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Demolition of National Palace a Blow to Haitians, Duke Expert says
Durham, NC - The upcoming demolition of Haiti's National Palace by a charity organization run by actor Sean Penn is bothersome to many Haitians, a Duke expert says.
Laurent Dubois, a professor of history and Romance studies and co-director of Duke's Haiti Lab, said many Haitians aren't thrilled that the palace, built in 1920 while the island nation was under U.S. occupation, will be destroyed by an outside agency.
"The demolition, to be spearheaded not by the Haitian government but by Sean Penn's charity, has incited a storm of commentary and soul searching among Haitians and Haitian-Americans who are hurt and surprised that such a central national symbol is being taken apart by a privately-run foreign organization," said Dubois, author of "Haiti: The Aftershocks of History," a history of the nation over the last two centuries.
He continues: "In fact, however, the whole history of the building highlights the limits of Haiti's sovereignty and the ongoing, pervasive power of the U.S. in shaping the politics of the country. After all, this is a palace completed in 1920 during the U.S. occupation of Haiti, under the supervision of Navy engineers."
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