Haiti is struggling to rebuild after last year’s catastrophic earthquake and trying to resolve its national elections, but it was thrown another curveball late this weekend: the return of its corrupt and brutal former dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. No one seems to know why he’s back — he says he’s there “for the reconstruction of Haiti” —- but the U.S. has long feared that his return could further destabilize Haiti.
“Baby Doc” took over Haiti in 1971 at the age of 19, after the death of his father, the notorious dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. The successive Duvalier regimes built up a cult of personality, and dispatched their own personal militia, the Tonton Macoute — named after a boogeyman from Haitian folklore that kidnapped children in their sleep and ate them — to torture and kill their enemies. After being ousted in 1986, Baby Doc was flown by the American military to France, and despite the continued largess of some of his supporters, he’s been increasingly financially desperate (his divorce from his wife depleted his wealth), taking out ads in French papers looking for work. He was led away by police from his posh Port-Au-Prince hotel this morning, and human rights groups like Amnesty International are hoping he might stand trial for the atrocities committed during his rule.
After last year’s devastating earthquake, school officials in Florida’s Miami-Dade county readied themselves for an influx of impoverished Haitian children who were fleeing their homeland. But it wasn’t poor kids who who showed up. “Many were like Nicolas Villedrouin, Carl Frederick Janvier and Zahry and Nakim Edmond, survivors who are now classmates at Felix Varela High School here. Nicolas’s father owns an engineering company in Haiti with 300 employees. Zahry and Nakim’s father owns a pharmaceutical company. Carl’s father is a dentist, his mother a doctor. …The principal at Varela High, Connie Navarro, figured the new arrivals would be shell-shocked — in ways that even they might not fully understand yet — and had extra counselors in place to help. She did not expect that she would have to add an Advanced Placement course to accommodate them. Nor did she expect that three quake survivors — Nicolas Etienne, Hans Hillel Rousseau and Zahry Edmond — would be top-ranked tennis players in Haiti and lead Varela High’s team to its first-ever regional playoff.”
Just because we lost the fight for better abortion services in the health care debate, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty more battles to lose on the abortion rights front at the state level. Women’s E-News has a great roundup of what’s likely to happen in Republican-controlled legislatures this term. (Monica(
Kevin Drum analyzes the latest takes on why our economic recovery is still jobless, and comes to a simple conclusion: the job market is bad because the recession was really, really bad. Also, I take issue with Nick Rowe’s assertion, highlighted in the post, that so many construction workers were laid off because their skills are general rather than specific, and they’ll be easy to replace. Rowe hasn’t, it seems, paid much attention to the increasing, and probably unnecessary, requirement that almost all construction workers these days have licenses that take some amount of college to require. (Monica)
Portugal’s nine year experiment with drug decriminalization not only didn’t fail, it might have actually worked. (Nicole)
Dana Goldstein reminds us that America’s schools are even more segregated now than they were at the time of Martin Luther King’s death. “Given this track record, it’s a disappointment that the Obama administration has not created incentives aimed at encouraging school districts to experiment with magnet schools and other means of desegregation. On the upside, there is good work being done at the Department of Housing and Urban Development on attacking residential segregation; in 2009, for example, HUD told Westchester County it could no longer build affordable housing only in towns and cities that already had high concentrations of poverty. (Doing so was always illegal, but past administrations failed to enforce the law.)”
George Allen, the former Senator from Virginia who was considered a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination before he decided to hurl a racial slur at a Desi-American cat at a campaign event, is considering running to get his seat back from Jim Webb, who narrowly defeated him in 2006. Jamelle: “The ensuing media scrutiny over the slur revealed a whole history of racially problematic behavior, including his vocal affection for the Confederacy. As governor, Allen declared April “Confederate History and Heritage Month,” and called the Civil War a “a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights.” And before then, as a state representative, Allen opposed a holiday commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.”
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