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A SPECIAL SECTION:  Haiti, Since the January 12, 2010 Earthquake

Posted September 28, 2010

Nestor Isidor, a Former Haiti Governor, the Father 
of Professor Yves A. Isidor, Died. Aged 96


Nestor Isidor, the father of this publication's executive editor, Professor Yves A. Isidor, died early Saturday evening at the Dexter House Nursing Facility, in the nearby north of Boston small working class city of Malden. He was 96.
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Nestor Isidor in an undated photo.
Mr. Isidor, immediately after he successfully met all the requirements for a degree in Haitian law, in Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince, in the early 1940s, at the urging of his mother, he returned to his adopted town of Les Anglais (he was born in the nearby town of Port-Salut in 1914, and one year before the United States first occupied Haiti), south of Haiti, to assume the very demanding responsibilities of her conglomerate. The purchasing of dried coffee beans, mostly from peasants, for resale to exporters; coffee plantations and other diverse types of plantations, a retail store, a boat, and a few commercial buildings, both in Les Anglais (it was founded by British colonists in 1774) and Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince, were the many industries his mother, commonly, respectuously referred to as Madame Simeda Val, who died in 1959, at the venerable age of 88, savvily invested in.

It is because Mr. Isidor was indisputably a Haitian provincial bourgeois, a man of culture many Haitian presidents - from Durmasais Estim to Paul Eugene Magloire to Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier - happily visited his grand home. There were eloquent speeches, all in French, fallowed by sumptuous receptions. So, too, the many army generals and other dignitaries who visited unannounced never left a dime behind. As they say in the American vernacular, maybe it is because they were all cheap. So much his first wife, the intellectually curious, the generally well-liked Hermante "Ayante" Philippeaux (the mother of Professor Yves A. Isidor), who had an elegant presence in her husband's life, and who expired on August 4, 1965, at the premature age of 41, after long suffering from breast cancer, liked the name that occurred first in President Magloire's wife given name, Yolette, she did not hesitate to name her first daughter after her.
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Hermante Philippeaux Isidor, the mother of Professor Yves A. Isidor, who had an elegant presence in her husband's life, in an undated photo.
In Haiti, if you were not a public servant or somehow affiliated with the dictatorship of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier you could easily be perceived to be an enemy of the retrograde government. Often, that meant a no-return from the largely dilapidated Fort Dimanche - the murderous dictatorship notorious prison, where approximately 55,000 Haitians died from malnutrition, tuberculosis, torture, to name only these ones.

Yet, like many other Haitians who did not want their lives to be sadly terminated, during the 1980s Mr. Isidor unwillingly accepted the prestigious post of prefect (literally, governor). That appointment, in fact, came long after he was the mayor of his town. But in the months that preceded his nomination, life was not a happy one at all. He was taken out of the circulation by a Duvalier's second in command Tonton Macoute (dictator Franois "Papa Doc" Duvalier's unpaid personal police force; it was given virtual license to torture, kill, and extort) chief named Baltherlmy, in the other nearby town of Roche--Bateaux, on the accusation that he raised his voice when he was talking to Mr. the big commander who stopped his public transport bus and placed its driver, Jean, under arrest. The basis for Mr. Jean's lost of liberty was that he did not remit to a resident of that town a few Haitian gourdes (Haiti's currency; it was first introduced in 1813, replacing the livre) sent by a family member who resided in Port-au-Prince. The future governor, but timid, and his detained driver regained their liberty only after a series of unjust fines were paid - 50 Haitian gourdes for disrespecting authorities, 30 Haitian gourdes for the complaint filed against the driver, and the reduced sum of 40 Haitian gourdes sent to the inhabitant in Roche--Bateaux. Overall, 3.02 US dollar, at today's exchange rate of 39.75 percent.

What is more, behind every mountain is another mountain, is a famous Haitian expression. Never assume the power that is vested in you, of relating to terrorizing the citizenry or spreading terror, is or cannot be surpassed, in scale, by that of someone else. Consider a Voodoo priest who was tortured by Mr. Batherlemy. In the aftermath of so, his victim was said to have placed a curse on him, and he later died from complications from an unknown disease. 

Mr. Isidor was never something of a profiteer. That certainly left home for many to conclude that he did not personally benefit financially, nor did he also, indirectly or directly, assist in the pillaging of the small, dirt-poor tropical nation of Haiti's public niggardly purse, by way of his position of prefect. It is because of so many friends were reassured that he occupied that senior post only for protection or to protect himself from government abuse. Still, his affiliation with the government produced a revolt within his own family. His daughter Yolette found it difficult to accept that the father she loved so much, the one she was not inclined to see his reputation shattered, was a Duvalier's senior official. A few days before February 7, 1986, when Baby Doc finally fled Haiti like a mouse running away from a cat, the anti-Duvalier daughter had a few unpleasant words for her father. "Your trash is finally living," a reference to the man, the junior Duvalier, who like his father, the always bloodthirsty long deceased Franois "Papa Doc" Duvalier (he and Stalin were nearly murderous in measure), called himself president for life.

