February 8, 1986 – Deposing A Dictator – Rigging An Election
February 8, 1986 – A day of anger and upheaval on opposite ends of the globe. First with news that Haitian Dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier had been deposed by a coup and sent packing. With the aid of a U.S. Airforce Transport plane waiting at Port-au Prince to take the now-former Dictator and his family out of the country and to exile. Since the overthrow and escape took place in the dead of night, with almost no one, aside from the Press and government officials, aware of what was going on, it wasn’t until the morning of the 8th where the inhabitants of Haiti found out what had happened overnight. The island nation broke out in celebration on hearing the news that the dreaded dictator was now gone forever.
In Manila as well as towns and villages around The Philippines, another story was brewing – the election of a President. The issue was a choice between long-time incumbent Ferdinand Marcos and opposition leader Corazon Aquino. Marcos represented the corrupt, dictatorial rule that had gone on in the Philippines from 1965 until 1986 and with Martial Law declared from 1972 on. The controversy surrounded reports of widespread ballot box tampering, destruction of ballots and violent attempts at preventing voting from taking place. It was clear that Marcos was on the wrong side of history, and that Corazon Acquino, wife of assassinated opposition leader Benigno Acquino would be swept to victory – unless something happened to change the election outcome. What resulted were violent clashes between members of Marcos’ political party and those of Acquino’s party.
There was other news this day – but these two stories grabbed the headlines and these reports via National Public Radio as part of the nightly All Things Considered broadcast, provide riveting details on a story unfolding.