Francois Duvalier

The Beginning of the Terrible Family Reign

Profile of Francois

Francois, also known as Papa Doc, was in power for 14 years in Haiti. Before he became the ruler of Haiti, he was part of a group that embraced black nationalism and voodoo as the key sources of Haitian Culture. From 1951-1954 Francois was working with the American Sanitary Mission and began organizing resistance to the president of the time, Magloire. He became the central opposition figure, leading him to go underground. When Magloire resigned from power, Duvalier's followers participated in most of the six governments. Francois fell into power in September 1957. When he became president, he reduced the size of the army and got rid of U.S. aid to Haiti. He had the chief aid murdered in 1959. All attempts to overthrow Papa Doc were unsuccessful. Although his time in power led to nearly 30,000 deaths (these people were against his regime or tried to overthrow him, like Stalin, he would kill anyone who got in his way), he gave Haiti an unbelievable amount of political stability.

Creative Piece


Tomorrow I will send out a letter to the people in the country to show them the power I contain over them. I think it will be something like this:

Dear People of Haiti,

As some of you have begun to make the stand against me, you must understand that I will stop at nothing to keep my power in this country. I will do anything and everything it takes to keep my control and I feel that no one can compete with me. I have declared my rule until I die and after that, my son shall take over. No matter how hard you try, my family will always have more power and I will win this fight.




The video above explains that within the 14 years that Francois Duvalier was in power, the country got nothing but more poverty, ignorance and disease. Life became even more short for the people in the country, do to the unhealthy living conditions. The only source of medical help was volunteers who would take time to try and take care of them, however those who were taken care of the voodoo believers were known to pass quickly. As for the people who did live, they lived in the lowest standards possible, no money, little food. Many were making less than 70 dollars a year, which contributed to the starvation level skyrocketing. The most rich city of Haiti was now decaying along with the rest of the country. Armed force was the key factor in the country staying together at this point in time and many compared Duvalier's power to that of a gun.

Essential Question

Why did many people continue to go along with Duvalier's power if it only led to more violence and poverty?