The US Prevented BabyDoc from Returning in 2006, Why Not Now?

Five years ago, BabyDoc Duvalier applied for a passport for Haiti, threatening to return in a period leading up to elections. As a series of Wikileaks cables make clear, the US pressed hard–with apparent success–to prevent his return to Haiti. One cable shows the US asking France, on January 11, 2006, whether it could prevent Duvalier from leaving that country. Another shows the US raising concerns about Duvalier with Haiti Prime Minister Latortue that same day, and again on January 16. And the US raised the same concerns with the Dominican Republic, first (as far as we can tell from the cables) on January 11 and then again on February 7, 2006.

Over the course of those conversations, the US government tried the following methods to keep Duvalier from returning to Haiti and disrupting the elections:

  • Asking France to help convince Haiti’s interim government to refuse Duvalier the passport (which failed)
  • Asking Latortue to prevent Duvalier from boarding any plane to Haiti
  • Asking Latortue to use informal communication channels to ask Duvalier not to return
  • Getting a commitment from Foreign Minister Herard Abraham, after he had issued the passport, to do anything else he could to prevent Duvalier’s return
  • Getting Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez to prohibit Duvlier from entering his country in transit to Haiti

All of which raises the question why, if the US prevented Duvalier from returning in 2006, they were either unable or chose not to prevent his return this time?

Interestingly, the Guardian provides some background of these efforts in 2006. But they focus entirely on one cable recording discussions with Dominican Republic (the rest of the cables were made available by Aftenposten, the Norwegian paper that somehow got its own set of cables). This has the effect of making it appear that US objections were equally to Duvalier and Aristide (both are mentioned in the cable, though it is clear Duvalier is the worry). Yet the rest of the cables make it clear that the US was panicked about Duvalier’s return.

So is and was the US as concerned this time around about Duvalier’s disruptive influence? Has it simply lost its influence with the various players (who might just be ready for a stronger influence in Haiti, given that country’s problems)? Or did the US give tacit approval for Duvalier’s return, either explicitly or by not making the same efforts this time around as they made in 2006?

  1. prostratedragon says:

    Some version of the lost influence hypothesis might bear examination. Wonder where it might have gone?

  2. pdaly says:

    No idea why he was allowed back. Bad for the innocents on the island, no doubt.

    On a less serious note, this could get confusing real fast. Now we’ve got a BabyDoc, PapaDick and BabyDick to keep track of. The deck of cards has already been done. What about having a set of weeble wobbles?

    • phred says:

      My apologies. I thought I was being clever with PapaDick and BabyDick. Who knew that when the US decided to make torture and murder mainstream public policies that it would once again make BabyDoc fit for polite society.

      lsls, I’m with you. It is shocking to me that BabyDoc has resurfaced after all these years. Something has gone very seriously wrong with western “civilization”.

  3. lsls says:

    The re-emergence of Jean-Claude is particularly infuriating to me today. My ex of 28 years and his family were in exile because of BD’s father’s torturous policies. Papa Doc killed 30 members of his family in the town of Jeremie in a blood bath. His cousin was hung publicly for attempting a coup of PD. Baby Doc left the country with about $500,000,000…the entire Haitian treasury…(flown out by the US)…anyway, I think that the timing is extremely suspect. He must have been given the go ahead by someone in this country. I saw a little footage of him, and he doesn’t look well, so maybe he’s ill and is being allowed back for some kind of special reason. He was not as bad as his father, but he certainly considers himself president for life…that you can be sure of. If this country is considering planting him back in Haiti to be a sort of strong arm leader…leaked cables suggest that the US considers Preval (who has prostate cancer) difficult to work with and too friendly with Venezuela; and considering the enormous crisis the country is experiencing…quite frankly, I think they (State Department) might want BD back in power.

    God help them….

    • Acharn says:

      Your analysis sounds all too plausible to me. As you say, God help them, because our State Department surely won’t. Same as when we put Batista into power in Cuba in the 1930s and maintained him there until Castro, which seems to be the real reason for the continuing idiotic policies.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s what I’m worried about.

      BTW, do you know how BabyDoc got his Swiss bank account back? I’m wondering if there was political influence there.

      • lsls says:

        I don’t know..but he’s sure living high on the hog from the footage I saw. There very well may be a connection there, especially considering he never “earned” anything in his life other than loathing. If he has money, it was either stolen or a bribe or a “donation” from some PTB I would guess. I do know that his ex-wife, Michelle Bennett (sp?), wanted to go back to Haiti to run for President..there’s money there too. It is a virtual snake pit. Vipers.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The US just lost a cooperative leader in Tunisia; maybe it needs a replacement elsewhere before the Haitians act to install something more liberal, what with the Bush Monroe Doctrine and all.

