he was considered the youngest person on the globe to hold the office.
Jean-Claude Duvalier was not interested in the duties of office, delegating authority in most government matters to his mother, Simone. He made only superficial changes to his father's administration, preferring instead to be a figurehead rather than a hands-on ruler.
Jean-Claude Duvalier engaged in corruption practices, using family riches from a tobacco inheritance to steal revenues from government programs. Other illegal activities used to increase his wealth included selling human remains to medical institutions outside the country and drug trafficking.
Baby Doc Jean Claude Duvalier was the son of Papa Doc Francois Duvalier, the 40th Haitian president who was a famous dictator and had once proclaimed to be the President for life. Jean Claude Duvalier took over the throne after his father's death in 1971 at the age of 19 years. He remains to be the youngest president ever to have reigned over any state or country.
After his rise to power, Baby Doc Jean Claude Duvalier initiated some changes which were drawing Haiti closer to democratic leadership. He released some of the political prisoners who had been jailed, replaced the cabinet members with younger ones and made press quite independent. However, he was no better than his father as he pinned down any opposition and appointment of major government officials were still under his control. His mother, Simone, also offered vital political support to ensure that his son remained in power. To some extent, it worked out well as Baby Doc Jean Claude Duvalier managed to survive on the throne till 1986.
This video will definitely mean something to many Haitians. It was a time when Haiti was under the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. Some people have positive memories of the Duvalier the same way some have negative memories. For some people who will be watching this video, it will remind them of a time when things were good for them in Haiti. However for many, this can only remind them of abuse, repression, death and exile.
During the Duvalier era many names became popular; some in a noble aspect; but many, in unscrupulous ways. Some of the names during both Francois Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier that became famous include the following:
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