Dial-A-Dictator | Sojourners


Two dictators fell from power in the first months of 1986. Other dictators must be worried. Was it the water? The weather? Or perhaps the planetary alignment? Regardless of the reasons, the past few weeks have been interesting, exciting, and perhaps even frightening for the U.S.-supported dictators of the world.

Jean-Claude "President for Life" Duvalier was the first to find out that U.S. government support for Third World dictators goes only so far. He found himself run out of Haiti on a rail, or at least on a U.S. military plane filled with a few small crates of his favorite riches.

And then, of course, there was Ferdinand "Popular at the Polls" Marcos. He and his equally well-known wife, Imelda, had long counted the Reagans among their closest friends. Marcos knew the United States had always stood behind him. Corrupt elections, emergency decrees, political prisoners, death squads, and the like had never caused too much concern before.

But these dictators found out that it is getting hard to trust even your best friends. Personal friendship will not always get the U.S. Marines, as Marcos learned, but it will at least get you a ride on a U.S. plane and a welcome to the United States.

Not being a personal friend of the Reagans, Duvalier didn't do so well. When he applied for entry into the United States, the "No Vacancy" sign was up, as it had been earlier for Haitians fleeing his rule. Duvalier has a right to be surprised. After all, just a few short months ago, the Reagan administration submitted a request for $56 million in U.S. aid for Haiti. Now Baby Doc can't even land in New York if he pays his own way.

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