Haiti’s “Baby Doc” Duvalier Returns: Scare Tactic or Distraction?

The Dispossessed of Camp Canaan
The Dispossessed of Camp Canaan

Haiti’s former dictator and many would say “thief,” Jean Claude Duvalier, arrived in Haiti Sunday on an Air France jet–an arrival that seemed almost surreal. Haitian society is still reeling from an earthquake that killed 300,000, left 1.5 million homeless, and fractured the country’s ability to fight a cholera epidemic that has killed over 3,700 and sickened more than 180,000.

The questions no one can answer, and may not be able to answer even though Duvalier has scheduled a press conference Monday, are “why” now, and “who” is behind this spectacle.

The January 12 anniversary of the earthquake coincided with still more bodies pulled from the rubble, protests that international media did not cover, a disputed election, and an intransient President Rene Preval who was “unhappy” with a recount of an election process which invalidated the second place finish of his hand-picked protégé, Jude Celestin.

The shocking arrival of Duvalier is yet another body from the bloody past, pulled from the ruins of a manipulated society. Voice of America (VOA) ran a piece of revisionist history shortly after Duvalier’s spectacular return. Was the person who wrote the release ignorant of history, or was the story sending a subtle message of US approval of Duvalier’s return? The wording has changed since last night and the original statement of “self imposed exile” has been scrubbed and changed to “living in exile.” I sure wish I had kept a screenshot. The use of the word “homeland” remains. Decide for yourselves whether describing the country in which Duvalier looted, tortured and murdered, as his “homeland” is the proper term to use.

This is the relevant portion of the original text.

The elections were followed by a cholera epidemic in the Caribbean island nation, which is still recovering from a devastating earthquake a year ago that killed more than 300,000 people. Duvalier was living in France in a self-imposed exile.

Here is the text from the same link this morning.

The elections were followed by a cholera epidemic in the Caribbean island nation, which is still recovering from a devastating earthquake a year ago that killed more than 300,000 people. Duvalier was living in exile in France.

A corrected press release requires that the original stand, along with the corrections. This did not happen. Honest mistake, or subtle message? Reader, be aware.

The reality is that “Baby Doc” Duvalier, son of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, is part of a bloody familial reign of dictatorship that resulted in over 100,000 brutal murders and uncounted tortures by the Tontons Macoutes from 1957 to 1986, when the Reagan administration assisted in his ouster and put him on a plane to France.

Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network presents a fierce analysis of the possible reasons for US and French interests in the spectacle of the resurrection of Duvalier.

Well, their pillage of poor Haiti is butt-naked right now. At the one-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, even the conservative media is talking about the failure of US aid, the UN and the NGO poverty pimping business in Haiti. Thus, the UN, as US proxy, needs to justify its job in Haiti. These folks think of us-Haitians as simplistic animals, so why not set up what’s worked for them in other parts of the world?

Why is the State Department silent? Given the recent events in Tunisia, DOS immediately issued statements on the unrest there.

Mirebalais in Haiti’s Central Plateau

Now, Haiti is facing an election crisis that parallel investigations by the Organization of American States (OAS) and an independent think tank, The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) have declared fraudulent at best and “fatally flawed” at worst. CEPR went one step further and said that the more forgiving OAS analysis “can’t salvage an election that was illegitimate, where nearly three-quarters of the electorate didn’t vote, and where the vote count of the minority that did vote was severely compromised.”

Haitilibre reported last week that Preval was “very annoyed” with the election review.

“The president has a number of reservations on the methodology the members of the (OAS) commission used to get to their conclusions,” said a senior government official under the cover of anonymity. The OAS report involves the preliminary results of the first round and points clearly irregularities and recommends the exclusion of the government candidate, Jude Célestin of the second round in favor of the candidate Michel Martelly [3rd position].

In a press release today, CEPR charges that, “Haitian President Rene Preval and Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council are under strong political pressure from the United States, France, and other foreign governments to accept the OAS “Expert” Mission’s recommendation to change the election results. Observers fear more unrest should the Haitian authorities accept the report’s conclusion.”

Then, there is the under-reported issue of international meddling and coercion. On December 20, Brazilian Ricardo Seitenfus, the OAS’s special representative to Haiti, was removed from his post for questioning the role of the United Nations and international interests in Haiti in an interview with The Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

Seitenfus recently revealed a meeting in which international interests discussed removing Preval.

“At the meeting of Core Group (donor countries, UN and OAS), something that seemed just creepy [was discussed]. Some representatives suggested that President Rene Preval should leave the country and we should think of an airplane for that. I heard it and was appalled,” Seitenfus said.

Airplanes seem to be the modus operandi for coups in Haiti. Haiti’s only democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown in a coup that he says the United States arranged in 2004. Aristide maintains he was kidnapped and put on a US plane loaded with US military personnel and dropped in the Central African Republic before he relocated to South Africa. Aristide is certainly not in a self-imposed exile.

I asked a Haitian American friend about Duvalier’s return at this hour, considering that he has been clamoring to return for years.

“I am just wondering though if they needed to go through this whole charade. Though, I am also quite certain, it is killing 2 birds with one stone — scaring Preval and distracting the media from the poor job of the IHRC [Haiti Interim Recovery Commission] and its leaders.”

georgianne nienaberThe IRHC is chaired by former President Bill Clinton and Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti’s Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and External Cooperation.

Haiti Grassroots Watch and its consortium partners, AlterPresse and SAKS, agree that the presence of Duvalier is a major distraction from malfeasance on the part of international donors. In the following video, it is clear that Hatians are beginning to feel the same way.

“The arrival of former dictator and multimillion dollar thief Jean Claude Duvalier in Haiti yesterday should not distract from the very real suffering of over one million Haitians today, and very real multimillions of dollars of ‘aid’ not ‘aiding’ in Haiti today,” Haiti Grassroots Watch said in a statement today.

Georgianne Nienaber
Author Spotlight: Georgianne Nienaber

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