Could Baby Doc make a comeback?

Last May, we asked if the election of Haitian President Michel Martelly would mean that former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was off the hook for the corruption and human rights abuses of his regime. (Martelly’s government is packed with former Duvalier allies and loyalists.) We now appear to have our answer, courtesy of the ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

Last May, we asked if the election of Haitian President Michel Martelly would mean that former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was off the hook for the corruption and human rights abuses of his regime. (Martelly's government is packed with former Duvalier allies and loyalists.) We now appear to have our answer, courtesy of the Washington Post's William Booth:

If money can be laundered, so can dictators. Duvalier was the commencement speaker last month at the law school in Gonaives, an appearance that the university’s president called “totally inconceivable.”

The students cheered.

Last May, we asked if the election of Haitian President Michel Martelly would mean that former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was off the hook for the corruption and human rights abuses of his regime. (Martelly’s government is packed with former Duvalier allies and loyalists.) We now appear to have our answer, courtesy of the Washington Post‘s William Booth:

If money can be laundered, so can dictators. Duvalier was the commencement speaker last month at the law school in Gonaives, an appearance that the university’s president called “totally inconceivable.”

The students cheered.

Last week, Duvalier drove himself — with a police escort — to the government’s memorial ceremony to mark the second anniversary of Haiti’s cataclysmic earthquake. The audience, which included Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, his prime minister and former president Bill Clinton, rose to greet him.

Duvalier is back in Haiti, and it is very possible that he will never be tried for the crimes that his alleged victims and international human rights groups assert — forced disappearances, illegal detentions, intimidation, torture, and executions of journalists, activists, political opponents and others.

Duvalier was charged with embezzlement, human rights violations, and crimes against humanity shortly after his return to Haiti following the 2011 earthquake. The case has been delayed for months, gone through three prosecutors, and a judge is now deciding whether Duvalier will even go to trial. 

Also keep in mind, Duvalier, who was 19 when he first became president, is now only 60 and his health seems to be improving. His supporters tell Booth they would back Baby Doc’s return to the political stage. 

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

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