Lt. Alix Pasquet
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29 July 1958 – 29 July 2006
This summary was sent to Fordi 9 in remembrance of the 48th anniversary of the events that took place on that day.
Submitted by Frantz Haspil

(Part 2)

Two different versions of this event exist in writing.

The first one, according to Diederich, claims that Papa Doc donned the uniform of a soldier (a private in the Haitian Army) to facilitate his escape in the mist of confusion. Diederich reports that Papa Doc was ready to leave and had contacted the Columbian Embassy to seek political asylum where he planned to go with his spouse, while his children, under the protection of Captain Pierre Merceron would be brought to the Liberian Embassy. Papa Doc thought there were more than thirteen invaders, and that they had the support of the entire battalion of Casernes Dessalines. He scheduled his departure for the next morning at dawn.

The second version is what Papa Doc Duvalier himself wrote and claims. He put on a military uniform as Commander in Chief; picked up his rifle and helmet. He waited for dawn with cohorts of supporters and gave the order to attack. The heavy 30 and 50 caliber weapons in his possession, and the armored vehicles he had ordered into the streets had quickly defeated the enemy.
(The article published in Haiti Observateur mentions the testimony of Captain Andre Fareau who reported, “there were no amazons, no Duvalier cohorts to defend the palace, no Commander in Chief giving orders,“ as written by Duvalier).

************************************

What went wrong with the invasion that could have stopped Francois Duvalier from destroying during his reign every aspect of Haitian society?

The Molly C invaders could have been overconfident. Perhaps there was a plan that involved members of the Coast Guard, the Police and the Army. (Note: 6) But reaching Port-au-Prince prematurely, precipitated by the incident that took place in Deluge, may have changed the agreed-upon strategy and thrown off the participants. So what occurred in the night of 28 July to 29 July 1957 may well have not been a planned coordinated attack with supported elements to rejoin the group. (Note 7) It seems to be a rather hasty decision, and/or these men may have been sold a bill of goods because no army, police or coast guard personnel was willing or prepared, as they initially thought, to lend them essential support. Another consideration is that, to carry out the battle plan, Pasquet was counting on all the weapons and ammunitions that were stored in the Casernes Dessalines, unaware that they had been moved to the National Palace.

Fordi 9 note: Acccording to Claude Perpignant, Capt Fareau, upon his return to Haiti from an earlier trip to the United States, has communicated to Duvalier that, during a conversation that he had with one of his trusted friends Henri Perpignant, the latter was inquiring about arms and ammunitions stored at the Casernes Dessalines.

According to Sergeant St Armand, alias Camagüey, the duty sergeant at the Casernes Dessalines that night, Pasquet (Note 8) asked him to go to the nearby store of Mrs. Pierre Normil, to buy him a pack of “Splendide” cigarettes, but he went instead to the National Palace and informed Duvalier of the number of men involved, the description of their weapons and their positions. This action did not seal the fate of the invaders as other sources provided the same information within the same time frame.

Meantime during the early morning hours, Pasquet tried in vain by phone to convince and rally other young officers to his ranks. He called the National Prison and told Major Gérard Constant to set free several political prisoners, in particular ex-lieutenant Raymond Chassagne and ex-captain Max Corvington. The Major, wanting to know what was going on, and not liking the fact that a lieutenant was ordering him, went to the National Palace where he met with Captain Claude Raymond, the President’s aide-de-camp. Captain Raymond had earlier spoken by phone with Pasquet who had urged him to join the rebellion against Duvalier.

By dawn, a different picture clearly emerges!

Colonel Louis Roumain, who was inside the Casernes and held prisoner during the heavy pounding of the Casernes by machine guns, escapes by falling from a window breaking away from the chair where he was tied up. He confirms to Captains Henri Namphy and Jean-Baptiste Hilaire that the number of assailants is only eight. A few minutes later, Lieutenant Pierre Holly who also escaped from the Casernes gave the same information to Captains Charles Pierre-Louis and Kesner Blain. Fordi 9 Note: Around the same time, Lt. Charles Lemoine, whose office was located across from Casernes Dessalines in the Military Hospital, had a good view of the group entering the Casernes in the Pick Up (Tap-Tap) that was initially used from Montrouis. Using a short cut by jumping the wall facing the Blood bank building, behind the Military Hospital, went to the Army Headquarters (Quartier General) to confirm that the group counted not more than eight members. The four above-mentioned captains were the ones who provided the military response to the assault on the Casernes Dessalines. They placed and used 30 and 50 caliber machine guns in strategic positions. One was placed to cover the southwest corner of the Casernes (the area known as Semaphore) (Note 9); another heavy machine gun was set up by the National Museum behind the grand stand known as “les Tribunes” on the Champ de Mars covering the eastern entrances and the part of the Casernes facing the Champ-de-Mars; another machine gun was positioned in front of “Palais de Justice” (the high court building) to cover the southwest entrances as well as the street in front of the Casernes. Soldiers were positioned in front of the “Quartier General” (Army Headquarters), and the ministry of Finance Building. The main effort of their forces was in the National Palace backyard facing the back of the Casernes Dessalines. They effectively surrounded the Casernes Dessalines, and all the escape routes the rebels would be able to use.

