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Gérald Bloncourt, Haitian Photographer and Activist, Dies at 91

Category: Art & Culture,Arts

He subsequently worked at several French newspapers, which allowed him to witness events as diverse as a strike by Renault autoworkers in 1968 in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb or Paris, and the Western Sahara war between the Polisario Front and Moroccan troops in the 1970s.

Even as his reputation grew in Paris, he yearned for brighter times in Haiti. He returned for the first time in 1986 after Jean-Claude Duvalier, the dictator who had succeeded his father, François, went into exile in France. Outraged by Duvalier’s record of brutality and oppression, Mr. Bloncourt in 1998 was a founder of a group that tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade French authorities to send him back to Haiti to stand trial.

“It is our duty, in memory of the 60,000 victims of his and his father’s regimes, to ensure that Jean-Claude Duvalier is judged,” he said.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bloncourt is survived by his daughters, Ludmilla Bloncourt, Sandra Millé and Morgane Itshak-Levy Bloncourt; a son, Gérald; five grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren. Two brothers died before him: Tony, who fought for the French Resistance and was executed by the Nazis in 1942, and Claude, who was a surgeon.

One of the most indelible images in Mr. Bloncourt’s Portuguese portfolio is of a little girl holding a doll at a muddy shantytown in St. Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, in 1969. The girl, Maria da Conçeicão Tina Melhorado, first saw the picture in 2010 in an advertisement for an art exhibition in Portugal. Seeing it left her ashamed at the conditions she had to live in.

But when her son said it made him proud that the little girl was his mother, her feelings changed. “That’s when I realized how important it is for our story to be told,” she told The Times in 2013, “and when any feelings of shame I had turned to pride.”


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