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Haiti - Duvalier : Definitive return or short stay ?
17/01/2011 10:04:35

Haiti - Duvalier : Definitive return or short stay ?
Former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier, 59 years old, nicknamed "Baby Doc", ousted in 1986, in exile in France for 25 years, arrived this Sunday, January 16, 2011, at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport to 4h50pm (Haiti time) on an Air France flight accompanied by his wife Véronique Roy and several of his colleagues.

A delegation of former officials who had served under his regime was waiting at the airport including the former foreign affairs minister Adrien Raymond and former presidential guard commander, the former Colonel Christophe Dardompré and a few tens supporters.

Upon his arrival, Jean Claude Duvalier said, after kneeling and kissing the tarmac of the airport "I waited for this moment for a long time. When I set foot on the ground, I felt a great joy" while his supporters chanted "Vive Duvalier" outside the airport. Noting that he had returned "because I know that the people suffer [...] I wanted to show my solidarity, tell her I'm here, I am willing and determined to participate in the rebirth of Haiti" without specifying his exact intentions.

While Baby Doc was waiting at the immigration office, his wife Véronique Roy said it was the earthquake of January 12, 2010 and its some 250,000 deaths that had pushed to come back in Haiti. "That was the trigger, we saw the images on television" as the country commemorated the first anniversary of the disaster. She also confirmed that Mr. Duvalier had a diplomatic passport.

A source close to Duvalier, has confirmed that no arrest warrant had been released against it and no legal provision preventing the return to his country but he should keep informed the Ministry of Interior of his movements.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Sunday that Jean-Claude Duvalier is a "Haitian citizen and, as such, is free to return home, I just hope this does not complicate an already tense political situation"

Outside the airport Toussaint L'Ouverture several hundred people gathered, partisans, attracted by the rumor but especially many young people, most of them were not born in 1986 when the Haitian people celebrated the departure of the dictator. "My parents talked a lot about him," said a young man, "Before, Haiti was a great country," said another, while a man says "There was a State but it was a dictatorship!" "We look to see why he is here. But this is not a good thing. I lived under Duvalier," commented one resident of Port-au-Prince in the fifties.

The former dictator, who ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986, left the airport about 3 hours later in an official vehicle under heavy escort of police officers and of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) to reach the Hotel Karibe of Petion Ville, one of the most exclusive hotel in the country.

At the hotel, his wife Véronique Roy told reporters he had to stay three days in Haiti and would hold a press conference on Monday. A reporter asked her why go back to that moment she answered "Why not?"

Later, Duvalier appeared on a balcony of the Hotel Karibe and greeted supporters and journalists outside. All he said was "tomorrow, tomorrow" apparently referring to the press conference.

Frantz, a rich Haitian living in a huge villa near the hotel, is worried: "Tonight it's quiet but tomorrow the country will demonstrate. There are people who still wear real scars."

Jean Ernest Pierre, President and CEO of CPAM Radio, said he was "surprised" of the return of the former dictator in Haiti, stating that there are still many supporters of the deposed dictator. He nevertheless believes that "people have moved beyond" of a head of state as Duvalier and that the former President had nothing to contribute, if not chimeric [...] This is an opportunity for justice to ask questions, whereas his regime has plundered the Haitian treasury" recognizing that there are many questions to ask about this unexpected return of "Baby Doc".

Ousted by a popular revolt in 1986 after 15 years of absolute rule in Port-au-Prince, Jean-Claude Duvalier remains a controversial figure. The authorities in Haiti say that over 100 million dollars have been diverted under the guise of social work until its collapse in 1986. These systematic withdrawals of SOEs in particular have been transferred in part in Swiss banks.

Berne tried to accelerate the return Duvalier funds, especially after the earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, but ran into resistance to justice of the Duvalier family. Moreover, complaints of "crime against humanity" were filed against him in France, his host country.

Some sources claim that his fortune was estimated at the time of his exile to 900 million dollars, a sum greater than when the country's external debt. Despite repeated requests, it was never delivered to the justice of his country. The Duvalier had however turned in their favor 80% of the economic assistance provided to Haiti but was in time precious allies for his Western friends in the fight against the "communist threat". 25 years of luxurious living in France (castle, luxury hotels, leading a lavish life...) would have reduced these large amounts to only a few million today... no one can estimate the amount.

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