The following statement was issued by Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, Founder, Haiti Support Project, and Distinguished Lecturer, York College/CUNY:
The arrival of exiled, former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in Haiti is an unconscionable act of arrogance in defiance of international human rights norms which is an affront to the people of Haiti and freedom loving people everywhere. During his fifteen years in power, Baby Doc extending the nightmarish reign of terror of his dreaded father Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, perpetuating one of the most brutal regimes in the 20th century. Basic democratic and human rights were non-existent during his ruthless hold on power, and Haiti’s treasury became his personal preserve. Thousands of people were tortured and killed in a futile effort to bludgeon the Haitian people into submission. And, by some estimates, hundreds of millions of dollars were bilked from government coffers and stashed in foreign bank accounts. For decades the heinous Duvalier regime was supported by various U.S. administrations, fortifying it against the relentless resistance of opposition forces. That notwithstanding, the popular resistance forced Baby Doc from power in 1986 as the U.S. government arranged for his safe escape into exile.
Baby Doc Duvalier is a criminal who should have been arrested the moment he set foot on Haitian soil. In fact, he should never have been permitted to leave France given the multiple crises Haiti is confronting in the wake of the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The failure of France, the U.S. and the international community to act decisively to block Baby Doc’s departure to Haiti raises questions as to how serious they are about democracy, political stability and security in Haiti. Equally baffling is the behavior of the Preval Government in acquiescing to the return of this ruthless despot. President Preval previously stated that if Baby Doc ever returned to Haiti, he would be arrested and brought to justice for crimes against the Haitian people. We call on President Preval to have the courage of his convictions by ordering the immediate arrest of Baby Doc Duvalier with the intent of putting him on trial. It would be a gross miscarriage of justice to allow such foul a figure to resurface in Haiti’s troubled political life. The nation simply should not be permitted to lapse into amnesia about the enormous crimes committed against the Haitian people during the Duvalier era.
Finally, if the Preval Government and international community could acquiesce in the face of the return of a murderous dictator like Baby Doc, all pretext for barring or discoursing the return of former President Jean Bertand Aristide are exposed as fallacious. Whatever, Aristide’s failings may have been (and none of them justified his ouster), he was a saint compared to the demonic Duvaliers. If political parties associated with Duvalier, a ruthless dictator, are permitted to be part of the political life of the nation, then certainly the party of Haiti’s first democratically elected President must not be barred from playing a role in building the new Haiti from the ashes of the catastrophe. Haiti’s future must be based on justice and democracy for all!