Francois & Jean-Claude Duvalier

Papa Doc & Baby Doc

The Duvaliers Background

François Duvalier


  • Born April 14, 1907 in Port-Au-Prince (The Capital of Haiti).
  • Studies Medicine at the University of Haiti and graduates in 1934.
  • Received the nickname "Papa Doc" from his patience.
  • Founds a group named 'Le Groupe des Griots' after finding a deep interest in African roots of Haitian Culture. The group was for writers committed to black nationalism and voodoo mysticism.
  • Elected President 1957.
  • Died in 1971.


Jean-Claude Duvalier



  • Born July 3, 1951 in Port-Au-Prince (The Capital of Haiti).
  • Received the nickname "Baby Doc" as a continuation to his fathers nickname.
  • Took office in 1971 (19 Years Old - Youngest President in the World).
  • Overthrown by popular uprising in 1986.




Years of Chaos

1957 was the year that everything began in Haiti; Chaos unraveling. With an army behind him, Duvalier was elected president with a six year term. Even though the economy was unstable he said that he would end the privileges of the mulatto elite (someone born with 1 white parent and 1 black parent), bringing political and economical power to black masses.


1958; After an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow him in June, Duvalier takes steps to consolidate his position. Senior officers in the military are replaced with younger men, the size of the army is reduced, the military academy is closed, political parties are banned and curfews are introduced. Also during this year he recruited 9,000-15,000 people from the slums of Haiti to be apart of a private militia to terrorize and kill opponents.


1961 Duvalier's term was lengthened to 1967 when he "won" the vote on Haiti, 1,320,748 to 0.


By 1963 multiple attempts to overthrow Duvalier have been tried (even some with the backing of the CIA). By now, Duvalier's leadership becomes more extreme; fostering a personal cult and becoming know as the "Voodoo Jesus Christ".


"I am the Haitian flag" Says Papa Doc.


He was corrupting Haiti for his own personal benefit; making those who were poor, get poor. And allowing the 'elite' to get richer.


In 1964 Papa Doc forcibly elects himself as a president for life; and makes Haiti isolated entirely.


1971 - They made the constitution state that Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) is not allowed to receive power from his father - but this doesn't stop them.


Francois dies in April of this year; and power is turned over to Jean Claude.


Though Baby Doc leaves most of the country in his mothers hands; he bends to the US's advice and reforms the economy and judicial stand.


1973; Corps Des Leopards (Jean-Claudes secret police force) is created. This caused a lot of violation to human rights.


In 1978 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visits Haiti. The commission finds evidence of widespread abuse of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture. 2 years later; Jean Claude has a wedding and spends $3 million dollars causing alienation of much of the population.


1983 and 84 - People were noticing that things had to change. John Paul II (the pope) visits and says "something must change here". Since then in 84, all political activities and groups are banned except those of the presidents.


1985 - Jean-Claude gets 99% of the vote in a fraudulent election. Popular demonstrations against high unemployment, poor living conditions and the lack of political freedom break out late in the year and early in 1986, beginning in the provincial capital of Gonaives. On 28 November 1985 soldiers in Gonaives chase demonstrators into a schoolyard and shoot and kill three schoolboys who were not involved in the protest. The incident leads to more demonstrations and riots.


1986 - Jean-Claude leaves behind an impoverished and ruined country. Well over half of Haiti's workers are unemployed. Over 80% of Haitians are illiterate. Almost a third of Haitian children die before their fifth birthday. Life expectancy is 53 years. Per capita income is US$300 a year, as he and his wife flee to France (with US help).


After a few years; Jean-Claude goes through a divorce and another relationship and soon says he would like to return to Haiti. There is no laws keeping from him, he states. 2003- Jean-Claude tells the 'Wall Street Journal' that he neither stole state funds nor organised the murder of opponents. "If I were dictator, I would have done everything in my power to stay in power," he says.

"I laugh when I hear the amounts: $400 million, $800 million. It's a lot of blah, blah, blah. ... There were the children to care for, school expenses, other bills. ... We were not perfect. Perhaps I was too tolerant."


2007 - In September the Transparency International estimates are quoted in a report by the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative, a joint venture of the World Bank and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.

"According to the numbers ... Jean-Claude Duvalier allegedly stole the equivalent of 1.7 to 4.5 percent of Haitian GDP for every year he was in power," the report says. "The only other two kleptocrats to come close as a percentage of GDP were Ferdinand Marcos (of the Philippines) and Sani Abacha (of Nigeria)."


Lastly in 2011 a Haitian prosecutor formally charges Duvalier with corruption, embezzlement and other alleged crimes committed during his rule. Duvalier also faces criminal complaints accusing him of crimes against humanity. Following an investigation into these complaints, Duvalier is indicted for crimes against humanity.

Haiti: Economic Development One Year After Francois Duvalier Left the Haitian Government (1972)

An over view of Haiti when Francois and Jean-Claude were in power.

Essential Question

How did the United States and other countries play apart of the Duvalier's ruthless streak if they were isolated? Could Haiti have been saved if these countries did something else?