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Professor: Haitians Nostalgic For Dictator

Jean-Claude Duvalier

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has returned to his native country. (Credit: AP)

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WBBM/CBS) – A pair of mysteries are being played out in public right now in Haiti — why is ousted dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier returning, and why do some in Haiti like the idea?

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports, Center of Hemispheric Policy director Susan Kaufman Pursell at the University of Miami in Florida says a revolt against Duvalier’s brutal, corrupt regime chased him out of Haiti in 1986, to a comfortable, if not lavish, exile in France.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports

He returned to Haiti on Sunday.

But Pursell says memory can be selective in a country of chaos like earthquake ravaged Haiti.

“Apparently, some Haitians have a certain nostalgia, because they don’t remember some of the corruption and brutality,” Pursell said. “They remember that the streets were cleaner and things seemed to work.”

Pursell says so much relief money is still flowing into Haiti one year after the quake that there is more than enough available for skimming to motivate Duvalier’s return home.

The United Nations human rights office says the return of Duvalier to Haiti increases the chance that he could be charged with atrocities committed during his 15-year rule.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Tuesday that it would be easier to bring charges against Duvalier in Haiti because the alleged crimes occurred there.

But he cautioned it is unclear whether Haiti’s fragile judicial system is in a position to mount a case.

Duvalier’s secret police tortured and murdered political opponents during his rule.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)