François & Jean-Claude Duvalier
by Danato Tempesta
1) Profile of the Duvaliers
The first Duvalier to take power was François Duvalier. He was called "Papa Doc" for most of his life which stuck with him throughout his political reign. François studied medicine in the University of Haiti, leading to jobs as staff in some local hospitals. His political rise came when he was appointed Director General of the National Public Health Service. He was later forced into hiding only to return in 1956 and claimed presidency in the 1957 elections. He effectively eliminated all threats that oppose his power by forcing them into exile. Shortly in his reign, François suffered a major heart attack. During his recovery, Clément Barbot took power, but was imprisoned when Duvalier recovered due to an attempt at supplanting him as president. He declared himself president for life seizing all control over Haiti. He killed an estimated 30,000 people to suppress any opponents. Upon his death in 1971, 19 year old Jean-Claude Duvalier took over as president. Nicknamed "Baby Doc", Jean-Claude gained total control such as his father had. The Duvaliers were eventually forced into exile, leading to Jean-Claude losing most of his wealth, power, and divorced from his wife in 1993. He returned to Haiti in 2011 after 25 years in exile. He was accused of theft, but failed to appear in court multiple times. He pleaded not guilty for the first time. Jean-Claude Duvalier died 3 years later after suffering a heart attack in his home.
2) Propaganda poster
3) Journal Entry
November 19, 1956
The new president has recently taken over. His name is François Duvalier. I believe there is very little hope of living in Haiti for much longer. Duvalier and his supporters have begun to exile many people that were against him to gain full control. I have been lucky enough to last long enough to tell you this story.
June 14, 1964
Duvalier claims president for life. He has completely taken over Haiti. There is no chance to take his power because his son will take over. I have lost faith in the government and am surprised I have not been exiled.
François Duvalier has died, leaving power to his son Jean-Claude Duvalier. François had killed around 30,000 people during his reign. Jean-Claude may do the same if he can keep himself out of trouble. He is still young, but he is the former presidents son.
The Duvaliers have been exiled. Finally, Haiti is beginning to show signs of peace. There is truly a light at the end of the tunnel. The effort to fix all that has gone wrong has already begun.
4) Essential Question
Should both "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" be considered God-like figures even though they were largely hated by most Haitians?