  5. BoxTurtle says:

    Never blame on evil what can adequately be explained by stupidity. It’s quite possible ObamaLLP was caught completely off guard. ObamaLLP has struck me as not being very good at multitasking and their attention is elsewhere.

    Boxturtle (The choleria epidemic they’re also ignoring is more dangerous to Haiti than BD, IMO)

    • tanbark says:

      Boxturtle’s right: Obama and crew could fuck up a can of peaches. In fact, they have, relatively speaking.

      I don’t know how much residual affection the Haitian people feel for anyone named “Duvalier”, but I can’t see how this is going to help the situation down there. Duvalier must be smelling enough discontent and anger to think that he can capitalize on it. Hope he’s wrong, but this might be a good time for Obama to send a battalion or two of Marines on “liberty” to Port Au Prince. It could be a stitch-in-time. I think it’s one of those situations where the use of our troops could be justified.

      I doubt O. will do it. He’s more into trying to make Afghanistan safe for the Fortune 500.

    • Denn says:

      Perhaps the French are a bit pissed that Obama doubled down on the “freedom fries” in the happy meal we call the “War on Terror.”

  6. anga19 says:

    When I look at the timing of the announcement of Duvalier’s return right after the decision of excluding the candidate of the president Preval from

    the second place for the elections’s second tour I wonder if the big two (US and France) who coup d’état Aristide (plus the always faithful Harper) did not work behind the scene to put in place an easy to control dictator.

    Unless he is sick like Isis says but my boubts remain.

    • lsls says:

      I don’t think he’s sick..just looked odd to me in the footage..the way he moved..looked like was just a brief observance and a possibility.

      No matter what his condition, he was enabled by the US to return somehow and that is flat our wrong.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        he was enabled by the US to return somehow and that is flat our wrong

        Don’t assume that. Yeah, if we did we were way wrong. But if we were involved, I would think that Hillary over at State would have had her P.R. flacks armed and ready with offical statements when this hit. It looks like State is just flailing about to me, so I’m thinking they were caught off guard.

        Boxturtle (Perhaps a little Voodoo…..)

  7. anga19 says:

    What I mean by my doubts does not concern Duvalier’s health but the fact that despite his health he could have the time to put in place an authoritarian structure that would oulive him.

  8. PeasantParty says:

    I have to admit that I am not currently up to date on the economic and social situation of Haiti. I have seen the small amount of coverage on the Cohlera epidemic and that is horrible in itself.

    With this news, I can only assume that the US and France are allowing him back in the country for reasons only to combat influence with Chavez and to keep the country from going postal from the epidemic deaths.

  9. boxfetish says:

    Because our president is the embodiment of the “F.U., I got mine” mentality that is so prevalent in our society today? Top down and all…

  10. lsls says:

    Baby Doc is a big, evil, spoiled Baby Huey. His women rule him, and I’m also guessing they smell aid money to loot. There is that angle. His father was evil and smart, BD…stupid.

  11. tanbark says:

    “It looks like State is flailing about…”

    Well, since the entire Obama administration has been flailing about for the past two years, why should the State Department be excluded? :o)

  12. lsls says:

    BD: Let me stay..I won’t kill too many anyone…my not so much.

    Remember, there are still people there who lived off of the macoute dole outs.

  13. lsls says:

    Why is what goes on with these aholes important? Because, according to a certain CNN hero..told to me personally years ago…Haiti was used to repack arms in Iran/Contra..People involved arranging landing strips, etc., if alive, can talk. There is leverage for BD in this. He knows.

    • lsls says:

      That would be sweet justice! Maybe the US enabled him so that he could get arrested…hmmm…I dunno about that, but what good news.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Oh, that would be a Good Thing. If they do arrest him, they’ll have to deal with riots. But they’re already dealing with that.

      As Isis said @29, he may know things that would cause ObamaLLP (Or Cinton, Inc.) to protect him.

      Boxturtle (America won’t do anything to help that doesn’t involve military action and Haiti has no oil)

    • socks says:

      Now wouldn’t this be a different change of events-if the Haitian police arrested Baby Doc. Hard to see how justice wouldn’t be served by this turn of events.
      Maybe they can also retrieve some of the wealth he ran off with too. It is much needed now to rebuild the country.

  14. tanbark says:

    I don’t think Bill and Hillary called this. As cyinical as I am (now) about Hillary, I don’t believe she’d facilitate bringing this bloody-handled piece of shit, back into Haiti. If she did that, and it came out, it would be just one more reason to make sure that she never got within a political mile of the dem nomination, in any year.

    Of course, that it happened is also just one more reason to work like navvies to make sure that Barack Obama doesn’t get within a mile of the dem nomination in 2012.

