Saturday, October 04, 2014

Obituaries

"Baby Doc" Duvalier, the one-time "president for life" of Haiti and became as widely hated as his dictatorial father, has died.

Jean-Claude Duvalier was barely out of diapers when his father died in 1971. He was a mere 19 years old--the son, not the father--when he took over. However, he was a puppet during those early years before becoming a highly (dis)respected dictator.

Baby Doc's political career ended in 1986, and he was exiled to France and any other place that would have him. He never did stand trial for his crimes. Eventually he returned to Haiti three years ago. Many observers thought he returned so he could die there.

“Jean-Claude Duvalier inherited a carefully constructed state apparatus for political repression from his father, and he largely maintained it during his regime,” Mr. Dubois said.

“But he also cultivated new connections with the U.S., seeking new types of investment in the country,” he added. “The model of using small manufacturing to expand the economy — some talked of Haiti becoming the ‘Taiwan of the Caribbean’ — was a key part of his economic policy, though even he later admitted that its ultimate success in alleviating poverty was quite limited.”

As political oppression mounted, so did stories of his extravagances. When he fled Haiti, American officials said he held $200 million to $500 million in foreign bank accounts and had a reputation for giving family members million-dollar vacations at luxury resorts, as millions of Haitians lived in squalor and scrounged for food.

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Geraldine Mock, 88, first woman to fly solo around the world, died the other day. She completed the often harrowing feat in 1964:

The first circumnavigation of the globe by a solo flyer is generally credited to Wiley Post, a Texan whose trip, in 1933, began and ended not quite eight days later at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Four years later, Earhart, trying to do the same and flying with a navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific and into legend.

Ms. Mock had competition when she made her flight. On March 17, the 27th anniversary of Earhart’s departure and two days before Ms. Mock took off, Joan Merriam Smith, a more experienced pilot flying a more powerful plane, embarked from California on her own planned flight around the world.
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