National Geographic : 1976 Jan
asleep, for no strange messages, no frenzied dancing, no animal sacrifices came forth. The priest, peacefully jigging throughout, merely sipped some friendly liquid from a gourd, celebrating his birthday with his god in a manner obviously pleasing to both. If voodoo showed me its happy face, the fact remains that the religion is a deeply serious affair-a living force that profoundly affects the lives of millions. Thus when Papa Doc, Baron Samedi's look-alike, designated his son, Jean-Claude, as President-for-life, the succession may have seemed ordained. IT WAS ONE of those bright blue days of tropical winter, glistening with sunlight and tonic with sea-cleaned breezes. I stood on the steps of the white palace at Port au Prince and let my eyes sweep across its green park where a dozen gray geese grazed serenely. Almost hidden amid the red of bougainvillea and the pink of crape myrtle were soldiers, who fingered machine guns. The ear-splitting roar of a motorcycle told me that he was coming. Careening around a corner of the palace, he raced at full tilt to ward me, arriving with a gravel-flying stop. A grin spread across his full round face. A sport shirt and shiny black boots confirmed the picture of youth-handsome, hanging loose. After all, he was only 24 years old (page 78). "Mr. President!" I greeted. He replied with an airy wave of the hand and roared off for another run on his new Harley-Davidson Super Glide. My interview with President-for-life Jean Claude Duvalier had come earlier, in his office in the palace. In a dark pin-striped busi ness suit and seated beneath a portrait of his father, he had tackled my questions with seriousness. "What are your goals?" I asked. And he re plied: "To raise the standard of living of the people." Thereafter he set about detailing a formida ble list of priorities: An extensive highway building program. Installation of telecom munications. Enlargement and equipment of the port of Port au Prince. Electrification of the nation. Improvement of water distribu tion. Renovation of irrigation systems. Mech anization of farming. Importation of chemical fertilizer. Construction of an industrial park. New schools. New clinics. "I am particularly counting on the youth of my country," he (Continued on page 85) Haiti: Beyond Mountains, More Mountains No burden too heavy but there's a man to pull it (facing page); no task too tedious but there's a dance in doing it (above). After hours of sorting coffee beans, a woman car ries her selects through a Jacmel warehouse. While most Haitians scratch a living from mountainside gardens-increasingly eroded as trees are cut for fuel-flatland crops such as sugarcane and sisal grow in sufficient quantities for sale abroad, helping earn Haiti $64,000,000 in exports during 1974.