Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swilling Rum At The Haitian Embassy

Haiti has been much in the news lately and I felt obliged to add my commentary on the situation because Haiti is one country that has always been close to my heart.

You see, I had the good fortune to have spent some hours at the Haitian Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1985 swilling rum with members of the Haitian Air Force.

Yes, Haiti had an Air Force. I am not sure why they needed one. Perhaps to deter the acquisitive tendencies of the imperialist Dominican Republic. But they had an Air Force. It only consisted of a few WWII vintage U.S. surplus Mustang fighter planes and some Korean War vintage U.S. surplus helicopters.

But the 5 foot 1 inch tall Haitian Air Force General with whom I got smashed had a really swell uniform, complete with epaulets, gold braid and more medals than the Red Army's Marshall Zhukov.

So one fine summer day, a friend of mine from the international press corps told me that we were invited to a reception at the Haitian embassy and we went.

Haiti was then, as today, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere but it had a really palatial French-styled greystone townhouse on Washington's chic Embassy Row. And their diplomatic personnel really knew how to throw a party.

I must confess, I really remember very little of that long ago evening other than conversing with the Air Force General in my High School French (altho stationed in the US, he spoke not a word of English.) After the 3rd or 12th fruity rum drink we seemed to have been conversing fluently and generally having an all around swell Caribbean time.

This was all during the waning days of the regime of Baby Doc Duvalier.

Baby Doc was the pudgy son of the black nationalist President Dr. Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Unlike his father, Baby Doc never got an MD, but he did spend a lot of time drinking and chasing skirts.

He inherited the Presidency at age 19 and proceeded to piss off his father's devoted black nationalist constituency by marrying a light-skinned Creole divorcee. So with the country on the verge of yet another coup d'etat, the Reagan administration advised him to quietly leave the country.

So just a few months after this Embassy soiree, the 35 year old, Baby Doc took his hot wife and his suitcases, which were stuffed with U.S dollars and gold bullion and flew off to retirement in Paris.

His hot wife soon divorced him and ran off with much of his cash. He is said to live somewhat modestly in Paris today.

I wonder if he still throws such swell parties.

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Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.