Aristide: I want to come back too

Looks like Jean-Claude "Baby, Give Me One More Chance" Duvalier isn’t the only exiled former Haitian leader looking to return home:  [O]usted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide sent out a letter saying he is ready to come back from six years of South African exile "today, tomorrow, at any time." "As far as I am concerned, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP/Getty Images
ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP/Getty Images
ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Looks like Jean-Claude "Baby, Give Me One More Chance" Duvalier isn't the only exiled former Haitian leader looking to return home: 

Looks like Jean-Claude "Baby, Give Me One More Chance" Duvalier isn’t the only exiled former Haitian leader looking to return home: 

[O]usted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide sent out a letter saying he is ready to come back from six years of South African exile "today, tomorrow, at any time."

"As far as I am concerned, I am ready," he wrote in an e-mail distributed by supporters and posted online. "The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education."[…]

[I]n the letter, whose authenticity was confirmed by Lavalas spokeswoman Maryse Narcisse, his return is necessary to help his countrymen and for his medical needs following six eye surgeries in his six years of exile.

"The unbearable pain experienced in the winter must be avoided in order to reduce any risk of further complications and blindness," he said. South African winter begins in June.

"Let us hope that the Haitian and South African governments will enter into communication in order to make that happen in the next coming days," he said.

The return of Aristide, a priest and popular opposition leader during the Duvalier regime whose tenure as president was marred by corruption and electoral fraud, would be yet another wild card in Haiti’s already fraught political drama. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley addressed Aristide’s request on his Twitter feed, saying:

This is an important period for . What it needs is calm, not divisive actions that distract from the task of forming a new government. … We do not doubt President Aristide’s desire to help the people of Haiti. But today needs to focus on its future, not its past.

Aristide’s relationship with the United States has been complex to say the least. U.N. peacekeeprs, with strong U.S. backing, helped him return to power after a military coup in 1994, but the George W. Bush administration looked the other way when he was forced from power in 2004 and Aristide continues to blame U.S. pressure for his ouster. 

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out great piece on Duvalier’s legacy. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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