Exiled Dictator Returns to Haiti After 25 Years

No word on his intentions, but supporters want him to return to power
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2011 8:05 PM CST
In this May 25, 1980 file photo, Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier gives a news conference at his ranch on the outskirts of Port Au Prince, Haiti.   (Kathy Willens)

(Newser) – Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier returned to Haiti today 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. Duvalier arrived on an Air France jet to hugs from supporters at the Port-au-Prince airport. He left the airport without making a statement to journalists, but said he would give a news conference tomorrow.

In the fall of 2007, President Rene Preval told reporters that Duvalier could return to Haiti but would face justice for the deaths of thousands of people and the theft of millions of dollars. Haitians danced in the streets to celebrate the overthrow of Duvalier back in 1986 and most hoped he'd left for good, but a handful of loyalists have been campaigning to bring Duvalier home from exile in France, launching a foundation to improve the dictatorship's image and reviving Baby Doc's political party in the hopes that one day he can return to power democratically.

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