34, a married man with two children, when he was
arrested in April 1969 in Grand Bois, a rural
town in the mountains along the Dominican border,
and brought to Fort Dimanche. He was among over
a dozen men arrested that day in a sweeping crackdown
on alleged Kamokin or Communists in Grand Bois,
two months after soldiers had similarly taken
away many members of the Estiverne family. For
his full testimony, as recounted to Anne Fuller
and Louis Estiverne in 1995, read more.
arrested Ignace Medor, Theodore Medor, Ylexante
Ylus, Nicholas Louisjuste, Mattieu Sainvilis and
Alma Cantave and myself, on Thursday, April 24,
and they took us to the casernes in Grand Bois.
That same day they handcuffed us and forced us
to walk all the way to Cornillon. We didn’t
know why ... We got there that afternoon, and
they shut us up in the caserne. They didn’t
give us any food, not even water.
Friday at 8 AM, while I was inside, I heard the
local Tonton Macoutes commander talking to my
wife, who had come with Ignace’s wife to
bring us food. On Sunday at midnight, they called
for Theodore. He jumped up and grabbed his sandals.
(We thought for a long time that they had killed
him but he’d been released). Ignace, poor
devil, began to tremble. We stayed awake; nobody
slept anymore that night.
The next morning at 6 AM, they handcuffed us again
and took us to the caserne in Thomazeau [the first
town on the “Plain of Cul-de-Sac”].
Lieutenant Boubert, the Commander of the Sub-District,
and Jean Balthazar, the Commander of the militia,
went off to the cockfights in L’Etang. Later,
they called Croix des Bouquets, which sent a truck
for us. They transported us to a substation in
Croix des Bouquets.
spent Sunday there, and then on Monday, they called
some of us [ Ignace Medor, Alma Cantave and Gérard
Bien-Aimé] for questioning. Subsequently
they transferred us to another cell. When they
came back with Ignace, he was destroyed ; he spent
the whole night crying and screaming. On Tuesday
or Wednesday morning, they transferred us to Fort
Dimanche. A prisoner who was in the cell with
Ignace said that from time to time he was given
medical care, but that in his condition, he was
a lost case. Ignace died on May 1. I didn’t
see it myself, but one of the men who was with
him told us so.
In my cell, there were twenty-three at first,
then later thirty-seven. We slept in shifts, one
group at a time. At 6:00 a.m. there was a small
coffee and four little crackers; at noon, some
cornmeal fermented with worms; at night, we were
served rice. I was not beaten there myself. Not
everyone was but Nicholas Louisjuste got a bad
beating. A guy had died in his cell and Nicholas
got into an argument about it with the cell Major.
They transferred Nicholas to my cell and he began
to tell me what had happened. But the Major in
our cell heard him talking and the next morning
he told the commander what Nicholas had said.
They hit him a lot, a whole lot. We did two months
together in the cell, from July to September.
There were a lot of guys from Croix des Bouquets
in the cell with me. There was a certain Gabriel;
he said he thought the guys who’d come from
Cornillon – Simon and Pierre Estiverne--
had a good chance of being freed. Pierre had his
young niece [Gladys, 17] in the cell behind him.
Everyone used to talk with Pierre and say, “Pierre,
you’ve got to make your niece go for me.”
Whenever they’d say that, Pierre would get
real angry. He was in the cell next to mine, Pierre
was. I thought he’d gotten out because they
came for him on June 14, in the evening. I thought
he’d been freed. It was only in September
when I got out that I learned he hadn’t.
On September 22, 1969, there was an amnesty, and
that saved me. They didn’t let Gérard
Bien-Aimé, Pierre Bien-Aimé or Alma
Cantave out; they had already transferred them
to the National Penitentiary. I don’t remember
how many years they were behind bars before they
freed them. But for the Estiverne family --if
I tell you I saw Pierre or [his son] Gérard,
I would be lying-- but I used to see-- or rather
hear-- Franck in the mornings, praying. Every
morning I’d hear Franck singing. When I
was getting out, I saw him going to wash. He looked
like a stick. The way he looked, you wonder if
there’s a God. How could he have resisted
long? He was still there when the amnesty set