Last year, American holy man Pat Robertson famously claimed that a wrathful God visited the earthquake upon the Haitian people because they had struck a deal with the devil two hundred years ago to gain independence from the French.
One would think that any group of people trying to free itself from the French was on the side of the angels, but this is no time to argue theology. I wonder, however, what the Rev. Robertson has to say about the return of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to his home turf.
Haiti remains a poverty stricken, cholera-racked nation that is trying to rebuild its infrastructure (such as it was before the quake), and that is still waiting for most of the countries that pledged humanitarian funds last year to pony up. Baby Doc could not have chosen a worse time to materialize in its miserable midst.
For him, of course, it’s a golden opportunity. Half the current Haitian population wasn’t even born when he was thrown out of office by popular demand a quarter of century ago, so they don’t remember the torture, the repression, the fear, the corruption and the disappearances that characterized the reigns of the Docs, both his and Papa’s before him.
They’ve heard stories about the relative prosperity of that time, and the political stability that the dictatorship provided. It’s similar to many Iraqis’ wistfulness about Saddam, now that they’ve lived for eight years under the mixed blessings of American benevolence.
When a nation’s predicament is dire, and shows no sign of easing, its people have been known to trade their freedom for stability, safety and food on the table (See what happened to the Weimar Republic in the 1930s).
Baby Doc’s arrival bears all the signs of another tragedy in the making for Haiti. His mere presence there amounts to a temptation for its beleaguered people. Now, Rev. Robertson, we’re talking about the devil.