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The Return of Duvalier: Haiti's Denouement?

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MR. CROWLEY: All right. I'll wait.

QUESTION: No, go ahead. Please.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay, fine. You basically asked -" we've been watching this situation very closely. When you think about the unpredictable aspect of his return, the delicate situation that Haiti faces, the many challenges that Haiti faces in terms of public health, in terms of reconstruction, in terms of the ongoing election process, we were surprised at his return, but we do not necessarily view this as being particularly useful at this time. But -"

QUESTION: No, I understand. You just said that, though.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: But what I'm asking is: How could you be -" I just -" I'm surprised that you're surprised, because you've been looking at Aristide's possible return. You've been kind of warning him not to go. There is a precedent for him wanting to return. Like I said, in 2006, he was looking to come back and you made a lot of effort for him not to come back. So I just don't understand why this would, like, catch you completely off guard that this was not something that you had been looking into, given the volatile political situation in the country and the history for dictators wanting to return to Haiti.

MR. CROWLEY: Again, let me underscore it. What you're asking is: Did we know in advance he was coming back to -"

QUESTION: I didn't ask if you knew in advance; I asked you why didn't you look into it before.

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MR. CROWLEY: Our focus is on trying to help Haiti work through the current electoral situation, helping Haiti to recover and rebuild; that is our focus. I guess I'm simply saying, did we know in advance that he was coming back? The answer is no.

QUESTION: Given that he's already there -"

QUESTION: Did you have any discussions -"

MR. CROWLEY: All right. Hold on.

QUESTION: Given that he's already there, what's your counsel to the Government of Haiti now about possibly prosecuting him? I mean, wouldn't that further inflame the situation? Are you saying that perhaps it should -"

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MR. CROWLEY: Again, what happens at this point -" today, there is a meeting, I believe, ongoing between government officials, legal officials and Mr. Duvalier. What happens at this point forward is a matter for the people of Haiti. This is not -" this is their concern, not ours.

Then, there is the  interview   Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave to CBS's Erica Hill on Wednesday. Clinton talked about Duvalier's abuses and U.S. attempts to create "stability," while leaving it all "up to the government and people of Haiti." Crowley suggests it is not "our concern," but Clinton envisions more in the way of engagement.

QUESTION: Extra, extra delicate, as you point out. I do want to ask you as well about former Haitian dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who, of course, has reemerged at this point, coming out of exile. The State Department is saying it was surprised by his return. Will the State Department put -" push, rather, for prosecution?

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http://www.georgianne-nienaber.com

Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)
 

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