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Beauvoir wasn't the only well-placed friend on whom the Gaetjens family counted. A police captain named Edouard Guillot, a cousin of Matho's husband, Jean-Claude Flambert, had his orders but also his family ties. He would noisily make his way up Gérard Gaetjens's driveway on his motorcycle, then shout that he intended to make an arrest, in case Gérard needed time to scramble into a hiding place.
On the evening of July 7, 1964, Guillot warned his cousin that the entire Gaetjens family was to be arrested the next day. Having heard this, Mireille swung by her brother's house at six in the morning to make one last attempt to persuade him and his family to join hers in hiding. Again, Joe refused. Meanwhile the police captain had gone ahead with his plan: to return to headquarters pleading a variation on his usual story that Monsieur Gaetjens could not be found.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Guillot appeared with two Macoutes at the dry-cleaning shop on Avenue John Brown. "Where's Joe?" he yelled at the manager, Lyliane's mother. He knew Joe wasn't there but hoped his manner would induce her to warn him. "Wait here!" he loudly ordered the two Macoutes. "Arrest him!" But Joe's mother-in-law didn't understand. When Joe pulled up in front of the shop shortly after 2 p.m. in his blue station wagon, she yelled to him frantically—and Joe, oblivious, stopped to see what she wanted.
Most family members describe an endgame in which the Macoutes draw their guns and slip into Joe's car, with one taking the driver's seat and the other a seat in back. Laraque, who had dashed desperately around town that day trying to find and warn his cousin, says he reached the shop only to catch a glimpse of Joe through the barred back window of a gray Macoute paddy wagon. Either way, Laraque and Joe's mother-in-law were the last family members to see him alive. Joe was never charged, much less tried or convicted. "He was just a Gaetjens," says Gérard's daughter Mary. "The only one they could find."
For weeks after Joe's disappearance relatives tried to appeal to Daniel Beauvoir, but he refused to speak to them. "My father and mother sent messages," says James Gaetjens. "Lyliane called to tell [Daniel] he hadn't done anything to help Joe or the family. And he just laughed."
Before dawn on New Year's Day in 1965, Toto Gaetjens asked her daughter Mireille to drive her to the National Palace. Once a year the Haitian dictator would take requests and petitions from citizens, and on that day the two women waited him out. Mary Gaetjens picks up the scene in her forthcoming book A Summer with My Father: "Ti Toto and Tante Mireille were fifth in line when Duvalier announced he was finished for the day. Ti Toto ... desperately [pleaded] for the life of her son. Duvalier said he would look into it. He said, 'Tomorrow you will have your son' and waved her away."
Mireille says, "My mother had a lot of hope. When the president said something, you believed it. But the day after, nothing happened."
A few weeks later a coworker of Mireille's husband, Daniel Cassagnol, indicated that he knew a guard at Fort Dimanche and that $4,000 would buy Joe's freedom. The family came up with the money, and at the appointed hour Daniel and Mireille huddled at the edge of the prison grounds, wearing sunglasses and hats, like Macoutes, so as not to be recognized. The plan was to take Joe straight to an embassy to seek asylum. Hours later the two went dejectedly home. The next day at work the go-between returned the money to Mireille's husband and said, "He's dead."
Joe Gaetjens had once played soccer on the grounds of Fort Dimanche, a collection of ochre-colored concrete buildings thrown up in the '20s as an ammunition depot and riflery range. Soon after coming to power Duvalier turned the complex into a center of detention and death. Gaetjens was one of some 3,000 people to go in and never come out.
As many as 33 prisoners would be wedged into each of 10 communal cells, which measured about 10 by 12 feet. When a cell hit capacity, the prisoners would sleep in shifts. They breathed the stench of their waste and dressed their sores with urine. The dead would be rolled up in a mat of banana leaves, which served as both "our beds and our coffins," in the words of Bobby Duval, a former prisoner whose youth development program L'Athlétique d'Haïti teaches soccer to 1,500 of the poorest children in Port-au-Prince. Knowing that each corpse would be thrown into the mass grave among the cactuses out back, inmates would etch the names of the dead on the walls to remember them. Years later, in a visit to Fort Dimanche after its closing, Matho found her brother's name.