Foreign Kleptocrats And Former Dictators Living Large Abroad

Too often in our societies, which value more what people have than what people are, money can get people to be complacent to corruption, and even crimes for the sake of profit and greed. Deposed foreign leaders, formers dictators and even mass murderers end up quite often in safe heavens such as Europe or America, enjoying the “life style of the rich and famous” with blood money stolen from their people.

France, Haiti and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier

After the death of his father in 1971, Baby Doc Duvalier came to power at the age of nineteen. Duvalier wasn’t interested in politics or improving the fate of Haitians. Instead Baby Doc lived lavishly at the expense of his people, while his mother continued to enforce, often brutally with the Tontons Macoute, his father’s criminal policies. Baby Doc life style was funded by the Duvalier fortune. In addition to his father’s theft, much of the family’s fortune came from the Regie Du Tabac, a pre-existing governmental tobacco monopoly which Baby Doc extended to include other governmental companies. Despite outbreaks of the African Swine Flue and AIDS, Baby Doc continued to steal with impunity from Haitians.

Finally, in autumn 1985 the Haitian people revolted against Baby Doc’s brutal regime, and in February 1986 Baby Doc stepped down from power and fled to France with his family to enjoy the good life while leaving Haiti in a pathetic state of endemic poverty.

Some of Baby Doc’s ill acquired assets are still in Swiss bank accounts where they have been frozen since 1986. Recently, the Swiss Federal Court has ruled that the $5.7 million kept by the Duvaliers in Swiss bank accounts “cannot be returned to Haiti, due to a lack of criminal procedure against Mr. Duvalier in that country”. Swiss legislation allows for assets recovery procedures without a conviction in the victim country only when the assets are held by a criminal organization.

Meanwhile, former dictator Baby Doc lives in exile in Paris. Haiti’s former corrupt and brutal ruler, now 59, seems to have “acquired” a conscience in his older years. After the earthquake, Duvalier pledged to give $8 million to the Red Cross for the relief effort in the island. The recluse Duvalier sent an email to the press.

“In these hours of great national distress, my thoughts go out to the wounded, the victims, particularly the children and the youth. Haitian people, I know your extraordinary courage, selflessness and the sacrifices that you are capable of to save our country,” wrote Duvalier on January 15.

The criminal regimes of both Baby Doc and his father is said to have killed at least 40,000 of their political opponents while they were in power. Haiti’s chaotic and poverty-stricken recent history can be squarely blamed on the Duvaliers. It is estimated that when he left his Presidential Palace  for exile in 1986, Baby Doc drained $ 350 million from Haiti’s treasury. The Reagan administration was instrumental in helping Duvalier obtain an exile status in France.

The US And Equatorial Guinea Corrupt Regime

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Chris Albin-Lackey just exposed, in a report, another moral scandal of the same nature than the one concerning Duvalier. Albin-Lackey discovered that the son of one of the world’s most corrupt leader, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, just bought a mansion in Malibu, California, for the astronomical amount of $ 30 Million.

“Does all this sound legal? Well it is. In a meticulous documented report, US Congressional investigators recently showed how legal loopholes and lax regulations let foreign kleptocrats treat America like a carefree shopping paradise while their people starve back home,” writes Albin-Lackey.

A Lack Of Global Morality

Turning a blind eye on the most basic morality for the sake of commerce and greed should not be legal either in France, in the case of Duvalier, in the US or anywhere else for that matter. We are, as a global community, rewarding criminals and former dictators which should be prosecuted instead of living a life of luxury built on the suffering of their people. Baby Doc’s assets should have being seized and returned to Haiti right away in 1986. But unfortunately “money talks” and buys silence if not respect from countries such as France, the US and Switzerland.

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