Haiti History 101: Haiti by the Decades, The 1960s

Written by Kat with

A Haitian man reads a pamphlet, while two young women window-shop.

Jacques Stephen Alexis, a noted novelist of his time, disappeared in 1961 never to be seen again. Historians have said that he probably was taking part in an invasion against the Duvalier government, and was no doubt murdered. He left several great literary works behind including Général Compère Soleil , L’Espace D’un Cillement, among other recognized literary achievements.

This is a wedding, that of Haiti’s Minister of Public Works Luckner Cambronne, one of the most powerful people in Haiti in the 1960s, to Haitian aristocrat Ina Gousse, the daughter of Dr. Gousse, one of the most prominent physicians in Port-au-Prince. Mr. Cambronne was the Minister of Public Works under president Francois Duvalier, but went in exile in 1972. He died in Miami in 2006. Simone Ovide Duvalier, the first Lady, seen in that glittery dress, was the Matron of Honor at his nuptials.

In September 1963, Hurricane Flora hit several Caribbean islands, including Haiti, and left behind some devastating damage. This is a newspaper clipping at the time, showing the extent of the damage in one of the small cities of Haiti. The hurricane was classified as a Category 2, and its flash floods and 15 inch+ rains caused great loss to farmers and their crops, and it also took some lives.

A young Jean-Claude Duvalier stands next to his sister Nicole, as his father is being inaugurated as president for the second time in 1964.

Throughout the 1960s, Haiti was a hotspot for tourists, including moguls like Nelson Rockefeller, former First Ladies as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Hollywood actors and actresses like Marlon Brando, dignitaries, and even business people like Mohammed Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed, who would later die in a car crash with Princess Diana.

The year 1964 was a dark year for many families in Haiti. A group of 13 young people, who had been exiled, formed a coalition to overthrow Duvalier in an invasion (calling themselves Jeune Haiti), and they were tracked down and killed one by one, at least one committed suicide as the mission came to a halt. The last two, seen in this photo above, Marcel Numa and Louis Ardouin were publicly executed, and their execution televised. The town of Jeremie was a site of slaughter, as several families were murdered, some as part of a general purge, and others because they were related to Numa, Ardouin or other members of Jeune Haiti.

In its October issue 1966, Time magazine heralded the news of the marriage of presidential daughter Marie-Denise Duvalier to Jerome Max Dominique, her first marriage, his second. A year later, the pair would go to Spain, where their son was born.

In December of that same year, Nicole Duvalier, another presidential daughter also married to her sweetheart Luc Albert Fourcand, the Director of Tourism.

Photos: Various Archives, including Corbis. Execution Photo: Caribbean Review of Books

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