In a story on deposed dictator John-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's return to Haiti after twenty-five years in exile, the New York Times staffer Ginger Thompson pens this classic understatement: "A lawyer for Mr. Duvalier, Gervais Charles, acknowledged that things had not gone well for his client."
"I have to be honest and ask myself just what the hell I was thinking of when I left France," said an embarrassed Baby Doc. "Surely I must have been inflicted with some form of temporary insanity when I decided to waltz back into Haiti, acting like nothing had happened. Sure, it's been twenty-five years, but I did kill an awful lot of my countrymen."
"Still, they say that dead men tell no tales, so I guess I didn't really see that as an insurmountable problem," Duvalier continued, momentarily seeming a bit conflicted. "No, I can see now that the thousands Haitians that I had tortured were a bigger obstacle to a welcome homecoming. I can't believe that so many of those people are still alive and bearing a grudge. I mean, back when I was deposed, the average life span in Haiti was only 52, so what are the odds?"
"I suppose the one thing that a lot of Haitians just haven't been able to forgive me for is the way I used to sell body parts of dead peasants," Duvalier guesses. "There always seemed to be a lot of grumbling about that. I suppose that I could partially justify by noting that they were dead peasants, but since I'm the one who had them executed, that's kind of a moot point, and I'm a big enough man to admit that was pretty evil."
Although Duvalier insists that he returned to Haiti to assist with earthquake relief, critics see a financial motive. While he did manage to smuggle out $300 million before fleeing to France, in can be quite expensive to maintain a decent lifestyle in Paris, and Baby Doc has been running low on cash. By returning to Haiti, Duvalier could potentially access six million that he has frozen in Swiss accounts. Haiti recently passed a law which would prevent that from happening, but it doesn't take effect until February 1.
"I suppose that if you insist on looking at it in that manner, it would appear that time is of the essence," admits Duvalier. "That's such a cynical way of viewing things, though, when my only real motivation is to help the people of my native land. You don't believe the part about me coming back to offer earthquake assistance? Ah, I should have know that would never fly. Man, I cannot seem to catch a break. I don't know, I have a fear that this might all end badly for me."