François & Jean- Claude Duvalier
by Dillon Rozen

1) Profile of your leader

          François Duvalier or Papa Doc as he was known, became a tyrannical dictator who terrorized the country of Haiti for almost 15 years. However, he did not start out as a dictator. When François was a child his father, a justice of the peace, and his mother, a baker, had little time for him so he was raised by his aunt for much of his youth. He attended the University of Haiti in 1934 where he studied medicine and became a doctor. He then came to the United States where he began to try and cure many common tropical illnesses such as typhus and malaria. He then returned to Haiti where he got into politics. Then in 1949, a coup d'etat he was forced into hiding until amnesty was declared in 1956. After his return, he ran for president and won. He then adopted a new constitution and crushed another military coup that opposed him. One of his final acts was in the June of 1964, he proclaimed himself President for life. After killing over 30,000 of his own people who were his "enemies" he finally died in 1971, but not before passing the power to his son Jean- Claude Duvlier aka. Baby Doc.                                                                                         Baby Doc. was not as terrible as his father who ruled before him. Baby was born while his father was in power. He grew up while living in his fathers palace in the middle of much political turmoil. When his father died while Baby, age 19, was thrust into the spotlight as the president for life. After ruling for 15 years, his backers in the USA pulled their support for him. He then fled to France with his family and hundreds of millions of Haiti's currency. After being on the run in France for almost 25 years he returned to Haiti broke and alone. He then died 3 years later to everyones surprise.

2) Audio/Visual/Artistic Element

  • In this piece of multi media about Papa Doc. it tells the story of Papa and how he obtained his power. The clip (1:30 - 6:30) tells how Papa kept his power in a country where he was hated. The clip focuses on Papa's ruthlessness and how he has put his country into a constant state of fear. He kept his people in this constant state of fear by ruthlessly executing any people who he believed threatened his power. This shows that Papa was a very paranoid person because of all of the executions that he ordered on innocent people. My clip also tells of the large amount of luxury and security that Papa had. The clip says that he had a bullet proof Mercedes and a seemingly impenetrable wall  of body guards around him when he exited the car. These prove that he lived in luxury and was very cautious about assignation attempts. He even carried a personal machine gun just to make certain that he would not be killed.

3) Creative Piece

Article by The New York Times

Outwardly a dictator who would not hesitate to kill his enemies in order to maintain his power over Haiti, François Duvalier wanted the world to believe he was really just a simple little country doctor, so loved by his people that it became his abiding duty to remain "President for Life."

After a military coup, and subsequent uprisings, Duvalier was elected president on Oct. 22, 1957, and initiated a period of brutal and corrupt rule that lasted until his death on April 22, 1971. Through the diversion of public money and the extraction of bribes and kickbacks, the Duvalier family grew fabulously wealthy as the nation stayed mired in poverty.

Early in 1986, Jean-Claude Duvalier, the dictator's son, known as Baby Doc, was overthrown in a popular rebellion and fled to France with a large chunk of the state treasury.

Under the durable Duvalier regime, which lasted longer than any other in Haiti's history -- of the 36 presidents who preceded Papa Doc, 23 were either killed or overthrown -- bloodshed and violence became a way of life. Duvalier himself remained under constant guard, depending on a 600-man palace guard, the 350 soldiers of the Dessalines Barracks adjacent to the gleaming white palace, 5,000 militiamen and perhaps most important, the dreaded Tontons Macoutes (Haitian Creole for "bogeymen").

His legacy to Haiti was doleful. By 1971, more than 13 years after he assumed power, little had changed for the great majority. Almost 90 percent of the people were illiterate and plagued by yaws, tuberculosis and malnutrition.

Duvalier was born in poverty in Port-au-Prince on April 14, 1907. His father was Duval Duvalier, a sometime schoolteacher, and his mother, Uritia Abraham, worked for a bakery. After studying at the Lycée National, the young Duvalier enrolled in the University of Haiti School of Medicine, graduating in 1934. For some years, he served on the staffs of local hospitals, and in 1943, he was recruited into a United States-financed fight against yaws, a tropical skin disease.

While he built up his following in the rugged mountains of Haiiti, Duvalier is said to have consolidated his support among regional voodoo houngans. In 1944, he published a book, "Gradual Evolution of Voodoo."

In 1946, Duvalier, by then involved in politics, became secretary of labor. In the wake of the military coup d'état of 1950, he retreated to private practice while secretly helping to organize resistance to the dictatorship, which was overthrown in 1956. He soon became a candidate for president, putting himself forth as an ally of the army and its potential puppet. To the powerful mulatto oligarchy that controlled the coffee and sugar cane markets, he positioned himself as the little doctor who assured them they had nothing to fear.

4) Essential Question

Do you believe that "Baby Doc" would have changed the country for the better had his father  "Papa Doc" not have made the choices that he did to become hated by the country?