Nearly a month after taking power, the military-dominated government here is still trying to consolidate authority over a restive population eager for retribution against associates of Haiti's fallen dictator.
Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy and his Council of National Government thus rule amid a widespread impression that Jean-Claude Duvalier's departure on Feb. 7 marked the beginning of an extended period of unrest as much as the end of a repressive era.
"That is the whole history of Haiti, either anarchy or a strongman," said an official of the former government.
"It is not over yet," said Mohetier Cassius, an unemployed 17-year-old in Port-au-Prince's impoverished Bel Air neighborhood. "There are still a lot of criminals in there to be judged. The people never forget."
"In there," to Cassius and many of Haiti's 6 million inhabitants, means, on one level, the five-member ruling council and its 12-man Cabinet. Several members long have been identified as prominent supporters of the Duvalier dictatorship. They are regarded by many as holdovers from Duvalier's rule.
Most often mentioned in this category are Alix Cineas, a council member and minister without portfolio, and Col. Prosper Avril, listed as adviser to the council. Both held high-level posts under Duvalier and were regarded as close associates of the family. Namphy, although he was chief of staff in Duvalier's military, rarely has been cited in popular complaints against the new rule.
On another level, the "in there" of Cassius and his street friends refers to top police officers and leaders of the Ton-Tons Macoutes, widely reputed to have participated in abuses against political prisoners during the Duvaliers' 29 years in power. Although Namphy and the council formally have disbanded the Ton-Tons Macoutes, many of the political enforcers have received protection from the Army, and others have been allowed to flee under military protection.
"People suffered horribly," said Roger Duverneau, a middle-aged merchant reading from a prayer book in front of a downtown shop. "They want justice. These people have to be brought back to be judged."
Discontent came to the surface when Duvalier's well-known police chief, Col. Albert Pierre, was escorted by Army troops Feb. 23 from the Brazilian Embassy, where he had received asylum, to the airport. A chartered jet flew him to exile in Brazil.
The ruling council's only prominent anti-Duvalier figure, Justice Minister Gerard Gourgue of the Haitian Human Rights League, then boycotted a flag-day ceremony to protest the military's role in the escape, which Gourgue said was carried out without his knowledge.
Despite Gourgue's gesture last Tuesday, the military on the same day also tried to organize the departure of another notorious former political police leader, Luc Desyr.
According to informed political sources, however, an airport employe telephoned a local radio station to report that Desyr's name was on the passenger list for an Air France flight to Puerto Rico. A crowd already assembled to observe flag day heard the news and headed for the airport, rushing onto the tarmac and blocking the runway. As a result, Desyr was taken away by soldiers and the flight left without him.
Incensed street mobs the next day sacked Desyr's home and killed several persons identified as former Ton-Tons Macoutes. Crowds also looted houses of several other security police, including Rosali Max Adolphe, head of the hated Volunteers for National Security, the formal name for the Ton-Tons Macoutes. Although the government has announced nothing, rumors circulated widely that Mrs. Max Adolphe escaped on a commercial air flight about 10 days ago disguised as a nun.
The street violence continued through Thursday, largely overshadowing a declaration by Namphy two days earlier listing what he said were "tangible acts put into place to respond to the people's aspirations." Reacting to the mobs, therefore, the council announced that Thursday night that it had "decided to give satisfaction to the demands expressed by the people" and would henceforth forbid departure of "all Haitian citizens designated by public clamor as authors, coauthors or accomplices of crimes perpetrated under the Duvalier regime."
In addition, the government announced it would seek Duvalier's extradition from France and Pierre's from Brazil. Diplomats said neither request has been made formally nor would have much chance of success. Instead, they added, the announcement appeared to be a gesture to pacify the street crowds.
Some aspiring political leaders, notably Sylvio Claude of the Christian Democratic Party and Constant Pognon, have said the real solution is to rid the council of figures linked to Duvalier and to replace them by opponents of the former dictator.
Gregoire Eugene of the Social Christian Party insisted that the council's makeup matters little, since its only mission should be to prepare elections.
Namphy said the council will publish a timetable for forming a "consultative council" empowered to elect a constituent assembly that would draw up a new constitution to regulate eventual elections of a new government.