apologies to Patsy Cline, Barack Obama, Brother Voodoo, cliche, dictators, Duvalier dynasty, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Haiti, Haitian Crisis, hereditary dictatorship, impoverished third-world backwater, Is that not what 'paradox' means?, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, Jobu, Major League, medically-themed despots, Pedro Cerrano, Rene Preval, Veronique Roy, voodoo despotism
Fans of third-world despotism are aglow at the ominous tidings of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s return to Haiti after twenty-five years in well-deserved exile. Duvalier, better known as “Baby Doc,” came to power in 1971 upon the death of his father François, appropriately called “Papa Doc.” The paradox ruled the country from 1956 until Baby Doc was overthrown by a popular revolt in 1986.
In the nearly thirty years that the medically-themed despotic dynasty ruled Haiti, Papa and Baby managed to systematically drain the struggling nation of any single thing which might stem its decent into third-world squalor to a country at which even Hondurans turn up their noses. But time has a bad memory, and history is just another word for accepted truth–some Haitians have begun to wax nostalgic about the Duvalier regimes. The “Kims of the Caribbean” may have been repressive, but as the saying goes, they made the trains run on time.*
Many of the same people who a quarter-century ago chased Baby Doc from Haiti were today awaiting Duvalier’s arrival at the airport, filling the air with cries of “Duvalier! Duvalier!” A beaming Baby Doc, with his consort Veronique Roy in tow, said he had returned to help the beleaguered nation, which has been beset recently by allegations of electoral fraud and has yet to recover either from last year’s devastating earthquake or from the preceding years of shittiness stretching back as far as anyone can remember.
Several foreign leaders, including US President Barack Obama, expressed concern at the ex-dictator’s return to the nation he had in the past used so poorly. However, Obama expressed confidence that Haitians “have too much on the ball” to fall prey to a charismatic dictator.
In fact, Baby Doc’s renewed interest in Haiti has set speculators buzzing. It was long thought that by the time the Duvaliers were driven from Haiti, they had bled from the country everything of value, leaving it a desiccated, lifeless carcass. But believing the likelihood slim that Baby Doc’s motives for returning to his homeland are even remotely altruistic, some are beginning to wonder if perhaps there’s still something in Haiti worth stealing.
On Tuesday, Haitian authorities briefly took Baby Doc into custody, where large groups of the tyrant’s supporters gathered, burning tires and shouting threats at current Haitian President, Rene Preval. The second-generation dictator expressed surprise at the decision, but no real concern. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said.