    This could turn out to be quite a little political tarpot for someone to get slathered. I’m sorry to see Duvalier back in Haiti, which cannot do any good for that poor, snakebit, country, but since he’s already there, let’s use it as one more fuckup for which to hold Mr. Centrist responsible.

    I mean, which is worse: that he signed off on it, or that he was so out of the international loop that the french wouldn’t tell him it was coming?

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I agree. There’s just no upside to this for Clinton, Inc. In fact, if I had to bet, I’d bet Hillary is adding a new dimension to the word ‘bitch’ as she tries to find out how this could have happened without her getting some advance warning.

      Boxturtle (I’d almost bet that Obama’s response was ‘Baby Doc Who?’)

      • tanbark says:

        Yep. I just don’t believe that Barack Obama, who is clearly the most risk-averse person to hold the office since Herbert Hoover, would gin this up, for ANY purpose.

        In fact, the more I think about it, the more likely it seems to me that the French have taken a look at Obama’s political ‘nads sitting in that mayo jar on John Boehner’s desk and decided to do a little meddling of their own.

  15. tanbark says:

    Isis, you mean they lured him in, to jail him?

    I’m skeptical.

    Obama doesn’t have enough control over the situation to prevent it from getting out of hand, with the possibility that Duvalier’s supporters (and I would think that he still has some of the most violent people in Haiti who are willing to grab their machetes for him…) could actually take over the government…

    Or, Duvalier could be killed.

    Neither situation could be viewed as a “mission accomplished” moment for Obama. Plus, that he would be dumb enough to engineer this as a way to recoup some of the political mojo that he’s lost, is, itself, frightening to contemplate.

    • lsls says:

      I really don’t know what this is actually all about. Maybe he just got on a plane and flew over, however, someone said that he was given permission for a short trip or something. Permission from ? He’s president for life in his mind, and the current “government” is in limbo. Go figure.

      • tanbark says:

        Yeah, we don’t know what happened. Did he fly commercial to get in? Or was it a LearJet ops? If the latter, once he was airborne, it was Ollie-ollie-in-free…and Port-au-Prince, here we come!

        But I can’t think of a single thing that would make this situation attractive to either Obama or Clinton. I keep coming back to how much they’ve sustained the BushCo spinning plates they inherited (In Hillary’s case, which she helped enable…) and with those plates all slowing down, the last thing they’d need is another one going up.

  16. tetercreek says:

    If the United States did not want him there he would not be there. He would have been visited by a dozen of Blackwater’s finest and put on a plane straight back to where he came from.

    • tanbark says:

      ‘Creek; not sure about that. Re-thinking it, I think it’s entirely possible that the French could have said to themselves:

      “Here’s a little monkey-wrench just for you, Mr. Preznint!”

      And then handed Duvalier his passport and wished him Godspeed as he boarded his plane.

      We’re right back to the question of: What possible benefit is there to Obama to have this going on in Haiti now?

      If he sends in some Marines to stop a takeover, or to stop the violence from an attempted takeover, how is that going to help him? I mean, he should do that, IMHO, if it comes to that, but why on earth would he want this?

  17. tearloch7 says:

    How do you spell Mussolini? .. this situation is fascinating .. and may be a red herring? .. I agree there is no way he gets from the airport unless it is sanctioned by State or some other Dept.; or, and heaven forbid, his movements were missed .. the plot thickens ..

  18. tanbark says:

    I don’t think the U.S. State department has all that much control over Sarkozy and the French government.

  19. klynn says:

    Wonder if any of those US cables Le Monde received would give some perspective on this?

    Offshore banking…Wikileaks…




    I think France wanted him out.

    Anyone know where Ollie is today?

  20. stevepatriquin says:

    Let us not forget, this man is a murderer of innocent people. Haitians had better keep an eye on him. He will rise to power out of the ashes.

  21. tanbark says:

    I don’t know how worried the French were about having BabyDoc languishing in France. (Along with all those looted millions…) PR-wise, it’s not like they were hiding Eichmann. When it happened, as I recall, no negatives were attached to offering Duvalier residence. In fact, I think it was seen as helping get him out of Haiti and greasing the skids for at least the chance for elections and some facsimile of representative government.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Well, there’s always Dubai to consider for his next pied-a terre.

      After all, that’s where Halliburton and the former Blackwater/Xe(now named something else) have relocated.

  22. Mary says:

    OT – Judge Randolph’s foray gets a pass from the Sup Ct.

    They deny appeal on Mohammed Al-Adahi appeal.

    OTOH – this AP story, and a couple of the others I glanced at, skipped the fact that Obamaco had already shipped Al-Adahi to Yemen – a move that was almost certain to result in a denial of cert. And they did it in a very odd bit of timing with the Cir Ct numerology decision.

    So now the storys are all that Randolph finally issued a decision that didn’t get overturned, as opposed to any mention of the fact that a release order is pretty moot now.

