Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.
Haiti, Latin America: Week in Review

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier Returns To Haiti Amid Uncertain Political Climate

January 18, 2011 By Staff

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — With Haiti’s political situation already chaotic, former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier unexpectedly returned to the country on Sunday.

Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 until he was overthrown by popular uprising in 1986. He assumed power at the age of 19 when his father François, known as “Papa Doc,” died.

An associate close to Jean-Claude Duvalier told CNN that Duvalier returned to Haiti to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 12 earthquake and because of homesickness.

Jean-Claude Duvalier has been accused of pilfering millions from state coffers and using a secret police known as the Tonton Macoutes to kill and torture political opponents. Haitian President René Préval said in 2007 that Duvalier would face criminal charges, but Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellrive seemed to contradict Préval on Sunday when he said the former dictator “is a Haitian and, as such, is free to return home.”

“The question now becomes, if Baby Doc is back, why shouldn’t [Jean Bertrand] Aristide be allowed to come back,” political scientist Eduardo Gamarra told The Christian Science Monitor, referring to the leftwing president who was ousted in 2004.

Duvalier’s return has fueled concern that Haiti’s elections — marred by accusations of voter fraud and poor organization — might run further off track. Runoff elections were scheduled for Sunday, but the country’s electoral commission has yet to announce the two frontrunners.

Duvalier reportedly has a return ticket scheduled to depart on Jan. 20.

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1 Comment

[…] charges come two days after the former dictator and son of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier returned to Haiti for the first time after being overthrown by popular uprising in […]

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