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Duvalier's Return to Haiti Puzzling

Monday, 17 January 2011 07:59 AM

Longtime Haiti observers were downright bewildered Sunday night after deposed despot Jean-Claude ``Baby Doc'' Duvalier made a surprise return to his country after almost 25 years of exile, The Miami Herald reports.

Speculation over the motives for the return of the 59-year-old Duvalier -- who had been living in France -- ran rampant. But many observers agreed on this: They weren't sure what to make of Duvalier coming back.

``It's such a critically important moment for Haiti and this guy to drop in from nowhere is very strange,'' said Robert Maguire, associate professor of International Affairs at Trinity University in Washington, D.C. ``What does he bring to Haiti, aside from a lot of confusion. Does he come back with political pretensions? We just don't know.''

Duvalier, the playboy son of a medical doctor, landed at the Port-au-Prince international airport Sunday evening. He was tapped by his ill father in 1971 to fill an imminent political vacuum -- even though he was only 19 at the time -- and ran the country in a corrupt though less violent fashion than his dictator father, François ``Papa Doc'' Duvalier.

As unrest engulfed the country in the mid-1980s, Duvalier and his wife, Michèle Bennett, left Haiti, boarding a France-bound U.S. military aircraft on Feb. 7, 1986. Duvalier's army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, took over.

Some observers speculated Sunday that deals must have been negotiated in order to guarantee a safe arrival for Duvalier. Whatever arrangement may have happened, it occured without rumor in a place where rumors abound.

Read the entire story at miamiherald.com

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Monday, 17 January 2011 07:59 AM
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