Former President Aristide’s Attorney: Washington Gave “Green Light” for Duvalier’s Arrival in Haiti, While Blocking Aristide’s Return

Interview with Ira Kurzban, attorney representing exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, conducted by Scott Harris

duvalier The return of ex-Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s to Port-Au-Prince on Jan. 16, caught his nation by surprise as most Haitians still struggle to recover from last year’s devastating earthquake and deal with a disputed presidential election. The former “president-for-life” ruled Haiti from 1971, at the age of 19, until he was driven from power and into exile after a popular revolt in 1986. Both Jean-Claude and his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier who had led Haiti since 1957, have been accused of committing gross human rights violations and looting the impoverished nation’s meager treasury.

While “Baby Doc” said he had “come to help” his nation after last January’s earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000 Haitians, there was speculation that he had really returned to Haiti in order to manipulate a banking law to release $5 million frozen in a Swiss bank account. Not long after his return, Duvalier was charged with theft and misappropriation of funds and is also being sued for torture and other crimes against humanity. During their reign, 20,000 to 30,000 Haitians were killed by the father and son tyrant’s paramilitary force, known as the Tontons Macoutes.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with attorney Ira J. Kurzban, who represents exiled former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Kurzban, who won a $500 million judgment against Jean-Claude Duvalier, discusses the green light he believes Washington gave Duvalier to travel to Haiti, and covert U.S. maneuvers to block Aristide’s return to Haiti from exile in South Africa.

Attorney Ira J. Kurzban has represented exiled former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide since 1991. Read more about events in Haiti at


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8 thoughts on “Former President Aristide’s Attorney: Washington Gave “Green Light” for Duvalier’s Arrival in Haiti, While Blocking Aristide’s Return

  1. The $500,000,000 judgment is a fairy tale. I was involved with the Haitian governement effort to discover the actual financial dealings of Duvalier and can say that he did not leave with as much money as people claim.

    His wife, Michele, and Merceron, the Finance Minister, did take a lot, more than $100,000,000 each, but Duvalier’s accounts were something like $23,000,000 which is not much for a man who was in power from 1971 to 1986.

    Ira Kurzban is not an altruist. He has taken over $10,000,000 from our treasury in fees and will take another $900,000.00 from the Simone Duvalier charity funds, now being contested in Switzerland.

    Kurzban is interested in his pocketbook and makes headlines to enrich himself, at a cost to Haiti’s people. Let him donate his fees to a fund to help rebuild Haiti.

    I am sure he will never do this.

    Greed is paramount and there should be more targets than Duvalier.

    Preval, Aristide, Celestin, Vorbe, Mevs, Bidgio, Latortue…the list is endless.

    Pere Samedi once commented that Duvalier sipped funds, through a cocktail straw, while Aristide used a bamboo pipe.

    1. In reply to your question-The US did not block Aristide. He can come whenever he wants. Aristide has been insisting on a Diplomatic Passport, unlike Duvalier who came in on an expired Haitian Passport. Aristide is insisting on the Diplomatic Passport so that he can avoid facing charges, like Duvalier faces now in Haiti.

      Duvalier had the integrity to come back to face his charges without the Diplomatic protections.
      Aristide lacks that same confidence and courage. He can come back to Haiti whenever he wants.

      The USA is NOT all powerful, and Haiti is a Sovereign Nation, capable of it’s own decisions.

  2. Duvalier cannot face charges.

    Everything is Statute Barred after 20 years.

    Most of the things people blame him for are not true.

    Much was exaggerated by people like Ira Kurzban who took over $15,000,000 in legal fees from the Haitian people, is American State Department filings are correct.

    Aristide should return to face murder charges involving people like Mireille Durocher Bertin, Father Jean-Marie Vincent and a band of others.

    Come home Aristide, the nation is waiting for you.

    Kurzban is already circling the carcass, looking for more money

  3. Do not forget Preval and Aristide’s direct involvement in the murder of Jean Dominique.

    Duvalier was never accused of being a killer, but the Aristide/Preval team eliminated a lot of people, including the French Consul.

    Why do we not hear an outcry about that.

    Where is Ira Kurzban when real people need him?

    No money….no Kurzban.

  4. Three days after the January 12, 2010 earthquake Jean Claude Duvalier asked the Swiss government to release the frozen $6.1 million dollars to some transparent entity for the use of Haiti’s people. He suggested the Red Cross but I think that was a bade choice.

    He knew the risks of flying into Haiti on an expired passport and took them.

    The reaction of the comm9on people has been interesting, as he travels the area without security. At each stop he has been mobbed by happy people.

    This is events the media ignores.

    Popularity is Jean Claude with the majority while a few business man try to block him.

    After all, when he departed he trusted some of them with his businesses and they stole them. Now they wish he would go home to Paris.

    Instead, he is home in Haiti.

    The people are glad and happiest ever.

    He is welcome be all.

  5. Titid was never a brave guy.
    He could come home now but uses the passport things as an excuses.
    He is in comfort where he is and would rather cause troubles from there.
    Duvalier was brave and flew with a dead passport.

  6. The strange things is that Aristide is promoted by the media as a good guy, when his presidency was a violent and dangerous one.

    And, Duvalier’s presidency is pictured as violent when it was very peaceful.

    I survived Aristide and Preval and wish Duvalier had not left.

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