Yolette's other words were certainly not meant to be a volte face. In fact, there are explanations for so. A few years before the forced departure of the tyrant, while conversing with her brother, Professor, Yves A. Isidor, with the help of a telephone, she had a few nice and derogatory words, tough indirectly, for the late Dr. Roger Lafontant, a supreme Tonton Macoute chief and minister of interior, who a few years later (on September 30, 1991) some fatal shots would be pumped into his corpulent body while incarcerated after an attempted coup against then President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide, allegedly on the order of the latter, whose tumultuous presidency a few hours later, by way of a bloody coup d'tat, would become a thing of the past, after barely seven months in office. "J'adhore ce monsieur, parlant de Dr. Roger Lafontant; il parle Franais, la langue de Voltaire, trs bien; c'est ce genre d'homme que j'aimerais avoir comme mari; c'est domage q'il est Macoute," (I adhore this man, referring to Dr. Roger Lafontant; he speaks French, the language of Voltaire, very well; this is the type of man that I certainly would like to have as husband; too bad he is a Macoute).

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Yolette Isidor, the anti-macoute daughter.

Really? There is no question that for many Dr. Lafontant was a man of extreme cruelty. It is because of so, not that he was of the European race or white, that Haitian human rights and democracy activists rather referred to him as Haiti's Dr. Josef  Mengele - a reference to the German Nazi doctor who was influenced by the racial ideology of Alfred Rosenberg. The ardent Nazi doctor who selected incoming Jews for labor or extermination, conducted medical experiments on inmates in pseudoscientific racial studies, would later become to be known as the "Angels of Death." He died in Brazil, in 1979, decades after he fled his World War II shattered Germany. But ironically, it was the Haitian Dr. Mengele who chastised Madame Max Adolphe (Rosalie Bosquet), who discontinued her medical studies to first become a Fillette Lalo (female Tonton Macoute) for verbally threatening the life of Mr. Isidor during a visit to Haiti's Department of Interior. "Prefect, I heard that you are harassing my Tonton Macoutes in Les Anglais; if you don't stop, I will be forced to fix you," she arrogantly told him. What exactly she meant by the harassment of her macoutes? Mr. Isidor, a man who always proudly spoke of "generational responsibilities," for example, respect for human rights, that guided his decisions as prefect, should not feel obliged to prevent those who were in position of responsibility from abusing members of the general population. "Rosalie, coute, il ne faut pas parler ainsi monsieur Isidor; c'est un homme qui respecte tout le monde," or "Rosalie, listen, you do not talk this way to Mr. Isidor; this is a man who respects everybody," he calmly told her.

Also talk more about the Tonton Macoutes (one of the 20th century's greatest barbarisms) who sometimes publicly hanged the corpses of their victims as warnings, leaving millions of citizens in fearful solitude. Before Mr. Isidor became governor he was also the victim of a series of government extortion acts. The supreme Tonton Macoute commander, Astrel Benjamin, also known as Casa (his tortionnaire nickname); ABCD, meaning Astrel Benjamin Commandant Deputy (the semi-illiterate, the rapist was based in Les Cayes, the Caribbean nation's third largest city), who was in charge of  Haiti's south department (state), usually arrived unannounced at his house in the middle of the night and demanded thousands of dollars. Even an apparent no-answer was sufficient enough for him to be accused of being against the government and sent to Fort Dimanche to die shortly after his brutal arrest.

Besides his son, Professor Yves A. Isidor, he is survived by his second wife, Marie Antoine Isidor; his daughters, Marjorie Isidor Edmund and Lucienne Isidor Doyleyres; his sons, Jeanner Isidor, Jean Moreno Oc, Carmelle Oc, Paul Thelemarque, Robert Anglade, and Brunel Estim; and a multitude of grand children and one great-grand child.

Mr. Isidor's wake will take place Sunday, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, at the Doherthy L. Funeral Home, 855 Broadway (not too far from Davis Square), in Somerville, Massachusetts. His funeral will be Monday, at 10:00 AM, at the Haitian Seventh Day Adventist Church, 575 Main Street (in Malden Center), Malden. His lifeless body will ultimately be interred at the nearby Holy Cross Mausoleum, in Malden, where a final adieu will be said to a man, who in life, like the mother of Professor Yves A. Isidor, was the never-said-no-micro-credit bank of an immeasurably number of peasants and others - for funeral services, school tuition, to cite only these ones.

God also proceeded to form the man named Nestor Isidor out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, to paraphrase Gen. 2:7, and then his body, not his soul that refers to the theoretical entity that exists inside, has now permanently departed us. Like his long deceased children - Marc Joe Isidor, Yolette Isidor, and Pierre Claudelle Isidor Sinjour  - may he rest in peace. Amen!

For more information, please call 617-852-7672.    

By way of electronic mail: yvesisidor@wehaitians.com, letters@wehaitians.com                                     

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