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Will Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier catch the first plane out of Haiti?

January 18, 2011 | 10:56 am


Tuesday's editorial about Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier's surprise return to Haiti said bluntly that the former dictator should get the heck out of town before he creates more chaos and corruption on the island already desperate for help. And it seems the editorial board might get its wish. Duvalier has been taken into custody, though there's no word yet on whether his detainment has to do with crimes he committed during his rule in the '70s and '80s.

It's good news for Haitians, who need less politicking and more action on their road to recovery. From Sunday's Op-Ed article "Haiti's political earthquake" by Amy Wilentz:

In Port-au-Prince and its environs, more than a million people are living in sordid, makeshift encampments vulnerable to flood and epidemic. These camps, which look temporary to outsiders, seem strangely permanent to those familiar with Haiti and its shantytowns, from which much of Martelly's support derives. Indeed, many of the shacks in the new camps seem more solidly built than the squalid lean-tos of stick and tin that were the architectural norm in the sprawling bidonvilles of the capital even before the earthquake. Meanwhile, a slow but steady cholera epidemic has killed thousands.

Among all this misery, the young, blond, carefree cadres of nongovernmental organizations skitter around in their SUVs, trying to fix a few small things. They start new orphanages; they feed a neighborhood; they erect a school; they make sure Bill Clinton, the U.N.'s special envoy to Haiti, gets from one event to the next. They go out to bars and restaurants in the better parts of town.

On the anniversary of the quake last week, the difficulty of the task ahead was clear. But the character of the Haitian people was also on display, and that in the end could be the nation's greatest asset, with competent and honest leadership.

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