    Our press aggravates me. Sure, some misleading bit of info on astrology can get days and weeks even of headlines, but the DC Cir. adoption of Numerology as legal doctrine – yaaaaaawwwwn.

  23. tanbark says:

    “I’d bet Hillary is adding a new dimension to the word “bitch”.

    At the risk of being accused of sexist hoggery, I’d agree. :o)

  24. Cynthia says:

    Because the Democratic Party is still regarded as the party that represents ordinary people, despite the fact that the Democratic Party has now joined the Republican Party in terms of selling its soul to the rich, it’s far easier for Democratic presidents, especially ones whose skin color is either black or brown, to get away with installing or reinstalling dictators in various puppet regimes throughout the world. Since most American are still under the illusion that the Republican Party is the one and only party for the elites, it’s much harder for Republicans to get way with doing undemocratic things like suppressing free speech and forbidding workers from unionizing. This is the same reason why Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street without bailing out Main Street and why he’ll probably call for cuts to the retirement arm of Social Society without calling for cuts to the health-insurance arm of Social Security, which is nothing more than a corporate welfare program for the medical-industrial complex.

    Obama’s goal as a corporatist democrat is to subsidize capital without having to subsidize labor, so his next new campaign slogan should read: austerity for labor, but not for capital.

    • tanbark says:

      Cynthia, I agree with nearly every word of that, but the suggestion that Obama is interesting in re-installing Duvalier in Haiti is, I think, mistaken.

      What advantage is there for him in that? I don’t think even the GOP gives a shit about putting Duvalier in power down there. Are there any natural resources in Haiti for american corporations to plunder? Any offshore oil deposits? Is Haiti critical to the success of a Caribbean or Central America rightwing agenda?

      And we keep coming back to the fact that with this president who is nothing if not a political coward, why would he risk being caught out in an attempt to re-inflict a bloody-handed tyrant on this poor, insignifigant country?

  25. tanbark says:

    I have to bring this up. :o)

    With Hillary unspinnably on board for spying on top U.N. officials (as per Wikileaks) you’d think that she would have had someone eavesdropping on the vestigial macoutes in Haiti, to prevent Duvalier from capitalizing on the situation there and trying to make a comeback.

    • phred says:

      Good for Haiti.

      It is discouraging that only in Haiti could BabyDoc be arrested. Our high and mighty “first world” democracies should be ashamed.

    • tanbark says:

      “He’s been arrested.”

      Excellent. Now let’s see if they can hold him securely, without an attack on the prison or some kind of civil war. (I hope that there aren’t enough people enamored of his kind of “government” to allow either of those things to happen.) I think a best-case scenario would be to let him buy his way out of jail with most of the millions he stole when he left, with the stipulation that if he ever comes back, he’s done for.

  26. onitgoes says:

    I rarely buy the NYT, but bc of flying this morning, I did. Was appalled to see Baby Doc’s photo on front page as he was “escourted” into Port-au-Prince with his hired Ton Ton Macouts armed goons/guards.

    Skimmed the article but don’t think it elaborates on how Duvalier actually *flew into* Haiti. The article states that Baby Doc will “only stay 3 or 4 days.” yeah, right, pull the other one.

    Not. a. good. sign.

  27. Gitcheegumee says:

    Cuba and Haiti are very close,geograpically.

    Pretty coincidental timing …with the Prez becoming more conciliatory towards Cuba-and .voila,up pops le petit bebe Duvalier.

    Hmmm…IIRC there are many foreign offshore drilling leases off the Cuban coast.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      I posted this last June:


      Russian oil company opens office in Havana-June 25,2010

      Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft opened an office in Havana, RIA Novosti reported.

      Zarubezhneft General Director Nikolai Brunich said opening the office was “without exaggeration, a significant event, a new stage,” according to the Russian news service. Moscow-based OAO Roszarubezhneft in November signed four 25-year agreements with CubaPetróleo, contracting two nearshore and two onshore blocks, all just east of the Varadero heavy-oil belt.

      According to Brunich, the predecessor of his company started exploratory work on one of these fields as early as 1984. The Russian company would also supply spare parts and special equipment for the oil industry in Cuba.

      In August, Zarubezhneft agreed with PetroVietnam to partner on deepwater drilling in Cuba.Separately, Cuba last year negotiated with a consortium of five Russian oil companies the lease of 15 deepwater blocks in the Gulf of Mexico.

      Russian oil company opens office in Havana « Cuba Standard, your …Jun 25, 2010 … Russian oil company opens office in Havana. Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft opened an office in Havana, ……/russian-oil-company-opens-office-in-havana/ – Cached

  28. nonpartisanliberal says:

    I would like the United States to quit trying to run the internal affairs of other countries.