Op-Ed

The death of a dictator

ACCUSED: Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier died on Saturday.
ACCUSED: Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier died on Saturday. AP

Even for a fiend as monumentally corrupt as he was, the first words out of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s mouth upon his return to Haiti in 2011 were shamelessly dishonest.

“I came back to help my country,” Baby Doc said after ending 25 years in exile in France.

Sure. Here’s the real reason Baby Doc came back: By then he’d squandered the hundreds of millions of dollars he’d allegedly robbed from Haiti during his brutal 1971-1986 dictatorship.

So he figured enough time had passed that he could return to Haiti and not be arrested. He could then make the case that he was no longer a wanted criminal there, and he could legally unfreeze millions in other personal assets in Switzerland.

That was Baby Doc’s noble motivation. He never got to thaw those Swiss millions because he was, in fact, indicted shortly after his return. But you’d be hard-pressed to find anything Duvalier ever did that helped Haiti.

Tim Padgett is WLRN’s Americas editor. To read the rest of this article, go to: http://wlrn.org/post/baby-doc-duvalier-may-have-finally-helped-haiti-dying-right-time

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