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Haiti’s reclusive former dictator has pledged £5m aid to his former subjects and expressed “complete solidarity” with their suffering since the earthquake. Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc”, who lives in exile in Paris, emailed a reporter to say he wanted to donate money.
He said that he would officially ask the Foundation set up in the name of his late mother, Simone Ovide Duvalier, to transfer the $8 million (£5 million) to the American Red Cross for relief work.
Mr duvalier, whose regime was a byword for brutality and corruption, said: “It is with great horror
The Duvaliers swindled international creditors and aid agencies for enormous sums. The American government, via various agencies and banks, lent millions to both dictators. Though there was anger in Washington about the Duvaliers and their 80% rate of aid embezzlement, no action was taken to remove them until 1986. The Duvaliers were always happy to sign up to new loans, and to give lucrative contracts to American corporations. Most of the projects went nowhere. Haiti is littered with half-built and abandoned schools, hospitals, bridges and roads. Most of the money lent to the Duvaliers found its way into private bank accounts. When Baby Doc fled, he took millions with him: estimates go as high as $900m. The debts incurred by the Duvaliers make up 45% of Haiti’s total current debt. None of the creditors finds the fact of their complicity a compelling argument for cancellation. Those creditors include the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the IMF and the governments of the US and France. Debt relief is at the discretion of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, run by the World Bank and the IMF. Haiti must meet certain conditions, including poverty reduction and inflation controls, before any debt can be written off. By international standards, the sums are small, but for Haiti they are enormous. The World Bank alone demands an estimated $1.6m a month.