MIAMI (CBS4) – To welcoming chants of “Duvalier!” The 59 year old former dictator slipped out of France and boarded an Air France passenger jet and accomplished what his critics long said was impossible. He made it back onto Haitian soil just as he told Chief I-Team Investigator Michele Gillen when he met her in 2002 and 2004 while he was in exile in France.
“This is my country. I am ready to put myself at the disposal of the Haitian people,” he told Gillen from an undisclosed location in Paris.
For the handful of journalists who met Duvalier during his 25 years in exile, his desire to return isn’t a surprise but the timing is, and they say it’s most unfortunate.
“At this juncture this is absolutely terrible,” says noted author and journalist Bernard Diederich.
Diederich has written prolifically about the Duvalier family and is about to publish a book on “Baby Doc”. Incredibly, Diederich left Haiti less than an hour before Duvalier arrived.
If the timing had been different and he had the chance to question him, what would he ask? “Why at this time? Why now? And how did you do it?” mused the historian.
Diederich sees the move to allow Duvalier to return as a possible power play by outgoing Haitian President Rene Preval. who could be looking to secure footing in the upcoming elections and protect his own future. “Preval will say maybe America will be stupid enough to have new elections,” Deiderich poses.
How long might he stay? “Forever. No one else will take him,” suggests Diederich.
Authorities in France say Duvalier purchased a round trip ticket. It is certainly unclear at this time whether he will use it.