January 17, 2011 by staff
Veronique Roy, (CP) – Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, once feared and despised dictator who was overthrown by a popular uprising nearly 25 years, made a comeback in Haiti, raising concerns it could complicate efforts to resolve a political crisis, an epidemic of cholera and the reconstruction of the devastating earthquake last year has stalled.
Duvalier’s arrival at the airport Sunday was as mysterious as it was unexpected. He greeted a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters, but did not say why he chose this tumultuous period to reappear suddenly from his exile in France – or what he intended to make any return to Haiti.
“I’m not here for politics,” he told Radio Caraibes Duvalier. “I’m here for the Reconstruction of Haiti.”
His longtime companion, Veronique Roy, told reporters at a point that he intended to stay three days, but gave no further details. He has scheduled a news conference Monday.
President Rene Preval – who said in 2007, Duvalier in Haiti but could return to face justice for the deaths of thousands and stealing millions of dollars – made no public comment on the recommendation of former dictator- lifted. But Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive shrugged.
“There is a Haitian and, as such, is free to go home,” said Bellerive The Associated Press.
Asked if Duvalier would destabilize the country, the Prime Minister said: “Until now, there is no reason to believe that.”
The 59-year Duvalier apparently faces no criminal charges for the period of his reign he took office to 19 years as part of a father-son dynasty that presided over one of the darkest chapters of the Haitian history, arrived on an Air France jet, a jacket and tie to hugs of supporters, waving to a crowd of about 200 when he got into an SUV and headed to a hotel with Roy.
“He is happy to be back there, back in his home,” said Mona Beruaveau, a Senate candidate in a party Duvalier who spoke to the former dictator to the immigration office within the airport terminal. “He is tired after a long journey.”
Fatton wondered what role the French government played in Duvalier’s return, saying they should have been aware that the former despot was boarding an Air France plane to go home.
Author Amy Wilentz, whose book “The rainy season” is a definitive account of following the exile of Aristide and Duvalier place, said: “This is not the right time for such an upheaval.”
“Remember what was Duvalierism: prison camps, torture, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial executions, persecution of the opposition,” she wrote in an email to the AP. And did She add, “If the Haitian authorities to allow to return Duvalier, can thwart the will of President Aristide in exile to return home?”
“Haitians need a firm hand to guide them in the recovery of the earthquake, not the ministry of a offshoot of the dictatorship.”
Associated Press writers Jonathan M. Katz in New York and Ben Fox in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report. With files from The Canadian Press.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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