When Duvalier was told that there was only eight men, he decided to stay and fight. But the assault on the rebels is not an order that the President ever gave. The four Haitian Army Captains headed by Captain Henri Namphy, were the ones that initiated the go ahead to open fire on the Casernes.
******************************

The assault on the Casernes Dessalines started with a grenade thrown inside the Commandant’s office where Alix Pasquet was making phone calls. His head half blown off, he laid on his back looking at a picture of Duvalier on the wall. That picture had a bullet hole in it.

Arthur Payne was next to go. He draped himself in a mattress, and asks for mercy claiming to be an American news reporter. His legs were covered with bandages. He must have been the one wounded at Délugé. No mercy was given; he was killed with a burst from an automatic weapon. (Note: 10)

The body of “Fito” Dominique was also found in the same room. He had more bullet holes in him than a strainer. His hand was still grasping the handle of a machine gun.

Near him another body was found, that of Joe Walker, the Captain of the Molly C. His tattooed arms formed a cross around his neck, next to an empty pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. He had a bullet hole in the ear.

At the other end of the room, seated behind a desk, was Dany Jones’ body. He had a bullet hole in the forehead.

The three surviving rebels (Kersten, Hickey and Perpignan) tried to escape by crossing over the military hospital (Hôpital Militaire). Their strategic retreat in the Bois de Chênes was cut short. (Bois de Chênes is a gully that runs behind the military hospital)

Hickey was armed with a sub-machine gun. As he ran, a soldier noticed him and shot him down in the yard of the military hospital.

A wounded Perpignan ran in the yard of Dr. Mondestin’s clinic. He asked a young boy to hide him in a chicken coop, but as the roar of the mob coming from down the street drew near, the boy overtaken by fear tried to run away and got killed by Perpignan. (Note 11) The sound of gunfire gave away his position, and lead to his death. His naked body was later mutilated, pulled throughout the streets of the city, and brought to Duvalier at the National Palace.

The last one to die was Kersten who had simply walked out of the Casernes, trying to mingle with the crowd. But once recognized, he was killed by machete. His mutilated body was also dragged in the streets of Port-au-Prince before being taken to the morgue.

By 9 AM, it was all over. All the invaders were dead. Duvalier dressed in a military uniform, helmet on, wearing a forty-five colt in a holster and another in his belt, posed for pictures. He later led a triumphant procession of cars in Port-au-Prince, accompanied by Captain Claude Raymond and one of his Cabinet Ministers’ named Duvigneau.

Later on that day, many congratulatory messages arrived at the National Palace. Among them, those of two former Haitian Presidents: Franck Sylvain and Elie Lescot. The irony of the moment is that Henri Perpignan is a former aide-de-camp to President Lescot, and also the nephew of Mrs. Elie Lescot.

Thus ended the events of 28 to 29 July 1958 recorded as the first armed attack against President François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and from which he drew his aura of invincibility!

(seee Biobliography and sources)


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Bibliography and sources:

Note 1: Bibliography of General Paul Eugene Magloire by Dr. Raymond Bernadin, page 229 (the 1950 Constitution and the political dilemma that existed in 1956), and page 271:
{Ceux qui l’approchaient dans leur démarches, afin d’organiser la lutte contre le duvaliérisme destructeur, recevaient certes tout l’encouragement nécessaire.}{Those who approach him in their efforts to organize the fight against the destructive Duvalierist government indeed received all the encouragement they needed}

Note 2: Page 214, Genèse d’une République Héréditaire by Maurepas Auguste

Note 3. All eight men were acting as tourists in the area of Montruis and Kyona Beach. They had their swimming trunks while on the beach. But at night, they were placing weapons in a small cabin own by a rich mulatto businessman called Robert Nadal, without his knowledge. [The beach property where the boat was did belong to Mr. Nadal] As reported by Carl Fonbrum in his news radio editorial of 21 March 2004.

Note 4: Name of the Tap-Tap pick up truck was “Ma Douce Clairmène, Malgré Tout, Dieu Maître”
[Tap-Tap = Privately owned public conveyance transportation like a mini-bus]

Note 5: The three former Haitian officers were dressed in their Haitian Army uniform.

Note 6: In Haiti, the Army also functioned as the police force throughout the country at that time.

Note 7: At the same time, the group leader “Sonson” Pasquet had 16 friends in Miami who were getting weapons and ammunition for 150 brave young men. The weapons and ammunition were to be placed on board a plane in the Dominican Republic which would then be flown to Haiti. Their bad luck was that a custom inspector in Miami stopped them.
As reported by Carl Fonbrum in his news radio editorial of 21 March 2004.

Note 8: According to Diederich, it was Perpignan who sent for the cigarettes.

Note 9: This was to respond to machine gun fire coming from a window of the Casernes that covered the area of the Dessalines Mosoleum.

Note 10: One of the white men, Arthur Payne, age 34, a deputy sheriff in Miami-Dade County, had received a bullet in the kidney (at Délugé). [This information about the kidney wound has not been verified by eyewitnesses of the time and seems to come from the télé-diol.]

Note 11: An eyewitness of that time reports that by 6 AM, the Ministry of the Interior was distributing weapons to anyone who showed up to defend Duvalier.

Haiti Observateur, La Marche du Temps, 10 August 1979
Papa Doc, a book by Al Burt and Bernard Diederich
Leaders of Haiti by Max Manigat.
Translation from Creole of Carl Fonbrum’s radio editorial of 21 March 2004.
Notes and Interviews with relatives and friends who lived through these events of 1958.
Added comments by
Fordi 9

 

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