April 22nd is an important date in the history of several Latin American and Caribbean countries. Eleven years ago, the Elian Gonzalez affair came to a stunning climax in a pre-dawn raid in Miami. Meanwhile it was on this day in 1997 that seventy-one hostages held in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Peru were freed in a military operation.
On this day four decades ago Haitian dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier died at the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. The "president for life" ruled the Caribbean country with an iron fist and a cult of personality. His fourteen years in power came with the help of the ruthless Tontons Macoutes militia while his kleptocracy led to worsening poverty for the Haitian populace.
The following is part of a 1966 documentary that gave a critical look at the many problems in Haiti under Duvalier:
Duvalier's death led to the presidency by his son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who would continue his father's checkered legacy. A popular uprising in 1986 forced "Baby Doc" to flee Haiti yet he controversially returned in January. Francois may've died in impunity but Jean-Claude could soon face trial on charges of corruption and human rights abuses.
Update: Blogger Kevin Alvarez brings up the possibility that Haitian president-elect Michel Martelly could provide a full pardon to "Baby Doc."
Online Sources - RPP, The Guardian, BBC News, Voice of America
Video Source - Wolfson Archive via YouTube