For the first time since overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986, expatriated former dictator of Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier, on Sunday unexpectedly returned to his Caribbean homeland. Duvalier's stunning arrival was as mysterious as it was unexpected.
Enthusiastic supporters greeted him at the airport, but it was not immediately clear why he had returned. I came to help my country, Duvalier declared as some 2,000 of his supporters met him at the airport.
His longtime companion, Veronique Roy, told the Associated Press reporters at one point that he planned to stay three days, but gave no further details. He planned to hold a news conference Monday.
Duvalier is back in Haiti as the country copes with a disputed presidential election, a widespread cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3,750 people, and the stalled reconstruction from 2010's devastating earthquake.
Duvalier, nicknamed as Baby Doc, who had ruled Haiti after the 1971 death of his father, Francois Papa Doc Duvalier, had been living in France in exile.
Baby Doc arrived on a flight from France, where he has been living in exile. Duvalier and his father were known for torturing and killing political opponents and maintaining a brutal secret police force.
In Miami, some Haitians are protesting the return of Baby Doc, while the political group Veye Yo is intending a protest rally in Miami's Little Haiti on Monday afternoon. Human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are urging Haiti to prosecute Duvalier, as he should be held accountable for the torture and killing of civilians under his rule.
'Baby Doc' Exile
In response to an outbreak of African swine fever virus on the island in 1978, U.S. agricultural authorities insisted upon total eradication of Haiti's pig population. In addition, reports that AIDS was becoming a major problem in Haiti caused tourism to Haiti to decline dramatically in the early 1980s. Widespread discontent began in March 1983, when Pope John Paul II visited Haiti.
A revolt began in the provinces in 1985. Baby Doc responded with a 10 percent cut in staple food prices, the closing of independent radio stations, a cabinet reshuffle, and a crackdown by police and army units, but these moves failed to dampen the momentum of the popular uprising against the dynastic dictatorship.
The administration of the 40th President of the United States, Presidency of Ronald Reagan, began to pressure Duvalier to renounce his rule and to leave Haiti. Duvalier departed on February 7, 1986, flying to France in an U.S. Air Force aircraft.
After the ousting of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, Duvalier announced his intention to return to Haiti to run for president in the 2006 elections for the Party of National Unity; however, he did not become a candidate.
On Sept. 22–Sept. 23, 2007, an address by Duvalier to Haitians was broadcast by radio given in French and not Haitian Creole, the language spoken by the majority of Haitians. But Duvalier urged readiness among his supporters, without saying whether he intended to return to Haiti.
The President of the Republic of Haiti Rene Preval rejected Duvalier's apology and, on Sept. 28, the President said that while Duvalier was constitutionally free to return to Haiti, he would face trial if he did so.