US envoy said in 2006 that return of 'Baby Doc' Duvalier could complicate ability of Haiti's new government to establish itself
The US expressed its concern about the possible return of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti as far back as 2006, when the country was about to hold elections, according to a confidential US diplomatic cable.
Five years on, US fears have materialised with the shock return of the former dictator last night. Duvalier, who was toppled from power in 1986, returns at a time when Haiti is struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake and amid a fraught election campaign.
In 2006 Lisa Kubiske, the US charge d'affaires in the Dominican Republic, which neighbours Haiti, alerted the Dominican foreign minister, Carlos Morales Troncoso, about Duvalier's possible return.
"Kubiske expressed USG [US government] concern over a return to Haiti of either Duvalier or [Jean-Bertrand] Aristide [the former Haitian president]. Both potentially were provocative and could complicate the ability of any new government to establish itself," the February 2006 cable said.
"If the election were inconclusive, a return of either one could certainly make things worse. We thought that neither should be allowed back into Haiti until a newly established, functioning democratic government could make a decision itself."
The election – to replace the interim government of Gérard Latortue put in place after the 2004 Haiti rebellion – had originally been scheduled for 2005 but was delayed four times. It went ahead on 7 February 2006 and was won by René Préval.
Duvalier, who succeeded his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvaier, in 1971, has re-appeared in Haiti as it is in throes of a disputed election. A runoff vote scheduled for last week was delayed because two candidates, Jude Celestin – Préval's preferred candidate – and Michel Martelly, each claimed the right to run against the frontrunner, Mirlande Manigat. Street clashes in recent days have left several people dead.
According to the 2006 US cable, Morales Troncoso agreed with Kubiske – now the deputy chief of mission in Brazil – about the undesirability of having Duvalier back on Haitian soil. "Morales Troncoso agreed that Aristide and Duvalier supporters would get upset if their opponents returned to the scene. Anti-Duvalier Haitians might seek revenge, even after 20 years, he noted. He said he had warned the Dominican embassy in Port-au-Prince among others against Duvalier coming to or through the Dominican Republic."