“If the judge was doing his work, he would have interrogated victims here and abroad, he would have gone to the death chambers with engineers, experts and with victims,” said Rodolfo Mattarollo, a Latin American human rights expert. “He never left the buildings of the tribunal.”
Many here question Haitian President Michel Martelly’s commitment to prosecute Duvalier.
Sons and daughters of Duvalierists are in top government posts now, and recently the foreign ministry renewed Duvalier’s diplomatic passport. All former Haitian heads of state are entitled to the passport, said a ministry official in defending the decision. Some say Martelly, already under immense pressure over the need for long-overdue elections, doesn’t want to make waves with the case.
“Martelly doesn’t want trouble with Duvalier and he doesn’t want to get bad press either. He’s playing the game and hoping that the judicial system will push that away for him,” Fatton said.
Friends of Duvalier argue that it’s unfair to judge the sins of the father — “Papa Doc”— through his son.
These days, Duvalier “doesn’t talk a lot. He’s very reserved, but psychologically this has to be tough,” said a close confidante who spoke on condition of anonymity.
On the rare occasions when he does talk about the past, friends said Duvalier describes being a “strong president” who only used 5 percent of his power and “never ordered the arrest or deaths of anyone.”
Duvalier declined an interview request by The Miami Herald.
Friends said he wants to get through the case, and spends his time working on a two-volume book that will detail his childhood and nearly 15-year presidency. He’s also working on a plant nursery.
The formerly high-profile Duvalier has stopped accepting public invitations and limits his outings to his downtown Port-au-Prince office, a block away from the now razed presidential palace, and visits with a small group of friends. He often can be spotted either very early or late at night driving his white SUV.
Almost always he’s dressed in a suit. “When you suggest that he put on a Guayabera or a short sleeve shirt, he responds, ‘I’m a former head of state, and have to have respect for the institution,’ ” the friend said.
Duvalier’s sudden reclusiveness is in sharp contrast to the first year of his return when he moved like a man who had awakened from a 25-year coma. Public sightings of him were common as he ate at tony restaurants, danced at weddings, paid his respects at funerals and toured the outskirts of the capital — all with a police escort sounding their sirens in tow.
One of his last high-profile public appearances was also one of his most controversial. Invited to the Haitian government’s Jan. 12, 2012, earthquake remembrance ceremony near the site where bodies of the regime’s victims were unceremoniously discarded, he was welcomed as a former head of state. Duvalier shook hands with guests, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was obviously caught off guard.
Meanwhile, Magloire, of the collective, said, “We have to continue the fight. If we don’t, then we will be responsible for all of Haitian society never believing in anything that concerns the government. This battle is bigger than me.”
“We could lose, but everyone would see the reason why is because something wasn’t correct,” she said.