For All Nails 96a: Dominique
by Joe Horan
Port-au-Prince, Republique Jeffersoniste de Hayti
9 March 1963
Colonel Georges Laval was not a happy man. Looking around him, he was sure he wasn't the only one. Like Laval, the members of the Committee de Liberte General wore fancy white dress uniforms. The military had played a crucial role in establishing the Jeffersonist republic, and the Committee which controlled it.
Robert Philippe was not a member of the Haytian military per se. The chief of the Gendarmes de Surete therefore was the only man in the room not wearing white. The uniform of the security police was, perhaps ironically, black. Standing before the Committee, Philippe looked very intimidating. He was tall, but also very muscular. He looked, as Laval thought all secret policemen must look, like a man constantly searching for a target. At least most of the time. Now he looked, like the rest of the Committee, half shocked, half enraged. He paused only a second before starting his report.
"As I'm sure most of you know, last night a group of black insurgents struck at our holding facility FN1 outside Fort Liberte at exactly 12:17 pm. One or more mortars were used to disrupt the guards and damage the walls enough to allow raiding parties to rush the prison from all sides. They seized one of the control rooms and managed to release most of the prisoners. They used the rioting this caused to escape without a single casualty. We, on the other hand, lost 14 dead and 21 injured."
Philippe took his seat. As usual, his reports were short and to the point. He liked to leave it to the others to ask questions to get the information. Also as usual, Andre Santerre, Chairman of the Committee and President of Hayti, asked the first question. "How many prisoners escaped?"
"The center was one of our smaller ones, only housing about 500 prisoners, most of whom were common criminals. All but about 50 have been rounded up. We expect to get most of the rest in the next few days. However, the center also held seven ADN commanders who were being transferred west. They, as you might expect, are among the missing."
"Does this mean it was the ADN?" asked Colonel Louis Brun, de facto Minister of Justice.
"Well, we can't be sure since we didn't capture anyone, but I think it pretty much goes without saying", responded Philippe. Laval nodded. Although a good portion of the black population hated the Jeffersonist government, the Armee des Noirs was the only major armed resistance group left, mostly because it had eliminated all the others.
"Gentlemen," said General Henri Champion, de facto Minister of War, "this attack represents a serious escalation by the insurgents. We must respond, but at the source of the problem. We all know that the Dominicans are arming the ADN. They want to see us subjected to nigger FN2 rule so they..."
"The Dominicans hate the blacks as much as we do," Laval cut in. As the Committee's foreign affairs expert and de facto Foreign Minister, it was his job to keep the discussion grounded in reality. Largely because his job involved putting a good face on what the racialist government did, Laval had been picked because of his moderate views. "Besides, they have CNA backing. Blacks are not an insignificant group there. They even have a black finance minister."
Before Champion could respond, Santerre cut him off. "The aristocrats of the CNA and Dominicana need to be taught a lesson. Our Mexican allies in the struggle against the aristocrats will come to our aid, as they have done since the revolution."
Laval thought that Santerre sometimes took the Jeffersonist rhetoric a little too far. The movement had gained popularity among the petits blancs FN3 and especially the rank-and-file military in the waning years of the aristocratic Republic, but the officers had only picked up on it at the last minute, as a means of cloaking their ambitions and at the same time gaining crucial Mexican support. That was why the military's overthrow of the civilian government in 1957 was called a "revolution". Personally, Laval thought of Jeffersonism as a useful tool, and nothing more.
Saying so, however, would have been less than wise. Instead he responded, "Mercator doesn't want conflict with the CNA. He wants peace with the CNA so that he can develop the bomb. That's why he's pushing for this non-aggression pact in Geneva. FN4"
That brought a thoughtful silence. Santerre was the first to speak. "Georges is right. We will pursue the rebels, and take vengeance on the local population if they are not caught. We will not move against Dominicana, at least not for the time being, but we cannot rule out this option if future provocations occur. That is all." These last words had come just as Champion had been about to say something. Now he had no choice but to shut his mouth, and rise to leave with the rest of the Committee. Laval felt he had won a victory, although only a temporary one. FN5
(Proceed to #97: A Little Less Conversation.)
(Proceed to 19 June 1964: Shouted Down.)
(Return to For All Nails.)