his return to Haiti is as strange as ever. The Guardian reports that the notoriously brutal former dictator met both "cheering and jeering" from crowds as he was driven from his hotel to face charges of corruption and theft before a magistrate. The prosecutor spoke sternly about bringing Duvalier to justice, but the ex-ruler's French companion, Veronique Roy, laughed when a reporter asked her about Duvalier's being detained.
Speculation is rampant as to why Baby Doc – viewed as responsible for the murders of thousands during his reign, in which he continued the bloody tactics of his father, autocrat Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier – chose to now return from exile in Europe. What is clear at this point is that he had exhausted his ample wealth and was in fairly dire financial straits. Beyond that, everybody knows something's up, but nobody knows what yet. It seems to make sense for him to return to Haiti at a time of utter chaos, when he might hope to gain some leverage in a country devastated by last year's earthquake and wracked by a cholera epidemic. Perhaps he also hopes – or is trying to clandestinely arrange – to evade serious legal punishment and rebuild a comfortable life there. Maybe the currently beleaguered President, René Préval, is in on the ploy because he needs to create a distraction from his own troubles. Maybe Duvalier even believes he can seize the moment to regain power as a political figure, since the nation is in such a desperate state and many younger Haitians do not remember the brutality of Baby Doc's regime. Perhaps Duvalier himself is desperate for a place to start over, and is willing to take his chances with Haiti's currently shaky legal system.
Any way you look at it, it's hard to see any good in his presence.