Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Baby Doc" to go behind bars? (Updated)

Haitian authorities have formally charged ex-strongman Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier with several charges including corruption, theft, and the misappropriation of funds. The charges, which stem from Duvalier's abusive rule between 1971 and 1986, will be looked into by an "investigative judge" who could give the go-ahead to a judicial case.

Original Post:
Haitian police detained former Haitian tyrant Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier less than 48 hours after his surprise return to his homeland.

After being warmly greeted by a small crowd of sycophants on Sunday, Duvalier could be formally charged with ransacking the national treasury during his rule between 1971 and 1986. Duvalier had met with Haiti’s top prosecutor and a judge before being escorted this morning from the Port-au-Prince hotel where he was residing to government offices for questioning.

Several human rights groups and Haitian expats living abroad called for the arrest of “Baby Doc” after he returned from his 25-year exile in France. "Duvalier's return to Haiti should be for one purpose only: to face justice," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “I don't know what will be the outcome but this is a plot to get everybody confused,” said playwright Jan Mapou to the Miami Herald. (He was jailed under the Duvalier regime for hosting a Creole-language radio program.)

So why did Duvalier, whose rule was marked by brutality from the secret Tonton Macoute police and widespread corruption, return to Haiti? As reported in CNN, “a Duvalier associate” said that he came back since he was “deeply hurt in his soul after (last year’s) earthquake.” However, Duvalier may look to take advantage of a country in political chaos partly due to allegedly fraudulent presidential elections. (It may be no coincidence that on the same day Duvalier returned Haitian electoral officials postponed a disputed presidential runoff).

Duvalier may try to exploit a Haitian populace uneasy with the government’s response to the January 2010 tremor that killed 200,000 people and left millions of survivors either homeless or residing in unsafe tent camps. Hence, as the following news report from NBC News showed, “Baby Doc” could take advantage of younger Haitians who were not alive during his crushing regime but are currently living under very difficult conditions. (Skip ahead to around the 1:55 mark).

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Video Source - MSNBC
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, The Guardian, MSNBC, CNN, Reuters, Voice of America, Miami Herald

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