herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Ex-dictator 'Baby Doc' is back in Haiti

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier returned to Haiti after nearly 25 years in exile, a surprising and perplexing move that comes as his country struggles with a political crisis and the stalled effort to recover from last year's devastating earthquake.

Mr Duvalier, wearing a dark suit and tie, arrived on an Air France jet to hugs from supporters at the Port-au-Prince airport.

He was calm as he was led into the immigration office. He left the airport without making a statement to journalists, waving to a crowd of more than 200 supporters as he got into an SUV.

In 2007, President Rene Preval told reporters that Mr Duvalier could return to Haiti but would face justice for the deaths of thousands of people and the theft of millions of dollars.

There were no protests in reaction to his return in the country, where more than one million people are living in crowded, squalid tent encampments after the earthquake in January of last year. At one of those camps, there was enthusiasm for Mr Duvalier's return.

"I don't know much about Jean-Claude Duvalier but I've heard he did good things for the country," said 34-year-old Joel Pierre.

Nearby, 42-year-old Marline Joseph, living in the camp with her three children, was also somewhat hopeful. "He's here, that's good. Now, what is he going to do for the country?"

hnews@herald.ie

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