As if losing power at home were not enough, deposed Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier got the cold shoulder during his first day of exile in this lakeside French resort.
Even as Duvalier, his wife, Michele, and their entourage of 22 slept after their transatlantic flight aboard a U.S. Air Force transport jet, the indignant mayor of Talloires and the staff of its renowned three-star restaurant made it clear that they would have nothing to do with their unexpected and unwanted guests.
"I object to giving asylum to this extremely bloodthirsty dictator," said Joseph Burdeyron, a 64-year-old dentist who has served as mayor of this town of 934 inhabitants for 15 years. "Personally, I consider him persona non grata here," the right-wing mayor said at a news conference during which he denounced the prefecture in nearby Annecy for informing him of the Duvaliers' arrival only hours before the U.S. Air Force C141 landed in France last evening.
"I was not asked if I wanted the Duvaliers here," the mayor said, complaining that the owner of the luxury Hotel de l'Abbaye had been forced by Paris to send away his other customers when authorities, in effect, requisitioned his converted 12th-century monastery.
And only a stone's throw from the exiles' quarters at the Hotel de l'Abbaye, a senior staff member at the Auberge du Pere Bise said he would "refuse to serve" the Duvaliers at his three-star restaurant.
Requesting anonymity, the restaurateur denounced the Duvaliers' human rights record, reflecting an apparently widespread French loathing for the fallen Haitian regime.
Nor did the Socialist government of France, in the midst of a legislative election campaign, appear comfortable with the presence of the former Haitian leader. The government of President Francois Mitterrand has often strongly condemned human rights abuses elsewhere.
Last night, when the Duvalier party arrived at Grenoble, about 100 miles to the southwest, some of their baggage was detained for inspection and small arms were seized, according to police sources. A customs squad stopped their motorcade near Annecy for a further check, according to sources.
In Paris, Prime Minister Laurent Fabius said the Duvaliers' stay in France -- which officials said yesterday was limited to a week -- "can only be temporary." But his remark prompted several villagers here to reply with the French proverb, "Only the temporary last."
The skepticism stemmed from the ease with which other Third World dictators -- such as the self-styled emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic, have been allowed to remain in France after being overthrown.
The mayor complained that France was becoming a dumping ground for disgraced dictators and noted that other Western European democracies -- Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland -- had turned down the Duvaliers' request for political asylum.
But the mayor echoed a widely held assumption in suggesting that the Duvalier party came here hoping to land eventually in nearby Switzerland. Geneva, for example, is only a 45-minute drive from this resort on the shore of Lake Annecy.
As for the former Haitian "president-for-life" himself, neither he nor any of his party moved from the 29-room hotel, which has been cordoned off since last night. Observers speculated that he was unlikely to make a public statement for the time being.
Agence France-Presse quoted hotel personnel as saying that chefs prepared a meal of salads, chicken and salmon for the Haitians at 1 a.m. (early evening, Haitian time). They said that Duvalier had a sauna and a jacuzzi bath before he and his wife retired to their suite at 4:30 a.m. Four French police officers guarded the door, the news agency said.